Jason Rothberg, Kevin Sharpley & Gianfranco Bianchi: Visionary Futures and Breakthrough Dream Makers  

Jason Rothberg, Kevin Sharpley & Gianfranco Bianchi
Jason Rothberg, Kevin Sharpley & Gianfranco Bianchi

Immersive technology is where technology meets creativity, creating interactive and sensory experiences. It transcends traditional boundaries, allowing users to engage with content in unprecedented ways. From virtual reality to augmented reality, immersive technology transforms storytelling, gaming and education offering a dynamic fusion of the digital and physical worlds.

Xavatar is a visionary XR/Web3 startup with offices in Ireland, Miami, and London, shaping the future of interactive experiences with immersive technology in Hollywood and entertainment sector at large. The 3 founders bring decades of experience spanning the realms of music, film and television, is part of the driving force behind Xavatar, an innovative venture at the intersection of entertainment and immersive technology. As the CEO of Xavatar, Jason leverages’ his Hollywood experience as a record label executive, artist manager, event producer and music supervisor, COO Kevin Sharpley brings his background as an award-winning filmmaker and multimedia experience and CCO Gianfranco Bianchi defines the look and feel of Xavatar with his talents in graphic design, animation, VFX and XR expertise culminating in a powerhouse trio that makes Xavatar a standalone production company and redefining what Web3 entertainment looks like.

Through the pandemic, the 3 partners have curated conversations at The Sync Report, bridging the worlds of independent filmmakers and songwriters offering real SYNC opportunities to indie artists. Featuring sync opportunities for indie film and documentaries such as Move Me No Mountain (currently available to stream via Amazon Prime), The Boys of 742 and Tillie (a film about civil rights activist Tillie Bing Bryant).

Their latest production, The Xavatar Show (TXS) utilize all their skill sets to produce the first terrestrial TV series based in the metaverse.  TXS is an animated variety talk show all about films and music.  Featuring conversations with some of the biggest names in entertainment. Hosted by film star and musician, Colin O’Donoghue (best known for his portrayal of Captain Hook in Disney’s “Once Upon A Time”), Rose Ganguzza (one of the biggest producers of indie films) and Jason P. Rothberg (who’s portfolio includes working with icons like Peter Gabriel, David Lynch and Quincy Jones).

Let’s explore how Xavatar is rewriting the rules, reducing the mundane and enhancing the extraordinary with immersive media and cross-platform storytelling!

Crafting the Avatar

The birth of Xavatar didn’t come until the pandemic lockdown,” reveals Jason. With the world isolated and dependent on video calls for communication, the entertainment industry ground to a halt. However, Jason being a seasoned manager with tour dates and film projects, faced cancellation after cancellation. The only job offers coming in were for Zoom webinars, but Jason’s severe camera anxiety made him turn most of them down. This anxiety, a lifelong struggle, became a roadblock during a panel discussion invitation at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. Determined to overcome this challenge, Jason sought a solution.

Jason reached out to Gianfranco Bianchi who has a background in multimedia production, animation, XR, and tech. Their collaborative efforts resulted in the first Xavatar, a real-time reactionary avatar. Within three weeks, the prototype was ready for its debut and it became an instant hit at the Cannes panel. Recognizing its potential, Rothberg and Bianchi immediately reached out to Sharpley, knowing they had a business on their hands and together launching Xavatar. The combination of their skills and vision has driven Xavatar’s rapid growth, offering a promising solution for individuals like Jason who face camera anxiety.

Warping Realities

In the pulsating realm of immersive and experiential media, creativity knows no bounds. “It allows content creators the ability to tell their stories in new and inventive ways,” says Sharpley who is a passionate filmmaker and content creator.

For him, this dynamic landscape opens doors to unparalleled storytelling possibilities. Traditional mediums like films, TV shows, books, or comics are just the beginning. With immersive media, he can breathe life into his narratives, enabling audiences to explore the depths of his imagination. “Users can look around the entire space and feel what is happening in a different way,” he enthuses.

Virtual spaces offer unique, immersive encounters, while augmented reality lets users actively engage with the story in real environments, be it at home or anywhere in the world.

The Fusion of Tech, Tales and Tradition

Sharpley is a visionary at Xavatar in the dynamic world of entertainment and he emphasizes the supremacy of captivating narratives over flashy technology. “Put the technology in the back and the story in the front. The technology is just a tool,” he asserts passionately.

For the three, it’s about crafting compelling content that resonates, regardless of the screen—be it TV, theatres, phones, or gaming consoles. At Xavatar, their mission is clear—creating experiences they love and hope others will cherish too. One such venture is The Xavatar Show, an animated variety and talk show that promises thrilling adventures with cast and crew, engaging interviews with industry giants, exciting contests, and more.

The innovation lies in diverse interactions. “There are a lot of ways to intersect with the show,” Rothberg explains. From watching on cable to attending as an avatar, engaging with celebrity-referenced environments, playing video games, meeting the cast, and diving into augmented reality—the options are vast.

Yet, amidst these technologies, the heart of Xavatar remains its stories. These narratives connect celebrities, the Xavatar team and the audience fostering a vibrant community. “The new media age is all about bilateral communication and community,” says Jason, underlining the essence of meaningful connections.

Crossroads of Possibilities

In the expansive realm of immersive media, Rothberg and his partners at Xavatar are pioneering groundbreaking initiatives making a profound impact on lives. “We’re currently working with one of the biggest telethons in the world,” Bianchi shares with enthusiasm, detailing their project aimed at empowering children with disabilities.

