Introducing XR Hub team: AXiiO VR Studio

Jul 27, 2020

AXiiO creates immersive experiences by combining cutting-edge 3D technology and live actors performing in Virtual Reality.

AXiiO's Oleg Nikolaenko directing people dressed as monks in front of a greenscreen.

During 2020, we have been posting articles about our XR Hub teams. These articles have been written based on interview questions answered by the teams themselves. If you have missed the previous articles, you can find them in the Hub Team Introductions category!

This time we have the pleasure of introducing AXiiO Oy, also known as AXiiO VR Studio!


AXiiO VR Studio

What does your team do?

We are AXiiO Oy (AXiiO VR Studio). AXiiO Oy was founded in November 2019, but before that we were an independent project called TheaterVR, in action since 2017.

AXiiO VR Studio is a unique project combining cutting-edge 3D technology with live actors performing in Virtual Reality (VR). Our production focuses on storytelling in VR — narrative films and animation for all ages. The main style of our feature VR projects is a synthesis of theater and cinema in virtual reality.

We have designed and created our project based on capturing and integrating stereoscopic video in virtual 3D scenes.

Chroma key shooting technique is widely used in movie-making but applied to virtual reality it becomes a new and rather complicated process. For example, a 3D video shows real actors in a virtual environment instead of animated 3D models. This allows us to create amazing virtual content, both fantastic and realistic in the highest quality, unattainable in other techniques.

The business idea is based on combining VR technology, 360 video technology and the film/theater experience commercially in both the consumer and corporate markets.

We offer storytelling in virtual reality, 360 videos, 3D, VR presentations and provide clients with fresh and engaging interactive solutions, emotional productions.


What is the idea/mission behind your team?

With the technology applied in AXiiO, the audience gets experiences by immersing themselves in a virtual reality storytelling environment. The result is an entertaining, realistic and emotional experience. Utilization of virtual reality is on the rise in Finland and around the world. However, VR technology is currently mostly used in the gaming industry, although it has a lot of potential in the film production.

Interest in new artistic experiences is constantly growing and AXiiO VR Studio can offer for this new market a high-quality VR-projects.


Tell us about your team members!

Our team consists of Elli Niaria, Oleg Nikolaenko and Daniil Bakalin.

ELLI NIARIA – Co-founder & CEO at AXiiO VR Studio.

Graduated from the Petrozavodsk State Conservatory/High school acting in 2002. For more than 15 years she has been the leading actress of the National Theater of Karelia. From 2013 she is an actress FIA, freelancer. Elli participated in various international theater and dance festivals and projects in Russia, Germany, Finland and Sweden. Starred in films and TV shows in Russia and Finland. Currently engaged in producing theater and VR projects in Finland. Chairperson of InterLab NGO.

Executive producer of TheaterVR and VR projects:

  • Kalevala.Episodes
  • Forgotten kiss
  • A Cat’s Winter Tale.

OLEG NIKOLAENKO – Co-founder & Creative director at AXiiO VR Studio.

Currently residing in Espoo, Finland, Oleg is the creator of a wide range of projects from stage performances and multimedia, to TV show and virtual reality projects. Oleg has over twenty five years of experience in directing theatre and shows in Russia, France, Greece, Germany, Switzerland and Finland.

For the past three years he has been working on VR projects (TheaterVR):

  • Kalevala.Episodes (Golden Mask Theater Award, nomination Experiment, Russia)
  • Forgotten Kiss (Tribeca Film Festival Cinema 360 program, 2020)
  • A Cat’s Winter Tale (GoEast Film Festival Open Frame Award program, 2020)

DANIIL BAKALIN – Co-founder & CTO at AxiiO VR Studio.

Programmer, designer, VR developer.

Graduated in 2005 from Petrozavodsk State University, majoring in Mathematics and Information Systems. Video designer-freelancer for theatre performances and enterprises in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Helsinki, Petrozavodsk. Created New information systems for Russian museums. Head developer for a few current IT projects in Jordan, Russia and Finland.

Senior VR designer in:

  • Kalevala.Episodes (nomination Experiment, Golden Mask Theater Award, Russia)
  • Forgotten Kiss (Tribeca Immersive, Tribeca Film Festival 2020)
  • A Cat’s Winter Tale (GoEast Film Festival, Open Frame Award program, 2020)
XR Hub team AXiiO VR Studios at Go East Film Festival. From the left: Oleg Nikoleanko, Elli Niaria and Daniil Bakalin.

Oleg Nikolaenko, Elli Niaria and Daniil Bakalin at GoEast Film Festival 2019.


What project(s) are you currently working on?

  • The new VR music video “Stella Maris” – post-production process
  • Pre-production development of a new VR cinematic feature “Eyes of a blue dog”
  • Development of the interactive 3d 360 tour (Web/VR)
  • Tests and development of the new idea – AR Table

Why did you decide to join Helsinki XR Center’s XR developer hub?

Because of networking, inspiring, contacting and sharing thoughts and ideas with XR-artists and developers, professionals and entrepreneurs. Also Helsinki XR Center is a very good support partner in our projects!


When did you join the XR Hub, and how long had your team existed before joining?

Our team TheaterVR existed from 2017. In September 2018 we made our first big interactive VR-project Kalevala.Episodes. We’ve joined the Helsinki XR Center Hub in May 2019.


As a part of the XR Hub, how has your experience been so far?

As a part of the XR Hub, with the support of Helsinki XR Center, during this time from May 2019 we made two art projects: Forgotten kiss (premiere in Helsinki in September 2019, world premiere in April 2020 at Tribeca 2020) and The Cat’s Winter Tale (world premiere May 2020, GoEast Festival, Germany).

Our position on the XR developer scene has become stronger and clearer!

During our time as a part of the XR Hub, we established our own company AXiiO Oy (in November 2019). We have also launched a new VR project Stella Maris with great russian musician Boris Grebenssikov.


What is the most interesting or exciting thing about extended reality?

Virtual Reality for us is a unlimited new space and opportunities for creativity and the development of new ideas.


AXiiO Links

AXiiO is one of the first VR production in Finland making VR films and art projects selected and awarded at international VR festivals.

Kalevala.Episodes – Nomination in Experiment, Golden Mask Theater Award 2020, Russia, GoEast Film Festival, Open Frame Award program, 2019.

Forgotten Kiss – Finalist in Tribeca Immersive, Tribeca Film Festival 2020, Cannes XR Festival 2020.

A Cat’s Winter Tale – GoEast Film Festival, Open Frame Award program, 2020.

A screenshot of AXiiO's VR movie 'Forgotten Kiss' with 'Tribeca Film Festival 2020' label and 'VEER 360 Cinema at Cannes XR' finalist label on it.

A screenshot of AXiiO VR’s film ‘Forgotten Kiss’, Tribeca Immersive Cinema 360, Tribeca Film Festival 2020, a finalist in Cannes XR Festival 2019.

This post is a part of the article series about Helsinki XR Center’s hub teams. In this series, we have been posting team introductions on a weekly basis during the year of 2020. This has been your chance to get to know our talented XR community!

If you missed the earlier XR Hub team introductions, they are available in our website’s News section.

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