This Kiwi company wants to “back up the planet” in VR


When will we have a back-up of the planet? A New Zealand company wants to back up the entire planet visually … in VR.

In this episode of TechFirst with John Koetsier, we look at what Reality Virtual is doing to recreate the globe in virtual reality.  The company recently got a grant from Epic Games that will help it accelerate the process. Crowdsourcing will increase the amount of visual content the company acquires, and custom built AI processes help Reality Virtual reduce the amount of actual human labor involved in created virtual reality experiences.

It can’t come soon enough. We’re stuck in our homes and VR is having a moment. Facebook’s Oculus quest was sold out. HTC Vive was sold out. Now is a great time for virtual exploration.

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Full transcript: back up the planet

John Koetsier: When will we have a back-up of the planet?  

Welcome to TechFirst with John Koetsier. Right now we’re stuck in our homes. We’ve got quarantines, we’ve got stay-at-home, shelter in place. It’s kind of a VR moment if you think about it. Virtual reality is taking off. Facebook’s Oculus Quest was sold out. I saw that the HTC Vive was sold out as well. 

Well, one company in New Zealand is developing some very cool new tools to virtually recreate real physical locations, and actually visit them as well, which would be nice these days. 

To chat more about this, I want to bring on the creative visionary officer of Reality Virtual, Simon Che de Boer. Simon, welcome!

Simon Che de Boer: Hey, how’s it going?

John Koetsier: Going very well, thank you. I’ve got to start here. Coronavirus is the biggest fact in our lives right now. How are you feeling? How’s it going in New Zealand? And are you safe? 

Simon Che de Boer: We’re doing really well. Jacinda has just been incredible … she’s just, we’ve all been quite moved to be honest. Feel a little guilty, we’ve been blessed. I mean, we’re dropping fast. We’re, I think we’re one of only Western nations that are really actually intent on eliminating it completely. 

John Koetsier: That would be amazing. I did see that your prime minister took a pay cut along with I think some other MPs, as kind of I guess an example of spreading the difficulties or the challenges of the current situation. 

Simon Che de Boer: Yes, yes.

John Koetsier: Which was nice to see as well. And of course, you’re pretty isolated. There’s a lot of people who seem to have a bolt hole, an apocalypse bolt hole in New Zealand these days. 

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah Queenstown’s the place. Queenstown there seems to be a few people parked up here, a few celebrities and whatnot. So, yeah. 

John Koetsier: Well, excellent. Let’s jump right into it. You’ve said that you wanted to back up the planet. Talk about what that means, what that involves?  

Simon Che de Boer: Okay. Wow, it’s quite a long story to actually give and get in an efficient and successive way. Basically we’re looking at kind of open sourcing mass adoption of photographs from parties on the ground, and essentially automating the process mostly for AI so we can actually quickly create these environments successively, without the kind of huge overhead and the huge amount of labor involved teaching computers to push pixels. So, yeah, it’s automation. 

John Koetsier: Interesting. So that we can understand exactly what you’re doing, talk to us about the process that you had to go through to virtualize an environment, let’s say a year ago or maybe a couple of years ago. How hard was that? 

Simon Che de Boer: Well, we’ve always been quite a bit quicker because we kind of built a lot of internal tools to help us … I might get a bit technical here, but techniques with baking and extrapolation of all the data over point cloud. Essentially I’ll use Nefertari as an example, so Queen Nefertari in Egypt. About two years ago I was flying there single handedly, it was probably the longest flight I’ve ever taken in duration, 27 hours in total. 

John Koetsier: Wow. 

Simon Che de Boer: Finally get to Luxor, finally get to Valley of the Queens, eight hours in a term with a specialized camera and flash technique. And it was just crazy, like I was down there for eight hours, it was five AK-47 guys above guarding the place and just in this amazing term for eight hours taking the photos. Took about 4,000 photographs then flew back to New Zealand, took it home,  processed it, took the team about three of us about six weeks. 

