Autodesk Buys AI VFX Startup Wonder Dynamics


Autodesk — the 3D tools giant — has acquired Wonder Dynamics, a startup that enables creators to effortlessly generate complex characters and visual effects using AI-powered image analysis. The two companies, having worked closely for years, are now formalizing their partnership.

Wonder Dynamics, founded by VFX artist Nikola Todorovic and actor Tye Sheridan, revolutionized adding motion-captured CG characters to footage, making it as simple as dragging an icon onto an actor.

However, Wonder Studio, their flagship tool, has always been aimed at professionals despite its user-friendly interface. With extensive film industry experience, the founders designed it to handle all the intricacies of mocap, animation, and masking required by VFX professionals.

Throughout the writers’ and actors’ strikes, they emphasized that their goal was to empower, not replace, creatives.

Truth Voices covered Wonder Dynamics’ debut in 2021 when they were still in stealth mode after raising a $2.5 million seed round. They later raised an additional $10 million and developed Wonder Studio into a fully cloud-hosted, web-based platform.

As the creator of Maya, a leading tool in 3D work and media production, Autodesk naturally took an interest.

Final shot, mocap data, mask, and 3D environment generated by Wonder Studio.
Image Credits: Wonder Dynamics

“We integrated with Maya last year via a plug-in to streamline the process in the character studio. Maya has been the industry’s leading software for decades, and we wanted to make things easier for its users. Our discussions with Autodesk led to this partnership,” Todorovic told Truth Voices.

“We aim to bridge the old with the new, enhancing existing pipelines for artists. This partnership exemplifies that,” added Sheridan. The founders clarified that while Autodesk is not “old,” it is well-established in the industry.

AI-related issues in media, from film to music, often arise from misunderstandings of both the technology and the art form.

“New AI tools underestimate the hard work of artists,” said Todorovic. “Tye and I are artists; we created Wonder Studio to enable artists to achieve more. We don’t want a future where the artist’s role is minimized. Autodesk understands that filmmaking is a collaborative, iterative process.”

“People assume that AI will soon dominate filmmaking, but they misunderstand the industry’s intricacies and the tools’ limitations,” Sheridan added. “These tools should supplement the creative process, not replace it.”

The entire Wonder Dynamics team, including the founders, will transition to Autodesk. Todorovic expects no immediate changes, and any future changes should benefit users. “Startups often have to prioritize due to limited resources. The Autodesk acquisition allows us to accelerate and expand, though specific directions are yet to be determined.”

Co-founders Nikola Todorovic (left) and Tye Sheridan sitting in a normal way.

Queries about the deal’s specifics were politely declined. Diana Colella, EVP of Entertainment & Media Solutions at Autodesk, emphasized that Wonder Dynamics fits seamlessly into their existing strategy.

“Autodesk has been integrating AI technologies for over a decade and has introduced several AI tools into its current M&E products,” she wrote in an email. “However, Wonder Dynamics offers complementary capabilities to our ongoing AI projects.”

Regarding the near future, “Our immediate focus is continuity,” Colella stated. No major changes like account transitions or rebranding are expected. If you’re a fan of Wonder Studio, chances are you’re already using Maya.

Devin Coldewey
Devin Coldewey
Devin Coldewey is a Seattle-based writer and photographer. He first wrote for TechCrunch in 2007. Devin covers many topics in technology, science, and space. In the past, he has written for, NBC News, DPReview, and others. He has also appeared on radio, television, and in print.

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