Start-up of technology and visual effects Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies (MARZ) raised $ 5.3 million in Series A funding. The investment was led by Round13 Captial with participation from Rhino Ventures and Harlo Equity Partners. MARZ plans to use the funding to expand its core visual effects business and accelerate the development of its “AI for Visual Effects” technology solutions.
The Toronto-based studio was launched in 2018 and is developing AI solutions that aim to address some of the challenges faced by the entertainment industry regarding the shortage of VFX capacity spurred by the streaming wars, the corresponding explosion of content. demand and the importance of VFX in driving subscriber growth.
“We will use the funds to accelerate research and development of our ‘AI for VFX’ solutions, two of which are AI products currently in development,” MARZ co-founder and co-chair Jonathan Bronfman told TechCrunch in an email. “With this in mind, funds will be allocated to hire key personnel in our research, engineering and product organizations. The funding will also be used to expand our hardware capabilities and infrastructure, which will help dramatically shorten AI research and development, as well as increase the capacity efficiency of our two AI products. “
Bronfman said that while the majority of the funding will go to developing proprietary AI solutions, it will also help the company accelerate growth in its traditional VFX services business, which he says is synergistic with the business. of MARZ AI.
The company has worked on 88 projects in its first three years since launch, including Marvel’s “WandaVision”, HBO’s “Watchmen”, Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” and Apple TV +’s “Invasion”. MARZ completed 13 projects in its first year, 21 in its second year and 54 in its third year.
MARZ has grown from 45 employees in 2019 to 194 today, with plans to grow its team to 300 over the next year. Of current employees, more than a quarter focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Although the company is based in Toronto, MARZ is a remote-first business with a distributed workforce based in cities around the world including Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, Madrid, Los Angeles, Melbourne, London, Moscow, Mumbai and Mexico City.
“Our mission is to democratize visual effects and in doing so empower creatives around the world to produce the most ambitious video content possible, whether it’s a streaming service or a Hollywood studio,” from a game studio, metaverse developer, or talented newcomer. who wants to integrate visual effects into their content on social networks. Bronfman wrote.
The company plans to create a suite of automated AI-based products that are integrated with both VFX and gaming technology. For Hollywood, MARZ products will be aimed at enabling the ability to create more ambitious content. Looking at other markets like the end consumer, Bronfman says MARZ’s solutions will aim to make visual effects accessible for the very first time.
“MARZ is one of the fastest growing visual effects studios in the industry, renowned for leveraging technology to deliver a best-in-class product in record time,” said Brahm Klar, partner of Round13 Capital, in a press release. “By partnering with MARZ, alongside some of Canada’s most successful investors, we can work closely with the team to build on the company’s extraordinary success to date. “