Marla Rausch – Inception of Animation Vertigo
In this podcast episode, Derek is joined by Marla Rausch once again, Founder, and CEO of Animation Vertigo. Join us as Derek deep dive into Marla’s highly sophisticated service offering which is motion capture animation.
- Marla is the founder and CEO of Animation Vertigo Asia here in the Philippines. They do motion capture animation for film, video games, MTV.
- They consider themselves as an outsourcer and a specialized service provider at the same time.
- They built their studio in the Philippines, and ironed the process of sending their data and secure it to make sure there was absolute and keep them confidential and protect as they are proprietary information.
- Majority of their works will be in the video game industry like Call of Duty, Mortal Kombat X and many more.
- Marla shares that she see a vast opportunity in the Philippines aside from the desire to want to have Filipino artist recognize worldwide which is one of the reasons why she started it in the Philippines.
- Animation Vertigo’s first client is Sony.
- Filipinos are a family oriented culture.
Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore and this is episode number 141. So today we are talking to Marla Rausch again of Animation Vertigo. This is a really exciting conversation where we deep dive into Marla’s highly sophisticated service offering which is motion capture animation. She has a Filipino/ Philippines background, educated here but is now taking on the world based on the US but powering this whole thing with a Filipino workforce. So I’m super excited to have her back to talk about Animation Vertigo. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this. If you want to get in touch with Marla or want to know more then go to our show notes which is at outsourceaccelerator.com/141 enjoy.
Derek: Hi and welcome again everybody, today I’m excited to have Marla Rausch back of Animation Vertigo. So we last spoke to Marla about her background and now I’m excited to deep dive into Animation Vertigo which is a very high end, high skill based outsourcing agency, I supposed you can explain it like that but also it is really just an animation production studio. So super excited to discuss this with you. Marla thank you so much for being on the show.
Marla: Thanks Derek, yeah that’s really nice for you to say, thank you. Thank you for having me back.
Derek: It’s a pleasure and I suppose you can just introduce yourself better than I can and how you came to be running animation vertigo?
Marla: Oh but you did it so well. I’m Marla Rausch, I am the founder and CEO of Animation Vertigo Asia here in the Philippines. We do motion capture animation for film, video games, MTV. I’m the reason why your children don’t study. That’s what I like to say.
Derek: Wow. Normally on our show we’re talking to kind of a standard BPO and more specific BPO office services to SMEs so a lot of is kind of not mundane but more standardized operation task of business. Where is you, I think Animation Vertigo is completely out of my league and lot of league in the business in that, it’s a very very specialized vertical. Do you consider yourself as an Outsourcer or you just really a kinda specialized service provider?
Marla: I think both because we specialized service provider for those that like to see us as their partners in their pipeline that it helps their business grow, it helps them push the boundaries of the animation that they want to produce and push the content that they create and for some people we’re outsourcers because it’s the one time big time deal that they need to do this one thing and, oh there’s company that can do it so we can send it to them. And so I see it both, I treat it the same, I treat them all as my partners and we worked together and our goal is to create amazing content.
Derek: Right, and just to recap a little bit you are born and raised in Philippines/Filipino educated in Manila, Philippines then you went to the US and started Animation Vertigo that this iteration in about 2004 at which point your first hires were people in the Philippines. Now outsourcing had been happening for, maybe up to 10 years prior to that but it was predominantly call center so you were at the cutting edge. And I just wanna kind of deep dive a little bit into your initial experiences for the outsourcing kind of I supposed the operational aspects but also did people, did your clients know that you were powering this whole thing by people sitting in the Philippines.
Marla: Absolutely, that was the first thing that I said, that it was going to be a studio in the Philippines I was going to do their work. We ironed out how it was going to happen where the process in which they were going to be sending their data and to secure it to make sure there was absolutely. we were able to keep them confidential and protect because they are proprietary information. It was a big start, I mean my first client was Sony. So you had to really put your ‘A’ game in there. So while we started slow, making sure that we were thorough and detailed and careful. We also were looking around and word of mouth spread and I had other calls and it became steady business from then on but they were well aware that it was in the Philippines and their constant joke was we need do it due diligence and proudly see the beaches, I mean the studio.
