Stina & the Wolf’s journey into the UNREAL

So, we have some very exciting news on the “Stina & the Wolf” film.

In previous posts I had discussed making it as a live action feature; starting again, completely from scratch. This always stung, as there were so many great moments and performances from our original shoot that would be lost and need recapturing. At the time we just couldn’t work out a way to finance it, to get the huge budget you need to pull off an entirely motion captured film to the quality we wanted.

The technology was only affordable to huge studios with hundreds or even thousands of VFX artists working at the top of their game. There were just too many sets, too many performances that needed complex facial character models and animation systems, too much varied and detailed natural scenery; too many complex cloud and outdoor lighting scenarios; all of it teased by our concept art:

Then 12 years passed by (Yep, it really was that long! This all kicked off back in 2010) and technology finally caught up.In the last few years facial animation technology has been massively democratised, as has access to amazing scanned models and real-time realistic lighting and cloud technology. This is best represented in the incredible new game engine UNREAL 5:

This is the way we are going with our film production.UNREAL 5 is a game changer, not just for us but possibly for the whole industry. Now these examples above are still produced by extremely skilled industry level artists. There is no magic button here, there never will be. (Okay, there will – AI will eventually do everything better than us, but that’s for another day.) The difference is that the majority of the assets and systems used here are free (or relatively inexpensive) and are available for everyone to use. The art comes in composing and editing them and mastering the systems. You no longer need 1000 VFX artists to make every blade of grass wobble, every facial muscle twitch, paint every plank of wood, simulate every drop of water in a cloud completely from scratch. UNREAL and their partner company Quixel Megascans have done that work for you.

It’s now entirely feasible for a small team of talented artists to produce amazing work, building on what UNREAL has already produced. It’s now, finally possible for us to make “Stina & the Wolf” as we originally intended!We are currently designing a pipeline for this new phase and planning to reinvigorate our old in-house studio FOAMdigital that ran out of Portsmouth University. It will once again give students a chance to get involved in a really exciting industry project that will take their skills to the next level and help them produce some really stunning work. (As seen in our short film “Uncle Griot” & our assorted trailers and teasers.)It’s early days, but we shall be posting more details, examples and deep-dives as we progress, and with the addition of the University’s amazing new £7 million digital studio and motion capture suite at our disposal, the future is looking very bright indeed for “Stina & the Wolf” 🙂Paul

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