Dec 17, 2021 - Business

Scoop: LED screen startup raises $10M seed round

Founder Jonathan Davila stands in front of the Vū Studio production screen.
Founder Jonathan Davila stands in front of the Vū Studio production screen. Photo courtesy Allison Distasi/Omni Public

A year after Vū Studio took over former retail spaces at University Mall, its founders say they've raised the biggest seed round ever for a Tampa tech company.

What's happening: Tim Moore and Jonathan Davila tell Axios their production company has received a $10 million seed investment from Minnesota-based ADX Labs, at a $50 million valuation.

  • The funding will help advance the tech and open new studios in Nashville and Las Vegas next year.

What they do: Vū uses an LED Volume screen made up of 500 panels to create realistic backdrops that can move and change along with camera angles.

  • It's as close as you can possibly be to a location without actually being there and what Davilla calls "game engine technology combined with traditional production."
  • In the year since Vū opened, it's been used by brands like WWE, Mercedes, Apple, and Neiman Marcus along with artists like Bad Bunny and Twenty One Pilots.

What they're saying: "Green screen is going to go totally extinct and be replaced by this technology," Davilla said. "It's just so much more realistic looking."

  • "And you'll never miss a shot."

Why it matters: This is the kind of technology that got projects like "The Mandalorian" made when the pandemic stopped people from filming on location.

  • Vū is one of only a handful of similar studios in the country and claims to be the nation's first LED Volume virtual production company specializing in commercials.
  • Virtual production is set to expand into a multi-billion dollar industry, Davilla said, and Tampa is at the forefront of that.
  • "This is a real blue ocean opportunity."

Background: The studio is part of Rithm at Uptown, the tech campus taking over the mall along with other innovators like the USF program designing the future of casualty-free warfare.

💭 Selene's thought bubble: This place is beyond cool. My jaw was dragging on the floor the whole time. I can't wait to see where this goes and who it brings to Tampa.

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