AWS for M&E Blog

How Wonder Dynamics is accelerating creativity with AWS

Technological advancements are unlocking new, more accessible and cost-efficient ways to create stunning visual effects (VFX) usually reserved for blockbuster film budgets. Among the tools changing the game is an artificial intelligence (AI) content creation platform from Wonder Dynamics called Wonder Studio, which allows creators to quickly and easily composite a stylized computer generated (CG) character into a live action scene. Officially launched in March 2023, Wonder Studio was developed by then writing partners and company co-founders Nikola Todorovic and Tye Sheridan, to realize a script featuring a CG robot character.

Todorovic, Wonder Dynamics CEO, explained, “When we started working on visual AI in 2018, it was because we knew there was no way we’d get $150M to make our film. Then, as we were building what would become Wonder Studio, we recognized how others in the industry could benefit from the technology, so we decided to release it.”

Establishing a cloud foundation

In building the platform, accessibility was a top priority. Todorovic and Sheridan developed Wonder Studio as a browser-based tool that leverages solutions from Amazon Web Services (AWS), including NVIDIA GPUs. “It was a no-brainer to make Wonder Studio a cloud-based solution. We do offer a desktop-based version, but requiring an expensive workstation to run the tool didn’t solve the issue of accessibility,” noted Todorovic. “By using AWS, we can run a lot of projects in parallel, which is hard to do otherwise. When we can speed up the less creative aspects of the process, artists can get to the first shot quicker. And, if you cut down time, you’ll cut down cost.”

With a background in VFX, Todorovic designed Wonder Studio to be useful to artists of all experience levels, whether to create a YouTube video in one pass or for feature film production. The solution uses AI to track an actor’s performance in a scene, including facial movements, across cuts or edits, then swaps the live action character for a CG-provided one to create a final output with accurate lighting and shot composition. Traditional scene elements, such as lighting, camera movement, and animation, can be exported as FBX files or alpha masks for fine-tuning by artists.

Prioritizing creativity and storytelling

While AI is proving a valuable tool in filmmaking, Todorovic emphasizes the importance of the creatives and artists; “VFX is way too complex for AI to solve for every situation, but Wonder Studio helps automate some of the less exciting aspects so that more voices can be heard,” he shared. “You still need to know how to frame shots for VFX—for instance, if the camera is moving a lot, your clean plate will look better because AI can pick up more of what’s behind the actor. If you shoot in 4K with good lighting, you’re going to have more information that can then be applied to the 3D character. A good cinematographer is going to produce better results. The same applies to a character made by a good artist.”

A story company first, technology company second, Wonder Dynamics sees technology as a means to an end, and AI as an enabler for the next generation of creatives. “If we can speed up the filmmaking process and make it cheaper, then we’re going to see things like art films with a lot of action and VFX, maybe set in space,” Todorovic concluded. “We’re going to see individual content creators and storytellers be able to make interesting films that would traditionally cost millions to make and that’s super exciting.”

Hear more about what Todorovic has to say about AI in VFX and filmmaking by checking out the keynote from the 2023 AWS for M&E Symposium or the panel Reimaging Storytelling with AI in the Cloud at NAB 2023.

Emily McKinzie

Emily McKinzie

Emily McKinzie is an Industry Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Services.