- Deakin University have commercialised the first spin-out from the Faculty of Arts and Education, Fika Entertainment.
- Fika’s in-house designed Alchemy Pipeline™ software solution and ecosystem enables animation and visual effects (VFX) to be produced in real-time for up to half the cost and half the time of other existing methods.
- Fika’s content creation capability can service the entertainment industry, as well as non-entertainment contexts such as health, education and training. The company produces spin-out and ancillary products, such as large-scale activations, AR/VR experiences, and short-form social media content using our animation system.
- Led by a team of globally recognised and creative innovators, Fika’s Melbourne and Gold Coast facilities offer high-end, large scale motion capture, LED and green screen/blue screen spaces to support production.
Keeping storytelling at the heart of creation
A new Deakin University spin-out, Fika Entertainment, is pushing the boundaries in the development of transformative entertainment production.
Fika evolved out of Deakin’s Motion.Lab. Over the course of a decade, the Motion.Lab team developed expertise in virtual production, motion capture and real-time animation to create their Alchemy Pipeline™ software solution.
Established in late 2019, Fika is the first spin-out from the Faculty of Arts and Education. With Deakin’s support and foresight, the Motion.Lab is an innovative space for researchers to patent, trademark and commercialise creative industries research.
Fika is led by a team of globally recognised creative industry leaders, including Dr Jordan Beth Vincent (Fika’s Executive Manager and Head of Sales and Strategy).
‘Through research and development, and then applying our pipelines and methods to an industry research context, we were able to grow a system that could really revolutionise the way that content was being made. Deakin identified the value in our research and invested in creating a commercial vehicle that would allow us to service industry,’ Dr Vincent said.
‘Now commercialised, Fika enables others to make great product and content experiences quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively, which is high quality and globally competitive in Australia, where we have a world-class skill base and attractive screen incentives.’
Fika’s commercialisation was driven by the in-house design of inventions like the Alchemy Pipeline™ software solution. Alchemy Pipeline™ brings intuitive, real-time integrated performance capture to film and television productions, along with ecosystems that enable animation and visual effects to be produced for up to half the cost and half the time of other existing methods. Commercialisation will help solve creative industry challenges on a global scale and deliver innovative outcomes the ‘Fika way’.
Importantly, the Fika way of working focuses on stories: the technology that is created and harnessed keeps storytelling at its heart.
Enhancing virtual production capabilities
Fika is currently working to support a range of industry organisations to enhance their virtual production capabilities and achieve best quality content. With headquarters at Village Roadshow on the Gold Coast - in the heart of the Australian film industry - and another base in Melbourne in partnership with hardware and LED wall solutions company, Woohah Productions, Fika is able to facilitate unique collaborations.
An example of a recent collaboration was Fika’s role in helping to create a Halloween dance-off challenge video to help promote the launch of the next exciting season of Scream Street, produced by the Coolabi Group and the BBC. The team translated the original stop motion animation assets into a fully digital production, driving the puppets using realtime performance capture.
Fika’s CEO, Kris Maric, is delighted with the high-impact and increased demand for Fika’s production services across the sectors of entertainment, health and education.
'We are working on many different projects, including animation series, live action feature films, education content, short independent animations, and we’ve developed an app with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre for young people who have recovered from cancer. We are also working with Greg Page Productions (the original yellow Wiggle) on the Team Rescue animation series,’ Ms Maric said.
Some of Fika’s key partners include Deakin University, City of Melbourne, Village Roadshow Studios and Theme Parks, M2 Entertainment, Creative Drive, ABC Education, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Greg Page Productions, Headstart Toys, Humphrey B Bear Productions, Coomera Tafe, Woohah Productions, City of Gold Coast, Wirrim Media, nCam, Dementia Australia, LateNite Films, Lightweave, True Axis and Screen Queensland.Fika is now the APAC partner for nCam, a camera tracking system for high end film and TV broadcast.
Fika has retained strong links with Deakin researchers and currently have active projects with researchers in the School for Communication and Creative Arts, School of IT, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and The Applied Artificial Intelligence institute.
Fika also has a very close relationship with Deakin’s AllPlay research team and together, they are currently developing a range of content featuring Aussie children’s icon Humphrey B. Bear for children with a disability. Fika has guided a range of Deakin students through its internship program, as well as opening up opportunities to students from other institutions in QLD.
Deakin’s commercial team identified Alchemy Pipeline™ as a significant commercial opportunity and worked closely with the researchers to refine the system. Deakin also initiated appropriate protection of the relevant intellectual property in order to be able to use the technology commercially. While the advantages to industry of the Alchemy Pipeline™ technology were obvious to Deakin, the team needed to work with industry more to help industry see the benefits for themselves.
Initial contracts with the ABC and other companies enabled Deakin to refine and optimise the technology to the stage where the University was comfortable to support the establishment of Fika.
‘Thanks to Deakin’s commercial support and guidance, Fika has clearly been able to generate global opportunities and put a spotlight on how Australia is able to lead in innovation in the creative industries space. This is a great story, not just about Fika, but about Deakin’s great capacity to commit, to translate and to innovate, particularly during the challenges of COVID-19.’, Ms Maric added.
The commercialisation was verified by the Deakin Commercialisation Committee, including the Chief Financial Officer and the DVCR among others. Deakin Research Innovations’ Executive Director Ben Spincer and his team were instrumental during the commercialisation process to develop business framework for the spin-out.
Deakin researchers who transitioned from Deakin Motion.Lab across to the new venture included: Dr Jordan Beth Vincent, Peter Divers (Head of VFX), Deanne Czarnecki (Head of Production) and James Furler.