John Koetsier: Wow.

Simon Che de Boer: Now the fact that about five of those six weeks is just one task for one person, which is called retopology. And that is a nightmare, so one of our biggest next steps that we’re aiming for is automated retopology using AI. So just from that alone we can take a six week processing time down to one week. So when we get it here, we have a whole bunch of post-process techniques that we use to actually enhance the environment. So traditionally speaking, when you go capture one of these environments just stuck with baked lighting or the objects that are in the scene, like Nefertari it was floorboards and halogen lighting which is horrible. So we used AI similar techniques to container with fill in Photoshop, actually, to essentially lasso around areas that were not, where we don’t want, and it will fill it in with what we do want. 

John Koetsier: Yes.

Simon Che de Boer: So that’s one of the many techniques, super sampling, you know, extrapolating as much data as possible from what you get and filling in areas. We had occlusion, like areas that you missed. And we’ve basically, all made most of these processes and so we’re having to deal with 24 billion points of detail, billion, that’s with a ‘b,’ as a post-process technique, which to the best of our knowledge, we haven’t really seen anyone else do. 

John Koetsier: Super interesting. So let’s dive into that just a little bit deeper. You went to Egypt, you went to Nefertiti’s tomb, you took 4,000 pictures. 

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah.

John Koetsier: Did you follow a process for taking those 4,000 pictures? Did you go in randomly and just snap everything you could possibly think of? Did you have to follow a certain path or how did you do that? 

Simon Che de Boer: Special awareness is good, for me personally I have good special awareness. I’m actually, don’t laugh, I’m legally blind … 5% one eye, 2.5% another. And so I actually need to have my special awareness always. And so I map out my environment as it is.

John Koetsier: Wow. 

Simon Che de Boer: So, yeah, special awareness is good, you need to know where you’ve been. You need to know where you’ve covered. We kind of process it live so we can see a draft point cloud showing us where we need to kind of go and stuff. But yeah, you don’t take randomly, just any good photo.

John Koetsier: Yes.

Simon Che de Boer:  But random’s okay. Just coverage. Coverage is everything, so…

John Koetsier: Yes, and so now you’ve got it down to, you said something like a week for one person, but before when you actually did that, that was three, four weeks for five or six people, is that correct? 

Simon Che de Boer: Well yeah, I’d say, I mean, every time we do a project, we basically treat it like an R&D project. So we build tools as we go. And we definitely did that with Nefertari and Tutankhamun. And so we get quicker, but then we find new things we want to extrapolate or new ways of asking so we explore again. Again, because we don’t want to do this as like work for hire, we’re really trying to work out the best possible pipeline.

John Koetsier: Nice.

Simon Che de Boer: But generally speaking. I do believe we’ll get it down to a week, one or two people, once we resolve retopology. Retopology is such a pushing pixels task. It’s the only task that’s really taking us ages. All of our tasks are based, you know, we use deep learning to extrapolate all this information that otherwise an artist would have to put in manually, like roughness and all this other kind of stuff, roughness and painting, and yeah. 

John Koetsier: Yes, yes. It would be amazing if someday it’s as simple as the Google mapping car driving around or the Apple maps car driving around, taking pictures the whole time and just mapping it together kind of almost in real time. 

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah. Well, I mean, look, there’s a lot of people on the ground and the way we really want to shape this is we, you know, to get back to backing up the planet, we’re talking about like an artist’s rights management system. Kind of like I guess where you get paid royalties, like if you do an album you get paid a check occasionally for how much airplay you get. So we really want to get people on the ground, taking the photos and having their location and their geotag, all their exif data embedded into it. So if a studio, or a university, or polytechnic, or studio for virtual studio production, or any kind of educational facility wants to then use these environments, essentially the original artists who took the original photos actually gets a cut of it from the licensing. And so this is how we see it as actually a way of, you know I can’t be everywhere at once. I mean, the last three years I’ve flown like 120 times, and I f***ing hate. Oh, sorry, I hate flying. I don’t mean to swear, we swear a lot in New Zealand. 

