Good Vibes with VIVE

Everyone Can Create: Democratizing 3D Content Creation through Machine Learning with Masterpiece Studio

December 02, 2021 Season 1 Episode 6
Good Vibes with VIVE
Everyone Can Create: Democratizing 3D Content Creation through Machine Learning with Masterpiece Studio
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome back to Good Vibes with VIVE! Today’s discussion centers around 3D content creation and democratizing creativity, to allow everyone to create. Here to share his thoughts on the matter is Jonathan Gagne, CEO at Masterpiece Studio. Tune in to hear Jonathan’s explanation of today’s content creation pipeline and how VR makes it possible for everyone to take their creativity to the next level. He shares an example of a client who has created double the content at half the price through Masterpiece Studio, and explains why using the software is much easier than you think; and it’s accessible to everyone! Jonathan introduces us to the thorough process that his company follows to produce the products available to the public and predicts that, in the next five years, everything you see online will integrate a spatial component. We hope you join us today to hear all this and more! 


Key Points From This Episode:

  • An introduction to today’s topic: 3D content creation and democratizing creativity. 
  • Meet our guest, Jonathan Gagne, CEO at Masterpiece Studio. 
  • Jonathan unpacks what today’s creation pipeline looks like.
  • How VR makes it possible to use your hands in a natural way instead of having a team.
  • A recommendation to bring other apps into their software to create a real time asset.
  • Simon Mahoney as a client example who has created double the content at half the price.
  • His target audience: the 152 million creative professionals without 3D modeling skills.
  • How everyone will be able to use this software; and it’s much easier than you think!
  • His prediction that, in the next five years, everything will be online with a spatial component.
  • What he is aiming for: making creativity accessible to everyone.
  • Jonathan’s personal story of how he became interested in democratizing creativity.
  • The process of education, research, prototyping, and product development.
  • Why he has chosen to include a license in the product permissions structure.
  • Moving from sales led to product led growth. 
  • Why you’d purchase a headset before investing in VR to take your content to the next level. 
  • How 5G enables really quick connections between servers.
  • The future of Masterpiece Studio: new functionality in queue for production development, machine learning, and more!

“There’s so much demand for creating 3D content, yet literally about one percent of creatives can actually create this content.” — @BrinxSoftware [0:01:27]

“We don’t want you to have to have a whole team together just to make one asset, one 3D object. Let’s do it all yourself. Let’s use your hands in a natural way.” — @BrinxSoftware [0:06:24]

“This is the first software in existence that has a full pipeline that’s easy to use, both in VR and not in VR.” — @BrinxSoftware [0:09:43] 

“You may not realize this at this moment but, in the next five years, all of your work is [still] going to be over the internet like it is today. It’s just going to have that spatial component.” — @BrinxSoftware [0:14:56]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Jonathan Gagne on LinkedIn
Jonathan Gagne on Twitter
Masterpiece Studio
Pearly Chen on Twitter



[00:00:04] Pearly Chen: Welcome to Good Vibes with VIVE. I’m your host, Pearly Chen. I’m an executive with global technology company, HTC. As a mother of three young girls, I’ve loved building and investing in profound, immersive technologies that make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Each week, I speak with founders at the forefront of VR, AR and the metaverse. All of them inspire me. Some, I’ve been lucky enough to back as an investor. Tune in every week to hear some of the most inspiring closed-door conversations and walk away informed, inspired and full of good vibes.

Today, we are going to talk about 3D content creation, and the big idea of democratizing creativity, so everyone can create. We can intuitively understand this idea of how creating in three-dimensional space is more intuitive and more natural, as it matches with our natural perception of the world around us. Of course, much of the 3D content creation today is done with 2D interfaces and tools, [inaudible 00:01:07], compass computer software that few of us are actually adept with.


[00:01:17] PC: My guest today is on the mission to change that, so more people can be empowered to create. Jonathan Gagne, Founder, CEO of Masterpiece Studio. Welcome to the show today.

[00:01:28] Jonathan Gagne: It’s great to be here, Pearly.

