Are volumetric videos the video tech of the future? The founders of Arcturus Studios seem to think so! Co-founders Andy Stack and Ewan Johnson sit down in this information-packed conversation to tell us all about it. They talk about the origins of volumetric video, its practical applications, and how they came about the space as it connects from their past experiences working in the creator economy. They then discuss the intersection of NFTs and volumetric videos in today’s developing NFT space, shedding light on the cryptocurrency ecosystem as well as the future of ownership and asset transfer. Needless to say, this is an exciting time for video technology. Tune in as Andy and Ewan take you deeper into how volumetric videos bring human performance and interaction together.
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Ewan Johnson and Andy Stack of Arcturus Studios on NFTs in Volumetric Video and AR, Plus: Quincy Jones NFT Platform, Mark Haines CNBC NFT, Warhol NFT Authenticity and More…
We aim to bring you not only the top 1% of what’s going on with NFTs but also what will stand the test of time. We explore the nuts and bolts in the business side and also the human element of how NFTs are changing the way we interact with the things we love. This show is for the futurist and dreamers, the disruptors and creators, the fans and connectors, and the makers and doers that are pumped about this ecosystem and driving where it goes next.
This episode features guests, Ewan Johnson and Andy Stack. Ewan is the Cofounder and Chief Product Officer of Arcturus Studios, the leading global software leader in the post-production and streaming of volumetric video. He has decades of experience telling stories with computer animation and has touched many movies we’ve all seen and love. Ewan was one of the first employees in the film group at Pixar and built their cinematography department. He later spent over a decade at DreamWorks architecting their animation, data pipeline and tools.
Andy is also a Cofounder at Arcturus Studios. He is a serial entrepreneur with three exits and a focus on creator tools and the creator economy. Before Arcturus, Andy spent six years at YouTube leading the teams that built YouTube Analytics and the monetization platform for creators. He produced collaborations between top YouTube talent and Google’s emerging technologies including the first VR 360 videos. Welcome to the show.
It’s great to be here.
Welcome. It’s awesome to have you guys. For all of our readers, what the heck is a volumetric video? Explain this to us.
Sometimes the easiest way to explain it is I tell people it is a three-dimensional photocopy of reality. If you’re looking at the nature of what it is, it is a performance from a person that has been captured from simultaneous viewpoints. That is turned into a full three-dimensional model moving through time that can be played back and viewed from any angle.
Can we bring Tupac back this way? Is Tupac alive again now?
You can construct volumetric videos using existing footage to create these meshes. Our teams specialize in exactly creating a three-dimensional representation of a person from an existing video. Volumetric video created in this stage relies on multiple cameras and shooting performance at the same time. It is a full reproduction of the performance. Whereas when you’re recreating a performer like Tupac from a previously recorded video that doesn’t have viewpoints that are surrounding him, there are massive portions of his performance that don’t exist in those recordings. The computer is making it up using machine learning or Deepfake algorithms. As a result, it isn’t truly his performance. Yes, you can but not as faithfully as when you capture a live performer on a volumetric stage.
Pictures have pixels and videos have voxels. What do volumetric videos have?
That depends upon the technology being used to capture and reconstruct the performance. The most common solution is a result that’s similar to the output of photogrammetry. You have a set of polygons that describe the surface and a set of textures that describe the visual characteristics of that surface. Those are correlated in time so that you have a temporal string of this. As a result, it’s akin to a three-dimensional model that would have been created for an animated film like Toy Story. Instead of being manually created by an artist where they’re painstakingly trying to recreate the appearance of a person, it is the person. It is all of the nuances of the movement, the behaviors, even the subtleties of how their muscles move under the skin.
Can we creep out kids by having their parents be holographic renditions watching them while they’re at work?
Absolutely. I was recorded early on in our life cycle for some sample data because I’m the easiest person in the world to gain the rights to. The funny thing is, that has become one of our core training materials. Anybody who starts to use our software or learns our software gets volumetric versions of me. Whenever we meet with the capture companies that are creating the hardware, every time they see their clients, they run into me because they’ve always got me up on their screen and working with them and testing them. Digital presence everywhere.
I saw the folks at Google are doing something as it relates to conferences where they’re sitting in front of a mirror that looks like you’re sitting in front of the person on the other side of a window or something like that. Is it drawing on similar technology?