John Koetsier: So you’re like Aussies is what you’re saying?

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’re a bit liberal on that front. But, yeah, so the whole idea is that we want to scale this up and the only way you can scale this up is actually by having a lot of people on the ground acquisitioning the data and then that data being backed up and stored in a kind of an as-rights management/heritage trust type archive. We don’t want individual companies hoarding the stuff. We’ve seen really bad examples from places I will not mention, in the past they have not done well on actually doing this for the greater good.

John Koetsier: I love that. I absolutely love that. That’s amazing, because that’s been a big point of contention lately, right? Which is that if you look at mapping data, there’s five to six companies globally that have 97% of that mapping data right. And if we’re looking at recreating the earth in VR, you know, having some kind of open source or at least some kind of a foundation that manages that and people can contribute to that, sort of like a Wikipedia of the planet, that would be pretty cool.

Simon Che de Boer: Absolutely. So crowd sourcing the data, having it peer distributed or maybe not. I mean, we’re pretty tight with Amazon web services right now, they were very generous with providing us storage and GPU process. So, but we do, sorry, mic drop here, but you know what I mean? We do want to definitely find a way to have the data in multiple locations, very much like the internet in itself.

John Koetsier: Yes.

Simon Che de Boer: So peer to peer kind of does work in our favor. That’s for the archival purpose. So if someone’s, you know, we produce these environments and everyone actually gets them on Steam for free, like literally, but they get processed when a studio or university would like to access that environment for whatever reason. The studio is then able to license and use it for this specific task or if universities ever use it for an educational thing where they’re able to add on educational elements themselves, but the actual environment itself will always be available to the public. 

John Koetsier: Wow. 

Simon Che de Boer: As it is, you know, auditory and visual as if you’re just there, yeah.

John Koetsier: Nice, nice. Talk about a few of the places that you’ve done already. You mentioned some places in Egypt, archeological sites. What other places have you done as well? 

Simon Che de Boer: So Tutankhamon was cool, King Tut … CityLights recently used it for an educational museum experience. I actually won a Lumiere Award in 2020.

John Koetsier: That’s awesome, congratulations!

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I didn’t even know about it. I heard about it from a friend. I was like, oh, wow, but hey, go LA. But it was cool. 

John Koetsier: I have to ping in on that one because I happened to be in Cairo, I think it was probably about eight years ago or something like that. And a bunch of us that were at the conference, we went to the national museum where Tutankhamon is, and we literally stood there for 10 minutes in front of Tutankhamon and just, in awe, speechless, amazing, glorious, beautiful. You must have had much more time. I mean I wonder how many pictures you took. 

Simon Che de Boer: Oh my gosh. I had never, we did a few other mummies as well, and I can tell you the weirdest thing is actually mummies, they lifted the thing that keeps it in protection. 

John Koetsier: The sarcophagus lid?

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah. The whole room just filled with this amazing smell of anise seed or something. It was crazy. 

John Koetsier: Oh the spices!

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah, yeah.

John Koetsier: Wow.

Simon Che de Boer: Spices, man, after all these thousands of years, it was really, really quite something. So the whole experience in Egypt, I’ve been there a few times now. I went there last year and did the whole red carpet at the Cairo International Film Festival, which was just surreal. I mean, coming from New Zealand and coming from a small town of like 18,000 to doing red carpet stuff was like, okay, this is kind of weird. But it was, Egypt is cool, and I really want to get down there and get more sites done. We’ve got good people on the ground that we really want to actually help us with this. But yeah, so we’ve got Egypt. Me and my CTO were in the Large Hadron Collider about eight months ago, so… 

John Koetsier: Where? Sorry, can you repeat that? 

Simon Che de Boer: The Large Hadron Collider. 

