Meet Wallace: Tye Sheridan’s New AI Tool May Give Indies an Affordable VFX Option

Credit: Amblin
What does the star of Ready Player One know about VFX? A lot. 

Tye Sheridan has a new media startup he wants to tell you about.

Don't back away. Lean in. This one may actually help you a lot. If you're reading No Film School, I assume you have dreams to get your stories to the screen. If you're like me, those stories might be bigger than your current bank account can support. 

One of the biggest hurdles for people making independent cinema, TV, or web series is the cost of things in post, especially visual effects and VFX. That post work can raise your budget quite a lot. Sheridan, no stranger to big-budget work, saw that and thought of a fix. He and VFX artist Nikola Todorovic became friends when they worked together on Last Days in the Desert and have since founded Wonder Dynamics.

They've been experimenting with using artificial intelligence and machine learning to create interactive video applications. This would be a huge step in making the top-of-the-line VFX available for a fraction of the price. 

After four years of tests, Wonder Dynamics is about to introduce a new AI production tool that they promise will let independent artists produce dazzling VFX and CGI animations at a price that most productions can afford.

Meet Wallace, or Wallace Interactive. It's a patented technology that lets viewers engage in AI-powered conversations with characters in a TV show or a movie. So if you want to be in the back seat of Jules and Vincent's car while they order a Royale with cheese, that can happen. 

The second tool is Wallace PROduction, which they say will expedite and reduce the cost of creating visual effects.

The name Wallace comes from “wall-less,” because they are breaking down the fourth wall with an audience.

“It breaks down the barriers to achieving your wildest vision,” Sheridan told Variety. “A lot of times people dream up this story but it’s not possible to make because it would cost $200 million. AI can democratize VFX.”

Think this is a crazy idea? 

Well, their advisory board does not. According to Variety, they're taking input from "Spielberg; director/producer Joe Russo; Rhea Films’ Terry Dougas; Gregory Trattner, president of Film Finances; Joshua Baer, founder/CEO of Capital Factory; Angjoo Kanazawa, assistant professor at UC Berkeley and Google research scientist; MIT Prof. Antonio Torralba, head of AI and decision making; and private-equity investor Robert Schwab." 

In a statement, Russo said, “We are often reminded of all of the ways that AI and similar tech advancements will profoundly impact our lives, but I think we haven’t yet scratched the surface of its potential impact on the media industry. Wonder Dynamics is one of the early startups exploring this intersection, and I look forward to being part of this exciting journey with them.”

Sheridan and Wonder Dynamics are currently looking for creators to test their AI and ideas. They expect to begin demoing the software in early 2021 to prospective customers.

“We’ll be looking for content creators and production companies to partner with,” said Todorovic. “Visual AI is going to be one of the biggest revolutions in the industry. It’s going to let indie filmmakers or kids anywhere in the world realize their movies.”

So how can you use it? 

Contact them on their website and give them a pitch as to why you and your project should be involved. 

I can't wait to see where this tech takes filmmaking next.      

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2 Comments

This is pretty vague. What kind of VFX are we talking about here? Sky replacements? Face replacements? Animated characters? Simplified chroma-keying? Saying "We're going to be delivering you a tool to create AI powered VFX" is almost meaningless without a little more information.

I mean if Joe Russo and Steven Spielberg are onboard that's a pretty great start but I'm not holding my breath that this will be any kind of game changer.

January 5, 2021 at 11:17AM

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I agree! Besides, their web site details nothing and no samples. How can you write a proposal if you don't know what can do? Can someone explain what is this about?

January 6, 2021 at 3:31AM

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Javier Diez
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