[00:01:30] PC: Hi, Jon. How are you doing?

[00:01:32] JG: I’m doing excellent. Excellent. Thanks for having me.

[00:01:35] PC: Give us a quick rundown of what Masterpiece Studio actually does. How do you plan to tackle this enormous goal of democratizing creativity, so that people without even technical knowledge of these very difficult concentration tools can partake in creation as well, in this spatial computing future?

[00:01:56] JG: Sure, I'd be happy to. It all starts with this really big problem, is that, there's so much demand for creating 3D content, yet, literally about 1% of creatives can actually create this content. We're looking to solve that. We're looking to make it easy. We're hoping in the long run, we can have hundreds of millions of people be able to create with these new ways of creating. Essentially, how we're doing that is using really great VR hardware, and the stuff you would get with creating on the VIVE. This allows you to directly interact with your environment, instead of using complicated tools, and keyboards and mouse. It's really unnatural. It takes years to be able to do.

All you got to do is just use your hands, and sculpt and manipulate things easy. We add an extra layer of machine learning on that to do a whole bunch of automation, making just this whole process just dramatically easier and faster.

[00:02:54] PC: Can you maybe help us understand for those of us who are not 3D content creators today, what is today's creation pipeline? What does it look like today? Give us a little bit of context on how complex this is, and why you set out to solve this challenge for more of us to create?

[00:03:11] JG: Sure. Today, to be able to create high-quality content, you have to do a whole bunch of different stages. The truth is, is that for a computer to create 3D is just not a natural thing. The previous software developers had to do really elaborate engineering-driven ways to create it. This means that there's a whole bunch of technical stages. For example, let's say you start with an idea. You want to say, create a character for a game. Well, how do you go and do that?

Well, first of all, you can't do anything right away. You need to spend years to learn the basics of these tools. Then, you can only learn, typically, people only specialize in one part of that pipeline. To give a quick sense about what that looks like is, you start with an idea, you create some content, a concept art of it, maybe some pictures, then you take it to a 3D modeler, who creates an actual model of it that can be rotated and looked at in 3D. Then you got to do all this work to clean up all the meshes, essentially, all the geometry on it. You don't have to worry about this too much.

Needless to say, that it's in a way that computers can't run. We need to find a way to simplify that model. That's the next step where we decimate it, retopo it. We make the geometry really nice. Then, there's okay, great, we have to do that, but we now need to paint on it. Oh, wait. There's no way to paint on it. Now, we have to do this other complicated thing called UV mapping, which is trying to wrap a 2D surface around a 3D object and cut all the pieces so it fits. Okay, great. We have that. Okay, now let's make it look good. Now, we have the texture painted. We start painting and drawing on it. Okay, we got a texture painting. Oh, no. It doesn't move.

What do we do? We want it to move in a natural way. Well, let's put some bones in it, just like humans. We draw and originally puts a bunch of bones and try to look at it from different angles, because it's so hard to line up all these bones. Then it's like, okay, great. There's bones in it, and it moves, but none of it doesn't move in a way that feels natural. Now, we then we've got to skin it. We've got to attach the bones to the skin in just the right way, so that it bends the right amount. Oh, now it can move sort of, but it doesn't animate. We do all this keyframe animation, and so on and so on.

That's just to create one piece of asset. That needs an entire team, each person spending years outside of some of the cheap products, or free products like Blender, most of these things are thousands of dollars a year to use. It's just prohibitive. Completely prohibitive for most people to use. I wasn't even talking about that dozens of steps after that, just to create that one piece. That's what it looks like today. It's a mess.

[00:05:51] PC: That is mind-boggling. I was struggling to even repeat the different stages and process, what we just heard from idea prototyping, to concept art, to what is it as 3D modeling and texture painting and UV mapping and rigging and animation. It is a full pipeline just to create a piece of 3D assets. Not to imagining, all these different interactive, immersive experiences we're talking about has hundreds, if not thousands of different, the 3D assets in it.

