Autodesk buys Wonder Dynamics

Today Autodesk announced that Wonder Dynamics, the makers of Wonder Studio, will become part of Autodesk. This is a powerful move for the company and one that will allow even more users to experience an accelerated, artist-friendly AI workflow. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Bringing Wonder Dynamics into the Autodesk Media & Entertainment portfolio extends our history of supporting artists with innovative and accessible solutions that break down barriers to entry,” said Diana Colella, Executive Vice President of Media & Entertainment at Autodesk. “In the 1990s we helped artists use computers to create 3D graphics, which led to the industry we see today, and Wonder Dynamics is our next step on that journey. By embracing emerging technology, we want to help teams and creators of all shapes and sizes create content more easily, so everyone has the power to bring their inspiring stories to life.”

Wonder Studio is an AI-powered tool that allows artists to easily automate VFX work by providing a range of innovative, integrated tools that allow artists to immediately start animating complex live-action and 3D scenes.

For example, below you can see a promo we created for this story using Wonder Studio, along with some of the key passes and elements included within it. We filmed this on an iPhone without any special considerations and then rendered it in the cloud within Wonder Studio – then exported several passes for possible editing or adjustment.

Wonder Studio is a browser-based platform that allows people to drag and drop a computer-generated character into any scene using AI. It easily replaces a live-action actor with a Mocap version of the digital character. The results and effectiveness of this multi-tool machine learning/AI approach were immediately apparent. From shading and lighting to animation and ease of use, Wonder Studio was very successful and impressive almost immediately.

It replaces every actor in the scene with a 3D character without the need for any other human intervention at up to 4K resolution. All normal VFX tasks are performed automatically – from clearing the plates to tracking the camera and animating characters. But it doesn’t do this as a final solution, even though you could use it as such, but it allows every part of the VFX process to be exported. This means instant results, but is made for artists to refine and adjust. This makes Wonder Studio incredibly useful, as well as a wonderful tool for young artists looking to enter and learn the industry. They can get great results right away, but more importantly, they get the elements and layers to explore and learn with further.

Wonder Studio already exports to Maya, including derived motion capture data

Wonder Studio is highly compatible with 3D tools such as Autodesk’s Maya. Autodesk’s acquisition of Wonder Dynamics should allow more creators to add 3D animated characters to their projects and stories, while minimizing the learning curve and automating typically complex and time-consuming processes.

Wonder Dynamics was co-founded by VFX Supervisor Nikola Todorovic, CEO, and actor and producer Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One and X-Men: Apocalypse), president.

fxguide first spoke to the guys in April 2023 (see our fxguide story here), and we spoke to them again about this new move and what it could mean for them and their customers in the future.

fxg: Congratulations on the deal. How will Wonder Dynamics work in the future? Will it remain a self-contained unit?

Tye Sheridan: Thank you! Yes, by working with Autodesk, we expect to maintain continuity for both the team and Wonder Studio, so this announcement will have little impact on the development team or customers.

fxg: Will you and Nikola remain involved?

Nikola Todorovic: Yes, we both stay involved. The vision will continue, and we have no intention of slowing down – quite the opposite.

Tye Sheridan: As artists, we are extremely grateful to be able to make films for a living, and we have always wanted to help other artists realize the same dream – regardless of their location, social status or budget.

Nikola Todorovic: With Autodesk’s support, along with Diana Colella and her team’s commitment to innovation, we now have the perfect partnership to continue this mission at scale and redefine what is achievable in storytelling.

Clean plate output. Mike is removed (top left) with AI and the clean frame output as an additional pass.

fxg: You’ve had great success with the ability to export to Maya. Are you seeing more Autodesk integration now?

Nikola Todorovic: Yes, we’ve been working with Autodesk on Maya exports for a while now, so it’s great to hear that this is successful. It’s hard to say right now exactly what we’ll do in the future in terms of integration because we couldn’t really strategize with their product teams before closing the deal, but Autodesk is committed to what we’re doing to help current users of 3D products like Maya and Blender and what we’re doing to make it easier for artists to create 3D content in general.