John Koetsier: Oh, wow! That must be amazing. 

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah, yeah a hundred meters underground, rolling around a bit of radiation. Don’t scratch your nose. You know… 

John Koetsier: Why?

Simon Che de Boer: It’s such an amazing machine. But yeah, we’ve done St. Matthew’s Cathedral here in New Zealand. We’ve done some beautiful beach locations here in New Zealand… so I’m going a bit brain daft right now on the locations we’ve done.

John Koetsier: It’s all good, but I’m wondering why you can’t scratch your nose in the Large Hadron Collider. 

Simon Che de Boer: Right. Well when the machine’s on it releases a lot of radiation and dust.

John Koetsier: Yes. 

Simon Che de Boer: So when they turned the machine off it was terrifying because they told us this at the end, they’re like, ‘We hope you didn’t scratch your nose or your bum.’ And I’m like, ‘why?’ And they’re just like … because this is fine particle dust, so you have to put your hands on this machine that tests you and yeah.

John Koetsier: Okay. So that dust could be radioactive and you transfer it to some part of yourself and walk out with it and continue irradiating yourself. 

Simon Che de Boer: Yes, exactly. So you find yourself in these crazy positions where you’re running around and you’re being asked to scan Tutankhamon’s shoes or something.

John Koetsier: Yes.

Simon Che de Boer: It’s just like these people don’t move a thing. I don’t want to stand on anything. The first question I always ask is, ‘Do you have liability insurance?’ 

John Koetsier: That’s very comforting. I’m sure you come to the Cairo museum and you ask, do you have liability insurance? Well, sir, we can’t quite replace this mummy, it’s the only one. 

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah I know, it’s the running joke…

John Koetsier: Oh man.

Simon Che de Boer: I just don’t know how I put myself in these positions man. It’s, the last four years has just been crazy. 

John Koetsier: So you’re creating something new right now and it’s kind of relevant to where we are in quarantine times. You’re creating some real time immersive teleconferencing. Can you talk to us a little bit about what that is, what it looks like, how it works, and what it feels like to use it?

Simon Che de Boer: Well, I mean, it came out of necessity and the necessity being the current situation. So we had been playing with volumetric video and RGBD video for quite a few years, and we had it running on mobile and we had it running on the 4G, which we thought was pretty remarkable in itself. Most volumetric solutions, gigabytes for a minute, we’re talking about a hundred megabytes a minute. We have had technical, relightable so we could scan someone as some connects and remove all the lighting and add high level normal maps and all the little features and wrinkles and stuff. 

John Koetsier: Yes. 

Simon Che de Boer: So we’d relight the person in post and you know, Unreal Engine. And so we’ve been sitting on this for years and it just got an attraction and we couldn’t work out why, because we saw others, other parties, I won’t mention names, I don’t wanna, you know, they’re all friends of mine. But they are using solutions that are just in my opinion, heavy for one. Two, you need a massive studio of like a hundred cameras. And that’s just crazy, because most indie studios do not have access to that kind of stuff. And so we wanted to find a lightweight solution. And so we’d just been sitting on this and we’d also been sitting on deep PBR, deep physically based rendering, which can look at an image and extrapolate diff maps and roughness and high level normal maps and completely D-light it in seconds, right, from a reference image or texture. So we have these two technologies. One is volumetric video that’s lightweight. And two is this process of real time, takes the extrapolation from any standard reference photo or camera. And so that second tool is really good for texture artists.

I mean, a traditional artist would take like eight hours to fudge a texture for a game. We’re talking about an individual we have to make, like a whole library of textures in a day, depending on how many photographs I can take. But we got deep PBR working so fast that we genuinely believe we can work it in real time.

John Koetsier: Wow.