If we're going into this immersive future, where there is a blend between the physical and virtual reality, where we go seamlessly between augmented and virtual experiences, then we got to really make it easier for assets and worlds to be created. This is a really compelling idea to think that this process can be less prohibitive. How does Masterpiece make that possible?

[00:06:48] JG: Well, first off, we don't want you to have to even worry about all the stages. We don't want you to have to spend years to do that. You have better things to do with your time. We don't want you to have to have a whole team together just to make one asset, one 3D object. Let's do it all yourself. Let's use your hands in a natural way. When you're a kid, you learn how to put blocks together, you learn how to interact with the world. Let's just use that natural thing. VR makes that possible.

Then, these technical steps, like cleaning up the meshes and UV mapping. These technical things, why does it have to do – Why do you have to do that? We use machine learning to automate them. We will use machine learning to put the bones in. Do a whole bunch of other stuff like that. What we can do today is we can enable one person to start to be able to create, not in a year's worth of work, literally seconds, no joke. Seconds to start, and you can get good at it in a day. You can do the whole process yourself without requiring other people, without paying expensive talent to do this on your behalf, and do it all inside of VR. It's really a game changer.

[00:07:58] PC: Are you telling me that the entry barrier is zero? My five-year-old daughter can now go into VR and start creating 3D assets with her hands?

[00:08:06] JG: Yeah. My niece and nephews do at that age.

[00:08:10] PC: Wow. That is mind-blowing.

[00:08:13] JG: Even more, my grandma, God bless her soul now, but recently, when she was around, she was able to do this in seconds herself as well. No matter what your age is, it was literally seconds. Now, I'm not saying you can create beautiful art in seconds. It does take a little bit of practice. We're talking hours here, not years.

[00:08:32] PC: Take us into the immersive Masterpiece Studio here and show us what tools are at our fingertips to start creating, even for a five-year-old or 93-year-old.

[00:08:42] JG: Creating in VR is really easy. I’m going to show you some tools here, where if you take this sculpt, you see this little sphere, you can just grab it and move it with your hands. It will just add this virtual clay. You can move it and manipulate it. You can just hit buttons and it will automatically clean it up for you. You want to draw on it, great. You can just walk around the object and paint onto it, almost like you're painting on a canvas in real life.

You don't need to learn all these technical things. You just do what you've seen other people do. You draw like you would on a piece of paper. You sculpt like you had clay in real life, and you paint on the model, like you would in real life. You want to animate it, great. We do a lot of the steps for you. You can move the joints, just like it was stop motion, like you would in real life.

[00:09:34] PC: That sounds like magic. That reminds me of my children, who you might be able to hear in the background, playing with Play Doh. Something as easy as that using your raw imagination and your hands to start building stuff out of thin air and from nothing. It’s just all imaginary base, imagination-based. you can start creating anything of all shapes and kinds and then the machine learning pipeline and the tools that you have created will help them fill in all the technical gap in making this asset, or whatever it is that they make into being ready to be outputted into other software platforms to be to be used, right?

[00:10:14] JG: Exactly. That's a key thing with the other platforms to be used. This is the first software in existence that has a full pipeline that's easy to use, both in VR and not in VR. Now, what's great about this is despite having those pieces, we're not saying there's not other great apps as well out there. I really recommend you to use all the other apps. Just bring them into our software afterwards, to make it so that it's in a usable form, so that it can be in a real-time asset. What's a real time asset? That's something that can just be put right into a game and be run. It actually works in a game.

It can be put into an animation, and it just works, right? It's to do all of those steps. Regardless of whatever software you want to use, put it into our software. It does all the steps to make it real-time. Then, you can start to finally use it in the real world to do any type of creation you want.

[00:11:09] PC: Isn't it much faster as well, to create this way? Compared to the conventional way of creating 3D models that are real-time and ready to use?

[00:11:18] JG: Yeah. I mean, we've done tests showing 14X improvements in speed. We even have publicly an artist from Pixar that says, it's 10X faster.

[00:11:27] PC:
Wow. That's some significant game-changing, time-saving, and as a result, cost-saving for anyone on the professional scale, studios and teams. If everyone can create that much faster, it is very efficient for resource allocation.

