With app stores becoming ever more competitive, game makers have had to upgrade from building 2D games to creating 3D titles over the past two years. That has meant even more creative and intensive work for artists and producers, as the graphics processing power on smartphones has increased.
But there are tools to help. Mixamo is a 25-person startup that has existed very quietly for the past five years. Even though they haven’t really spoken to the press much before, they’ve raised about $11 million in total and have racked up customers like Microsoft, EA, Sony, Blizzard and Gameloft.
They’re a web-based service that helps developers rig and animate 3D characters by making rigging and animation easier. A developer can upload the mesh for a character, place joint locators and locator rings to figure out how to make the character move, and then run Mixamo’s auto-rigging software. For console titles, the company says they can cut the cost of producing animations by anywhere from 70 to 80 percent compared to standard techniques like keyframing and motion capture.
An offshoot from some research out of Stanford’s BioMotion Lab, the company has built up a store where they sell existing characters and animations on top of a subscription-based service. (They’re one of the largest animations providers in the asset store for Unity, a hugely popular game development platform backed by Sequoia Capital).
“We are an end-to-end 3D character art solution that allows developers and artists to easily and affordably create, rig and animate high-quality characters,” said Stefano Corazza, the CEO and co-founder of Mixamo.
Naturally, Mixamo has a SaaS-based business model, where they sell subscriptions by the seat to gaming studios. Their All Access product gives studios one year of unlimited access to their 3D characters, Auto-Rigger and their library of thousands of animations for $1,500 per seat.
They’re seeing developers handle about 800 or 900 characters per week and have a few thousand customers. The company has taken funding from Granite Ventures and Keynote Ventures.