Earlier this year, MDM visited the Santa Monica offices of VNTANA. Tucked away in the rear parking lot of a multiuse space near Bergamot Station, VNTANA enables immersive, multilocation live experiences through high-definition, real-time hologram technology.
I first encountered VNTANA at TedX Venice Beach’s “think small” event on February 22, 2015, where the cofounder, Ashley Crowder, demonstrated the streamlined hardware and inventive software that powers VNTANA. She explained that as a music lover, she first had the idea for VNTANA when she and some friends went out to the Coachella Music Festival during college. A number of her friends could not afford the pricey tickets to attend the live show, and instead contented themselves by watching the streaming content online with headphones—a distant second best to the exhilarating live show experience.
What if we could project the musicians and artists onto a second stage in a remote location to simultaneously perform for a live audience there as well? Crowder, a USC grad with a B.S. in Industrial Systems Engineering and an M.S. in Engineering Management, went to work.
In their offices, co-founder Ben Conway gave a demonstration by standing in the “field of vision” of the camera, which then projected his life-size form onto a stage across the room. The VNTANA system is transportable and scalable to any project size—the demo system that projected Ben’s full-size hologram onto the stage fit inside a hard case roughly the size of a ski bag, and takes roughly an hour to put up and take down.
The company, which has 19 patents pending, is currently focused on scaling its operations by renting and selling to brands for use at trade shows, e-sports gaming companies, and live venues, as well as further developing and selling their proprietary software. Its seed round was led by Tylt Lab and followed on by other entertainment investors. VNTANA’s clients include Microsoft, Nokia and Kia.