[00:11:43] JG: Absolutely. Yes, it's faster for existing professionals. I think, the ones that we really want to focus on here is those indie, the people new getting, and the people learning who are getting into it. I mean, talking about learning, Yale has 30 licenses. They help their students just create so much faster. We have an indie developer. I have to tell you a real quick story here. Simon Mahoney, he's a creator for Triaxial Productions. He was building a game, just as a hobby, for fun, and hit so much community support to do this into a commercial release. He decided, “Okay. Now, I'm going to make this into my career.” He jumped into this as a career. Now, the problem is, is he really didn't have much money. He didn't have a lot of budget for this.

He started out commissioning artists and stuff, especially doing some of the rigging and skinning. Then he's wondering, is there a better way? He searched online, he found our software, and was totally blown away. Now he's able to do a lot of this work himself. He's able to rig and skin it, which led to him being able to create twice as much content at half the price, making him be able to make a much bigger game, much bigger to his vision of what he really wants to create.

I really admire people that are doing these things. They're really realizing and taking into their own hands and saying, “You know what? I can do this myself.” You know what? He's doing a great job, and I have no doubt that his game is going to be a commercial success.

[00:13:12] PC: What is your build at Masterpiece, this tool specifically, who are you catering to right now? How would that evolve into your future for Masterpiece?

[00:13:22] JG: Right. I mean, there hasn't been an evolution. In the early days, it was only good enough for consumers, and then it was good enough for hobbyists. Now, we have major studios using it. Ubisoft is making AAA game with it. A whole bunch of other major studios as well are using it for these reasons. I really still think that the biggest value is not as much to these ones. It is to the person who's new getting into it. It's to that new creator who's just learning. It's to the 152 million creative professionals worldwide, who don't have 3D modeling skills.

You know what? Every single one of you that are listening to this today can do it yourself, and it's easier than you think. This is who it's really for, to both enable these people first, to start to create as initially as a hobby, and then to elevate them to be able to create at a professional level, whether it's they’re making a professional game, or they're doing it in other ways, or creating content in general for the upcoming creator economy. This is truly the problem that we're solving.

[00:14:27] PC: Right. It's maybe a little hard for those in the audience listening, who is not a game designer, or developer, or an artist, that think about why it will be relevant for them to one day, start creating 3D content. What's your take on that? Where are we going with all this? Why is it relevant to those of us that are not game developers?

[00:14:45] JG: Pearly, that's a really, really great question, because I think you hit the nail on the head. I bet, most people who aren't that are asking the same thing. “This isn't relevant to me.” Not so much. In fact, it really is the opposite. Really, what's happening right now is this is something we actually don't even have any control over. There is trillions of dollars’ worth of market capital in companies that are building the next version of the Internet.

Right now, we're in Internet 2.0. We're moving to Internet 3.0, which is this spatial environment, where we can interact and immersively feel. It's adding an element of 3D to the Internet. Now, this is happening. This is happening this decade, and there's some very, very big companies that are saying this within the next five years. You may not realize at this moment, but within the next few years, all of your work is going to be still over the Internet, like it is today. It's just going to have that spatial component. That's one thing.

The next thing is we're moving entirely into a digital-first world. That's not to say we don't currently live in the non-digital world. Of course, we will as well. Things will be made first in the digital world. Let's say, you're an architect. You make all the thing inside, the digital world first, before you make the building. If you make a product, great. You make it inside the digital world first, and then you bring it into the physical world.

This even goes beyond that. Let's say, you're a marketer, and you want to communicate, well, how do you communicate that product in an easier way? You show visuals that are interactive in this world. You can go more. What if you're a doctor, and you want to visualize data, you want to visualize how people – the patient and how they will in certain surgeries. Let's say, you're talking about scientists, and you want to see how a molecule looks, or a professor that teaches it to the classroom? How do you teach in an engaging way? How do you interact with people in an engaging way, with this Internet 3.0, which is happening is being built as we speak? This is the fundamental reason we're all moving into the digital world together.

