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Serbian-Hollywood collaboration helps independent filmmakers create top-notch VFX with AI and fresh $2.5M

AI, filmmaking
Image credit: ©Wonder Dynamics
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It may not be long before we all know who Wallace the story bot is. Even though Wonder Dynamics is still developing the technology behind this interactive product, Wallace has the potential to allow viewers to have conversations with the characters of their favorite TV shows and movies. The US-based AI visual and storytelling startup is co-founded by the Serbia-born Nikola Todorovic and the Hollywood actor Tye Sheridan and aims to democratize the visual effects (VFX) production industry and help independent filmmakers with lower budgets to create top-quality VFX and computer-generated imagery (CG). Besides AI production tools, the media-tech startup is developing its own movie projects using the same technology and plans to shoot them in Serbia in collaboration with other production companies and studios. 

Today the startup closes its $2.5M seed round thanks to the investments from the San Francisco-based Founders Fund, the American entrepreneur and angel investor Cyan Banister, the Greek movie producer Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis, the LA-based MaC Venture Capital, Robert Schwab, Capital Factory, and Terry Dougas’s Realize Tech Fund. According to the co-founders of Wonder Dynamics advancements in AI will have the same effect on the movie industry as did the emergence of digital cameras – it will create new and more efficient methods for filmmaking and will open up opportunities for more industry innovation. 

Hollywood tech enthusiasts 

The Serbian Nikola Todorovic is a filmmaker, entrepreneur, and visual effects supervisor, while the other co-founder of Wonder Dynamics is the young filmstar Tye Sheridan who is known for his roles in the famous X-Men: Apocalypse, Ready Player One, Mud, and the soon-to-be-released Voyagers. Having the opportunity to work with some of the best producers in the industry and participate in both low-budget and high-concept action films, Sheridan was able to see what were the pain points of smaller production studios and what prevented their movies from becoming blockbusters with state of art visual effects. The Hollywood contribution to the startup does not end with Sheridan as the Board of Advisors of Wonder Dynamics includes some of the most recognizable and admired names in the film industry – the film director, producer, and screenwriter Steven Spielberg, the TV and movie producer and financier Terry Douglas, and Joe Russo. 

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Besides Hollywood stars, the advisory board of Wonder Dynamics includes some prominent Silicon Valley and AI professionals and investors such as Angjoo Kanazawa who is a research scientist at Google and assistant professor at Berkeley, Antonio Torralba who is Head of AI and Decision-making at MIT, and Joshua Baer who is the founder and CEO of the US VC Capital Factory. 

The Wall-less features of Wallace

With different features and applications, the two solutions of Wonder Dynamics – Wallace Interactive and Wallace PROduction – aim to eliminate the screen barrier between the viewers and the movie producers. The patented technology of Wallace Interactive makes it possible for viewers to switch from traditional 2D content and interactive video content from any TV or device without any additional apps or hardware. The bot will enable users to choose to talk to 2D and AI characters, to have a 360 degrees view of every movie scene, and to make 2D movies and scenes 3D. The other product of the media-tech startup, Wallace PROduction will make the use of visual effects in movie production less expensive and will give more freedom to individual filmmakers by decreasing the steps that visual effects artists need to take to create computer-generated image elements and other special effects. 

What comes next for Wonder Dynamics? 

Currently, the startup has offices in L.A. and Novi Sad and employs around 20 creative and tech professionals with Todorovic occupying the position of a CEO, and Sheridan taking the responsibility for the creative and content relationships of Wonder Dynamics. Todorovic describes their team in Novi Sad as a combination between ML, deep learning, and VFX startup and a film studio. At the moment, the co-founders are secretive about their future plans but there are some rumors that they will hire additional visual effects, animation, and ML experts in Serbia and will shoot many Hollywood film projects there. 

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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive, an online media dedicated to the emerging tech and startup ecosystems in Southeast Europe. She is keen on sharing the innovation stories that shape the regional ecosystem and has a great interest in fintech, IoT, and biotech startups. Elena is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Political Science at the American University in Bulgaria.