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ESPN veteran brings virtual studio start-up LiveCGI to Oregon

MarcRowley

Emmy Award-winning producer Marc Rowley returned to the Pacific Northwest to build a virtual studio startup that he thinks will “change the course of content creation for good.”

The former ESPN producer traded New York for Lake Oswego where he is CEO of LiveCGI. I spoke with Rowley and LiveCGI’s head of marketing, Keisha Howard, to learn more.

Founded in March 2017 by Rowley and his partner, Amanda, who is majority owner of the company, LiveCGI, is a virtual studio platform for computer-generated images. The technology allows users to create dynamic content for flat screens, augmented reality and virtual reality. For example, a local-access cable producer can use the platform to carry out a broadcast or a teacher could leverage it to lead a more interactive lesson.

Dubbed the “The Update Room”, the studio runs on an average gaming laptop and without pricey cameras — making it flexible enough for pros and enthusiasts. The platform can provide a virtual environment for just about any experience that traditionally takes place or is produced in-person.

“I took 20 years of making ESPN and put it into a software,” he said. At ESPN, Rowley was the first e-sports producer. “You get this feeling that you’re in a beautiful million-dollar studio, but the software sells for a few dollars a day.”

“We can work with anyone,” Howard said. “LiveCGI removes limitations, unlocks your imagination and allows you to create anything you can dream up.”

For example, Howard noted that the platform can be used for familiar formats like new interviews, or for a classroom.

“An anatomy professor could use the platform to teach students about bones by dressing up in a motion capture suit and imaging an avatar of a skeleton to the classroom,” she said.

LiveCGI has already gained momentum in the market with early test cases with the NBA 2K League and Time Inc. However, the company is also focused on creators like corporate communications professionals, local content producers and key influencers.

Currently, the team has four full-time employees and six contractors that work from all corners of the globe.

After social distancing mandates loosen, Rowley intends to open an office in the Portland area and is seeking new, local talent. His team recently brought on a developer from Vancouver and is hiring for Unreal Engine developers, artists that can do CGI work in Maya Software or other 3D programs and people familiar with Filmbox (FBX) files.

The company’s management is 50 percent women, and Rowley said he intends to keep the staff “diverse and equitable.”


This is part of a regular guest column written by the Technology Association of Oregon in the Portland Business Journal.

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