It's becoming like literacy for creating in 3D. We all have a hammer. Everybody here probably has a hammer and a saw in their house somewhere. You can do basic things in the real world, but what's the hammer and saw in the digital world? Doesn't exist. This is what we're building.

[00:17:09] PC: This really speaks to the concept of the metaverse, the M word, the metaverse, where they're interconnected virtual worlds, immersive experiences, where each of us would carry a continuous identity and experience across different interfaces, whether it's augmented, it’s virtual, it’s PC, or desktop or mobile based. This is the Internet 3.0 that you're talking about. Clearly, trillions of dollars are – maybe not quite there yet, but there’s a large amount of capital is pouring into making this the next evolution of our personal computing platform. This is idea that we're saying, or advocating to imagine this future, where now, it's hard to imagine, just because it feels a novelty entertainment gaming console. How XR is going to touch each of our everyday life is prevalent.

It will be every single aspect of our life. It's just like, how we use our Internet today, or our mobile phone today. In this new, immersive future, somebody has got to be building something. It's not just those professionals. You're saying, each of us have a role in building, living, working, connecting in those worlds. It could really touch your life in various ways, in different levels, regardless of what profession. Isn't as such a fascinating, exciting concept? I love that.

[00:18:28] JG: Absolutely. I mean, that's a game changer. The amounts being spent on it today is tens of billions. When I talk about the trillions, that's the trillions of dollars of company value, who have staked their entire existence on this next version. This is really powerful, what's being built. Ultimately, some people think that it’s just so far away. “We're really going to live our whole lives in a virtual world. Yeah. Okay. We'll see that.” You know what? It doesn't start always in a whole thing, where it's this fantasy, novel world, right?

It starts out a little bit by a little bit, where, oh, you're just checking on the Internet, and you can look at the product that you want. You want to go and buy something off a Shopify store. Okay, you can look at that product in 3D. Oh, you have a AR on your phone. Oh, you can you can put it on your feet and you can see how those shoes look. Okay, great. Then you have a pair of glasses that overlay onto the world. This just makes it easier and easier to add these components. It's not going to be the sudden thing that all of a sudden, flips on and then we're in this fantasy universe –

[00:19:31] PC: Or dystopian.

[00:19:31] JG: - where we’re all magical characters. Dystopian, or utopian. It's going to be an evolution.

[00:19:37] PC: Right. That’s a good point.

[00:19:39] JG: Can you imagine doing even your work today without the Internet? It is everything we do. Yet, it's not like, it happened all of a sudden. It took a little bit of time, and changed everything. It was almost like, happens at a rate that we adjust to it, and it becomes normal.

[00:19:58] PC: Yeah. In the hindsight, how do we ever exist without Internet?

[00:20:01] JG: We can’t pretty much. I mean, some jobs, sure. But 90-plus percentage in first world countries, essentially, have this. When you look back in five years from now to today, and you would think, “Oh, I would have never guessed that I'm living in this thing that overlays digital content into my physical world.” You would never have guessed this, but this is absolutely where we will be. That's just not my opinion. That's the leaders of major international tech companies, who are saying a 100%, this is what's happening.

[00:20:36] PC: Looking at the exponential rate of where human ingenuity and technology progress is taking us, it's really hard to imagine not to have that exponential change in human-computer interaction, and human technology experiences. Because this block of a rectangle, the phone in your hand is not necessarily the most natural interface for us to consume media, to communicate, or to do productivity work. Imagine going, yeah, 10 years down the line, looking back, it would have probably felt really impossible. How do we possibly live without all these spatial information? How can we possibly meet in virtual space without being represented in a photorealistic avatar in fantastical environments that’s not possible in real life?

How did that even exist before this all happened? I think, the human imagination can get really far. Before that, all kind of flips a switch and happen, even if gradually, it's maybe a little bit hard to imagine. That's why we're having this conversation, to hopefully inspire some of that thinking, that it's not sci-fi, and it's not super far away. It's not dystopian. It will actually happen. In that future, what do all of us do in playing a role in as you say, literacy, in creating, staying productive, communicating in that format and language? That's what Masterpiece is trying to solve, right?

