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DNABlock has raised $1.2 million from SoftBank and others to make metaverse avatars more inclusive.

The Los Angeles-based company makes it easier for creators to build high-quality 3D avatars that reflect diversity. All sorts of companies are trying to create the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. (We’re doing our second metaverse conference on January 25 to January 27).

The investors include SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund, Spacecadet Ventures, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, and Twitch Co-founder Kevin Lin.

DNABlock has produced projects for TV networks such as Fox and Apple TV+, as well as prominent video games, music labels, fashion designers and award shows. Cofounders Anthony Kelani and Luc Schurgers bootstrapped the company from its early stages and will use the seed funding to bring the tech to the broader community of individual creators and companies on the waitlist later this year.

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“DNABlock was created out of the love of gaming and storytelling. We believe that creativity shouldn’t require a PhD level understanding of 3D animation,” said Kelani in an email to GamesBaet. “Luc and I are both creative people with technical backgrounds, but we saw the revolution that real-time gaming engines brought to virtual production and realized we could democratize the 3D creation space with this technology.”

DNABlock avatar for Marcus Belan.

Above: DNABlock avatar for a Malan Breton fashion event.

Image Credit: DNABlock

The company competes with a wide variety of avatar companies, including Genies and Epic Games’ Unreal Engine-based MetaHuman Creator. DNABlock sees its mission as making the metaverse more accessible and inclusive for all.

“We don’t compete with Unreal Metahumans; we’ve actually integrated their avatars into our system so creators can use them,” Kelani said. “As it is right now, if you’re a creator, there’s a technical learning curve to actually using a Metahuman after you create it. We’ve filled in that gap. Genies is another avatar creator in the 3D space; however they don’t focus on content creation and they’re limited to their own style of avatar. We enable creators to fully customize everything with no code.”

DNABlock’s tech is virtual production software called Replikant, which uses a photo-to-avatar AI pipeline to allow creators to upload a selfie and generate a customizable avatar in just 40 seconds.

Creators can make any type of original character, customize it from a library of clothing and props, and render cinematic animated videos directly from the platform.

DNABlock also enables fully customizable multiplayer venues for fans to attend live events as their avatar that can be streamed live to all platforms. Creators can also join the private DNABlock community on Discord to share experiences, original assets, collaboration opportunities, and platform requests. Additionally, DNABlock provides solutions for creators to distribute their original content and avatar assets as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

The company has 11 employees. The founders started working on the tech in 2017, and they incorporated in 2019.

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