"...we want to have a platform where any kid can sit and direct films by sitting at his computer and typing."
Control C, Control V
An AI startup called Wonder Dynamics just came out with a new AI-powered editing studio called Wonder Studio, which they claim allows users to automatically replace real actors with convincing CG characters — with a simple drag and drop.
Gotta say: it looks pretty impressive.
"We built something that automates this whole process, animates it live, frame by frame, there's no need for mocap. It automatically detects actors based on a single camera," Wonder Dynamics cofounder Nikola Todorovic told TechCrunch last week. "It does camera motion, lighting, color, replaces the actor fully with CG."
Of course, if your first thought, here, is: "hm, a tool like this might be absolutely terrible for the livelihoods of VX artists," you'd be forgiven. But Todorovic and the product's other creator, Tye Sheridan — yes, that Tye Sheridan, actor of "Ready Player One" fame — claim that the tool is designed to help artists, actually. (Never heard that one before.)
"This doesn't disrupt what they're doing, it automates 80 to 90 percent of the objective VFX work and leaves them with the subjective work," Todorovic told TechCrunch. "The beauty of AI is taking something so complicated and simplifying it."
"The goal all along was to make a tool for artists, to empower them," Sheridan added. "Someone who has big dreams doesn't always have the resources to manifest them."
Certainly, a rosy outlook on tech that, no matter how you shake it, is definitely replacing a human task.
But to their credit, the VFX industry, as TechCrunch notes, is notably overwhelmed — too many studios, making too many Marvel movies and/or Marvel knockoffs, fixing everything in post as they go. As GQ reported back in January, the majority of the film industry's VFX studios are booked out for years, and a tool like this could be a legitimately helpful means of bypassing the embattled industry's ongoing clusterfuckery.
According to TechCrunch, Wonder Studio comes with a set of premade characters, but the studio maintains that the preexisting characters are really just there for inspiration, or early-phase work like storyboarding. And soon, they say, they're hoping to build out into CG environments.
"This is a big first step," Todorovic told TechCrunch, "but the big picture is we want to have a platform where any kid can sit and direct films by sitting at his computer and typing."
All in all, congrats to these cofounders, as their platform seems legitimately impressive. And honestly? We're kind of looking forward to a TikTok feed flooded with Wonder Studio animations.
READ MORE: Wonder Dynamics puts a full-service CG character studio in a web platform [TechCrunch]