[00:22:01] JG: Absolutely. We're trying to make that easy. We’re trying to make the ability to create, be easy and accessible by everybody. Now, there's two things. You need to have basic literacy on how this all works. The great thing about it is, in fact, you don't really need to worry that it's just going to get overly complex. Yes, the technology is rapidly expanding, but so is the usability of it. Think of it like this, from zero to one and one to many of this at the scale.

Zero to one is just making the technology exist. It's difficult to use, and practically, you need to be an engineer to use it. Then the one to many, bringing it to scale into the masses is where okay, we've made it work. Now, we're going to find out how to make it actually easy to use. Well, that's where everything is going. We are now building technology that is more human, that is natural, is intuitive. This will be, to give us powerful technology that gets out of the way, and allows us to live our lives. This is what is being built.

[00:23:01] PC: What inspired you? What's your personal motivation to take on this specific problem to solve? I know you have a background in machine learning, very deeply technical background. I don't know how many PhDs you actually have under your belt at this point. Why democratizing creativity? How did this become your personal mission?

[00:23:20] JG: Yeah. That's a big story. I'll try to make this one short. It goes back to when I was a little kid even.

[00:23:25] PC: We have time.

[00:23:27] JG: Okay, great. Let's jump into it then. I remember being a little kid and just watching cartoons with my sister. I was four-years-old. Then I was five. I had a friend and now in the neighborhood, and he had an original Nintendo. Mind-blown. You can control the cartoons? I begged my parents, until they got tired of hearing me beg for it, they eventually got it. I was like, “This is amazing.” Then a few years went by, and I was like, “I want to make these myself.” Then it was a young team. This was a little bit before Internet was probably available. Started teaching myself to program. The only problem was there was no Internet to teach me, and I had no books.

I had a command line, like help button that was saw the syntax and trial and error, smashing it together. I taught myself how to program. Creating the visual part, the assets, or graphic stuff was, oh, man. That was difficult. You had to create every little piece, pixel by pixel. If you wanted to make something 3D, you had to figure out how to do all the 3D math to do that. I managed to get some basic things working. Something wants to be a better way.

On a tangential note here, right around a similar time. This was earlier 90s, I think, around, when I first tried out VR. It was like, this is clearly the future. It’s a little early, but this is amazing and going to be the future. Then fast forward to this content creation, then early, about around 2001 or so, I started saying, “Well what if we can have these computers learn?” That's when I really got into to machine learning. You really didn't have the ability or anything. Fast forward a few years and then under one of my – did a few undergrad school. One of my undergrads, I start publishing scientific research papers.

I did half a dozen research papers on how a computer model, on how to create content, inspired by how humans do it. That then, fortunately, that helped me be able to take it a lot farther. I think, I got the highest national research award for my level, for graduate level in Canada, where I studied that, machine learning, computer vision and sensor fusion and motion capture, some of the technology inside of VR. Basically, took a – Anyways, that's a whole other story. I won't get in there.

Learning the technologies on how to do it. It was like, “Okay, great. I have all the components on how to do it.” I come back to my hometown. Well, it's the capital, Ottawa. Capital of Canada, Ottawa. I said, “Great, I'm going to do this,” and I look for jobs. Put in the search, zero came up. Excellent. I was searching. I started with – then I did – I was a technical consultant, working for things, government projects. Worked some stuff for the prime minister's office and some secret projects and things like that with the Canadian government. It paid well, but I hated that job.

I was getting offers from the major tech companies at the time in the Bay Area. Right around that time, unfortunately, my grandfather passed away, and I had to take care of all the wealth stuff, which unfortunately, dragged out a while. Stuck here doing this with a job then that was a good job, but I absolutely hated it. I wanted to do this. I wanted to create.

