We Are... Who We Are.
For what else could we ever be?
There exists an entire world of ideas, yet unexplored, which before now, could never have been realized.
Storytelling Without Limits
While mediums such as creative writing have largely been available to almost anyone with a basic computer, a typewriter, or just a pen, computer generated imagery (CGI), especially animated CGI with the production quality audiences expect to see in blockbuster films or from well-funded animation studios like Pixar, has historically been inaccessible due to the high cost of proprietary software and the need for expensive render farms.
But what happens when producing a 3D animated film with the same production value as a Pixar feature, costs no more than writing a novel in your basement?
We're about to find out, because we're pretty much there.
A film like Toy Story, which took 800,000 machine hours to render on a farm of hundreds of computers, could likely be rendered today on a single, high-end desktop computer, in less time than it would take a human to watch the finished movie.
And what once required proprietary software, built from scratch, can now be accomplished using a world of open source software projects, which offer out of the box solutions for common tasks, combined with infinite flexibility and expandability through access to the source code, scripting APIs, and add-ons.
Advances in the open source software space and in the video game space have made realtime rendering of high-quality CGI content a reality, using only off-the-shelf consumer computer hardware.
The CGI Renaissance
This new accessibility of technology doesn't just open the door for a larger number of content creators to utilize it.
It also also allows experimentation with ideas using a technology that, until now, was too expensive to take risks with.
From an investment standpoint, family-friendly adventure comedies (like the animated features from Disney and Pixar) are safe investments for entertainment businesses that are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into a production because they know there's a massive audience willing to pay to see them, to buy them on DVD, and to buy the associated merchandise.
If you told a Hollywood producer that you wanted to make an R-rated drama using 3D computer generated characters rendered in the visual style of a Caravaggio painting (often called Tenebrism), you would be laughed out of the room. And yet, the most lauded works by classical artists today, were, in their time, balked at by the artist's contemporaries.
Art cannot advance, until the risk level becomes acceptable.
And today, a small team of passionate and dedicated artists can do on desktop computer hardware, what previously would have required a company with 1,200 employees and a $300,000,000 per film budget to pull off.
We are about to witness what this medium is truly capable of.
And computer generated graphics are just the beginning.
When Resolution Becomes Irrelevant
Many prominent online content creators are producing videos in 4K. While 4K cinemas do exist, many theaters in the United States still use 2k film projectors. That's because many Hollywood films, even major blockbusters, are still often mastered in 2K.
We have reached the point where the video production and exhibition equipment available for use by independent filmmakers, and even for home use, is capable of shooting, displaying, and processing video at a higher quality than the industry standard for cinematic mastering.
There reaches a certain threshold where any higher resolution or any higher color depth becomes imperceptible to the human eye. And when video equipment with those specifications becomes available to the mass consumer market (and we're pretty much there already), then there is nothing stopping anyone with a mind to do so from shooting their own projects in the highest meaningful resolution available, because there is no longer any cost barrier to access that level of technology.
Advents in computer hardware technology have already made it possible for a single, high-end desktop computer to process 4K video footage in a reasonable amount of time.
And the same commercial tools used by major film studios for video editing and color grading are available for use on home computers for a modest licensing fee, and in some cases, such as Divinci Resolve, for free.
And that's before entering the vast world of open source software.
3D printing is probably the most revolutionary and disruptive technology since the invention of the microprocessor.
Did the plastic gear in your washing machine strip? Print another one. Did you loose the feet off a sixty-year old kitchen mixer and can't find replacement parts? Print them.
For entertainment companies, however, 3D printing synergizes perfectly with computer animation, because the same software used to make virtual worlds and characters for animated films (and video games) is also used to make the source files used for 3D printing.
Whether it's costume accessories, prop weapons, or set decoration, if you can model it on a computer, you can print it. And because the source files are small and lightweight, a prop designer can literally email props to a set halfway around the world.
The plastic parts can be ground up and recycled to print new things, and, if the same props are needed again for a sequel, those same source files can be printed again.
The New Production Pipeline
The Internet has made creative collaboration possible on a global scale.
These changes in technology open the doorway to new ways of thinking about the production pipeline.
And yet, many media production companies large and small are still dependent on systems and processes intended for use by full-time employees, housed in a single building.
The Open Source Software Community has long-since figured out decentralized collaboration for software development using tools like Git. But long-distance and cross-region media collaboration has been largely non-existent, due to historically slow networks and massive binary file sizes.
That's something we're working to fix. As high-speed fiber networks continue to roll out nationwide, the time is ripe to develop enterprise-grade tools to facilitate collaboration across a large-scale decentralized production pipeline.
Who We Are
Age of Dream is a company built around the long-term development of a new science fiction cannon.
But Age of Dream is more than a speculative fiction series. It's a proof of concept. And a benchmark.
We want to present stories in new and original ways, including the visual style and art direction, and to explore the full power of Computer Generated Imagery as a tool for storytelling, beyond the confines of the stylized cartoon aesthetic used in family films and photo realistic renders for compositing with live action.
We are creating something for which the technology necessary to do so doesn't fully exist yet, and we're building the necessary technology as we go.
An Age of Dream
Once in a generation or so, technology leaps forward. And we are on the precipice of change; an era in which art will never be the same. An Age of Dream.