It is. This is Project Starlight that they announced. They have started to dive into it. From what I’ve seen from their announcements and papers, it is a combination of volumetric capture techniques where they’re capturing the three-dimensional asset, the textures, and then streaming and distributing that. Also, the display system that helps give you that true sense of presence gets interesting when you’ve got volumetric performances. This is even beyond Starlight. It also dives into a little bit of what we do with our technology. When you can adjust that performance after you’ve recorded it, it can track where the viewer is and then respond to it. That gets fascinating for any type of console.
Andy, you’re rocking the hockey jersey here. I’m thinking about sports, watching sports, and having that interaction, having the same view regardless of where you’re sitting. I’m envisioning a volumetric display that I’m watching these games on.
Sports is an easy vertical to imagine a lot more growth with volumetric video. Imagine not being able to go to an NFL game. Instead, you’re at home and either on your tablet, phone, or even better, with a headset, imagine being able to fly around and choose the point of view wherever you want to be. Like Madden or a video game, you can be up and behind the quarterback. That is now a virtual camera, which has been created by the processing of the ring of cameras that is around the stadium.
There are some exciting things that not only can you as a viewer be able to watch your favorite clip from any angle but there’s also great training capabilities. Imagine Patrick Mahomes. He can relive some particular plays but this time, he can watch how the defenders were coming. He can see that again with a headset on and realize, “This guy was open. This is how it felt when I was getting rushed. I chose to move around this particular time.” He’s in a headset and he can choose to do something else. There are some exciting things with volumetric video working in that direction and a lot of challenges because it’s a lot of data.
That sounds like referees’ worst nightmare, having ten million backseat drivers.
Volumetric Video: We see teams like Facebook Reality Labs really focusing on getting a human capture that can then be turned into an avatar because, the reality is, the nuance of human performance is so subtle and so rich that you really want that connection and interaction.
It’s also a great training program for referees at the same time.
The question is, does the referee get that volumetric 3D view of the whole scene of things to make their calls? Do they have to rely on their traditional senses to fix things out?
They do go to the tape sometimes in 2D. Now, imagine they could put on the headset and they could walk around a frozen moment from a particular second where they had made the call and check from any angle, “Is he out of bounds? Is he in bounds?” To key off of Andy’s example going back to reviewing your play afterward for training, it’s not just a matter of thinking about where the defenders are in lining up but playing with your position on the field and exploring like, “If I had taken two steps to the right, I would have seen that perfect angle, an opening, to be able to get through.”
There’s a great health and safety angle to this as well that illustrates the power of volumetric video. You’re creating digital assets by the photo-real capture of what’s going on. You, as a player, don’t need sensors, in theory, on them because what gets processed then are a series of polygons that are moving around in 3D space and they’re colliding with each other. You can determine the force of impact by the weight of each player and how fast these digital assets are colliding with each other. You can more easily track how someone’s moving around, the force of impact, and be able to study and learn more without sensors. It’s all distilling what the reality captures down to CG assets.
It takes sports analytics to a whole other level. I think about NBA and NFL, to your point, determining the optimal play. It’s amazing.
I was going to say digital assets colliding with each other. That’s only to be learned on the show. Speaking of NFTs, how do you see what you’re doing in the realm of volumetric display and impacting the world of NFTs?
Let’s stick with the sports analogy. We’ve already seen in NFT’s popularity with the NBA Top Shot where it’s capturing moments. What if you’re able to capture the moment in three dimensions and seeing and explore that in that particular play? There’s another interesting element with volumetric video and with holographic video in relationship to this when it comes to also this concept of streaming media. What’s unique about our platform is you don’t have to have the digital assets present on your phone for you to download them. They can be streamed to you but they’re streaming three-dimensional representations. You can look at them in AR and move around them and view them.
Imagine you’re a LeBron James fan and you picked up an NFT of his favorite smack talk moments. You’re watching the game at home. You see him make a great maneuver. You pull out your phone and you send to your friend your NFT LeBron James moment. A notification pops up on his phone, he clicks on it, and then he’s got a full-scale augmented reality LeBron James standing in your living room going, “Gotcha,” and then he’s gone. It was a streamed moment that you own the right to distribute and share with a friend over a short-term temporal instance. It opens up a whole new world of sports smack talk, for sure.
How easy is it to create these and how expensive does it get? Is this mainstream? Is this something where Disney has to write the check for you guys to do your thing?
What’s been exciting over the past few years has been the commoditization of capture technology. There are over nineteen companies producing the hardware to capture volumetric video. In nearly every major city, there’s a capture facility that can go capture them. Prices are still outside the price range for the average person going down to the local mall to grab a volumetric capture but that’s changing. It’s definitely within the price range of teams, elements, and brands. It will be dropping quickly over the next couple of years.
