Winter Olympics hides Zhang Yimou’s “Metaverse”

On February 4, the 24th Winter Olympic Games opened in Beijing.

Since Beijing won the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in 2015, the Chinese people’s attention to ice and snow sports has continued to rise, and the popularity of related sports has also continued to heat up.

During the Winter Olympics, Xiaguang Club specially launched the special topic “Xiaguang Watching the Winter Olympics” to record the social hotspots driven by the current Winter Olympics from multiple dimensions.

This article is the fourth in the series , let ‘s focus on the Metaverse Company at this Winter Olympics.

The first article: “The Winter Olympics have not yet opened, the circle of friends ski competition has begun”

The second article: “Bing Dun Dun, Chinese Dung Finished Foreign Dung”

The third article: “Another golden pier is in hand, who doesn’t want to train a child to be Gu Ailing? 》

Since the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the schedule is drawing to a close. With the fierce competition, the “black technology” at the Winter Olympics has also caused a lot of heated discussions. It can be said that this Winter Olympics is not only a “sports event”, but also a “technology feast”. 

It is reported that just to create the opening ceremony, the chief director Zhang Yimou and the main creative team have comprehensively used a number of “black technologies” such as artificial intelligence, 5G, AR, naked-eye 3D, and digital twins. In addition to the opening ceremony, the “black technology” of the Winter Olympics is everywhere.

Such a high-tech Winter Olympics has made people interested in companies that provide technological support behind them. According to incomplete statistics from Xiaguang Society, there are more than 50 Chinese technology companies participating in the Winter Olympics, mainly involving core links such as venue construction, technical support, and security services.

Among the many companies, one has an extraordinary relationship with Zhang Yimou, but few people pay attention. The company is called Beijing Danghong Qitian International Culture and Technology Development Group Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Danghong Qitian”), which is also regarded as a “Metaverse” company.

All kinds of VR equipment in the entertainment and fitness center of this Winter Olympics athletes, such as VR e-sports products, XR ski simulator, “Jiaolong” manned deep-sea simulation experience device, etc., are all provided by Danghong Qitian.

Zhang Yimou is also laying out the Metaverse? What other “Metaverse companies” are there at this Winter Olympics?

01 Born before the “first year of the Metaverse”

2021 is regarded as the “first year of the Metaverse”. In this year, the Metaverse has gone from concept to popularity, which has aroused the enthusiasm of well-known enterprises and capital markets at home and abroad.

First, the foreign social giant Facebook changed its name to Meta to enter the Metaverse, and then ByteDance acquired the VR hardware company Pico, and then Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent and other Internet companies followed suit and invested in the Metaverse track.

Although there is currently no unified definition of the Metaverse, in many descriptions, VR/AR technology is an important element of the Metaverse and is seen as a key entrance to the Metaverse. Tan Ping, head of the XR laboratory of Ali Dharma Academy, once said: “The Metaverse is the entire Internet on AR and VR glasses.”

Danghong Qitian is an early start-up company in the VR/AR track. According to the official website, Danghong Qitian was established in 2015. It is a cultural technology company that integrates “XR content production + vehicle research and development + digital operation overall solutions and product implementation”, and is committed to creating immersive experiences. The company’s legal representative People and founders are smiling.

XR stands for Extended Reality, which is a collective term for VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality), and MR (Mixed Reality). Through wearable devices and computer technology, XR can bring a combination of real and virtual, human-computer interaction to the audience.

It is worth mentioning that in the list of founding shareholders of the popular Qitian, the shadow of director Zhang Yimou also appeared. According to Tianyancha, Zhang Yimou is the fifth largest shareholder of Qitian, with a shareholding ratio of 5.13%. The official website of Danghong Qitian stated that Zhang Yimou is the co-founder and art director of the company.

Qitian’s business mainly focuses on offline XR venues. Up to now, Danghong Qitian has successfully launched offline XR theme parks in 12 cities across the country, including Beijing, Shanghai and Macau, including Beijing Shougang “No. 1 Blast Furnace” SoReal 5G XR super space, Shanghai Disney Town SoReal 5G XR super body space, etc.

