As mentioned in my introduction of Streetlamp Media, one of my other big projects is the formation of a small, indie animation studio, officially known as Amulet Studios. On day one, our primary goal is to develop an animated series using Epic Games' Unreal Engine, but we're hoping to take it much further.
I'll be partnering with long time friend Brian Dean. We've been exploring cameras and filmmaking together for twenty years. He's the creative impetus behind this idea. He's spent the last few years stressing to me Unreal Engine's potential to disrupt (or at least evolve) current animation workflows. You can read more about Brian Dean on the Amulet Studios About page or in the Amulet Studios launch post.
The working title of our first project is Thera. Brian has done a lot of previsualization and story development. I'm diving into the technology so I can be useful, learning Blender for 3D modeling and using Unreal to generate shots. Below is my first attempt at camera movement using amulet assets Brian created. (I also added sound and effects. This will likely appear on our social media soon. You get an early preview!)
We're also investing in motion capture suits and gloves. Below is my first test of our Xsens MVN motion capture rig. It went splendidly. Yes, that's me dancing.
I'm trying to wrap my head around source control and asset sharing. If we're going to do this affordably, I want systems in place for asset sharing, especially given our remote nature, but as far as I can tell sharing animation assets is rather different than sharing traditional app code repositories.
In many ways, this feels like starting a software business. It can be affordable and iterative, if not necessarily scalable in the same sense. We have a minimum viable product goal: a sequence/trailer that requires some character development, some environment design, and some workflow setup. It will demonstrate our targeted style and animation quality. It can serve as a social media launch point to garner fan interest. And it will help us better understand cost structure and development timelines, which in turn will help us prove to investors and/or distributors that this is a viable plan.
Overall, this is an exciting endeavor. I'm learning a lot in a field I've always been passionate about. I'm doing creative work I can share with people, unlike most of my past work building business systems. I'm diving into writing and story development on Thera, which hits on other passions, and I'll be helping develop a future story pipeline. That pipeline will hopefully include our own stories as well as work by other creators. Only time will tell.
Right now, we're laying the foundation for a future. We may sputter and fail. Or we may build something amazing doing what we love. The possibilities are endless, and that excites me.