JBilled as a series of connected digital worlds in which we shop, play, work and socialize, the future metaverse will be a place where we express ourselves through digital avatars. Already, people are buying and selling digital art, music, and fashion in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
Now 3D digital startup Daz 3D (sister company of NFT and avatar company Tafi) and owned by Nike RTKFT (best known for their funky and hot NFT sneakers) are teaming up to put Utah on the map in this burgeoning digital world. The collaboration will allow anyone to create and dress up 3D digital avatars that can be used in social media, video games and NFTs. The idea? Create an ecosystem of avatars that people will rely on when visiting different virtual worlds in the future.
Here’s how it works: RTFKT has created CloneX, a series of anime-inspired 3D humanoids that look more like Pixar cartoons that owners can dress, design, and use to represent themselves inside the platform. -form of online game Roblox, as well as on social networks. media publications and virtual reality chats.
CloneX is the first of a large ecosystem of avatars that the company will offer. The initial drop included 20,000 avatar NFTs for sale. At least 10,000 of them were first made available to people who had previously purchased RTFKT’s NFTs, and then a second batch of 10,000 of them was made available to the public in November for 3 ETH each on the Ethereum blockchain at a Dutch auction.
Despite a controversial launch in which RTFKT was hacked, the company sold $95 million in less than five hours.
Although it may seem obscure to the general public, artists and designers in the NFT space have been eagerly awaiting CloneX, making it perhaps one of the hottest NFTs to date. RTFKT collaborated with the famous Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, who has worked with Kanye West, Louis Vuitton and others. Users can export CloneX avatars to game engines, animations, social media posts, and even AR filters in video conferences, such as Google Meets, for interactive experiences.
A unique feature of this particular NFT is that anything a user’s avatar wears – sunglasses, jackets, shoes, clothes, or hats, for example – can be purchased as a unique physical version to wear in the world. real. , too much. A user could, for example, wear the same jacket in real life that their avatar wears at a digital concert in the metaverse.
Another unusual detail of this project is that CloneX NFT buyers didn’t know what their avatars looked like until December 12, when they could activate what looked like a digital vial of DNA strands on RTFKT. Then they would see if their CloneX digital humanoid was an anime elf, say, or a muscled jerk. In any case, it would be a surprise. “It’s like opening a deck of Pokémon cards. You don’t know what you’re going to get,” says RTFKT co-founder Chris Le.
It’s here that Daz 3D is coming. If you own a CloneX, you can use it to create content in Daz Studio, which has software tools with additional resources. Daz’s free software tools allow users to adjust the avatar’s body size and shape, pose it, customize its skin tone, background, hair and other features, then apply digital clothing that automatically adapts to the size and shape of the avatar’s body.
A number of actors and celebrities, including Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., bought the CloneX NFTs in the November drop, and Le expects “they’ll do some cool stuff with them on Daz”.
Since each NFT carries an immutable digital contract, designers – like RTFKT and any other creator who created a particular digital dress or hairstyle added to the clone – will get a royalty share each time that avatar is resold on the blockchain. Daz will also profit by possibly selling digital clothing for CloneX avatars and collaborating with RTFKT on new NFT clones.
“Daz makes it easy for anyone new to 3D to get in and start creating free content,” says Le. “And supporting the creator economy is in the DNA of both our companies.”
So how exactly did Le’s RTFKT become such a big name in the NFT and 3D space – so much so that celebrities are paying gobs for these NFTs? Le grew up in Salt Lake City, doing graphic design for record labels. He then started creating skins for avatars in video games like Counter-Strike, but when the pandemic hit and the vast majority of the world shifted to working and playing online, things really heated up.
RTFKT exploded onto the NFT scene in 2020 when it introduced a pair of digital sneakers that sold for 30 Ether, the equivalent of $90,000, setting a record for the highest paid digital fashion item. In April 2020, the startup sold 600 sneaker NFTs and sold out in just seven minutes, reaching $3.2 million in total revenue.
Big names called: Elon Musk bought a pair of $90,000 cyber shoes and Andreesen Horowitz recently led an $8.2 million investment round in RTFKT, with Instagram influencer Gary Vaynerchuk the first investor from SpaceX Bill Lee, pop EDM group The Chainsmokers and C-Ventures, founded by Adrian Cheng, a member of China’s richest family. Because the blockchain governs NFTs, RTFKT collects a royalty each time a digital item it manufactures is resold on digital marketplaces.
