Visual effects (VFX) startup Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies (MARZ), which delivers feature-film quality visual effects to Hollywood studios, has announced that it has raised $5.3 million in Series A funding.
The funding round was led by Round13 Capital with participation from Rhino Adventures and Harlo Equity Partners, digital transformation company Roeinit, and strategic angel investors John Cassaday, who is former founding president and CEO of Corus Entertainment, and Jake Cassaday.
AI for VX
MARZ will use the new funding to grow its core VFX services business, as well as to accelerate the research and development of its AI for VFX technology solutions. This new model adds a high level of automation to help address the growing VFX capacity shortage in the entertainment industry.
MARZ’s first AI for VFX solution has been in beta since Q1 of 2021, and it has been used on 17 Hollywood productions up to this point. That number is expected to double in 2022.
The funding will also go towards the hiring of key personnel across research, engineering, and product. The company will work to build out its technology infrastructure to increase production capacity and improve the efficiency of its AI solutions.
Rapid Growth and Major Projects
MARZ has been rapidly growing, with the company completing 13 projects in its first year, 21 in its second year, and 54 in its third year. It has worked with major clients like Marvel, HBO, Netflix, and Apple TV.
MARZ anticipates this growth to continue into the future, especially since it has been named a primary vendor of significant projects set to be released later in the year and through 2022. It is also coming off the launch of its end-to-end Character & Creature division, which is aimed at television timelines and budgets.
Since 2019, the company has grown from 45 employees to 194. It plans to grow the team to over 300 employees over the next year.
More than 25% of the team is focused on R&D, machine learning (ML), and AI. The company has offices in Toronto, and it is a remote-first company with a workforce all around the globe. Its employees are located in cities like Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, Madrid, Los Angeles, Melbourne, London, Moscow, Mumbai, and Mexico City.
A New Wave of VFX Solutions
MARZ is working on ushering in a new wave of VFX solutions that combine AI, computer graphics, and computer vision, while increasing speed and lowering the cost of feature-film level VFX.
According to co-founders Jonathan Bronfman and Lon Molnar, “These problems are exacerbated in the TV segment as consumer expectations regarding TV quality have risen dramatically, far outpacing the timelines and TV production budgets. We are addressing this issue with our next generation AI for VFXsolutions that remove traditional capacity restraints, operate at unprecedented speeds, and offer meaningful price reductions. Ultimately, our aim is to democratize VFX and make it far more accessible to creatives around the world.”
Brahm Klar is partner at Round13 Capital.
“MARZ is one of the fastest growing VFX studios in the industry with a reputation for leveraging technology to deliver a best-in-class product within record timelines,” said Klar. “By partnering with MARZ, alongside some of Canada's most successful investors, we can work closely with the team to build on the company's extraordinary success so far.”