We’re massively thrilled to have been chosen as one of the UK Creative Industries Council’s CreaTech 100 Ones to Watch 2021.

The CreaTech 100 Ones to Watch provide an opportunity for UK-based companies to showcase the most boundary-pushing technology and to demonstrate British innovation and ingenuity. There are some fantastic companies on the list this year and we’re proud to be a part of it.

We won our place on the list from our bespoke technology building virtual puppeteering tools, developed by our in-house real-time R&D team. Through utilising the combination of immersive VR technology combined with the power of of real-time rendering in Unreal, we have developed a way of creating visuals that push the boundaries of technology, whilst fulfilling an urgent business need for a rapidly changing world.

One of the biggest issues we face as an animation production studio is that the demand for content has grown exponentially in the past few years. Social media sites like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube mean that the demand for quantity and quality content has increased, but the speed at which we can make that content has not accelerated at the same rate.

Our solution to this is a new tool we’ve been developing that allows any user to puppeteer a character in real-time, in a layered, non-linear approach. Through utilising VR, the performer has far more detailed control over the performance, utilising VR’s stereoscopic view, room-scale head movement with 6-degrees of freedom for each hand input; all of these things combine to make a very efficient creative workflow.

This means a single puppeteer can control the whole character, no matter how many arms or legs they have, rather than being limited to what they can manipulate with just two hands simultaneously, which is a huge limitation with a traditional puppet. This enables not just rendering to be extremely fast, but the animation process too. This also allows for more cartoony performance than full-body motion capture systems, where body movements are directly translated onto a cartoon character, which can lead to underwhelming performances due to the physical limits of the human body.

We see this tool augmenting the suite of tools available for animation, rather than replacing any. The performance delivered is a distinctly different style from the painstaking detail of key-framed animation. Therefore we are utilising the technology on projects where keyframes animation isn’t possible, due to time or budget restraints, or where the stylised human energy of a hand puppeteered performance enhances the appeal of the final animation.

This tool will enable us to create more content at a faster pace without impacting the quality standards we proudly hold ourselves to. We look forward to using the tool on new IPs, to help push our studio further and develop content for audiences to make an even bigger impact on the world.