Behind the First Time, Self-Taught 3D Animation Production of ‘Love Virtually’

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    What happens when you throw two creators with a deep understanding of satire into a pandemic lockdown with nothing to do but watch society dig deep into its obsession with complacency, virtual relationships, and social media apps? Will it happen?

    It becomes a movie like love virtuallynow available to rent on Prime Video or watch on demand.

    Feature film director debut knife corps actor and writer Le Stayman, who co-wrote the script with executive producer Cheston Mizell; love virtually It follows four couples who go to extraordinary lengths to find true love in a virtual world in an era of widespread metaverse adoption. The film is a retro-futuristic romantic comedy for today, blending live-action and 3D animation to explore and expose the absurd realities of our world and where we are heading, while touching on life’s deepest stories. Explore questions. “Do celebrities find people who love them for who they really are?” “Is it cheating in VR?” “Is it cheating in AI?”

    It’s creepy, funny, and ridiculous.But it’s true love virtuallyOriginal story: Our daily life. Check out the trailer:

    Produced by Canceled Films and Set in Motion, the film also stars Cheri Oteri (saturday night live); Paul F. Tompkins (bojack horseman); Peter Gilroy (zombie beaver); Ryan O’Blanagan (american destroyer); Adam Ray (young rock); Nikki Howard (Beyond the paranormal); Tom Virtue (even stevens); Paige Mobley (kidnapped on an island); Vincent Washington (mother’s keeper); Ksenia Valenti (lower east asides); Harper Frawley (over/under); Le Stayman. and Stephen Tobolowsky (marmot day).

    Partnering with Hi From The Future, a virtual experience company specializing in 3D animation, architectural visualization, and game design, Mizell created the film’s animation himself, something he had never done before. Of course, that wasn’t the original plan, nor was Steiman’s original intention to include animation. However, these ideas, along with Mizell’s skills as an animator, evolved as the film took shape.

    AWN talks about how he taught himself animation in his basement for months and more than 14 hours a day, how he went from having antennae on Facebook to wearing a motion capture suit, and how he We spoke with Mizell about whether or not this is a great feat. Please try again.

    Victoria Davis: Where did this story come from? love virtually.

    Cheston Mizell: About a month into the coronavirus pandemic, we were brainstorming ideas for films that could be shot on a low budget during the pandemic. At the time, we had no idea how long it would last, so he started with the idea of ​​writing a script that would feature no more than two actors in any given scene, in a world where interactions would primarily take place remotely. . We started with his idea of ​​two celebrities doing a reverse catfish, and everything just spun out from there. One thing led to another and we ended up with: love virtually.

    VD: Tackling stories like this isn’t just because of the themes of identity abuse, virtual sexual experiences, and flings in an honest desire to find love, but also because the Metaverse is absolutely huge and essentially infinite. Was it also for the sake of it?

    CM: Admittedly, it was a little scary. Looking back, it was simply not possible for me as I had no domain knowledge or relevant experience. That being said, just because it’s impossible doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

    VD: Did you immediately know you wanted to include 3D animation?

    CM: It was a bit of an evolution. LE argued that a group drama like this needed something to connect all the characters. Given the COVID-19 restrictions, we considered a Zoom party, but that didn’t reduce it from a production value or storytelling standpoint. Once we decided on VR, we considered using platforms like VR Chat, but the more we got into it, the more we realized that CGI was the only way to go.

    VD: We’re trying not to reveal too many spoilers, but what can you share about the storyline that will be 3D animated in the movie?

    CM: The 3D animation primarily consists of characters entering the Metaverse for social interaction at various points during the movie. Most of the third act, including the film’s climax, takes place at Club Kaboom, the hottest and most exclusive nightclub in the Metaverse.

    VD: Was there any talk of including other forms of animation or media, such as 2D or photorealism? How did you decide what to include and what not to include in this world?

    CM: In fact, there was one scene with 2D animation in the style of an explainer video, and hundreds of VFX shots of various types. Our decisions about what to include were based on storytelling and the feasibility of the resources at our disposal.

    VD: How did you decide on the 3D animation for this film? What were your design goals?

    CM: I think LE really wanted the animation to look like it came straight out of Pixar or another major animation company, but given the budget and technology available at the time, they couldn’t achieve that goal. As a matter of fact, we decided that we wanted to create a Metaverse that looked years better than the mostly awful looking VR platforms available at the time.

    VD: What was the biggest challenge in producing 3D animation?

    CM: The biggest challenge was definitely learning on the job. When I started, I was literally posting on Facebook looking for people who knew anything about VR. Eventually, I bought his Oculus and started tinkering with it myself. Next thing I knew, I bought a computer with a GPU and started playing around with animation software and his Unreal Engine. Before I knew it, I was spending a hell of a lot of time in my basement supervising LE in his mocap suit, hacking as many pieces as I could using software that was above my pay grade.

    The biggest challenge after that was finding Hi From The Future, a talented animation team with compatible workflows to take what we put together with bubblegum and Band-Aids and turn it into a watchable scene. That was it.

    VD: What was the biggest challenge in weaving animation into live action?

    CM: Considering the fact that we shot the live action before producing the animation, we at least knew what kind of performances needed to match. The biggest challenge was probably creating continuity between the real and virtual worlds, making the story flow and making it work as a cohesive whole.

    VD: Was this your first time working on a hybrid anime/live-action project?

    CM: This was the first time for both of us to work on an animation project.

    VD: Is this something you would like to do more of in the future?

    CM: probably. If I were to do it again, I would definitely do it differently. The tools we used three and a half years ago were state-of-the-art at the time, but they already seem to be somewhat outdated. As AI advances, the opportunities for amateurs to utilize animation for storytelling are increasing and getting better every day.

    VD: What do you want viewers to take away from watching this work? love virtually?What kind of mindset should they approach this movie with?

    CM: First of all, I want you to laugh out loud. That said, this is satire, so we’re actually holding a mirror up to some pretty ridiculous aspects of our culture’s encounter with technology. If you can get people to think more broadly about life, even better. To prepare yourself for the movie, you might want to take it less seriously and consider showing it around 4:20 p.m.

    Victoria Davis Photos

    Victoria Davis is a full-time freelance journalist and part-time geek with an interest in all things anime. She has reported on numerous stories ranging from activist news to entertainment. For more information about her work, visit


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