What file type is created that you’re uploading into an NFT platform for example?
That’s another place where we believe we offer a unique solution. Each of the companies creating volumetric capture studios has developed its file format specific to the error stage. It’s like the error of the digital camera back in the early days where you got the digital camera and you got a piece of software that could open the images and you couldn’t do anything without that software. There was no Photoshop. That’s where the volumetric video was before. We offer the ability to work with any of the capture stage’s source media and we provide coding on top of all of our editing tools into what we’d like to become the universal format for volumetric video. It’s called OMS and it stands for Open Mesh Sequence. That is our distribution media for volumetric video whether we’re delivering it embedded into an application or streamed.
We had the guys from SuperWorld on the show and they work with Solidity if I’m not mistaken. There are other platforms we’ve had on the show or we’ll have in the future and ones that our readers are familiar with. Engine is an episode coming up. Is this product compatible with these platforms from the jump? Are there certain platforms that you’re prioritizing in terms of integration? How does this world look if someone wants to collaborate with you guys?
The SuperWorld example is a good one. They’ve done a fantastic job of creating rich locations. They’ve created the stage on which the X can transpire experiences and so forth. We’re like Central Casting. You’ve set up a wonderful world that allows for some interaction and some transactions. Now you need the cast. Since we help enable the processing and delivery of human performance, it’s an amazing way to then bring in celebrities, your friend, or sports moments into any of these environments.
You guys have such intensive and deep creative backgrounds. One of the themes that we hear about time and again in our episodes is community, story, branding, marketing, bringing those things together and that being the epicenter of these projects that are doing well in the NFT space. You mentioned Top Shot out of the gate, Ewan. It’s a great example. As a user, you don’t even know that you’re operating in the realm of NFTs. You come in, you can use your credit card, you can buy your stuff, you have a marketplace, and you have a community. There’s Discord. How do you guys view that aspect of your business, community, branding, and marketing?
Andy, you should start with this one. You’re such a community person.
A bit of history behind Arcturus is that we started as a young Pixar because we were doing story content creation in a digital realm and also building some technology tools. We all come from strong creative backgrounds in different areas but we had a goal of being able to help establish a rich connection between the viewer and digital characters. How can we bridge that in a story that impacts and affects folks? Through our journey, we’ve experimented with 360 VR in a variety of content that we’ve made in addition to seeing that there’s this opportunity with volumetric video. We started to build out this particular angle because we saw that to be the future.
There’s a growing community around volumetric video and it’s been steadily growing both in terms of awareness and what can be done with that. What’s also interesting is that you can create crowds or communities within virtual worlds by placing a lot of these individual time-based performances. Imagine going to something like The Wave. The Wave has a lot of CG-generated avatars and so forth. They’re coming at it from the CG side to make it look as quite real as possible but it’s still caught in that uncanny valley. Imagine taking the actual photo-real capture of Bruno Mars and then putting him in that environment in which you can draw in a huge community around that particular performance.
Are we all going to have our digital representation of ourselves? Is that where we’re going?
Absolutely. There’s no doubt about that. We’ve already got it with Animojis in many ways and everybody’s custom avatars. We see it with volumetric performance and the distribution of it. We see teams like Facebook Reality Labs focusing on how you get a human capture that can then be turned into an avatar. The reality is the nuance of human performance is subtle and rich that you want that connection and interaction. For us, that’s what drew us to volumetric video. It’s an interesting technology but it’s that nature of human performance and interaction that’s crucial to it.
A story dropped about a new photo app, Paparazzi, that is famous for banning selfies. It goes to a broader point around spicing it up for creators. There are only so many selfies and pictures that people can look at of one individual even if they like them a lot. What are the conversations you’re having with top influencers? What can you offer them when you combine your technology with a concept they might already have in mind in terms of doing an NFT?
What drove me to see the utility in this for influencers was my experience at YouTube working with a lot of top creators but also seeing the burnout that it was causing them, especially at events having to be on all the time. If there was a way to scale their presence with their fans in a way that didn’t drive them crazy or work them into the ground, that could be a phenomenal opportunity. By being able to capture their performance, fans can have an augmented reality version and take a selfie through the AR app or as a short little video. Maybe the fans themselves could then create their own little unique experience with Bruno Mars or with another influencer. Therefore, maybe they can have that NFT locked away. What if that influencer says, “Here’s my volumetric video asset and that’s available only to 100 fans?”
That sure beats the wax museum.
Maybe you have to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to unlock access to that virtual selfie of Bruno Mars, which can then travel with you and be shared. That starts to get interesting.
