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‘Matrix’ bullet-time creator John Gaeta takes on the metaverse

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John Gaeta has already left his mark on pop culture. As a visual effects supervisor on The Matrixhe is the person who made bullet time and many of that film’s other groundbreaking images. Today, though, he’s focusing on the metaverse — and he’s hoping to make an even bigger impact.

Gaeta started leaving the film world in 2008 or 2009. Like many visual effects pioneers who explored game development and found themselves in the Silicon Valley lab scene, he enjoys working on emerging technologies. Gaeta says he is a storyteller at heart, not a technical person. And earlier this year, he joined InWorld AI as Chief Creative Officer to help the company realize its vision of bringing artificial intelligence to virtual worlds.

Founded in July 2021, InWorld aims to make static characters more lifelike. So, for example, when you interact with a non-player character in a game, it won’t be limited to just three or four lines of looped dialogue. Instead, with the help of advanced AI, those characters would have unique personalities, with their own thoughts, memories, and behaviors.

Investors support the concept. Last month, InWorld closed a $50 million Series A round led by Section 32 and Intel Capital, with additional investments from Founders Fund, Microsoft’s M12 fund and Kleiner Perkins, among others. That brought total funding to $70 million.

“It is no Turing test”, says Gaeta londonbusinessblog.com. “It’s a character test. Can this character surprise me? Can it get me excited? Can it tell me something I didn’t know? Can it point me in a direction that leads to advancing an experience? In a story-rich world, success is anyone you talk to interesting enough to hold your attention for as long as you want, and you could come back to [them] day to day.”

Right now, of course, these kinds of interactions will happen more often in the video game world, but they have broader potential, says Gaeta, such as the metaverse starts to take shape.

“No one can predict how people will use new shapes at first,” he says. “Some people assume that the metaverse is something they’ve seen in a movie or read in a book, but in my opinion it’s the connection between all digital things that can find each other. The spatial internet is becoming like games, but it’s not just 3D stuff; it will be real world awareness – all smart city stuff will be part of the metaverse. All the autonomous things that we make for vehicles and devices and all these things that we build around us as we move into the future. All those things can talk to each other and contribute to something we might call the metaverse by default.

In addition, he says, virtual reality and mixed reality will merge. And he sees a great opportunity to create a decentralized platform where creatives can thrive.

Makers, he says, will have tremendous opportunities to create something of high value or that others enjoy and ideally will be able to monetize it without having to rely on a large corporate presence or a bank, as is now the model for many films and games. creators.

“I absolutely believe that the everyday person, whether a confident creative or just a kid, should be empowered to create, own and propagate the things they make,” says Gaeta. “I think we are in a potentially very disruptive time where some companies – and some technology – are enabling the [for people] to create and flourish their creations. I think characters and avatars are kind of the same. They are identities. They are personas. And they can become very attractive and popular to others, just like personalities and actors in the real world.”

Many of those scenarios lie in the future, although. For now, says Gaeta, the metavers is nothing like what most people expect it to be. And that’s in some ways what makes the metaverse’s potential so exciting.

“There’s a lot of experimentation going on, but it’s not mainstream yet,” he says. “It is a time of learning. And during this time, because it’s really still a moment of early adopter/frontier-like people wanting to check out this stuff. The question is: what do you expect from a virtual world or destination? Of course, regardless of the use case, you don’t want it to be essentially a handful of frontier-like/early adopter users.”

Worlds, he says, should be vibrant and full of life. And that’s what he’s trying to do at InWorld.

“I’ve been thinking about this for years,” he says. “The answer [to making worlds feel real] is to bring in characters capable of understanding this world and their place in it and the relationships among all others within it, whether human or non-human — in fact, to populate worlds with thinking characters.”

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