Technology Seattle techies launch The Aigency, a talent agency for robot actors

17:37  01 april  2020
17:37  01 april  2020 Source:   geekwire.com

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Seattle entrepreneurs Forest Gibson and Jared Cheshier today launched The Aigency, a new talent agency for robot actors.

a group of people posing for the camera: Forest Gibson (left) and Jared Cheshier at a Boston Dynamics office. (The Aigency Photo) © Provided by Geekwire Forest Gibson (left) and Jared Cheshier at a Boston Dynamics office. (The Aigency Photo)

The company connects film production studios, event organizers, and other media groups with robots. The plan is to replicate what traditional talent agencies do for human actors and actresses, but instead for robots and “virtual beings.” The company’s initial “talent” includes a pair of Boston Dynamics robots named Zero and One.

The idea may sound far-fetched. But Gibson assured that it is for real.

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Agents make sense when it's hard to find a job or when the opportunity cost to looking for work is high enough to justify paying someone else. In this sense these people are much like models, actors and athletes and there is nothing that prevents applying a talent agency model to IT people.

“We figured that the idea already sounds crazy enough to be an April Fools joke so we are just embracing the timing,” he said.

Gibson and Cheshier are co-founders at Pluto VR, a Seattle virtual reality startup. They have years of media production, gaming, VR/AR development, and marketing experience.

The Aigency is part of the Boston Dynamics early adopter program, which helped the firm land a pair of four-legged Spot robots.

a person sitting in a park: One of The Aigency’s Spot robots strolling through a park. (The Aigency Photo) © Provided by Geekwire One of The Aigency’s Spot robots strolling through a park. (The Aigency Photo)

Media producers pay The Aigency to provide the robots and built out any additional technology needed.

“We handle the logistics of getting the robots on set and into character for their performance,” Gibson said. “We then support the media and promotions of the production via social media, red carpet events, and press tours with our talent. This is similar to how media producers would go about casting actors represented by agents.”

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Robots have been around movies, TV shows, events, and more for decades, from Metropolis to Star Wars. But developments with both technology and human-robot interaction have created a different environment.

“We believe there is an opportunity to tell positive stories on how robots will play ever increasing roles in our daily lives alongside us,” Gibson said. “This new wave of generalized robotics allows them to walk/roll/hop off the set and onto the red carpet with the rest of the cast. This adds a whole new dimension to how viewers and fans can engage with robotic personalities.”

The Aigency makes money by taking a percentage of what the talent is paid for their performances.

Gibson said the company had several live appearances lined up at events before the COVID-19 outbreak forced cancellations and postponements.

Gibson and Cheshier are self-funding the company for now. They are still leading Pluto VR, which the entrepreneurs started in 2015 with PopCap Games co-founder John Vechey and former Walt Disney tech exec Jonathan Geibel.

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You can learn more about the company today at its Mixer livestream.

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