All I know is volumetric Jeff is going to have Eathan’s hair, I’ll tell you that.
What we haven’t been led on to yet is that Ewan and Andy are transmitting AI versions of themselves for this podcast interview. It’s still a great interview but they’re off doing something else.
I will borrow that technology.
I wanted to bring this idea that I got excited about. I own a small corner of Washington Square Park in SuperWorld. I own a little piece of the Brooklyn Bridge in SuperWorld. I own a little piece of Millennium Park in Chicago. I’m thinking about capturing breakdancers that you would see on the streets in New York and volumetrically filming a routine that they love to do or whatever. Those guys are always hustling. They got to run around. They’ve got to go from subway car to subway car to do their gig. What if they could always be on for anyone in that park and you could see what they did? That could be something that’s in SuperWorld.
There are two components that are interesting to me. One is this finally opens up an avenue for residuals and earned income for performers after their performance. I see this whole potential from the nature of volumetric video through streaming distribution and tied into NFTs for a better reward system for performers and artists. The other thing that’s interesting about it goes back to my career as an artist but also an interesting video from a few years ago called Everything is A Remix. It’s this idea that we are an evolving creator culture that is remixing previous ideas and applying them in new spaces.
If you have a breakdancer’s performance that’s been captured volumetrically, you can take it to new points in the world. You can film it in new locations. You can incorporate other performances and mix in the filters that have come out of the love of Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok these days. You open up a whole new avenue of creativity and collaboration for creating large-scale performances that can be interesting and dynamic.
I don’t know why this came to me but I can envision Logan or Jake Paul listening to this and wanting to do some volumetric NFT of all his knockouts and then putting them behind different backgrounds like Mount Kilimanjaro or something. There’s one of one for each knockout in each location around the world. That’s possible with what you guys do, right?
Absolutely. If it happens in a ring, that’s a good contained environment to have an array of cameras around the site to make sure that you’ve captured all the players from every angle such that you can play it back, move it around, pinch in and pinch out to zoom and so forth. The background could be any background you choose.
A question about the NFT space and what you’re seeing people you might be collaborating with or even things that you have collected and seen is interesting. What are your thoughts on what’s going on right now that you’re excited about and also the long-term? What do you see being around in NFTs years from now?
What gets me the most excited is it extends into the whole cryptocurrency ecosystem. The combination of the IPFS file system and other similar distributed storage systems combined with the digital rights management and the ownership component of NFTs. Making it so that digital copies and digital representations can be guaranteed a lifespan and an existence beyond a given services timeframe. That’s a great place to cut it. It’s the longevity and possibility for an asset to live and be all entrapped or intertwined.
Is there a project you guys have on the horizon or did that you would feel comfortable sharing with our audience that you’re excited about?
This one isn’t in the NFT space at the moment but I’m excited by its potential and where it’s going. This is related to fashion and merchandising. ANAYI out of Japan released their spring and fall collection as volumetric video examples as part of their integrated eCommerce site. What excites me about this is its 3D representations and seeing them live, grow, and exist beyond 2D representation. I get excited by it within the marketplace but then I get excited when I think about where this could go as we start owning fashion and seeing this extend and be built into other people’s ecosystems.
Volumetric Video: You can actually create crowds or create a community within virtual worlds by placing a lot of these individual time-based performances.
We need to connect you with Emma-Jane Mackinnon-Lee from DIGITALAX. She was a guest. She’s an amazing person. If you don’t know her, we could make a connection. You guys would have a lot to talk about.
A lot of interesting stuff going on with digital fashion and integrating it with games and making it interoperable. They’re working on making it interoperable so that you can have a piece of fashion that you can use in multiple games or domains that can adapt to that domain and fit. It’s intriguing stuff.
I also think about the consumer product mafia. Andy, you got to be familiar with it coming from Whartons, the Warby Parkers, and the Caspers of the world. The network that brings things like that to life and connects with people and tells the story of that community and building it around these projects. When you think of the digital equivalent of traditional products, it’s a natural entry into the realm of NFTs and what you’re doing.
What excites me the most about the NFTs in the future is what Ewan touched on and that is the ability for follow-on revenue streams that are already locked in there that can be trickled back to the original creator. My personal goal is to help people’s creative dreams come true. I’ve been focused on working with artists and creators on how they can make a living doing what they love. While I was at YouTube and built the scalable platform that did monetization that paid everybody their work, it was complex to be able to calculate all the rights for every song and video owner based on the country you happen to be viewing the video in.
