Founded in 2017, Stormborn Studios was built on 20 years of collective experience in VFX shared by its co-owners Manuel Tausch and Goran Pavles. The studio’s portfolio already boasts such prestigious productions as The Man In The High Castle, American Gods and BioWare’s action multiplayer game Anthem. 3D World caught up with Tausch and Pavles to find out what it’s like to set up your own VFX studio, why they choose to focus on FX-heavy work, and how they achieved their most challenging sequence to date.
How did Stormborn Studios get started?
Over years of working as FX technical directors in the industry, it became evident that we like to think outside of the box and apply unconventional solutions to our goals. Traditional VFX studios usually move slowly when it comes to innovation since they rely on big, less flexible pipelines. Investing in new technologies costs money and is usually kept on the lower end of the expenses. We founded Stormborn as a means of encouraging and welcoming new ideas, especially because technology moves incredibly fast and as a company you have to stay ahead of the competition. Not only do we expect our artists to thrive in their own creativity, but also to take ownership of their work and be a part of the creative process. This leads to more dedication from the artists and inspires them to develop their skills and improve their techniques.
What’s it like to open a VFX studio?
Before launching Stormborn we were specialised artists and had little experience on how to run a business. Although we were confident and had the skills to meet the demands of our clients, suddenly we had to get used to wearing different hats outside of our comfort zone. This meant building up knowledge on how to network, approach new clients, bid on shows, conceptualise and programme an entire VFX pipeline, as well as hiring and supervising artists. It’s a learning process.
There are a few main challenges and a certain amount of luck involved. The best thing you can do is prepare as much as possible for unexpected events, be adaptive and stay positive. There is no magic solution, sometimes a project disappears or changes shortly before a deadline, a payment doesn’t come in, you hire a person that doesn’t work out, or you run out of power. Anything is possible. At Stormborn, we have one strategy above all. Impress the client and overdeliver while being proactive, genuine and confident. No project is less worthy than another. If a project is not interesting enough, we don’t take it. If we decide to take it, it gets our full attention. Our reputation is our biggest asset and we look after it like a newborn baby.
Why did you choose to focus on FXheavy sequences?
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