Facial animation software and services company Image Metrics has secured $8 million in financing through a stock deal and has gone public through a reverse merger with International Cellular Accessories.
The Santa Monica-based developer says this new financing will enable it to expand sales and marketing efforts for its core software and services business, support the launch of its facial animation software Faceware, and explore opportunities in new online markets like virtual worlds, gaming, and social networks.
Alongside its fundraising, the firm completed a reverse merger with shell company International Cellular Accessories (ICLA), as Image Metrics exchanged all of its outstanding shares to become a subsidiary of ICLA and a publicly traded company. ICLA in turn is changing its name to Image Metrics and its stock symbol.
Image Metrics's software, algorithms, and processes are designed to help animators "create lifelike human facial movements by processing digital video of an actor’s face". The company says its process eliminates the need for expensive and time-consuming methods like digital hand animation and motion capture, which it believes are generally unable to match its own process's realism, nuance, and efficiency.
Both video game developers and movie companies have used Image Metrics's animation services and software in their projects. Releases employing the firm's technology include Assassin's Creed II, NBA 2K10
, the Grand Theft Auto
series, and feature film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
"Our proven animation technology allows video game studios to significantly improve the time to market for their games while simultaneously reducing development costs," says CEO Michael Starkenburg. "The Image Metrics process enables artists to create believable facial animation that captures the subtleties of human facial movement in a fraction of the time needed for traditional methods."
He continues, "Gamers are seeking increasingly realistic and immersive experiences and believable facial performances. We are now staffing up sales and marketing to take advantage of a growing base of client testimonials, awards, press and word of mouth to grow both the size of the facial animation market and our market share."
"In addition, we are working to package our technology into a software service offering that we can deploy to customers. This will create a hybrid software/service business model which should expand our market opportunity and favorably impact profit margins and our future financial performance."