Mercedes Benz Magazine - Unlocking the metaverse with virtual production
Updated: Sep 13, 2022
The Spring edition of MBGC is now out!
View the entire issue here – https://rsvp.mbgoldcoast.com.au/emag/spring-2022/
Tucked away in Burleigh, this Gold Coast-based virtual production company is punching a hole in the creative content production process and facilitating cost-effective and innovative solutions to create awe-inspiring and out-of-this-world visual and digital experiences.
Words Melinda Burton | Photos Fika Entertainment
With brands and businesses needing to find their place in the metaverse, virtual production is taking the entertainment, retail, and marketing industries by storm, enabling the creation of mind-blowingly beautiful content via quicker and more cost-effective means. Merging technological elements such as motion capture, LED screens, real time game engines and more, virtual production helps create exciting digital brand and story experiences in real time. At the helm is Fika Entertainment, the visionaries responsible for springboarding visual storytelling by producing real time animation and visual effects (VFX) content that is accessible and fast. Fika CEO and Executive Producer Kris Maric says while the term metaverse is new, the concept is not.
“There are many experienced big brands like Disney and Hollywood filmmakers and producers that have been embracing virtual production and the metaverse in some form for a while now but it’s clear that the software and hardware tools have evolved and are becoming more accessible in mainstream production and promotion,” says Kris “I think what has changed is the interest and confidence in engaging virtual production techniques within everyday production and promotion practices. “Audiences are now becoming more globally accessible and also are demanding quicker and fresher online and instore content experiences from brands and businesses – they want the whole 360 experience and a lot of it now.” Kris and her team deal with producers, agencies, creators, performers and technicians on a daily basis and, in terms of capability and creativity, sees Australia as downright amazing.
“When it comes to real-time technology, the really exciting part for us is being able to make wonderful content that is suitable on a global scale and extremely cost effective,” says Kris. Fika has worked for global giants such as Mattel, Wildbrain, ABC, Coolabi/BBC and eOne to produce fast and cost-effective motion capture, animation, VFX (including realtime LED and greenscreen shoots) content, and the rapid spin out of other ancillary brand/IP experiences such as live events, themed activations, mobile apps, games, e-books, AR/VR experiences, short form content, and immersive media. Currently in production on four animation series, Fika is working with some of the largest global kids IP owners across the US, Canada and UK, plus they are actively working on and have completed gaming, mocap, VFX and other immersive experiences for non-entertainment clients as well, including: Dementia Australia, AllPlay.org, Marine Parks Australia, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Department of Health Victoria, and Jayco.
It was thanks to an unlikely ally, children’s television character Humphrey B. Bear, which led to Kris becoming CEO of Fika. As one of the owners and guardians of the honey-loving brown bear, plans to redevelop the popular Aussie Iconic character and bring him into the modern world saw Kris cross paths with Deakin Motion Lab in Melbourne. Throughout this process, Deakin Motion Lab was commercially spun out as Fika Entertainment, and Kris was approached to take the reins and bring Humphrey along for the journey. Since 2006, Deakin Motion Lab and then Fika have been pushing the boundaries of research and development for transformative entertainment production.
This has included creating production solutions and content for film, television, animation, live performances, augmented reality and virtual reality, and apps using motion capture and various visual production techniques. “Our in-house designed software and ecosystem Alchemy Pipeline™ enables us to help our clients and partners realise the power of virtual production and the metaverse and how it can more effectively meet their creative and commercial needs,” says Kris. “This pipeline technology is the key component Fika cultivated over a ten-year period for research and commercial purposes.”
Instead of thinking about how to create something on a shoestring, Fika works out how virtual production enhances the ability to have products and brands that are promoted in a way that is current, cutting edge and globally appealing. “Once businesses and brands take the plunge and invest in making virtual production content, we can already see how they can leverage this investment further to position themselves actively in the metaverse,” says Kris. Learn more about Fika Entertainment at www.fikaent.com