November 11, 2020
COVID-19 has drastically impacted Hollywood. The film industry has been challenged by a pandemic that requires new safety protocols and social distance. In just the span of a handful of months, the world has seen everything from movie theaters' closure to a stoppage in film production.
Features and series that were highly anticipated just a year ago have been pushed back or moved to stream platforms due to the pandemic's challenges. Whether Disney's "Mulan" or the still in production "Batman" reboot, the dynamics of 2020 have required studios across the board to adapt.
One such studio that has been able to find success in this "new normal" is Burbank-based AMGI Studios. The animation house has leveraged a flexible spirit with the latest technology to create 3D animated content for the streaming era and the absence of content currently available.
AMGI has leveraged technologies such as motion capture and Epic's Unreal Engine to create inspired kids programming that engages with various youth demographics. License Global was recently treated to a live demonstration of AMGI's production pipeline. During the Zoom presentation, we were able to catch a glimpse of the socially distanced magic leveraged to create compelling animated content quickly and effectively.
One of the critical aspects of the studio's COVID-proof production pipeline is motion capture technology. Utilizing AMGI's sound stage, a team of animators and actors can create animated sequences that feel genuinely organic. The technology allows for an actor's physical motion to be captured and reproduced within an entirely virtual environment.
Animators work ahead of actor call times to create immersive settings on computers then leverage performances to bring characters to life in those landscapes in real-time. Separately, the tech also allows for another actor to bring to life the subtle affectations of a character's face by recording the actor's facial expressions on a smartphone and pairing it with the original performance. Collectively, the motion capture tools provide a socially-distance way to bring real actors' performances to life organically.
The AMGI team also pairs the motion capture technology with Epic's Unreal Engine to quickly create vibrant 3D animation. Initially leveraged to develop video games such as "Fortnite," the Unreal Engine has recently become a vital piece of technology for Hollywood. Today, it is used to create virtual effects for programs such as "The Mandalorian" and "Independence Day 2."
AMGI uses the Unreal Engine to quickly turn its motion-captured performances into full-fledged animation without the need for expensive animation rending rigs or server farms. The less resource-intensive platform can bring to life the massive 3D rendered worlds in a way that can be quickly scaled and shared. Using the technology to bring to life its variety of properties such as "Zeppelin Reign" and "Little Kaiju," AMGI showcased how its novel use of the platform has helped bring to life animation in a matter of days instead of weeks or months.
AMGI's ability to work socially distanced and quickly has provided a significant boost for the studio during COVID-19. The team has reported being in discussions about bringing their IP to streaming giants and even recently hosted a panel to share how their approach to animation created with the Unreal Engine can take the industry into the future.
The studio's recent success highlights the impact of their truly unique approach. As everyone adjusts to the ever-changing environment caused by COVID-19, AMGI has found a viable way to create quality content that is made fast enough to adapt to our streaming world, all while still made safely.
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