Future. The Third Floor, an animation studio that creates rough video-game-esque animated storyboards for Hollywood blockbusters, announced that it would start making feature-length animated films and TV shows. Recent improvements in affordable CGI tools have lowered the barrier to entry for visual storytelling so that smaller firms can try their hand at it — which could democratize Hollywood.
Started from the… top
The Third Floor’s development from attic passion project to full-fledged animation studio bodes well for those with big dreams and small pockets.
- Formed from the team that animated “Star Wars: Episode III” on the third floor of the Skywalker Ranch, The Third Floor began as a group of people who liked their jobs too much to disband.
- Initially providing simple storyboards made from Maya software, The Third Floor’s products improved as the firm introduced LED walls and video game rendering software like the Unreal Engine.
- Now The Third Floor has 500 employees and works on 30 or so projects simultaneously, including titles like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Loki — in other words, the best of the best of special effects.
The Third Floor’s COO Joshua Wassung said that the company’s ideal clientele going forward are those who hope to make animated content that looks good without shelling out the budget of a Pixar film.
We’re all friends here
This shouldn’t necessarily put Pixar, Disney, or Marvel on high alert. The streaming wars mean that demand for animated content is so high that there will likely be enough work to go around for a long time, and big studios with big budgets will still likely have a monopoly on top-shelf visuals.
What outfits like The Third Floor have to offer are affordability and speed. The real-time rendering enabled by software like the Unreal Engine can shorten the production pipeline (and lighten the bill) by cutting review and rendering times by 70%. Let the games begin.