Can you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about how you started in visual effects?
My name is Hermione Mitford Flynn and I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Mimic Productions. We are a company that specializes in creating highly realistic digital avatars, including really realistic humans, creatures, and characters. I started in VFX by co-founding the company with my husband, David Bennett, who is a veteran in the 3D industry. He was the facial motion capture manager of TinTin, Avatar, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Polar Express, Monster House, and several more blockbuster movies. We moved to Berlin in 2012 and it was then that we together launched Mimic.
how was your beginning? Challenges you faced
I think the greatest challenge was the immediate customer demand. Essentially, we created a website for the company and it was just a couple of weeks later that we received an enquiry to do all of the facial animations for the Call of Duty game. And then shortly after we were asked to do the facial animation for the Kanye West music video, Blkkk Skkkhead. These are rather large productions that were on our radar very quickly after launching the website. And since that moment, it really hasn’t stopped! So I think the greatest challenges have been in growing the company and the technology fast enough to cater to so many different requests from different clients, from different industries, from all over the world.
what made you start up a production house? What was your motivation?
I think we simply recognized that the technology for highly realistic avatars was really contained inside the film and game industry. We saw so much potential for how it could be used by other industries, and it seemed that this really specialist, amazing technology was being kept behind closed doors. So our mission was to bring that technology to a lot of new industries like fashion, music videos, artificial intelligence, chatbots, whatever… This was a huge part of our motivation – making this technology more accessible.
Tell me about your company?
Mimic is Berlin-based. We have an amazing team of international artists and management and we cater to the full character creation pipeline to many, many different industries. Our full character creation pipeline includes scanning, modeling, texturing, rigging, motion capture, animation, and integration into a real-time engine (like Unreal). This head to toe pipeline under one roof is actually rather unusual and is a unique aspect of our business. The second aspect is that we’ve prioritized making this technology available to all industries. So we cater to films and games (which are the more traditional 3D industries) but also advertising, fashion, music videos, medical and industrial simulations, chatbots, social media, and more.
Any memorable shows you wish to share your experiences?
A particular highlight for me was the live performance with DJ Yellock in WOMB club, Tokyo. For this project, we created a photo-real digital-double avatar of the DJ and motion-captured him in realtime to a live audience – so his avatar was being puppeted and projected on screens all around the club in realtime. It was an amazing use of digital avatar technology!
Due to this pandemic situation how you’re managing your works remotely?
The biggest challenge is that there’s a certain aspect of our pipeline which does require physical presence – the scanning and motion capture. Our workaround for scanning is that we are now building avatars, entirely from scratch with only reference imagery. This approach has been very successful, as our team is incredibly skilled and talented in the creation of realistic avatars – having now done this for so many years! We actually built Kendall Jenner from scratch and without a scan to be used in a Burberry campaign during lockdown – that’s just an example of how we’ve adapted. The workaround we have found with motion capture is to essentially utilize the ability of the technology to place any individual’s motion on any character. For example, when we need to capture football skills for a game or commercial, we can hire an individual here in Berlin who can come to our studio (with a minimal team) to capture their skills, and then this motion can be shared with the client. We’re recruiting more locally now for things like motion capture, which is actually quite nice.
plans for the future?
We would love for Mimic to become a real household name for some of the world’s highest quality human character creation and to continue making sure this technology is accessible to all industries. We’re really passionate about helping and assisting clients through the inevitable challenges when faced with such complex, but exciting, technology.
How AI will play major roles in our vfx&3D industry?
I think that’s a rather complex question because AI is such a broad concept that can be used in so many different ways… You can think of AI as a “chatbot.” You can also use AI as a term to describe facial coding systems used in facial animation. From my perspective, we are really excited about the deepfake technologies and how this can maybe begin to enhance facial animation and improve on the realism.
How can one apply in your company?
If you are interested in working with us, please feel free to just send through your portfolio to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always looking for exceptional artists in the 3D industry who have a particular talent with reproducing realistic human avatars. So absolutely feel free to send your portfolio through – we’d be happy to see it!
Any advice for artists and production?
My advice to artists and production working with this type of technology is that you really have to learn to be uncomfortable. Meaning that there is still a lot of development that needs to happen, and in the process of development, you are constantly doing things you’ve never done before. So it’s just learning to accept that uncomfortable feeling, and realizing that is completely normal. Actually, if you’re becoming too comfortable, then it’s probably a sign that you’re not pushing the technology forward like you need to!
Ritto prabu Thank you Hermione Mitford Flynn For sharing with us
Hermione Mitford Flynn- Thank you Ritto prabu