Those things have to be determined instantly if we’re to serve an ad that then the creator can get some revenue from. Especially within music, if a composition is owned by six people and we can only identify five, then you may not be able to monetize that at all. Imagine being able to create something now. Creators can create new digital assets or things that can be NFTs. The ownership structure is baked into that and then it can go about its merry way. That’s a great way for the future of ownership and asset transfer.
Along those lines, there’s also the question of digital persona management. Is this a picture of Jeff or is this a Deepfake of Jeff? Imagine if every year or six months, you go in and you get a new volumetric capture of yourself in various outfits, various mediums. That’s stored out there in the Blockchain somewhere and can be then used to track and verify when you appear in a picture or selfie with someone. Was this Jeff or was it a Deepfake?
If you can have a volumetric video on top of that, it’s temporal. It’s not just your image likeness but how you move and behave. It’s like, “That’s a classic Josh dance move.” How do you tell if Josh has been reanimated or that’s him?
If you can reanimate Josh’s dance moves.
That’s a million-dollar NFT right there.
This is amazing stuff. I cannot wait to see where it goes next. We’d like to learn a little bit more about your influences. We’d love to get into some edge quick hitters here and learn a little more. It’s a fun quick way to get to know you a little better. Ten questions. We’re looking for some short, single word or few word responses. If you feel the desire to expand, get after it. Are you guys ready to dive in?
Andy, let’s start with you. What is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
I know exactly what that was. It was a can of root beer and a bag of Jolly Ranchers when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. I walked a mile to the store. I was proud I bought it. I came back and my mom was furious at me for having gone there without having told her.
The next question is when was your first cavity?
A week later.
Ewan, how about you?
Does bartering count?
I was eight. I was in Canary and I was wandering around among the big tuna fishing fleets and I traded some deck work for a 30-pound tuna and then I dragged that tuna back a mile long the dock to where my father’s boat was.
I bet he was proud of you for that one. That sounds like a good trade.
There was still about half the tuna left and it was mighty good.
It’s like a scene from a movie and I would watch that in volumetric video.
A lot of my history could be movies. That’s another podcast.
Question number two. Ewan, we’ll start with you. What is the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
In high school, I had bought a motorcycle to get around and get to work. I sold that to buy a computer to then get me into art school, which led me here.
Andy, how about you?
Garage sales are fun when I was young. It was a toy truck that came with a toy boat. I loved the boat and I decoupled it and sold the truck.
Number three. Andy, what is the most recent thing you’ve purchased?
It was an electric bass guitar for my son. I can’t wait to see.
He’ll be surprised, I’m sure. Ewan?
Incredibly pragmatic, a replacement microwave for one that was failing.
Number four. Ewan, we’ll start with you. What is the most recent thing you sold?
A couch. That’s helping me get situated in Seattle. It’s a lot of adjustments.
How did you go about it?
How about you, Andy?
Volumetric Video: Volumetric video extends into the whole cryptocurrency ecosystem, making it so that digital copies and digital representations can be guaranteed a lifespan and an existence beyond a given services timeframe.
What’s your most prized possession?
The first drum set I got when I was twelve. It was a 1972 Rogers kit that my parents bought for me. I still have it around.
Ewan, how about you?
It’s my friends and family. It’s not a physical thing but the acquaintances I have.
Ewan, if you could buy anything in the world, digital, physical, service that’s for sale, what would it be?
I want to travel again. I want to buy a ticket to at least three other countries and visit other people.
Come to Puerto Rico with Josh and me.
That would be a trip.
I’d love that.
How about you, Andy?
I would have loved to have bought Frank Zappa’s house in Laurel Canyon. It was up for sale. I’m thinking about creativity and what’s been done there over the years.
It’s happened right into provenance and some of the cool things about NFTs again right before you. Number seven. Andy, if you could pass on one personality trait of yours to the next generation, what would it be?
Curiosity. Stay curious, it’s what I tell my kids.
Ewan, how about you?
My intuition. It’s always served me well. I’ve always discovered new and exciting places and worked with amazing people because of it. I would love other people to be able to share that.
Ewan, if you could eliminate one personality trait of yours from the next generation, what would it be?
I have so many personality traits I would eliminate. Maybe my tendency to overwork. I dig into things and I don’t let them go, which is also a strength.
It’s a double-edged sword. Andy, how about you?
Probably my perseveration, not to ruminate and think about things too much and just decide to move on.
We could have asked you guys each this question about each other but that’s a different meaning.
I would trust Ewan’s gut on things. That’s my North Star.
