Motion Capture and CGI compositing are technically complicated and usually too expensive for an independent content creator to incorporate those tools into their story.
But artificial intelligence is changing the game and making it far easier for anyone to create motion capture CGI through a new app called Wonder Studio. And the killer part is … it’s web-based.
“We built something that automates this whole process, animates it live, frame by frame, there’s no need for mocap,” states CEO and co-founder Nikola Todorovic.
“It automatically detects actors based on a single camera. It does camera motion, lighting, color, and replaces the actor fully with CGI.”
We are proud to introduce Wonder Studio.
An AI tool that automatically animates, lights and composes CG characters into a live-action scene. No complicated 3D software, no expensive production hardware—all you need is a camera.
Sign up for closed beta at https://t.co/QPyOVMjEAy pic.twitter.com/aHf2bLTsgZ
— Wonder Dynamics (@WonderDynamics) March 9, 2023
Wonder Studio is the brainchild of a company called Wonder Dynamics, founded by Nikola Todorovic and actor Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One).
Wonder Studio uses a browser-based interface for editors to drag and drop computer-generated characters into a scene.
The app uses artificial intelligence to analyze actors’ performance, their movements, and even facial expressions and then uses that motion data to animate the CGI character.
“The beauty of AI is taking something so complicated and simplifying it,” Todorovic adds. “We’re about enhancing and empowering (visual effects artists). This doesn’t disrupt what they’re doing.”
As mentioned above, there’s no need for a motion capture suit or multiple camera setups to capture the motion data. In fact, there’s no need for CGI animation software at all. Users can even use footage captured from a single camera setup.
Users just go to the Wonder Studio Website and drag and drop an original scene or sequence into the web interface.
Wonder Studio then uses AI to analyze the scene and detect and completely replace the live-action actor with a polished CGI performance, including adding in lighting, color grading, and facial details of the performance.
The process can even handle multiple characters within a scene or sequence, right down to the frame level. Users can use CGI generated by Wonder Dynamics’ own 3D catalog, with the ultimate goal of enabling CGI artists to create their own CGI characters for importing and animating.
According to Wonder Dynamics, Wonder Studio can automate up to 90 percent of the visual effects workflow, eliminating the time and resource-consuming process of rotoscoping and compositing as well as other tedious work that can slow down the post-production process.
“The goal all along was to make a tool for artists, to empower them,” says co-founder Sheridan. “Someone who has big dreams doesn’t always have the resources to manifest them … we want to have a platform where any kid can sit and direct films by sitting at his computer and typing.”
The Wonder Studio interface is currently in beta, with its toolset and features being field tested by the Russo Brothers for their latest Netflix feature The Electric State, starring Millie Bobby Brown.
In fact, in addition to securing over ten million dollars in development seed funding, the company has added Joe Russo to their advisory board along with fellow director Stephen Spielberg, so the company has a heavy-weight brain trust to shepherd the app’s development.
And while Wonder Studio is in a closed beta, judging by the meteoric rise and integration of AI into the production process in the last six months, it sure to take little time for the beta test to shake out any bugs.
“We are storytellers at heart, and we’re only building technology as a means to help us tell better stories,” Sheridan concludes. “A.I. presents a huge opportunity for more films to be made and for more voices to be heard.”
Ultimately, the plan is to offer a free tier for anyone to use with limited features and scenes to process, and then a variety of paid or subscription tiers with more advanced features and professional VFX tools. In the meantime, interested visual effects and 3D artists can request access to be part of the closed beta by going to the Wonder Dynamics website.
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