Winter Olympics hides Zhang Yimou's "Metaverse"

Beijing Shougang “No. 1 Blast Furnace” SoReal 5G XR Super Space

The intersection of the popular Qitian and the Winter Olympics originated three years ago. In 2019, Danghong Qitian signed a memorandum of strategic cooperation with Intel to jointly develop 5G-based VR/AR content solutions for the Tokyo Olympics, Beijing Winter Olympics and Paris Olympics to provide Olympic athletes with VR/AR-based training and experience .

At this year’s Beijing Winter Olympics, Danghong Qitian brought its own Metaverse technology and products, namely 5G+XR smart sports products, to the athlete entertainment and fitness center in the Winter Olympic Village.

These products are mainly involved in the fields of intelligent sports, China’s aerospace, and China’s deep diving, such as: XR skiing, “Shenzhou” VR spacecraft simulator, “Jiaolong” manned deep-sea simulation experiencer, VR e-sports, etc.

When IOC President Bach visited the Olympic Village, he experienced a “Shenzhou” VR spaceship simulator. American curling player Christopher also posted a video on social media to share his experience of experiencing VR products.

In the video, Christopher walked into the game room of the Winter Olympic Village. When he saw the game equipment full of technology, he couldn’t help exclaiming, “Oh my God, wow!” Dive simulator, watch the dazzling underwater scenery through VR glasses.

Winter Olympics hides Zhang Yimou's "Metaverse"

“Jiaolong” manned deep-sea simulator experience

It is not difficult to see that in the exploration and commercialization of XR (VR) technology, Qitian has already had a relatively deep precipitation.

Nowadays, the wave of the Metaverse is sweeping the world. Because of the accumulation in XR (VR) technology, whether it is its own publicity or external evaluation, the current popular Qitian is regarded as a “Metaverse company”.

02 Zhang Yimou’s first dimensional universe venture

Zhang Yimou’s participation in the founding of this “Metaverse Company” is also an interesting story. He once mentioned that when the two founders of the company approached him, they joined and co-founded the company because the ideas of the three coincided.

The two founders are Qi Xiao, the founder and chairman of the popular Qitian, and Wang Lei, another co-founder. If we want to talk about the bond between the three, we have to go back to the 2008 Beijing Olympics earlier.

As we all know, Zhang Yimou was the chief director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, while Qi Xiao was the producer of the opening ceremony program “Picture Scroll”, so the two met.

Winter Olympics hides Zhang Yimou's "Metaverse"

2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Program “Picture Scroll”

Another co-creator of the company, Wang Lei, was the general manager of the film and television post-production company “Tian Gong Yi Cai”, and led the post-production of films such as “Looking for the Dragon” and “Longmen Flying Armor”. Wang Lei took the initiative to learn from Zhang Yimou because of his knowledge of film and television production.

In the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, the fusion of color and light and shadow brought a good immersive experience to the audience, and also touched Qi Xiao and Wang Lei a lot. Therefore, the two of them wanted to be a “Universal VR in the field of VR”. Cinema” idea.

As recently as 2008, Qi Xiao and Wang Lei tried to build a 360° dome custom theater at Fisherman’s Wharf in Macau. But because the theater site was reclaimed from the sea and could not withstand dozens of tons of stage machinery, the almost-formed project was put on hold.

Until the launch of the crowdfunding version of the Oculus Rift DK1 (VR headset), the two realized that this might be an excellent opportunity to realize the “miniaturization of Universal Studios”.

In 2014, the VR concept set off the first wave of craze in the world. Qi Xiao and Wang Lei began a two-year global travel experience. They often traveled to Japan, the United States and European countries for technical exchanges, and learned a lot of VR technology and VR commercial operation mode.

In the process of communication, the two gradually clarified the direction of their business in the future – to be a VR theme park. During this period, the two partners approached Zhang Yimou and proposed the idea of ​​applying virtual reality technology to the field of film and television entertainment.