Simon Che de Boer: So where we can go with this, is we have a camera, right? And from the image you see of me right now, I’m able to extrapolate a 3D GIF map of where my hand is, right, and all this kind of stuff, and maybe to remove the lighting from my face and I’m able to crop out the background. And so if I can do that in real time, and you can do that in real time, as we are right now, when I do this and I’m looking at you, I’m seeing parallax of your face.

John Koetsier: Yes.

Simon Che de Boer: But I’m also seeing the lighting. Well, I’m saying the lighting in my room cast onto you. The lighting in your room cast onto me. And we’re in each other’s space because we can do facial tracking at the same time. So when I’m doing this, I’m actually pivoting to the side of your head. 

John Koetsier: Yes. 

Simon Che de Boer: And you can see I’m pivoting, so we actually introduce direct eye contact because we can adjust for the camera’s position versus the monitor.

John Koetsier: That is amazing! So somebody’s not staring at the camera on their webcam, they’re staring at your eyes. 

Simon Che de Boer: Yes. But the lighting, you know the lighting effect that we can extrapolate high resolution, normal maps from training data, D-light, all those things. We really make you feel like you’re with me. We really make me feel like I’m with you. Hence we’d describe it as like talking to a mirror, but of someone else there? 

John Koetsier: Yes. 

Simon Che de Boer: Or sheet a glass. I mean, we call it ‘white mirror.’ It’s a cheesy name, I know, but we only realized we could do this literally weeks ago when the crisis took place and we’re like, well, we can marry these things. We can literally put our preexisting technologies together to actually push this new thing in a time of crisis, yeah.

John Koetsier: That is very cool. And I guess the question is, where are you with that and where are you in terms of commercialization of that? 

Simon Che de Boer: We, if we pushed hard, I mean, we’ve recently, Epic games have been awesome, we’ve recently got a mega grant, which was amazing. We’ve been terribly underfunded here and we’ve been doing project by project for R&D right? 

John Koetsier: Yes. 

Simon Che de Boer: With this mega grant you know, the team, we’re sufficient for a year solid.

John Koetsier: Wow.

Simon Che de Boer: But we’d want to scale up, so we’re going to actually push hard the first try and see if we can get additional funding, additional grants to push this technology as fast as we can because there’s a crisis that is now. So we want to get more people on the ground now. We’re one of the few companies in New Zealand who’s going to be massively hiring in this scenario, which is crazy. 

John Koetsier: Yes. 

Simon Che de Boer: But we think that we need to get us out of maps. I want to see this out in July. I know that’s stupendously ambitious, but it is marrying pre existing technologies we have, we just need to get a few additional developers on the ground to fast pace the Python

John Koetsier: Wow, wow. 

Simon Che de Boer: And as you get busy training on data. 

John Koetsier: Nice.

Simon Che de Boer: So we’re just running with it, man. Like this was something that came about that we pivoted to, and because we are a lean startup, we could pivot fast and go, hey guys, let’s just push the PBR and these other things to the side for the moment. Let’s focus on this, make this happen as soon as possible. We’ll get back to benefit. 

John Koetsier: Very, very cool. Talk about that grant from Epic, about that program a little bit and why you applied, and what you got, and what you’re using it for. 

Simon Che de Boer: Can’t say what I got. 

John Koetsier: It’s secret huh?

Simon Che de Boer: I can tell you, we can now afford a house in Auckland, or something like that, you know what I mean? So, and Auckland’s pretty, I don’t know if you know Auckland, it’s one of the more expensive cities in the world. Good lifestyle, very good lifestyle. Yeah, I miss the bars, but anyhow … so we applied about a year ago. It took a while, but that’s okay. You know, they got to us at a time of need, which is great. You know, the timing honestly couldn’t have been better.

John Koetsier: Good.

Simon Che de Boer: But you know, I mean I love those guys. I know a lot of them personally while doing the talking circuit at South by Southwest, DDC, GDC, all that kind of jazz. 

John Koetsier: All those places that don’t exist anymore. 

