‘A lot of us are natural storytellers’: NeverEnding caters to a different kind of creator
When most people think of creators, they think of people standing in front of a camera sharing everything about their lives—from their favorite products to intimate details about their love lives. But in an age where the internet is more invasive than ever, where does that leave content creators who want that little extra privacy? This is why Jamie Van Doren is building NeverEnding, a platform that lets camera-shy creatives get a chance to share content via avatars and animation.
“My thought was, wouldn’t it be fantastic if there was a platform where you could take control of your own narrative? Where you could share in your authentic voice without being in front of the camera?” Van Doren said in a Zoom interview with Passionfruit.
NeverEnding’s recently released, early-stage beta tools create 2D and 3D avatars for social media and live streaming. With nearly 50 points of customization, NeverEnding’s Character Builder lets you create and color billions of unique characters. Users can also bring their avatars to life with the platform’s webcomics feature, which gives them the tools to create a comic strip or an entire graphic novel based around their avatar.
“NeverEnding gives you the ability to create animated videos on the fly without knowing anything about art and without knowing anything about animation,” he said. “We’re leveraging video game technology, and in the future, we’ll be leveraging AI as well to help you edit and bring high-quality cinematographic principles to the videos you create and share.”
What do creators think so far?
One content creator who has already tried out NeverEnding is Brandon Tharp, the founder of tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) community The Cantrip Cast. The community, which also acts as an independent publisher for a third-party Dungeons and Dragons content, caters for people who are passionate eTTRPGs, video gaming, streaming, and content creation. Speaking to Passionfruit via email, Tharp said he’s eagerly awaiting the NeverEnding’s full launch to harness the power of the platform’s on-the-go accessibility and functionality.
“As a TTRPG content creator, sometimes you need things quick to represent a scene that happened in a recent game so you can show the audience,” he said. “A tool like [NeverEnding] would be a significant help in that process. Additionally, the animation tools that they are releasing/working on could really enhance ‘TTRPG Story’ type videos where we can animate pieces of a story from a game!”
On top of this, Tharp added that the platform’s robust suite of storytelling tools will further add to the experience for gamers and the audiences that watch their content.
“I’m excited to use Neverending as a creator because it will be an awesome tool to add to our videos and even campaigns from a storytelling aspect,” he said. “Being able to have a character/scene creation tool will be able to add new visuals to our games for both the players and audience members alike.
Shattering the lens
It was Van Doren’s love of animation and cartoons that inspired him to make a social media platform that shatters the limitations that come with putting your face to content. NeverEnding, he said, unlocks a whole new realm of possibilities for content creation.
“I love animation and cartoons because everything is possible,” he explained. “I just wanted to put those tools in the hands of everybody without it taking hundreds of hours to learn how to use the technology. The problem with current social media and content creation—on every single platform, it doesn’t matter if it’s Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok—is that you are fundamentally limited by what you can create. You’re limited by what you look like, where you can physically go, and what you can physically do.”
Elevating story time
According to Van Doren, more than 100 creators currently use NeverEnding to create unique avatars and characters for games like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and Vampire. But gamers aren’t the only creators that are attracted to this unique form of content creation. Users from other industries, including esports, video gaming, and comedy, also use the platform to tell their stories.
“A lot of us are natural storytellers. We tell stories all the time about what happened last weekend or bad experiences we’ve had,” the founder added. “Stories are easy to understand, and they’re easy for us to connect to, regardless of differences in our backgrounds. We can still find commonality in story. I think that’s so critical because social media is isolating. We don’t feel like we’re able to be our authentic selves, and I’m hoping this will be a different option.”
Through NeverEnding, Van Doren believes creators can stand out from the crowd of “Get Ready With Me” videos and fast-food hauls through high-quality, engaging, and authentic storytelling. Crucially, he added, giving creators the ability to animate their stories allows their messages to be amplified and, by taking the focus off their appearance, helps the story’s content shine through.
“I think one of the coolest things that I would like to see creators doing early is sharing their authentic experiences. But sharing them as a story instead of being just you sitting in your car with your phone in front of you, you’re literally animating this out and sharing it in a way that takes the focus off you and puts the focus on the story,” he said.
Separating yourself from your content
Van Doren started NeverEnding in 2020. Today, his company has grown to 28,000 users and more than $150,000 in revenue. He attributes his early success to the platform’s focus on minority and marginalized creators.
“It’s really difficult to stand out—whether it’s YouTube, TikTok, or Twitter. If you’re anyone, but especially a minority or someone who is marginalized, a lot of the times that focus is hyper-focused on you,” he said. “People say terrible things. Being able to separate yourself and not be your content means there’s less opportunities for people to make those very hateful, personal comments about you. It becomes about the story you’re putting out. I think that is very liberating and allows us to try more things.”
Van Doren said the easiest way for creators to integrate NeverEnding into their brand is to experiment with different types of content on the platform.
“Animated content is so liberating because there’s so much you can do with it,” he said. “It can speak to such a variety of folks, and people can come at it and do things that are really unique. You can have parents that are animating children’s stories. You can have a fashion influencer doing their own version of Emily in Paris. It’s unlimited.”
In addition to helping grow and diversify your audience, and giving you the tools to create stand-out stories that stand out, Van Doren said his platform can help elevate creators who have been having a hard time growing their audience.
“For those creators who have struggled to create a brand and find an individual voice, maybe this is an opportunity for them to do that because it is going to stand out, especially in its earliest days,” he said.
Ultimately, Van Doren’s goal is to release the 3D animation suite in 2023 and AI video editing tools in 2024. To achieve this, he’s currently fundraising to develop a full 3D animation suite—no animation studio or skills required.
NeverEnding will roll out more tools for creators in March, with a goal to continue to release new things for users to try as they build their community and audience.