Written by: Tanay Sonawane, Varshith Uppalapati, Jonathan Ouyang
When Grand Theft Auto 5 came out in 2013 (we can feel our old age creeping up on us already), we were all shocked with the sublime detail and quality with which games had come. From the days of Pong and Pacman, to physics engines to accurately simulate the ocean, and character models designed to accurately showcase the effects of gravity on individual strands of hair. Such detail though is tough for indie developers with small budgets and even less time. The challenge these studios face in creating good 3D models, while maintaining time efficiency is significant. What we have here is an idea that directly tackles this, and gives studios the chance to truly unleash their creativity while minimising time spent.
Anything World was founded by Gordon Midwood and Sebastian Hofer. Midwood met his co-founder Sebastian in 2003, 15 years before the genesis of Anything World, at a creative tech agency in London. Midwood, a seasoned programmer and game developer recognised Hofer’s artistic prowess, which was rapidly gaining attention across London’s East End through his street art. Together, they produced a number of video games on PlayStation, Nintendo, Steam and Mobile.
Over time, Midwood and Hofer realised that they were restricted to a limited subset of 3D assets which they were able to outsource for their games. However, when they discovered the growth of open source community collection of 3D models, a vision to assemble the static assets to life sparked. As partners, they aimed to enable users to generate unrestricted 3D worlds, using AI to make everyone a 3D content creator. With this vision, they kick started the company, now known as Anything World.
Sebastian Hofer, based in London, is one of the co-founders of Anything World and its Chief Creative Officer. He has significant experience in the digital creative space, with clients like Beats by Dre, Nissan, and Nike and has worked across print design, advertising, digital, mobile, gaming, UI UX, social media and even more. His experience adds creative depth to a venture powered by giving creative efficiency to game designers and what breathes life into the machine learning models the company builds.
Gordon is one of the Co-founders at Anything world. He is also the CEO. He has a strong 20 year track record as a developer, with experience at large publishers such as EA, and experience in executive leadership as CTO of Digit London. His expertise is what powers the technical wizardry that brings these models to life faster than ever before!
Anything world offers voice-controlled 3D object creation, enabling users to effortlessly create, modify, and interact with 3D objects using voice commands. This AI-driven platform blends voice computing, 3D rendering, and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to simplify 3D content creation. Additionally, Anything World seamlessly integrates with well-known 3D model libraries, such as Google Poly and Sketchfab, through machine learning and NLP, making it easier for users to request and incorporate 3D objects into their projects.
Moreover, they offer an exciting feature in behavioural customization, allowing users to tweak and animate 3D models without the need for complex manual animation processes. This streamlines the creation of interactive and dynamic 3D environments. Accessibility is also a key aspect of Anything World's product, which operates on a subscription-based model and caters to both Android and iOS users, ensuring a broad user base.
Anything World is aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in marketing by simplifying 3D content creation. It empowers SMEs to produce captivating 3D animated content through voice commands, thus enhancing their marketing efforts. For gaming studios, the product offers a novel approach to 3D content creation, allowing for easy and efficient development of 3D animated worlds and characters through voice-controlled interactions, which can be a game-changer in the industry.
The technical innovation at the heart of Anything World's product is remarkable. The system utilises advanced machine learning algorithms to classify, segment, rig, and animate 3D assets, a feat unmatched by other services. It begins with machine learning algorithms that analyse metadata from libraries like Google Poly and Sketchfab to identify 3D models matching user requests. Once a suitable model is found, it is classified into categories, such as biped, quadruped, insect, or vehicle, and then dissected into components, with procedural physics-based animation applied based on its classification.
Each model also comes with preset default behaviours, making them "smart objects" in the library. The use of both supervised and unsupervised machine learning methods, including neural networks and K-Nearest Neighbour algorithms, ensures a robust and dynamic system. With a growing user base, the product continually expands its library by adding models from Google Poly and Sketchfab, creating a constantly growing database of "smart objects." All of this potential has propelled Anything World to great successes, achieving $7.5 million in post-seed funding from Acequia Capital, Cooley, and others in 2022 and thousands of more creators joining their platform, building the indie games of our future!
Looking ahead, Anything World's product has the potential to become a pivotal tool for various industries, including gaming, marketing, and beyond. Its capacity to streamline 3D content creation through voice commands and AI automation has the promise to democratise 3D animation and unlock new creative possibilities for individuals and businesses. In a world where content creation holds increasing significance, Anything World's innovative solution paves the way for a more accessible and efficient 3D animation process, making the creative potential more accessible to a broader audience.
The Competitive Landscape
In the domain of 3D content creation, as well as animation, Anything World is climbing the ranks as a promising player, where they have successfully leveraged AI to democratise the 3D animation process. To better understand this startup’s market position, we shall delve into its competitive landscape by investigating its three top competitors: Mixamo, Promethean AI, and DeepMotion.
Mixamo, acquired by Adobe, offers an online platform that automates the process of 3D character animation. As a part of Adobe’s ecosystem, Mixamo is highly compatible with tools such as Photoshop and After Effects, thus making it a preferred choice for users familiar with the Adobe ecosystem. As of 2020, Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite boasts over 22 million subscribers. While it is obvious that not all are Mixamo users, it illustrates the high potential reach of Mixamo within the 3D animation community.
Nevertheless, while Mixamo’s compatibility with Adobe might allow it to simplify the animation process, it doesn’t offer the same degree of customisability and behavioural intelligence offered by Anything World’s AI-drive approach.
Promethean AI is a start-up that assists artists in the building of virtual worlds using AI. It’s design is intended to be a collaborative tool between the artist and Ai, where a user-friendly interface is provided, allowing self-explanatory collaboration in real-time. In addition, Promethean AI also provides a more flexible environment for artists to create unique assets in comparison to its competitors.
However, Promethean AI does have a niche focus, primarily directed towards world-building. As this is not Anything World’s primary objective, there is perhaps a gap in other areas of 3D content creation that Anything World might be able to fulfil, thus capturing the market share.
Lastly, DeepMotion is a firm that offers AI-driven motion capture solutions, where the technology turns 2D videos into 3D animations. Amongst its standout features, its ability to capture motion without the assistance of traditional markers will considerably lower the entry barrier for creators, while its real-time body tracking can be immensely useful for generating immersive VR experiences.
However, DeepMotion’s niche focus on motion capture might reduce its versatility compared to Anything World, which is attempting to cover a much broader spectrum of 3D content creation.
To sum up, while there are many potential competitors, each with their own strengths, Anything World’s well-rounded approach to 3D content creation, where they are leveraging automation and customisation in a symbiotic manner, might give it a competitive edge. In this regard, its success will depend on user adoption, integration capabilities and, indeed, its ability to continuously improve its AI-driven tool-kit in response to changing market demands.
The tech that Anything World is developing will shape future development of games forever. Gone it seems are the days where indie developers will have to exhaust themselves in developing 3d models for their creations. Now, we foresee game development, especially for indie developers to be accelerated like never before, allowing more developers to unleash their creativity, and find ways to transport us to new and creative worlds. The use of AI in the entertainment industry, especially in gaming has been an evolving theme, what we see now is that AI is being harnessed to not just streamline processes but to act in creative ways too. It will be very interesting to see how this grows further!