Andy, what did you do before joining us on the show?
It’s the reason I was a few minutes late. I was trying to reschedule a doctor’s appointment for my daughter. It’s on hold for quite a bit and was not successful.
It can be the worst. Ewan, how about you?
I was grooming my to-do list because that’s what I do every day. I review what I got to do and make sure that I’m focusing on what’s important.
Do you write it on paper? Do you keep it in a spreadsheet?
I use a combination of Monday, and Evernote.
Ewan, number ten, the last one, what are you going to do next after the show?
I’m going to cook dinner. I haven’t decided yet.
Not in a microwave.
Andy, how about you?
I’m getting on a call with one of my creative collaborator friends to hear the update on his music video that they’re trying to launch as either one or many NFTs. I was hoping to chat about this before this segment to see what I could say or not. I’m curious. I love the music space. I’m a musician myself. I’m interested to see what can happen musically and on the NFT side.
It’s a fun space, for sure, for NFTs. Keep us posted on that combo.
We will. If it’s pretty awesome, it might be a good follow-on guest or story.
That’s the Edge of NFT quick hitters. Thanks for doing it with us. We have some hot topics to dive into. Eathan, what do you think?
It sounds like it’s good to get into hot topics. If you did want to share anything more about that project that you’re going to talk about, feel free. The first thing on the list here is Doja Cat, John Legend, and others Quincy Jones’ NFT platform, OneOf, to support energy-efficient NFTs on Tezos. Lots of interesting stuff going on there. Quincy Jones is killing it.
I wouldn’t have necessarily expected it from Quincy Jones. There would be pretty many musicians that are leading the way in many ways with NFTs. I’m not surprised. A common thread around sustainability is important. In particular, it’s bubbled up through the community of musicians. It’s not surprising. They’re doing it on Tezos. You’re hearing, WAX, Tezos, a lot of these platforms that are way more efficient than Ethereum for example. They’re making it happen. It’s cool to see.
Volumetric Video: What’s unique about volumetric video is that it’s temporal. It’s not just your image likeness, but how you actually move and behave.
Tezos is saying that their protocol mints NFTs is using two million times less energy than Ethereum. I’m not sure how they calculated that but it’s pretty impressive if that’s the case. What do you guys think about the energy side of things and how that applies to your technology?
There’s a desire to make sure that we’re being safe and careful with our energy use locally. There’s also the understanding that these platforms exist and are minting and creating tokens whether or not a particular person contributes to that particular platform. I love to see the cryptocurrency’s impact on the environment go down. I’m going to check out Tezos.
Quincy Jones does some Angel investing in the music tech space. This is exciting for him to move on to something like this. This is great.
What a life that guy has, all the things that he’s been involved in. Talk about intuition, Ewan, what an intuition he has. It’s incredible. Let’s move on to the next list of our headlines here. A CNBC article, Mark Haines – Remembering and honoring a CNBC icon with an NFT auction. “Ten years to the day since cherished colleague Mark Haines passed away, CNBC is honoring him by auctioning an NFT of his historic market call at the depths of the Great Recession.”
It sounds like they should have used Arcturus to pull that off.
It would have been great to have a volumetric video of him.
There’s nostalgia in these moments in history. We haven’t seen a lot of that yet with NFTs. It’s surprising to me because we’ve seen so much around collectibles. The thing that’s driven collectibles for decades is more nostalgia and classic things that people love versus the new creations that have led the way in this NFT phase. I feel like there’s another phase coming of all these classic moments whether it’s a sports moment, news like this, movies, moments from podcasts, the list goes on forever. It’s endless.
They’re doing this through Mintable. They’re also doing it to raise money. This is a recurring theme that we’ve seen. It would be an easy way to take on a realm that’s uncertain. You create a win-win. No matter what happens to NFTs, we can always raise some money out of this. There also could be some big upside-down thing. That’s an interesting aspect of what they’re doing. The next article on the list here is 5 Andy Warhol NFTs Are Heading to Auction. Art Experts Question Their Authenticity. That’s an appropriate thing to talk about with NFTs.
The Andy Warhol Foundation has his old computers back in the day. They had a floppy disk with some images on it. Most folks would expect you to present the images as they were found. In this case, they elevated the quality of the images a bit to make it a little bit more palatable for an NFT-style auction. There’s this question around manipulating the source content. At what point is that inauthentic? That’s the message here. I don’t know the answer to that.
This is perfect for what’s going on because if they are going to make an NFT around this, this is the time to work out all the details and certify the authenticity and figure out what is going on. Past this point, that there won’t be much of it that needs to be done to verify the authenticity of what’s here.
