Wonder Dynamics Raises $2.5 Million to Increase VFX Access for Indie Filmmakers

By Jemima McEvoy Saturday, April 17, 2021

Wonder Dynamics has raised $2.5 million in a seed funding round. The Los Angeles-based startup is aiming to disrupt the status quo of the film industry, which has typically reserved critical tools like visual effects (VFX) and computer-generated imagery (CGI) for big studios or high-paying productions. With its AI VFX business, the founders of Wonder Dynamics are hoping to open access to all filmmakers — including those with tight budgets.

A professional camera on a film set.

What Is Wonder Dynamics?

The VFX startup was founded in 2017 by actor Tye Sheridan and VFX engineer Nikola Todorovic, who met on the set of Columbian filmmaker Rodrigo García Barcha’s 2015 film “Last Days in the Desert.” Sheridan, perhaps better known for his role in the popular film “Ready Player One,” and Todorovik both identified what they viewed as an opportunity to democratize the visual effects process using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, launching the business soon after.

Relying on AI and machine learning technology to develop production tools, Wonder Dynamics should drastically reduce the price of VFC and CGI for indie filmmakers. However, it’s unclear yet how effective the AI VFX business model is as the technology is still in the development process and has not yet been released.

“We are building an AI platform that will significantly speed up both the production and post-production process for content involving CG characters and digital worlds,” the founders of the company told TechCrunch in a recent interview. “The goal of the platform is to reduce the costs associated with these productions by automating the ‘objective’ part of the process, leaving the artists with the creative, ‘subjective’ work.”

Money and Investors

Though Crunchbase notes the startup engaged in a funding round in June 2019, the money raised in the seed round that closed this month is the only capital the startup has disclosed to date.

The round was led by a cadre of investment firms that the founders described as “at the intersection of technology and film,” an echo of the foundation of the company. The leading investors in the business included the Founders Fund, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that supports companies building “revolutionary technologies,” as well as the Realize Tech Fund, Capital Factory, and MaC Venture Capital. Angel investor Robert Schwab also injected capital into the company.

Future of the Business

The startup plans to use this money to scale its VFX and engineering teams to further develop its tools before the official launch of the business. The company has received some criticism for its lack of transparency about what exactly its system — dubbed Wallace Pro — will do. However, this should soon become clear as the startup is now trialing the AI and machine learning technology in some small-scale tests. The company plans to further test its technology in a feature entering production later this year before releasing it to other filmmakers.

In addition to the funding, which will give the VFX business an extra boost, Wonder Dynamics boasts a star-studded advisory board, including legendary directors Steven Spielberg and Joe Russo, as well as Google Research’s Angjoo Kanazawa and MIT AI researcher Antonio Torralba.

About the Author

Headshot of Jemima McEvoy

Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.

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