Now, RTFKT is taking a more aggressive approach to laying the groundwork for the metaverse with its portable CloneX drops. RTFKT’s push for innovation prompted Daz 3D to connect with RTFKT.
Over the past year, Daz’s sister company Tafi has emerged at the forefront of the rapidly evolving NFT and digital avatar industry. Tafi recently designed an NFT collectible for Coca-Cola and creates AR avatars for Samsung phones and digital clothing for brands like Champion and Warner Bros.
“With CloneX, RTFKT drives the NFT trend forward with creativity and innovation,” said James Thornton, CEO of Daz 3D and Tafi. “His vision aligns perfectly with ours.
Le says he grew up playing with studio Daz 3D, which was started 21 years ago by Utah entrepreneur Dan Farr. Daz Studio’s software tools are free, and Daz Marketplace has 11,000 designers who sell their creations, whether it’s clothes, skin tones or facial features, in the Designer Marketplace. “Daz has always been the pioneer of human avatars,” says Le.
In fact, 3D design was first invented at the University of Utah in the 1970s by Edwin Catmull, who later started Pixar. A long line of other U of U computer graphics grads have launched Silicon Graphics, Adobe, and Evans & Sutherland. Utah-born Nolan Bushnell created Atari in 1972 and was later named one of “50 Men Who Changed America” by Newsweek magazine for his role in launching the video game industry.
Fast forward 50 years and Utah’s tech industry has exploded to include 6,700 companies, 302,000 jobs, and a growing number of unicorns. But most of the action has been in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) space.
RTFKT and Daz want to change that, creating digital tools and a foundation for the creator economy. “We have to go back to our roots,” says Le. “I think it’s our duty to carry on the torch of 3D and, especially with the new movement of the metaverse, this is the perfect opportunity to continue it in this field.”
Already, Daz 3D has helped create some of today’s most popular digital fashion models and synthetic influencers, or “humanoids.” And yes, there are virtual avatars that are cooler, better looking, and make more money than the rest of us.
There are FN Meka, a TikTok digital influencer and rapping bot with 10 million followers. There are Lil Miquelaa synthetic character belonging to the Vancouver-based company Dapper Laboratories, who has 3.1 million Instagram followers and is one of the highest-earning models for Calvin Klein, Chanel and Prada. She created a Musical clip for the Lollapalooza Online Festival and earned $11.7 million last year. There is also Bermudaa bad-girl model influencer who breaks the rules, and Blawkowho likes fast cars, Absolut vodka, and is never without his trademark scarf covering his nose and mouth.
Daz 3D tools also helped 3D designer Cameron-James Wilson create Shudu, an agile black model that became the best virtual model hired by Hyundai, Glamor and Lexus. Wilson, a former fashion photographer, got into 3D design and virtual models a decade ago. As founder of digitalthe first digital modeling agency, Wilson has created thousands of characters and “digital models” with Daz 3D for companies like Mercedes-Benz, Coca-Cola, Samsung and Vogue. In the future, The Digitals will use Daz to create more animations, streak-based hair textures, and dresses with realistic glitter and fur.
“The Daz platform is so accessible to people. You can buy different clothes and accessories, such as skin tones and hair highlights,” says Wilson. “Everything RTFKT does is something to watch as they are a major player in the NFT market. Everything they do is usually something big.
Le believes that by retreating to the metaverse for our work, entertainment, and social interactions, we will save the earth. You won’t need to buy a big-screen TV because you’ll be watching TV on a giant screen in the virtual metaverse, and you’ll be wearing digital clothes that don’t require water or chemicals to produce.
“All of this will take place in the metaverse, which will declutter the real world,” Le says. “We will have a clean, breathable planet again.”
Many others believe in this future and are directing it as well. Facebook, Microsoft, Nvidia, Snap, Tencent, Epic Games, Roblox, Apple, and Amazon are all developing metaverse strategies and products. Digital models make big brands money. Companies like Champion, Gucci and Coca-Cola are clamoring to develop collectible clothing and NFTs.
Still, most Americans don’t know what the Metaverse is, and the majority aren’t interested in it, according to a survey of 873 people by YouGov. Le says it’s the same mindset that people could have in 1993 before the Internet and e-commerce.
“It’s like we’ve been going through the same phase since the 1990s,” Le says. “It makes sense that this is the next step for the internet. It’s here. Now it’s about mainstream adoption.