DGene, a Silicon Valley and Shanghai-based developer of artificial intelligence technology, has launched operations in Los Angeles. The company is creating software and services that it says can leverage artificial intelligence and computer vision for entertainment content creation. According to the company, DGene offers proprietary solutions for virtual production, visual effects, digital restoration, volumetric and holographic capture, and the creation of virtual actors and digital influencers.
DGene is led by chief technology officer Jason Yang and senior vice president Helena Packer. Yang is an MIT-trained computer scientist, DGene co-founder, and a former senior manager at the semiconductor company AMD. Packer is a veteran film and television visual effects supervisor, whose credits include X2: X-Men United, 21 Jump Street, and Charlie Wilson’s War.
Yang and Packer have assembled a team of computer scientists and engineers specializing in computer vision, computational photography, computer graphics, machine learning, and related technologies. The U.S. operation will also tap into the extensive development and research and development resources of DGene, China, which has produced groundbreaking AI solutions for companies such as Alibaba, Tencent, and China Mobile.
According to Yang, DGene seeks to work with studios, streaming services, visual effects studios, and other creative partners in using AI-driven technologies to accelerate workflows, reduce costs, and create new forms of visual content. “We offer solutions that simplify routine aspects of visual effects production, film restoration, and virtual production,” he says. “We also have tools that facilitate the production of breakthrough content, such as virtual actors. AI is no longer a technology of the future; it is quickly becoming integral to many aspects of content creation.”
DGene is currently working with Academy Award-winning cinematographer and visual effects pioneer Richard Edlund on a scripted series involving historical figures. The technique could lead to virtual actors and holograms that act and communicate like real people.
Additionally, the company is partnering with Hollywood-based MTI Film to apply AI-based tools to film restoration. It has created proprietary AI algorithms for restoring color and sharpness, image stabilization, dust and scratch removal, and many other common processes. Similar tools could be used to simplify visual effects compositing and virtual production.
DGene is the leading provider of volumetric capture in China with its own proprietary solutions for 3D reconstruction, making it possible to capture performances and environments from multiple perspectives and convert them into 3D assets, viewable from any direction. It also has developed technology to stream holograms in real-time, an application that could be used for concerts and other live performances.
Packer says that AI technology will bring fundamental change to diverse aspects of production. “Visual effects, color correction, green screen, and digital restoration have not advanced significantly in decades,” she explains. “There have been incremental improvements, but nothing disruptive. AI, on the other hand, represents true change. It is a huge leap forward.”