Derek: Yeah and you know, because to get Sony as your first client is known mean feat and I suppose with that extra level concern friction that it is based in the Philippines and but then obviously your client but grew. Were there many competitors in the marketspace or you a very early entrant in doing this?
Marla: In the Philippines?
Derek: Into you client facing in the west. Were there many other agents doing this.
Marla: There were a few here and there, there was i think a couple of companies in India I think and a few in the European state I think. I wasn’t quite aware of another company that did what we did in South East Asian region. We were, and to be perfectly honest I was more concern about making sure that we were going to be at least a competitor in the field at some point. We started with 6 people and training 6 people and getting them going to support the basically the demand that we created. What people don’t understand when it comes to services like what we do is that if you can do well and you can communicate well and you do have the skill and talent and a complete understanding of what the client needs and what they’re looking at. It actually becomes a trust that is easily built and it’s built on so we were able to very fortunate to build that relationship and then they were happy to sell much with our work that they were telling other people in the industry about us and then they, other people then started reaching out to us and saying we have this much work and we don’t have enough people so can you help us out, and yeah so we grew 6 to well 50.
Derek: And you know very commonly you do see that within outsourcing and that people the functions are so interrelated that you aren’t really just contractors, you are actually becoming partners for the clients aren’t you. Your input is as valuable as clients because you’re probably more better place to give it.
Marla: Absolutely and I think that it’s great because the clients do see you as a resource that they can talk to because we would have so many wastes that will reduce the software packages that they would only use it on one way which is their process. So when they ask me things like is that, do you know of a way that makes this more efficient or is this the best way for us to do it sometimes especially if it’s something that we’ve developed internally we can’t share those tricks of the trade.Because there are tricks of the trade that we have to kinda keep to ourselves because there are different client’s trick. But when it’s our stuff we’re more than willing to share what we know and they’re happy to learn something from us, the same way that we’re learning from them. So it’s kinda really cool because unlike before where when you say outsourcing people look at you and see oh you know it’s a black box that you can basically toss things in there and then something comes out and it’s what you need. Now it’s the, oh yeah I have to ask Marla if that’s something they do or have to ask Marla about that cause I hadn’t seen that yet maybe she has, And it becomes a true partnership which is nice.
Derek: I mean I have a dream of maybe one day creating like a test company where the owner or investor literally just has an idea and then reaches out to various contractors and outsourcers to literally execute and perform every aspect of the business because it’s getting to a point now where, I mean I would never consider making a movie but if I was to make a movie you could get someone to make the storyboard, you could get someone to animate it, you could get someone for the operational backend, the sales, the marketing, the customer service and it would be an interesting test case wouldn’t it.
Marla: For sure, Nowadays if you ever decide to, nowadays when you watch Marvel you have to sit through the credits anyway but if you do watch the credits because you’ll see so many animation companies in there and it’s one after another production companies, VFX companies and everything. And that’s because in that movie alone it wasn’t one company that did all of the special effects it wasn’t one company that did all of the character actions. It was several companies that they contracted and they worked out and they did all that in various places and for one reason or another and so it’s truly collaborative that they can put things together and seamlessly as they can of course and yeah I’m sure that they’re animatics is taken from somewhere else and then their storyboarding happen somewhere else and with one production house overseeing it all.
Derek: Right and just for a bit of background again you do 3D animation, motion capture animation which is effect for the avatar and then also the highly special effects of the Marvel comics and stuff like that. But is it all, I imagine it’s not all kind of blockbuster avatar you do, is it appearing in more and more places and then also you mention you do the VR and AR which is obviously now a burgeoning technology.