To me, it’s incredibly interesting that this happens to come up with Warhol. That’s all about copying images and recreating them. I’m not 100% sure that he would dispute the authenticity of these recreations even though they’re not pixel-accurate. Ironically, this is a case that existed well before NFTs. I don’t know if you’re aware of this but with traditional etching, it’s not uncommon for an artist who’s making prints after he’s done with his run of prints to sell those plates to a vendor, have them make secondary prints from them. Also, still have those appear on the market as Pablo Picasso originals for example.
They’re even signed but he didn’t do the printing. It’s not his first run and yet it’s still his work. Arguably, it’s different. If I’m going to come down on the face of like, “Is this a Warhol original?” I would say, “Yes, it is.” Did the manipulation change the aspect of what the work is? It is an important question. To that, you’d have to visually compare the two. Honestly, it’s going to be subjective. I do love that now his work can exist in a robust fashion and be owned by somebody and be a little bit future-proof too.
It would be questioning the authenticity as part of the experience.
Maybe what we’re doing is moving into a realm where there’s a spectrum of authenticity. It’s not binary anymore.
Which you can now track with a ledger. You can understand, was this pixel for pixel? Was this manipulated and authenticated as manipulated? Would they have been happier if this was an NFT if a picture of the floppy disk that the image was on?
Maybe a volumetric recreation of the floppy disk. The next story on the list is from The Observer, “The World’s Largest NFT Museum Could Soon Reshape the New York City Skyline.” I’m sure a lot of stuff is going to be going on in New York in the coming years with regards to NFT. We saw a guy with the first piece of art that he put in SuperWorld in Times Square. There’s a lot to be said about not just making these large museums but putting them in these large cities. One question I have is now that we can create AR/VR experiences that are attached to geo-locations, how important does that make these urban centers? Is there a way to make a third-party location? Like they’ve done with Burning Man, you can make an area in the desert some type of place to go because there are NFTs or virtual art that’s being displayed there that you can only participate in if you go to the location.
This whole nature of traveling for art and art installation and then what can you take away from it is an interesting extension to this ecosystem. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is a tour of San Francisco for the famous movie sites. Imagine that you could go down to Fort Point and pull out your AR device and see the important scene from Vertigo down there. You could take away that performance with you and you could share it with others. To abridge my answer, Eathan, travel to locations for these augmented digital enhancements is an interesting part of social tourism. It becomes interesting when you think about how you extend beyond that? What do you take away from that visit to the site that you can then share and motivate other people to travel and explore or remix and extend?
Scott Page nailed it in one of your earlier podcasts. It’s about the experience. You can have an experience that is all digital and a headset and that could be awesome. You could travel alone or with groups to a location and have some digital-related or media-related experience. Capturing that overall experience and focusing on that experience is ultimately the important thing.
The future is interesting. I can’t wait to be able to tap my elbow and all of a sudden have the augmented world around me and all this cool stuff. I cannot wait for that to happen.
One technology area that’s complementary to what we discussed is proof of existence in place and time. Ewan, to your point, I can imagine someone going to a museum and identifying themselves as having been there. That opens up access to that experience in the future virtually or taking something with them. Perceived value around these locations and social tourism can be modulated in such a way to retain the value of the in-person experience and still acknowledge and give value to people that have had that experience. It’s similar to keeping your markings from going to a ski resort and keeping your ski resort tag on your jacket when you leave that ski resort.
I’ll move on to the next headline, this one seems fascinating, Alien Autopsy NFT Drop: Authenticated by the CIA, Reserve $1 million on Rarible.
The thing that caught my eye about this one was that they’re saying that the CIA authenticated this picture of an alien autopsy. I’ve never heard of this.
I heard that they’ve admitted that UFOs exist and gave them a new name like UAPs. I’m unfamiliar with this. Maybe the alien invasion is coming.
Supposedly, there’s a whole bunch of declassified information during the last set of documents that Trump signed into order. This is what I’ve been told, which is why all of this is coming out. I haven’t done the research on this myself but it is curious. I’m also surprised that this was captured during an Elvis Presley project. That’s a whole another question of how these two are intertwined. It needs more information before I dive into it and figure out what it means for us.
They showed it on the History Channel. It’s a mermaid documentary. Have you guys seen this?
