It’s rare when top filmmakers, game developers, and creative story tellers come together to produce top quality content. The Rogue Initiative, a content production studio where entertainment experts converge to create the most immersive VR and digital media experiences, is one such place that is changing the status quo of entertainment. The company is composed of industry veterans from Pixar, Dreamworks, Disney, and Activision Entertainment and plans to partner with some of the biggest names in film industry. With film partnerships with Michael Bay and Lynda Obst, The Rogue Initiative is already raising the bar in the entertainment industry.
LA TechWatch spoke with founder Pete Blumel about the startup and discussed their most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised a Series A round of funding from CBT Capital.
What inspired you to start the company?
I love filmmaking and I love game development. I’ve always been passionate about building the bridge between those two worlds and The Rogue Initiative is that bridge. Storytelling, Production, Finance, Marketing, Culture and Technology are all considerably different between the two industries. I’ve foreseen and imagined this convergence over a decade ago, and have labored to build the foundation that will leverage technology and talent under one roof for a new generation of producing content and creating globally marketable story worlds.
How is it different?
As producers, technologists, game designers and creative storytellers with decades of Hollywood experience and AAA interactive production, we have an extremely unique skill set.
The Rogue Initiative is creating new, original entertainment properties intended for a global audience across various platforms and distribution channels like Virtual reality, TV, Film, Mobile, etc. and have a proprietary content authoring pipeline to mitigate production costs and allow us to scale the creation of assets and IP efficiently.
Our leadership team has worked with some of the biggest Hollywood filmmakers, and have created one of the most successful entertainment franchises in history.
We’ve also partnered with established Hollywood talent such as Michael Bay and Lynda Obst.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We are targeting the global entertainment market covering feature film, television, virtual reality, gaming, location based entertainment, arcades and merchandising. When you combine all of these different mediums including merchandising, the market is enormous and the demand for the kind of high quality content we are producing is growing rapidly.
What’s your business model?
The Rogue Initiative creates and own new original content entertainment properties that are developed to go transmedia from the onset. We leverage our work in VR to augment our entertainment properties and garner further awareness for our content in traditional mediums, such as film and television. Our approach is centered on successful storytelling in the VR medium, creating compelling characters and narrative that audiences care about, and then delivering experiences to audiences through a multi-channel approach. This is a unique, emerging area of entertainment and interactive experiences, and this is why we’ve brought together such a diverse and highly experienced team across a variety of fields in VR, gaming, television and film.
What was the funding process like?
We have a hybrid tech company-production finance structure that allows us to finance at the holding company level, as well as in each individual production residing in a special purpose vehicle.
Initially, we launched with a seed investment round led by Presence Capital, including The VR Fund, Outpost Capital, Colopl Next, Game Hollywood, Charge Ventures, & HTC ViveX. We have recently completed a seven figure Series A financing round led by CBT Capital and this funding enables us to build out our proprietary tech and content pipeline of VR prototype development and drive a slate of AAA episodic VR, feature film, and TV projects.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Our vision is to be the premier entertainment company where Hollywood meets interactive tech. We have a deep understanding of these two sides of the entertainment industry, and we’ve structured the company such that Hollywood storytellers and filmmakers can create characters and worlds that cross mediums, and our underlying technology provides the bridge for achieving this.
Many of the things that we are taking on in this industry are ground breaking and creating new precedents. Being a pioneer in this new entertainment landscape is always challenging because we are creating a new mold for how franchises are being developed and monetized. We welcome this opportunity, and believe that we are well equipped to execute on our vision.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
First, I would say it’s our passion for film, games and technology at The Rogue Initiative. We have a restless yearning to learn and implement new tech. It’s fun for us. This is what we love doing.
Second, our incredibly talented and experienced team. Our vast network and expertise allows us to conduct business across film, animation, games and technology in a global market.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months
We have our first interactive game experience called Crowe: The Drowned Armory which just released on HTC and we’re currently optimizing for Oculus and PSVR. It’s the first chapter in a very large world where science fiction meets high fantasy.
We are also in post-production on a live-action VR Film Experience called Agent Emerson starring Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass Franchise) and award winning actor Tony Denison as ‘The General’, which will serve as the pilot of the Identity Experience Series.
We built a custom camera rig called the IC-Cam, which provides a cinematically elevated immersive 360 degree first-person POV in 3D : it’s a head mounted camera rig system capable of shooting 360 degree with body (shoulders, arms, legs, etc.) in the field of view and no blind spots. It uses 21-23 cameras placed strategically around the head allowing the final footage resolution of up to 6k per eye. The lightweight 3-axis stabilization system compensates for all the movements of the performer, resulting in a smooth camera movement, both comfortable and exciting for the audience experiencing the story through the eyes of the title character.