“Loves it… Sliving,” said Paris Hilton via her walking talking, ‘sliving’* Bored Ape #1294, debuted this week on her Twitter account. And while neither of them actually uttered Hilton’s famous Y2K catchphrase, “that’s hot,” #1294 definitely looked as if he were thinking it.
The process was done using technology from newly launched mobile animation app Immi. Immi enables the creation of clips featuring a selection of free 3D animated characters which include Immi’s own Bored Ape #1398. Users can pilot these in real time via their facial expression which is mapped to said characters using the true definition camera technology of their iPhone.
“The idea of Immi is to democratize the animation process putting the tools into the hands of casual creators,” says Immi CEO and co-founder Josh Jenkins-Robbins.
Jenkins-Robbins has secured strategic investment from NFT entrepreneur GMoney, Zoom founder Eric Yuan, billionaire investor Mark Cuban, producer Steve Aoki, Tony Robbins, Pitbull and Paris Hilton herself.
The Immi technology has been developed by LA Studio AMGI using real-time 3D creation tool, Unreal Engine. Unreal Engine powers Epic Games’ platforms such as Fortnight and is also used in TV shows like HBO’s Westworld and Disney’s The Mandalorian.
Immi has also granted select users — investors and friends of the brand like Snoop Dogg and Hilton — the opportunity to bring their own NFTs to life.
When the company bought Bored Ape #1398 they animated him and gave him his own Twitter account, explains Jenkins-Robbins. “We started showing it to Paris (Hilton), Jimmy Fallon and Snoop and they were like ‘hey I want my ape animated for my account.’”
And while these versions are one offs, there’s a plan to sell a limited number of mint passes affording the holder the possibility to animate one of their own NFTs — as long as ownerships includes the IP rights. More scalable is a partnership with My Pet Hooligan NFTs — a project that originates from the same animation studio as Immi. All 8888 My Pet Hooligans owners will soon be able to connect their wallets to Immi to receive the animated version of their character.
According to Jenkins-Robbins, further collaborations are on the cards with other NFT projects — “we’re in talks with some big names.”
Immi will enter the NFT space later this year in its own right with a 10,000 token drop of 100 original characters. In that they are built in Unreal Engine, characters will potentially be portable into any Metaverse that runs on Unreal software.
For brands where storytelling and customer engagement is front and center, the opportunities are immense. “We’re offering real utility,” says Jenkins-Robbins. “How much more valuable is an NFT if you can create content with it like Snoop Dogg and Paris Hilton have done with theirs?”
The Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT franchise has already proved marketing catnip for fashion brands from adidas to Gucci. In November adidas unveiled a four-way NFT collaboration with with Bored Ape Yacht Club, PUNKS Comic and Immi investor GMoney while March’s Gucci Grail NFT project linked with Bored Ape Yacht Club and Bored Ape Kennel Club.
According to Jenkins-Robbins, further engagement opportunities exist for user generated content within the entertainment sector. “It’s a flood the feeds game. You put tools in the hands of storytellers and mobilize a whole army,” he says, citing the upcoming Minions movie as a hypothetical. “The studio might put one of its characters on Immi for a month in the run up to the release. You could run a competition for the most interesting content where winners would get to attend the premier.”
Within the fashion industry, Prada experienced viral success with user generated content on TikTok last year. The brand recruited some of TikTok’s biggest creators to style its bucket hat. According to High Snobiety, The #PradaBucketChallenge hashtag pulled in some 1.6 billion views.
Jenkins-Robbins is also working with Zoom’s Eric Youn and Immi users will soon be able to dial into Zoom mobile in as a character via the Immi app. However, he ultimately anticipates offering desktop functionality as true definition iPhone cameras are incorporated into Apple
“It opens up the door to streaming instead of just the clips you can do on your phone,” he says. “Zoom becomes much easier but also Twitch and Microsoft
*For the record, ‘sliving’ is a combination of ‘slaying’ and ‘living (your best life).