They went through the trouble of creating a whole documentary about discovering mermaids. The makers admit that it’s not a real documentary. They made it seem like a documentary to the degree that people watching it are going to believe that there are mermaids and that they discovered them and that there’s proof because they watched it. There’s a whole genre. I forget what it’s called. It’s not a mockumentary because that’s taken. The last headline here is Blockchain startup Propy plans first-ever auction of a real apartment as a collectible NFT.
We’ve seen so much stuff happening in real estate. People are trying to sell virtual real estate or take regular real estate and include NFTs with it. We saw some renderings of a place in LA being sold along with the property itself. In this case, they’re starting to go down the path that we see things potentially evolving with real estate and NFT. Mining the NFT unlocks the actual access to the home, the deed of the home, the title search that happens. They have a whole slew of things that are going along with this that they believe to enable a person to buy the NFT and then purchase the physical home as well. All the bells and whistles that come along with it are NFTs. Step in the right direction if we’re thinking about the functional use cases for NFTs but maybe a little way to go still.
It said that it includes access to the ownership transfer paperwork, a digital artwork NFT by a popular Kiev graffiti artist. People are packaging together interesting stuff. It seems like one of the themes of NFTs in real estate is packaging things together.
It seems to speak to the flexibility of an NFT. Also, it starts to become interesting from this concept of some people value physical ownership, some people value digital ownership. The fact that we’ve got a platform that can represent physical property all the way to the digital element that doesn’t exist anywhere else but in the computers is fascinating to me.
It says, “The apartment in question is owned by Michael Arrington, the founder of this new site, which is TechCrunch.”
This is another great experiment in the NFT space to see what happens. It’s newsworthy. It’s created by a person who certainly knows about that. He turned his house into the office of TechCrunch in the early days. It turned into a community-based location. I remember having to go there for an interview way back then. I would be curious to see what happens to this apartment if it embodies community after its purchase.
For every piece of real estate I own, I’m buying that plot in SuperWorld also. I’m going to put addictive things like a slot machine in the corner in case I ever sell it or whatever. I’ll have recurring revenue in the future. That’s my master plan.
That’s what we have on the agenda for Hot Topics. The only other hot topic is Andy is going to talk to you after this interview.
We’ll be standing by.
We leave you on the hook for something here.
We’re Barbara Walters in a former life. We use her tactics to get you to spill the beans.
Volumetric Video: The fact that we’ve got a platform that can represent physical property all the way to a digital element that doesn’t exist anywhere else but in computers is fascinating.
It’s been great having you on. It’s amazing work that you’re doing. We can’t wait to see where you go next with it. Where can our readers go to learn more about you and the projects you’re working on?
The best place is to go to Arcturus.studio. That has both our software. It also has our blog that has updates on the projects that we’re involved with. We are @ArcturusXR on Twitter. We push anything out there we’re up to as well as ArcturusXR on Facebook.
We’ve reached the outer limit at the Edge of NFT. Thanks for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on this starship. Invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey also much better. Go to iTunes right now, rate us, say something cool, and then go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. Thanks again. I appreciate it.
It’s our pleasure.
Thanks. It was fantastic.
- Arcturus Studios
- SuperWorld – Previous episode
- Emma-Jane Mackinnon-Lee – Previous episode
- Doja Cat, John Legend, and others Quincy Jones’ NFT platform, OneOf, to support energy-efficient NFTs on Tezos
- Mark Haines – Remembering and honoring a CNBC icon with an NFT auction
- 5 Andy Warhol NFTs Are Heading to Auction. Art Experts Question Their Authenticity
- The Andy Warhol Foundation
- The World’s Largest NFT Museum Could Soon Reshape the New York City Skyline
- Alien Autopsy NFT Drop: Authenticated by the CIA, Reserve $1 million on Rarible
- Blockchain startup Propy plans first-ever auction of a real apartment as a collectible NFT
- @ArcturusXR – Twitter
- ArcturusXR – Facebook
- iTunes – Edge of NFT Podcast
About Andy Stack
Andy is also a co-founder of Arcturus Studios.
He is a serial entrepreneur with 3 exits and a focus on creator tools and the creator economy.
Before Arcturus Andy spent 6 years at YouTube leading the teams that built YouTube Analytics and the monetization platform for creators. And he produced collaborations between top YouTube talent and Google’s emerging technologies including the first VR / 360 videos.
About Ewan Johnson
Ewan is the co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Arcturus Studios, the leading global software leader in the post-production and streaming of volumetric video.
He has decades of experience telling stories with computer animation and has touched many movies we’ve all seen and love. Ewan was one of the first employees in the film group at Pixar and built their cinematography department. He later spent over a decade at Dreamworks architecting their animation data pipeline and tools.