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Just five months after coming out of stealth mode, virtual reality cinema startup Jaunt is looking to scale big time with a $27.8 million Series B round. The company will use the funds to grow its team, build more of its 360-degree cameras and produce films.
Jaunt’s small team is based out of Palo Alto, Calif., where it has been prototyping and building a unique camera that sports a ring of lenses. Together, they capture a nearly full sphere of video that can then be edited with Jaunt’s software. Inside a virtual reality headset, viewers can look around as if they are inside the movie.
Highland Capital Partners led the round. Further funding came from Google Ventures and existing investors Redpoint Ventures, British Sky Broadcasting, Peter Gotcher and Blake Krikorian. Jaunt raised an $6.8 million round in April.
Earlier this month I spent a day on the set of one of the first films made with Jaunt’s platform. The startup paired with Hollywood’s New Deal Studios to make the movie, and is looking to form similar partnerships for future projects.
Jaunt is likely racing to have content ready ahead of the launch of the consumer version of Oculus Rift, which is expected sometime in the next year. Jaunt has stated that it is not favoring one platform over another, but Oculus sparked the renewal of interest in virtual reality and will continue to lead the public’s interest in it for the time being.
Generally known for its potential in gaming, virtual reality is also very suited to cinema, and Jaunt is one of the major startups creating tools for producing high-definition films. I was blown away by how immersive the experience is when I tried Jaunt.
“People get immediately what it is,” vice president of engineering Tom Annau told me in April. “It’s a visceral reaction. They haven’t really seen this before.”