I was like, “Okay.” I took my last contract. It was beginning of 2015. I'm like, I’m doing this. I'm using VR. I’m using machine learning. We're going to see what we can create with this. I started validating ideas and stuff like that. I said, okay, everywhere I see, people are, need to create content. I was like “Okay, great. This is something that's important for the world.” Next one is like, okay. Then VR, wow, this dramatically increases the ability to create. We have a great match. I'm on to something. Oh, but then on a side note, downturn is actually, temporarily, I got my whole face paralyzed right at the start when I tried to start a company.

That was difficult learning how to do everything. You know what? This was my dream. There's no way that I was going to let that stop me. I got lucky and I killed, as you can see here. I can move everything. Instead of backing out, what I decided to do is do something totally crazy. Take all my money, everything I have, instead of buying a house and a car, I seed-funded the company. This was the beginning of what you see today. That earlier versions, we called it bring software at the time. It was early versions of Masterpiece Studio.

[00:28:22] PC: This was five years ago. Wow, I've been asking for some of these backstories, but I don't think you told it in such detail. Also, I'm amazed. I'm left speechless about what a journey it's been for you. It feels like, as you have been waiting all your life for all these components to converge into the right moment, for you to take this leap.

[00:28:49] JG: Absolutely, absolutely. I've spent a lot of time figuring that out. I don't know how many years. I worked 80 hours a week to try to get the basics of all the areas, trying to understand all the technology, get the basics of the design and understand that rabbit hole of complexity of the business side, too. I try to read another book every week to try to scratch the surface. I feel that I'm finally at the beginning. This is enough to do at the beginning. This is the beginning of an adventure that lead from something that we had hypothesis, that got lucky and being worked out good.

We built a prototype. In a month, I hired a few developers to help me. We are releasing Masterpiece Studio Pro. We are creating a free version of this, that we're going to be releasing on November 30. Anybody can go there and try it for – not only try for free, use it all the functionality of it for free as well. Now, all that we ask, look, we've spent a lot of work and effort to build this. All that we ask is that whatever you create, if you're using the free license, to then share that content you create with the world. Share it with the world. If you want to use it for commercial reasons, then please help. Continue the development of the project by buying a license.

[00:30:12] PC: I love that. That's really, truly honest to your mission of democratizing creativity to anyone, by making this incredibly complex and robust piece of software free to access for everyone. I love that. Also, as an investor, I would need to ask, where's the revenue model? How do you plan to take this – take your financial to the next step, to sustain financial stability as well?

[00:30:37] JG: Oh, great question. The key thing about this is that we've segmented out the capabilities that any professional needs, right? If you’re a professional, what would you want to do? You'd want to keep your content private. You wouldn't want everyone else having a license to use it. You would also want to have a license to even use it. That's some of the things that are different there, is with the free version, you're required to pay it forward and share it with the world in a version of creative commons type license. With the paid version, you can keep it to yourself, to use it for your own commercial reasons.

Now, we have a lot more than that as well. We’re shifting from sales-led, to product-led growth, putting a lot of growth loops in there, and so on. With this whole sharing platform, you can do it for all kinds of amazing stuff. That's another deep conversation.

[00:31:32] PC: An enterprise license. Enterprise sales, which was the primary engine to growth to now more product, organic growth, that you're hoping to inspire more independent creators.

[00:31:43] JG: Yes. We've moved from sales-led, to that being having outbound sales reps, to more marketing led, with inbound sales. Then now, we're moving to product-led, having opening up the top of the funnel with the app stores, driving in large numbers of users. I mean, our previous software had 26,000 users and 15,000 paying in customer. This is lightyears ahead of that. We hope to drive a large number of people in through that funnel. Then, help people raise up from being hobbyists, to professionals, and then with the license for professional ones, that drives revenue, and also encouraging, helping people become advocates for their own creation, and hoping with that, the community we drive helps to further propagate our mission.

[00:32:39] PC: You do need a VR headset to use Masterpiece Pro, right?

[00:32:43] JG: Yes. Today, you absolutely do need a headset. If you haven't bought a headset yet, what are you waiting for? There's so many great VIVE headsets that are just incredible. Get yourself a headset. You know what? You start creating anything. I don't care if you even use our software. Just start using it. Start making stuff. Then when you're ready to actually turn that content in, put your content to the next level, give our software a try. We’ll help you take you to the next level in terms of creating.

