Autodesk Acquires AI VFX Startup, Wonder Dynamics

Autodesk Acquires AI VFX Startup, Wonder Dynamics

Autodesk has announced its acquisition of Wonder Dynamics, a startup known for its AI-powered 3D animation and visual effects (VFX) technology. This strategic move gives Autodesk a strong foundation to develop new generative AI products—a space where, given all the innovation we have seen in the past year, the company has been relatively quiet.

First some quick background. Wonder Dynamics was co-founded in 2017 by Nikola Todorovic and Tye Sheridan, who you may know for his acting roles in films such as "Ready Player One" and "X-Men." The company has raised a total of $12.5M in funding and boasts an advisory board that includes Hollywood luminaries like Steven Spielberg and Joe Russo. In 2021, they secured a $2.5M seed round, followed by an impressive $10M Series A led by Horizon Ventures, with returning investments from Founders Fund and MaC Venture Capital. The Series A also saw new investors Epic Games and Samsung Next joining the ranks, further validating the potential of Wonder Dynamics' technology.

Autodesk, of course, needs no introduction. As a leader in design and make technology (e.g. AutoCAD, Revit, and Maya), Autodesk provides essential tools for industries ranging from architecture and engineering to media and entertainment. Their software is integral in creating everything from buildings and products to the movies and games that inspire us.

Wonder Studio, the flagship product of Wonder Dynamics, provides an easy way to integrate 3D characters into live-action scenes. Their technology automates the animation, lighting, and composition of CG characters, eliminating the need for motion capture and complex 3D software.

You simply upload a CG character model and video of an actor performing a scene. Wonder Dynamics' AI technology will then automatically detect and track the actor's performance across the entire scene, eliminating the need for shot-by-shot animation. The system then transfers the actor's performance to the CG character, including animation, lighting, and composition, all without the need for motion capture or complicated software. It's a true game-changer, streamlining the creative process and making high-quality 3D content more accessible.

Wonder Dynamics’ technology will allow artists to work more efficiently, break down barriers to entry and reduce the learning curve associated with traditional animation processes. It also makes the visual effects process more affordable. Filmmakers can produce high-quality VFX and CGI elements faster and at a lower cost. This is an acquisition that is well aligned with Autodesk’s mission to support creativity and innovation in the media and entertainment industry.

In an email to customers, Todorovic and Sheridan expressed excitement about joining forces with Autodesk, emphasizing their shared vision of supporting the iterative nature of 3D and storytelling:

The current misconception is that AI is a one-click solution, and that’s why we are excited to join a company that, at its core, supports the iterative nature of 3D and storytelling. We put a lot of effort into building an AI tool that does not replace artists, but rather speeds up the production process, makes things more efficient, and helps productions save costs. We firmly believe that our alignment with Autodesk will only amplify that vision and further push the boundaries of ethical AI and emerging technology in media & entertainment.

The company also reassured customers of its focus and continued commitment to their existing roadmap. In fact, they foresee being able to accelerate their roadmap with the boosted engineering and infrastructure resources that Autodesk will provide.

Chris McKay is the founder and chief editor of Maginative. His thought leadership in AI literacy and strategic AI adoption has been recognized by top academic institutions, media, and global brands.

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