EvoNexus Tech Startup, Advanced Image Robotics Streamlines Video Production
A/V TECHNOLOGY: ‘Camera-Moving’ Robotic Device Hits ‘Eager’ Market
SAN DIEGO BUSINESS JOURNAL / SAN DIEGO / AUGUST 16TH, 2023 / Advanced Image Robotics (AIR) is advancing its mission to modernize video production.
“We’re still moving a camera like we did 150 years ago and there’s all this incredible technology now to be able to do things differently,” said Nick Nordquist, co-founder and chief product officer at AIR. “If you want to do a multi-camera shoot for a sporting event, it’s a whole army of people and gear that have to show up. That’s very expensive.”
Nordquist, a veteran of the film industry and self-proclaimed “tech geek,” founded AIR to make video production “much more efficient” by enabling an IP-based process using cameras capable of human-like movements that can be operated remotely using nothing but regular ethernet connections.
“Basically, treat a camera like an IoT device,” he said. “AIR enables you to put a very small number of people on site, use the robots and remote in the talent. We take all that stuff that’s usually in a production truck and turn it into cloud compute that can then be accessed from anywhere. It really changes the dynamic of the amount of money you have to spend.”
Prototype to Company
Nordquist prototyped his first “camera-moving” robot device as a solution to film his daughter’s soccer practices. The ealiest version was made from spare drone parts and he custom coded its movements to be controlled by an iPad interface.
In 2020, he co-founded AIR with his cousin Kevin McClave, a tech industry supply chain and manufacturing consultant, who took the role of CEO.
Like all companies founded that year, the COVID pandemic had an impact on AIR. During that period, the company perfected the technology and put it in front of industry experts for validation.
“There were very few people who dismissed the idea,” McClave said.
Nordquist said COVID was also pivotal to AIR because broadcasters suddenly couldn’t send production crews to film and struggled with remote controlling their existing gear.
“Remote production, which was kind of a fringe thing before, became prevalent, became a viable solution,” he said. “The problem was the technology wasn’t designed to do that from its inception.”
Post pandemic, the whole broadcast industry is now moving to IP-based models, McClave said, but is still facing the issue of an outdated technology built for a cable and satellite infrastructure.
“It’s 10-20 years old. People are still trying to figure out how to connect this thing to that thing and operate this ecosystem,” he said. “What we’ve done is we’ve scratched all that and built something from the ground up.”
AIR systems are “camera agnostic,” McClave said, and the technology can be adapted to any camera. Currently the company is making devices with Z CAM cameras but deals with other major camera manufacturers are in the works.
In addition to validation from industry, AIR also got early validation from the local San Diego startup ecosystem. The company was barely started when it was accepted into the EvoNexus incubator program, where it still has its office.
Nordquist and McClave bootstrapped the business for as long as possible before raising a $1.3 million pre-seed round led by NuFund Venture Group and joined by other angel investors as well as friends and family. AIR is currently raising a $2.5 million second round, which McClave said is “going well.”
“Investors want to see revenue, they want to see success and we’ve done that,” he said, adding that AIR is now shipping products to its “pipeline of customers that have been eager to get the cameras.”
Early customers include a teaching hospital that uses the cameras to record and stream practice surgeries; a company that puts on dog agility competitions; a nature documentarian who uses the remote cameras to film animals when people are not around; and Turner Sports which used the cameras to add new and interesting angles to its coverage of NBA Summer League.
CEO: Kevin McClave
Headquarters: San Diego (EvoNexus)
Business: robotic camera movers that can be controlled remotely
Funding: $1.3 million, pre-seed round
Notable: AIR Co-founder Nick Nordquist is an 11 time PSW Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and is the son of NFL guard Mark Nordquist who also founded knee-brace company DJO Global.
EvoNexus is California’s leading nonprofit technology startup incubator located in San Diego. EvoNexus has successfully incubated over 260 startups with a survival rate of over 85%. Since the incubator’s formation in 2010, EvoNexus companies have secured over $1.6B in venture funding, $10B in pre-exit valuation, and had 50 acquisitions valued at over $2.1B. EvoNexus is supported by corporate partners, including some of the largest multinational corporations in the world. Learn more at evonexus.org.