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Meet Christina Heller of Metastage in Sylmar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christina Heller.

Christina, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve been working as an entrepreneur in production since my early 20’s, beginning with radio, moving to TV journalism and then documentaries. After a decade of wearing many production hats in these traditional industries, I become increasingly interested in the future of content production. How would technology affect the media industry? It was during this time that I tried an early VR headset, and my love affair with immersive was born.

In 2014, I co-founded VR Playhouse and dedicated myself to immersive content production. Off we went into the wild west of a very nascent industry. Over three years, we worked on over 60 projects at VR Playhouse spanning use cases and deployments. It felt like we were at the nexus of this new medium, the intersection of hardware, software, financing and distribution. It was the most amazing learning experience.

In 2018, I launched METASTAGE and moved toward what has become a passion and speciality – Volumetric video. METASTAGE captures real people and performances and brings theses performances into AR and VR experiences. We use 106 cameras to capture a live performance from every angle. The result is fully 3D volumetric video and with our partners, we figure out the best way to distribute that content to the audience.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The path of entrepreneurship is never smooth. It’s about striving, making mistakes, learning, growing, questioning and trusting your instincts.

I am rarely in a comfort zone. However, the things that bothered me a few years ago don’t shake me the same way anymore. In the early days of immersive, I remember encountering problems on projects – A deadline coming too fast, the tech not working, pressure from clients, creative differences with collaborators, all this stuff that felt really intense and ground shaking at the time. Now I have learned tools to avoid and address these types of situations… My point being, problem-solving on those types of problems does get easier!

At Metastage, we are a partner for Microsoft Mixed Reality Capture Studios. They developed an incredible volumetric software we use every day. Aligning with a major corporation, having a board of directors, this is the part that is new to me now, so my challenges today are different than in the past. I sign emails with “All my best” because that’s what I try to give, and hope that it’s good enough to meet today’s challenges.

I try to find the smartest, fairest people to work alongside and have learned to enjoy the problem-solving process. You don’t have to take everything so seriously even if it is serious work. We have fun and try to find the humor as often as possible.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the METASTAGE story. Tell us more about the business.
Metastage captures performances from every angle, creating a 3D “hologram” (the terminology is ever evolving). This holographic performance can be brought into augmented and virtual reality, virtual production, and holographic displays.

For example: We capture a tennis player’s famous backhand, and he talks to us about what got him where he is today. We capture a pop star performing her latest song, full choreography or even live singing. We capture a master teaching martial arts. We capture a grandmother and granddaughter engaging in playful behavior. We take these captures and determine the best way for audiences to engage with these “holograms” through the latest distribution tools. What I always tell people is to remember that these captures are future-proofed, so what you capture now will span the hardware upgrades… You can capture a moment in time and will be able to enjoy it in cooler and cooler ways in years to come. It’s only going up from here.

What sets Metastage apart is our team. The tech team at Microsoft MRCS, our XR partners at Magnopus and audio partners at ECCO VR, our passionate board, and of course the hard-working, kind, innovative team that works in the studio at Metastage day in and out. We take time with our clients and do a lot of consultation. We try to make the experience working with us fun. And in the end, we deliver the highest quality capture possible. We are competing with ourselves to always be better in everything we do.

In 2020, we are moving into more original content and original content partnerships. This feels like natural (and exciting!) growth. You can see it with the Metastage app we released on IOS and Android last November, the volumetric performance library we are launching in the Unity Store soon, and with our first VR title in the health and wellness space called “Stretching With Skylar,” coming to Oculus Quest.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
As far as luck goes, I grew up inside loving family in a nice Pennsylvania town with pretty trees. I’ve had good health. Those things feel like sheer luck of the draw. It provided a stable backdrop to pursue interests and gain confidence.

The best advice is to try and see everything as lucky because you get to learn from everything… especially your biggest challenges. I’ve had difficult internal obstacles, screwed up situations, challenging times, just like everyone. A healthy coping mechanism has been to use those times to fuel growth. Be creative and find the silver linings!

Contact Info:

  • Address: METASTAGE, Inc.
    12800 Foothill Blvd.
    Sylmar, CA 91342
  • Website: https://metastage.com/
  • Email: team@metastage.com

Image Credit:
Headshot: Shimmy Laurent

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