The telethon’s ambitious dance event becomes inclusive through Xavatar’s innovation, enabling kids with limited mobility to participate effortlessly. With just a finger or eye movement, their avatars come alive, dancing joyously in the virtual spaces. It’s a feat that resonates deeply with all three of the partners: “It’s something we’re really excited about because it allows just about anyone to participate.”

This inclusivity, Sharpley emphasizes, is at the heart of immersive media’s evolution. “That’s one of the biggest parts of the growth in immersive and experiential media, connectivity and giving people the ability to reach in ways they may have not been able to previously,” he explains.

He paints a vivid future where augmented reality seamlessly integrates with daily life—offering directions, enabling global friendships, fostering worldwide collaborations, and even revolutionizing industries.

Scientists and doctors will be able to collaborate on projects from different places in the world in virtual and augmented space,” he envisions, underlining the limitless potential of this transformative technology. Through Xavatar’s vision, the boundaries between physical and digital worlds blur, ushering in an era of unparalleled connection and opportunity.

Tech Breakthroughs

Bianchi shares profound insights about where technology melds seamlessly with human interaction, “When technology is in the background and people are in the front, people often forget about the tech.” History proves this point from smartphones transforming lives to smartwatches becoming indispensable.

For Xavatar and their upcoming show, The Xavatar Show, the focus remains on people and connections. “It’s a peek into the lives of the people we interview and a deep dive into the music that makes films work,” Rothberg explains. While cutting-edge tech plays a role, the essence lies in the profound connectivity between the audience, the artists and the broader community.

From Mantra to Mastery

In the relentless journey of progress, Rothberg, Sharpley and Bianchi’s combined wisdom echoes, “Keep it moving.” Amid setbacks and daunting challenges, he recognizes the power of continuous motion. Even when faced with obstacles or forced to navigate detours, the key lies in perseverance.

If you stop and don’t start again, there will be no progress,” Sharpley emphasizes. Progress may demand unconventional paths including sideways, upwards, downwards, and occasionally, a momentary pause for reflection. Yet, within that perpetual movement, kinetic energy sparks, birthing new possibilities.

Sharpley’s words serve as an inspiration to embrace resilience, understanding that amidst life’s hurdles, the next breakthrough might be just inches away. He also says, “Keep moving.” Challenges, he believes, are valuable teachers guiding one towards education and growth. Viewing obstacles as signals to find alternative routes and setbacks as opportunities to forge new pathways, he advocates resilience.

Each hurdle, in his perspective, serves as a moment for personal reflection inspiring not only self-improvement but also those around. “Nothing can ever really stop you,” he asserts, “just slow you down for a bit.” Pausing becomes a chance to catch one’s breath, strategize and find the best way to continue the journey.

Gaming Mindsets, Hollywood Heart

In the intricate world of convergent, immersive and experiential media, Sharpley imparts wisdom. “Talent shines no matter the medium,” he asserts, drawing from his diverse background as an actor and model. His journey is marked by evolution and adaptability resonating with his peers.

Over the years, he’s witnessed colleagues branching into new territories supplementing their skills to meet project demands. Sharpley’s approach is rooted in understanding emerging technologies, even beyond his expertise. His insistence on comprehending diverse areas fosters mutual respect and amplifies productivity within his team.

Recently, at the prestigious SIGGRAPH conference, Sharpley delved into the cutting edge of the entertainment and tech industries. From Jensen Huang’s lightning-fast tech strides to breakthroughs in movies like ‘Into The Spiderverse’ and ‘Avatar,’ he absorbed knowledge, connecting seemingly disparate dots. Armed with insights, he empowered his team shaping their collective understanding of the ever-changing industry landscape.

When Bianchi speaks of his experiences, he does more than share stories—he advocates a holistic perspective. “I’m relaying, even pushing for others to think in a broader way,” he says. His words echo far beyond his immediate circles inspiring professionals to envision the bigger picture, encouraging them to see how their individual pieces intricately intertwine into the great world of the industry’s future.

Dreaming Forward

The three partners marvels at the groundbreaking Apple Vision, “It’s revolutionary,” Sharpley exclaims, captivated by its seamless integration of life, business, entertainment and experiences. Acknowledging its initial price tag, he recognizes the enthusiasm of Apple’s pioneering adopters.

For him, the device signifies a gateway to increased productivity for businesses, deeper connections among families and friends along with the unparalleled entertainment and gaming experiences. Sharpley is particularly enchanted by the device’s ability to bring beloved characters like Mickey Mouse into the living room making the extraordinary accessible.

Yet, what truly excites him is the broader ecosystem taking shape. While products like Meta Quest 3, augmented reality glasses and immersive games dazzle the market, Jason sees a future where these technologies seamlessly blend into daily lives.

Drawing parallels with the early days of smartphones and smartwatches, he envisions a world where these immersive experiences become as indispensable as breathing. “Soon enough, people will forget it’s future-leaning tech and it will just fit into people’s daily lives,” he predicts as it may result in enabling connections and adventures previously unimaginable.

However, Bianchi maintains a grounded perspective. While technology opens incredible possibilities, he believes it can’t replace the irreplaceable. Personal, priceless moments like seeing loved ones in three-dimensional space hold immeasurable value, transcending any gadget’s capabilities. “There’s no price that I could pay to have had that experience,” he reflects. These immersive technologies, he believes, don’t replace live experiences but enhance them, offering a chance to explore the depths of the ocean, journey to the moon, or marvel at the cosmos.

At Xavatar, Sharpley’s vision becomes tangible. He shares, “It’s certainly what we’re pushing to do at Xavatar, connectivity and storytelling are at the core of the company and just wait until you see what we have in store!”