[00:33:17] PC: It’s not just PC VR that is able to access your software, with streaming technology, 5G. You can even access this tool to create with the standalone headset today.

[00:33:31] JG: Sort of. Yes. The full answer is, is with a PC-based one, you can do it all on your own. Now, we do have a partnership with HTC, Google and Nvidia to stream content to a portable headset. We've successfully streamed it through to the VIVE Focus 3. That's great. One caveat with that, however, is that it's not the super cheapest right now, the servers to stream it. If you're looking for that really cheap option, it's still the use of the headset. In the coming couple of years, that price will dramatically drop. We'll be able to stream in a low cost to any of these standalone headsets.

[00:34:18] PC: Do you think 5Gs rollout in the following years, will make a difference to that as well, and [inaudible 00:34:23] capacity in the cloud?

[00:34:26] JG: Absolutely. The only reason that it's a little bit costly today is because these heavy GPU compute servers on the edge are still a little expensive. The 5G is a huge use case for streaming this really involved information. Basically, a lot of information and a low-latency. In other words, to do that round trip from your computer to server is like a snap. Really fast. That's what 5G enables; really quick connections between the servers. We're working with Ericsson, Siena and a number of others to ensure that this is 5G. We tested it on 5G and it works. Look forward to in the not-too-distant future, being able to stream amazing content from the cloud, to a lightweight VIVE headset, all from the cloud over 5G.

[00:35:20] PC: Another perfectly matching use case for 5G, is for anyone to create, and then playback their creation. You mentioned, Yale has 30 licenses in helping their students create. I imagine, this is great for earlier stage childhood development as well in creating. Of course, they're always learning to create with your sensory functions and using their hands, etc. Would you say that this is good for younger children to explore this immersive future as well, by becoming a creator, using your software?

[00:35:51] JG: Yeah. I mean, so Yale, of course, they're a little bit older, right? They're all college, in college. This really can be used by anybody, everything from someone who's just young enough to use a VR headset, all the way up to somebody who's maybe retired. The whole gamut, it really enables a population that could never do it before. It's really great from a getting their feet wet, sort of start in way, for someone who's younger. Then as they continue to use the software, it can enable them to take that next step into making a career out of it.

[00:36:30] PC: What's next in store for Masterpiece? What are we watching out for, for exciting updates come the next two years, and the ultimate dream?

[00:36:38] JG: Am I supposed to release all of my secrets?

[00:36:41] PC: No, only talk about what you want to, that you can talk about.

[00:36:44] JG: No, no, no. I'm just kidding. I'm happy to share. We're doing some really exciting stuff. Our machine learning is getting better and better. We have tons of functionality that's already past R&D, and is just waiting, is in queue for our production development to go out, to be production ready and go out live. There’s tons of parts and machine learning are getting a big boost soon. We have other stuff. 

[00:37:41] PC: That is really exciting. I've been seeing a lot of outputs from creators, artists using Masterpiece Pro, to some stunning effects. You wouldn't believe that these assets and worlds aren't created out of intuitive natural interface and tool, like Masterpiece, without those complex computer software that you will imagine to be needed, to be required to create those AAA quality output.

I'm really excited about what's to come, and how this can be in the hands of more people, so the more of us can create, and be great to feel brave enough and inspired enough to create, knowing that a lot of technical details will be taken care of by machine learning and technology, and all of that dissolve in the background. Just let our human ingenuity come forward, creativity shine and make the world a better place.

Thank you, Jon, for being with us today. Thank you, Masterpiece Studio. We hope they enjoyed today's episode in discussing democratizing creativity through XR and Masterpiece Pro. Thank you.

[00:38:46] JG: It was a pleasure. This is the most exciting time in all of history. Happy to be chatting about it with you today.

[00:38:53] PC: Thank you, Jon.


[00:38:54] PC: Thank you for listening. Please subscribe and share this podcast with a colleague or friend that you think could use some good vibes. Learn more at and follow HTC VIVE on social media. See you next week.