After a management-led buyout last month, Playa Vista motion-capture and animation studio House of Moves is moving in a more creative direction.

Chief Executive Brian Rausch and a handful of partners bought the business from Oxford Metrics Group, a U.K. holding company, for $1.3 million. House of Moves was part of Oxford’s Vicon unit, which sells cameras and software for motion-capture filmmaking. The technique uses sensors to translate human movements into animation.

House of Moves handles motion-capture work for a variety of clients, many of them in the video-game industry and some in Hollywood. Rausch said House of Moves will now build on that model and begin developing and producing animated TV shows and feature films in-house.

“We’re looking at everything from the TV market to children’s animated features,” he said.

House of Moves has a 28,000-square-foot facility it uses for shoots. Credits include motion-capture and animation work for Microsoft Corp.’s “Gears of War 3” video game and motion-capture work for the recent “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie. About 75 percent of the company’s revenue comes from video-game work and the rest is from films.

The company generally bills between $5 and $50 per “character second,” or the amount of screen time a client orders for a motion-capture character. The firm bills a flat rate for jobs that stretch into the hours.

Transitioning from a service provider to a producer of content is a strategy fraught with risk due to the high costs of production and uncertainty of commercial appeal. Some visual effects firms, including Venice’s Digital Domain, have learned that the hard way.

But Rausch believes his company has a leg up since it is developing proprietary technology that can reduce the time it takes to produce motion-capture animation, thus reducing costs. The technology, he said, can place a motion-captured character into more developed surroundings than other technologies, which give a rougher outline that must be worked on to a greater extent.

“The technology will allow us to bring high-end CG to market much faster,” he said.

Sky-High Beats

In-flight connectivity and entertainment company Global Eagle Entertainment is hoping to make headway with international airlines after landing a deal with Santa Monica’s Beats Music, owned by Apple Inc.

Last week, Global Eagle of Marina del Rey began offering a Beats streaming audio service to passengers of Southwest Airlines – the biggest customer of Global Eagle’s in-flight Wi-Fi and entertainment offerings. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Beats offering is free to passengers, who can access playlists after connecting to Southwest’s in-flight Wi-Fi. The music is stored in an onboard server, which is also used to store movies that can be viewed on demand.

Global Eagle Chief Executive Dave Davis said he believed the Beats deal will give his company some added appeal as it looks to expand its offerings to international carriers. (The domestic market is already pretty well spoken for.)

“This streaming music service we see as another arrow in our quiver to grow internationally,” he said. “With the international carriers, the field is wide open.”

Davis was promoted to chief executive in July after previous turns as chief financial officer and chief operating officer. He said he reached out to Beats prior to its $3 billion acquisition by Apple earlier this year.

Beats is hoping to get a promotional lift from the service – passengers will be asked to provide Beats with their e-mail address to keep listening after three songs, according to the New York Times. Promotional e-mails will presumably follow.

Davis said the deal is part of his company’s shift toward providing entertainment options that can be accessed on passengers’ ubiquitous mobile devices, rather than on seat-back consoles. Other efforts include securing more rights for live sports that can be shown in flight, he said.

Golden Oldies?

As CBS Radio shakes things up at KRTH-FM (101.1), the oldies station’s ratings are falling.

In October, the station’s share of all local listeners fell to 4.2 percent of the local market, down from 4.5 percent the month before and 4.9 percent in August. It was the largest two-month drop among all stations surveyed by ratings firm Arbitron.

The station dropped four of its on-air weekend personalities in late September. Two weeks later, it brought in Maggie McKay and Joe Rosati to take over weekend time slots.

One theory posited by Daily News radio columnist Richard Wagoner is that the station is struggling to keep its audience of “oldies purists” as it transitions to more contemporary music – some of it as contemporary as the 1990s.

Staff reporter Jonathan Polakoff can be reached at jpolakoff@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.

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