Ready, Player One? How Pixvana's tools help creators build amazing VR

by Quinten Dol
July 25, 2018
julia fryett pixvana virtual reality startup seattle
photo via pixvana

Julia Fryett has curated film festival programs, sold contemporary art and helped produce ambitious creative projects in public spaces — so she might seem like an odd candidate for a high-level role at a tech company.

But then again, the techies at Pixvana tend to run with a slightly different crowd than your typical software company.

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“Those first movers and innovators in the virtual reality space are really a creative vanguard, who are thinking about VR in a totally different way,” said Fryett (pictured above), who is Pixvana’s director of partnerships. “The key to unlocking the potential of VR is getting the technology in the hands of creators who can think totally outside the box in terms of how you can use it.”

Pixvana builds software tools which enhance virtual reality technology while simplifying the process of creating VR experiences. The company’s cloud-based tool, called SPIN Studio, helps edit, process and distribute high-resolution VR experiences, and also has a number of handy applications.

The key to unlocking the potential of VR is getting the technology in the hands of creators who can think totally outside the box.”

One of those applications is a platform for VR Casting, similar to Chromecast, AirPlay and podcasts.

“It sounds really simple, but it didn’t exist for VR when we started building this over last fall and winter,” Fryett said. “Something as necessary as showing the content you’re creating was so difficult. You would need to create a custom app from scratch.”

And that’s just one hurdle in a galaxy of complex technological challenges Pixvana is attempting to streamline.

“I really love doing things that are new, that have never been done before,” Fryett said. “VR is an extremely challenging industry because it’s so early, it’s highly complex, and there are a lot of unknowns, but that’s what I think is really exciting about it.”

pixvana team seattle vr startup
photo via pixvana

As well as partnering with virtual reality creators, Pixvana recently created an in-house production studio called WunderVu, which tests and provides feedback on its latest features. The studio is headed by Scott Squires, who founded Pixvana and previously worked in visual effects for Lucasfilm.

Additionally, the company said in a recent announcement it would grant free two-year licenses for SPIN Studio to preeminent VR education programs around the world. They include several local organizations: CoMotion Labs at the University of Washington, Reel Grrls, Northwest Film Forum and Art Corps.

Despite accomplishments like these, Fryett concedes that the industry is still in its very early stages.

“People say ‘Oh, VR will change the way we communicate and it’s the new interface for the world,’ but it’s still in its early days. When you look at the headsets and the content we have today, it’s still really immature. Getting from Point A to Point B is a big challenge, and the opportunity to solve that and get the tool in the hands of people who can shape it is exciting.”

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