After some exchanges, Qi Xiao and Wang Lei found that Zhang Yimou was not only interested in VR, but also had profound insights.

Zhang Yimou once said in a public event: “I am a director who is very sensitive to film vision and new technologies, and I have heard about VR technology. But I always felt that this is a technology only owned by Hollywood. Someone made it, so when I got an invitation it hit it off.”

In 2015, as a co-founder, Zhang Yimou participated in the creation of the popular Qitian and served as an art director. This was also the first time Zhang Yimou invested and joined a company as a founder.

Winter Olympics hides Zhang Yimou's "Metaverse"

A group photo of Zhang Yimou and Qi Xiao

As an art director, Zhang Yimou also proposed creative ideas about the film. For example, Danghong Qitian once planned a film conference incorporating VR technology based on the tunnel in Zhang Yimou’s film “The Great Wall”. When the audience puts on the “head display”, they can see and touch the scenes in the film.

Zhang Yimou himself said that “in the future, I may also try to consider shooting a virtual reality movie.” However, so far, Zhang Yimou’s VR movie has not yet come out, but the popular Qitian has achieved rapid development and attracted the favor of capital.

Since its establishment in 2015, Danghong Qitian has completed 6 rounds of financing, among which there are many star investment institutions such as Lenovo Venture Capital, Intel, and Xiaomi Zhan Investment. The investment of Xiaomi Warfare is also regarded as an important move for Xiaomi to enter the Metaverse.

The latest round of financing happened just a few days ago. On February 12, the 8th day of the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, Danghong Qitian announced the completion of the B+ round of financing. Investors include Lakala and the Blueprint Haixing Fund initiated and established by Blue Focus as cornerstone investors.

Qi Xiao said that this round of financing will be used to develop production and consumption scenarios in the Metaverse era, explore the integration of online virtual space and offline physical space, and promote the application expansion and commercialization of XR experience in key industries.

03 Metaverse fever of the Winter Olympics

The “Metaverse Company” participating in the Beijing Winter Olympics is not only the popular Qitian family.

As a new top player in the Winter Olympics, “Bing Dun Dun” has become popular around the world, and it is “hard to find a pier” online and offline, and related concept stocks are highly sought after.

Among them, Yuanlong Yatu, as the only listed company in the A-share market that produces Bingdundun and Xuerongrong plush toys, has achieved 5 consecutive daily limit since the opening of the market in the Year of the Tiger. As of the close on February 16, its total market value has reached 6.078 billion, and its market value has increased by about 2 billion yuan.

But what few people know is that Yuanlong Yatu, which is mainly engaged in the gift business, has also entered the field of the Metaverse.

On December 27 last year, Yuanlong Yatu established a wholly-owned subsidiary “Yuanlong Universe Digital Technology Shanghai Co., Ltd.” (hereinafter referred to as: Yuanlong Universe). Three days later, Yuanlong Yatu confirmed to the outside world that it has become a member of the Metaverse Industry Committee of China Mobile Communications Federation, and is actively exploring the commercialization path of Metaverse in the field of gifts.

After clarifying the direction, Yuanlong Yatu’s action speed is also very fast. On January 4 this year, Yuanlong Universe and digital painting artist Liu Ming released an NFT digital collection called “Sacred Beasts and Five Changs”. It is said to be a test of connecting online and offline, organically combining NFT digital collections with physical Wuliangye cultural wine.

The introduction of the trading platform shows that purchasing digital collections will have the opportunity to obtain Wuliangye cultural wine.

Winter Olympics hides Zhang Yimou's "Metaverse"

Yuanlong Universe’s Digital Collection

In addition to digital collections, virtual humans, one of the important application areas of the Metaverse, have also attracted much attention. During this Winter Olympics, virtual humans also came to the front.

On February 2, at the opening ceremony of the “Meet in Beijing” Olympic Cultural Festival held in Beijing, the virtual person “Luo Tianyi” appeared on the stage and attracted attention with a song “Time to shine”, which was also the first to appear on the stage. Chinese virtual singer on the Olympic stage.

