Film producer Jeff Apple and Carol Peters, former director of engineering at Silicon Graphics, have joined forces and formed daVinci Time & Space, a new media company that will develop interactive television for children.
According to Apple, who recently produced “In the Line of Fire,” and Peters, the daVinci Time & Space environment will make its debut with a “pilot” show late this year. The two-way networked programming will integrate activities, characters, learning, games, stories and advertising.
The venture capital firms Oak Investment Partners, Greylock Management Corp. and Venrock Associates have provided the first round of funding for the new company, which will be based in Los Angeles and San Mateo.
Peters, a Silicon Valley veteran who led the project team that created SGI’s Iris Indigo Workstation, left the company 1 1/2 years ago to concentrate on the entertainment industry side of computers. She linked up with Apple, who was looking for opportunities on the computer side.
“A lot of the stuff that’s currently out there has a technology emphasis to it,” Peters said. “That’s why I was looking for someone like Jeff. Both of us believe that when interactive programming starts to hit its stride, it’s going to be because it has the technology characteristics, along with new ones, and will bring those together and create a new kind of entertainment.”
Asked about the company’s focus on children, Apple said that the children’s area is a natural for interactive products.
“Children will be most receptive to this new medium,” Apple said. “I think it’s proven that they are early adapters. They have no problem with new things. Our programming is basically entertaining with educational components built into it. As a result of that I think kids will love watching it and not realize that they are learning at the same time.”
Peters noted that one of the reasons for the company’s focus on a two-way interactive network is that, unlike CD-ROMs, the programming can be updated easily.
“It can be constantly updated,” Peters said. “Once you’re on, we can add live things, which makes it a lot more personal.”
“When people talk about the information superhighway, people want to know what’s going to run on it,” Apple said. “The answer is great software and being able to harness that software.”
According to Peters, daVinci currently has a roster of 10 employees, with five working on the production side and the other five handling business and development.