Simon Che de Boer: … oh my calendar. Boom, I just, oh my gosh. I mean…  

John Koetsier: Think how productive you’re going to be.

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah, I know right. I was meant to be in Shanghai on the 17th to propose. 

John Koetsier: Good luck. Good luck with that.

Simon Che de Boer: But that didn’t happen.

John Koetsier: Yeah, I have the same thing. I’m off. I’m not sure I’ve spent so long in one city for about a decade. Honestly, I don’t think I have. There’s some benefits. I feel like I have a normal job. I feel like a regular wage earning person who works at a job that is in a place and goes to the place, and so there are some benefits there. And I’m seeing my family all the time, so that’s good. But obviously it’s a really challenging time for the world. And you know, that’s a small sacrifice that we’re making that others are making a much greater sacrifice for. Well, super interesting.

I wanted to talk a little bit about your technology. You mentioned it a little bit. You’re using a ton of AI here, you’re using a ton of machine learning and that’s how you’re getting fast. Can you talk a little bit about some of the breakthroughs you’ve had there? 

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah, yeah. I mean, look we’re in a good position because we’re doing photogrammetry to begin with. Photogrammetry, obviously the technique of point cloud acquisition from photographs, right? It requires a whole bunch of in video GPUs, in video, kind of like to just give us powerful massive cards. And so when we pivoted from photogrammetry, we didn’t really pivot. But when we wanted to jump into deep learning a few years ago, we already had a lot of the processing power at our disposal so we were able to jump in faster. We also had a lot of data, so we’d done all this photogrammetry, all this light extrapolation, D-lighting all these other techniques. 

Unlike a lot of other players who don’t have the data, we were sitting on millions of photographs, and so that gave us a good head start. And then we just cracked at it. Like technically we were just five guys in this rather large hacker block, running around,  you know, smoking cigs out of the window and drinking red wine while coding at night. It’s all empty now, you know, and so we’ve just been hacking at it for a few years and picked up on the Python and obviously TensorFlow 2.0 has introduced some great performance posts. Tensor Core, all these other technologies are allowing us to get this fast and we’re able to batch operate at pretty reasonable resolutions at what is definitely frame, you know, 60 to 90 frame rate. Really single GANs now the trick investigating this really working is going to be just more and more optimization to combine those scans into a single GAN. So, we would give it one input. We’re wanting four or five outputs at varying levels. Now we’ve got that independently, but we’re going to have to merge that together. 

John Koetsier: Yes.

Simon Che de Boer: We know it can be done.

John Koetsier: Yes. 

Simon Che de Boer: And so it’s gonna be that in combination, we’re literally just acquisitioning more depth map information data, which we have a lot of leaves and a lot of bricks and a lot of rocks, but we don’t really have much of the faces. We’re now on a big pillage to find as much face data as we can, but…

John Koetsier: Well you’ve got Tutankhamon.

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah, right. We’ll make everyone look like Tutankhamon, why not?

John Koetsier: Everybody is gold. 

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah, absolutely. But yeah, I mean, the face style acquisition is easy and the Zuora connect gets a one or two, four by one to four resolution image at 15 frames a second. 

John Koetsier: Yes. 

Simon Che de Boer: You know, and we’ve got a bunch of these, and we’ve got a bunch more coming in. We’ve got a bunch of guys and they’ve got a bunch of flatmates in their bubble, so we’re literally going to get all of us and anyone in our immediate bubble here in New Zealand, the chopper fan of the camera and acquisition to start over the next few weeks. And if he’s going to , we can access as well. If anyone wants to jump in for all some of these. 

John Koetsier: There are some databases of faces as well, I think that you can grab and use and that’ll be useful as well because you’ll have some level of diversity obviously where you are in New Zealand, but you won’t have full on diversity from all over North America, South America.

Simon Che de Boer: Country-wise we’re actually one of the most diverse populations on the planet. 

John Koetsier: Really?!