On February 4, CCTV News and Baidu Smart Cloud created the first AI sign language anchor to start the broadcast of the Winter Olympics. The avatar anchor, dressed in a white suit and skirt, with short and crisp hair, made many netizens sigh: “The screen is full of intimacy, and the effect of live broadcast is full.”

In addition to the AI ​​sign language anchor, the weather service virtual person “Feng Xiaoshu” also broadcasts the weather index in real time for contestants and audiences in the “China Weather” program.

It is understood that Feng Xiaoshu was jointly created by the China Meteorological Administration and Xiaoice, a subsidiary of Microsoft. Based on Feng Shu, the host of China Weather Channel, Xiaoice Company uses digital twin virtual human technology to create a virtual weather host “Feng Xiaoshu” that can imitate Feng Shu’s voice, intonation and mouth.

As early as 10 days before the opening of the Winter Olympics, “Feng Xiaoshu” had already “worked with a certificate”, and even the deity introduced his little AI brother on social platforms.

Winter Olympics hides Zhang Yimou's "Metaverse"

Virtual Weather Host “Feng Xiaoshu”

Remote mobilizers also have their own avatars. For example, Gu Ailing, who swiped the screen on the whole network, whose “digital clone” Meet GU, recorded a program in Migu’s studio the day before Gu Ailing won the gold medal in the freestyle ski jumping platform of the Winter Olympics.

Meet GU is the first sports digital talent launched by China Mobile Migu Video. According to the plan, during the Olympic Games, she will complete the skiing event commentary, broadcast and virtual interaction of scene e-commerce in Migu’s studio.

In addition to Gu Ailing, the avatars of Chinese ice and snow athletes such as Ren Ziwei, Xu Mengtao, Sui Wenjing, and Han Cong have also appeared in various events.

Behind the athlete’s award, the “virtual human coach” also contributed. For example, Xu Mengtao, the gold medal winner of women’s aerial skills in freestyle skiing, has a handsome coach named “Guan Jun” behind her.

Winter Olympics hides Zhang Yimou's "Metaverse"

Guanjun coach

“Guanjun” is an artificial intelligence referee and coaching system developed by Xiaoice. Before that, he had been secretly involved in the auxiliary training of the aerial skills program for nearly three years.

He established an exclusive sports file for each member of the Chinese Freestyle Skiing Women’s Aerial Team. Through image recognition and real-time data analysis, he traced the details of each jump’s movements, provided guidance for long-distance mobilizers and coaches, and assisted in formulating scientific training program.

From on-site to off-site, virtual humans have penetrated into many aspects of the Winter Olympics. It can be said that it is a concentrated display of the development achievements of the domestic virtual human industry in recent years.

The virtual human who was brought on fire by the Metaverse has also become the darling of capital. Relevant data show that in 2021, there will be more than 60,000 new virtual human-related enterprises in China. The investment field is even more generous. In less than a month before the start of 2022, the number of financings in the virtual human field has reached nearly 100, and the financing amount has reached 411 million yuan.

The fields involved in the Metaverse are all-encompassing. In addition to the XR (VR) technology, digital collections, virtual humans, etc. mentioned above, the artificial intelligence, naked-eye 3D, 5G and other technologies mentioned at the beginning of the article are all important to promote the development of the Metaverse. factor. The companies behind them, such as Megvii Technology, Unilumin Technology, etc., are also powerful.

Taken together, the Winter Olympics is not so much a “muscle” display of various Metaverse companies as it is a test of the strength of these technology companies. After this Winter Olympics exam, the “Metaverse Companies” may develop in a more benign and healthy direction.

References

[1] “The popular XR company Qitian receives investment from Lakala and Blue Cursor to promote the development of Metaverse-related businesses”, 36氪

[2] “Zhang Yimou’s first dimensional universe venture, Xiaomi voted”, investment community

[3] “This Winter Olympics, the virtual human content is a bit high”, Light Cone Intelligence

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