FXfxgG:Do you expect a carryover from your various ML engines to the broader Autodesk ecosystem – after all, your tracking, inpainting, and motion estimation are all tools that could be useful in other products?

Nikola Todorovic: Maybe. I understand that Autodesk is very interested in helping us add to their growing body of research on ML applications. It’s very important to them and it’s something they’ve been doing for over a decade, but it’s hard to say how, what or even if exactly we’ve had the time to get to know each other better.

fxg: How does this affect people with subscriptions? Will the prices and conditions remain as they are?

Tye Sheridan: Our immediate focus is on continuity and ensuring that customers have as little impact as possible from the acquisition. Autodesk has said this is their goal too

fxg: Does the backend data processing remain the same in terms of your infrastructure?

Nikola Todorovic: For now, yes, but we can probably expect this to evolve as we work more closely with Autodesk’s data scientists. They have a lot of expertise that I’m sure we can learn from, just as they can learn from the things we excel at. We’ve had some great preliminary conversations where our combined expertise will help unlock new ideas.

fxg: What does this mean for your roadmap more broadly? For example, you have been directly involved in a number of high-profile films. Will you provide more or less customized solutions in the future?

Tye Sheridan: Our roadmap remains the same, and if anything it will be accelerated with the strengthened engineering and infrastructure resources we get as part of Autodesk. We will continue to work with our customers as we always have.

fxg: Does this unlock new options for your future roadmap?

Nikola Todorovic: This is the most exciting part of this deal for us.
Becoming part of Autodesk creates a level of development, engineering and infrastructure resources that allow us to work faster and more ambitiously than ever before.

fxg: We’re all waiting for a more accurate pipeline for facial animation and thus dialogue. Is there any news on that front yet?

Nikola Todorovic: Point taken, we’re working hard, but I can’t share anything right now.

Blender is already supported in Wonder Studio

fxg: We were all hoping for integration with MetaHumans and other non-Autodesk pipelines – isn’t that possible? How Autodesk specific are you from now on?

Tye Sheridan: In our conversations with Autodesk, they have reiterated their commitment to open ecosystems, and that if our tools can help artists, they want us to explore this as freely as possible; For example, they were very open to us Blender workflows.

fxg: How big is the company right now – how many in your team?

Tye Sheridan: We are a relatively small startup, but we are not publicly disclosing the operational or financial details of this deal. However, we believe that we have and will have sufficient resources to do what we need to do.

fxg: What motivated this move? What drove the deal on your part?

Nikola Todorovic: We’ve been working with Autodesk on the Maya integration for a while and it quickly became clear how passionate the company is about helping creatives and small teams punch above their weight. This fits very well with our vision at Wonder Dynamics. As conversations about this deal started, we realized how much faster we could realize our ultimate vision: making digital content creation tools more accessible to a broader range of artists and creators.

I think one of the more interesting discussions we had with senior leaders at Autodesk was the current misconception that AI is a one-click solution, which is why we’re excited to join a company that at its core understands the iterative nature of 3D supports. and telling stories. We put a lot of effort into building an AI tool that doesn’t replace artists, but rather speeds up the production process, makes things more efficient and helps productions save costs. We believe our partnership with Autodesk will only strengthen that vision and further push the boundaries of ethical AI and emerging technology in media and entertainment.

Tye Sheridan: That resonated with the Autodesk people who believe the same.

fxg: Thank you.

For more than a decade, Autodesk has been using AI to enhance a variety of tools needed to help creative professionals tackle challenges across industries, including media and entertainment. Autodesk’s latest 2024 State of Design & Make report shows that 78% of business leaders believe AI technology will improve their industry and 79% agree it will lead to greater creativity. Autodesk also recognizes its responsibility and is committed to the ethical and responsible use of AI.

It’s worth noting: ‘Aether Media, Inc’. is Wonder Dynamics, as referred to in this article. “The foregoing descriptions of the intended effects of the proposed acquisition are subject to the completion of the acquisition and Autodesk’s ability to successfully integrate Wonder Dynamics in all respects,” Autodesk said.

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