Simon Che de Boer: Oh yeah, s**t yeah. I’m sorry, shivers yeah. Auckland in particular … I don’t want to say we’re the most diverse, but we’re definitely up there. I mean, we are an Island in the middle of nowhere, and we are an Island of immigrants.

John Koetsier: Yes.

Simon Che de Boer: I would say apart from indigenous Maori, we have a, it’s a really unique place, man.You know, we’re Kiwis, we’re not European. We’re not white. We’re not African-American. We’re just Kiwis. 

John Koetsier: Yeah.

Simon Che de Boer: The tigerian one. 

John Koetsier: Wonderful. 

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah, well, yeah. 

John Koetsier: One thing I wanted to ask was about that actually, just about the tech scene in New Zealand. We don’t hear a ton about tech companies from New Zealand. You obviously are with one, run one in New Zealand. What’s the tech scene like there? What’s happening there?

Simon Che de Boer: Look, honestly, we need to work on it, and I think this is another great thing Epic Games has done by giving us this grant and Nvidia and AWS, you know we’ve been gifted close to a mill of just resource, right? And I think that’s really going to trigger local body politics here in New Zealand. And I’m pushing half of/hard for it because it has been hard for us. We kind of live in Weta’s shadow, Weta Digital being, you know, a pretty established tech company. And so as a VFX R&D company ourselves, we fall between the cracks, but we’ve definitely had more coverage abroad than we’ve had locally, but we’re working on that.

John Koetsier: Oh wow.

Simon Che de Boer: And so I’ve been talking to parties and government and whatnot to make the case that they need to kind of move towards the younger generation in New Zealand who have actually started to crack this, because there is a bit of a boys club right now.

John Koetsier: Yeah.

Simon Che de Boer: This whole country is two degrees, you know, people know each other, so…

John Koetsier: Good, good, good. I have to ask because I’m seeing in the background, I’m going to solo you on the video here. I see that you’re in the VIP area. 

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was looking to hide my cables under the desk.

John Koetsier: Hide your what? Sorry. 

Simon Che de Boer: Hide the cables under the desk. Yeah, just a bit of framing. I do a lot of video as well, so I get really awkward about having the shot look right and stuff like that. So I’ve got… 

John Koetsier: You look pretty good. 

Simon Che de Boer: … over here just to soften the light.

John Koetsier: Yup, it looks pretty good. I like your office. I like the art in the background, the VIP area looks like it’s a bit of an indoor gym as well. I see…

Simon Che de Boer: Yeah, this is just a massive lounge. I’d love to show you around the house. Got a nice kitchen island, we’ve got a beautiful view outside, massive trees and you can pretty much see the Sky Tower out our window. 

John Koetsier: Wonderful. 

Simon Che de Boer: This is actually the old sanitarium building, Weet-Bix, I don’t know if you know what Weet-Bix is, but the old Weet-Bix building. Do you guys have Weet-Bix? I don’t know what you’d call it. 

John Koetsier: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Simon Che de Boer: Oh that’s ok.

John Koetsier: Wheatbix, is that a cereal?

Simon Che de Boer: Yes, this is an old office conversion that kind of warehousey office is like a work-live and basically we’ve just all got the building to jam and make stuff. Yeah. 

John Koetsier: Well, excellent. Simon, I want to thank you for coming on for this. It’s been a  lot of fun. It’s been super interesting to find out what you’re working on, how it’s going. Thank you for taking some time. 

Simon Che de Boer: No, no, it’s been wonderful. Happy to talk anytime. 

John Koetsier: Wonderful, wonderful. And for everybody else who’s been along, thank you for joining us on TechFirst. My name is John Koetsier. 

I appreciate you being along for the ride. Whatever platform you’re on, please like, subscribe, share, comment, all of the above. If you’re on the podcast later on and you like this, please rate it, review it. That’d be a massive help. Thank you so much. 

Until next time, this is John Koetsier with TechFirst.