Marla: Absolutely, yeah so I mean majority of the work still of course lives in the video game industry where we do, you know we work on Call of Duty, we work on Mortal Kombat x. There’s a lot of the motion capture right now that is being used in that sort of gameplay and cinematics in the video games which makes it well fun to play and you know make it difficult for me to call my children for dinner. But in general it’s one of those where, when we talked about motion capture, we’re talking about just the ability, but the ability to take the motions human in real life and putting it in the 3D world and once they were in the 3D world you can just that actor from a normal human being to let say an ogre or the hulk or the dwarf and it just makes it now look realistic rather than fantastical when you’re watching a movie or playing a video game.
Derek: And also is there unlimited leverage on that actor because could they, do they do like 10 hours of poses but then you could effectively create a 100 hours of video reel once you have those the data points is that right?
Marla: Well let’s think of it this way so there’s about in a regular, in a big shoot day for example, there’s about anywhere from 150 to 200 cameras who’s facing an actor who’s basically doing a scene and these are motion capture cameras that have those LED lights and everything and they’re all focus and they’re getting the reflections off the markers on the actors body. There could be one of them, there could 19 of them and they’re all acting a scene on the set and you’re translating all of that data and putting it into a 3D world where now my guys and I are looking at and making sense of it and making it look, and putting the actor on that skeleton basically and once that actor is there, the actor being the human-sized person. We now need to put that on to the skeleton of the character which if it’s an ogre then all of the suddenness regular sized human is now a 9 foot ogre and now we have to fix the body part and fix the motion so that it actually reflects the motion and the movements of a bigger person compared to a regular sized person. It’s really translating already something that was captured that the director wanted and putting it into the scene that they needed to show, if that makes sense.
Derek: Wow, it does. That’s incredible and you know it is a contrast to what I normally discuss because we’re often discussing customer services and operation. This is really is an eye opener, I hope for listeners out there. But the potential you have, this being powered by the people in the Philippines and it’s not just a call center kind of country. What are your opinions? Have you had days where you just like, why am I doing this in the Philippines can’t I just hire people in Silicon Valley and make my life easier or do you really see a vast opportunity here in the Philippines for this?
Marla: I always see vast opportunity in the Philippines aside from the desire to want to have Filipino artists recognize worldwide which is one of the reasons why I started it in the Philippines. Being able to have that, the first time I’ve ever done a video game and my name was suddenly on the credit there was something powerful about that, it was really cool and I couldn’t believe it and oh my gosh my name is right there. And I get to get to do that with my guys now, you know my team you know I negotiate hard so we can get that credit and it means so much you know a lot of people they skim through the credits they don’t see anything it’s so tiny, it’s so small. But I mean could you not screenshots of that happen and my guys will post it and there like, there’s my name and it means something. Filipino’s are a family oriented culture, we love the community here, You know there’s something about a Philippine Fiesta that is unparalleled and you know the social life here is amazing and for them to able to do what they love do, they would kill to do, and do it here and see their names on video games and hopefully soon on a movie, that’s amazing, I think I do it for that more than anything else. If I was going to do it anywhere else it would probably be purely on a business decision that, oh we are going to expand and we need more or whatever and I’ll probably think about that if I ever think that the Philippines becomes a little tricky or problematic businesswise as an environment but if it’s not then I’ll do my best to expand more actually probably in the provinces if I can and see if I can get more people show off their talents.
Derek: It is incredible opportunity and I’ve mentioned this before but people aren’t now kinda get an existence, get a career from working from a factory or in a call center but this is really cutting edge stuff and leading the world and getting acknowledged in the credits of this cutting-edge things and it’s really incredible isn’t it, I mean it’s a win-win and so empowering for people in the Philippines and the Philippine economy.
Marla: Yeah, absolutely and it’s really cool because what people don’t realize is that my clients come and visit because they wanna meet the team that help make them successful you know they come over, they enjoy the camaraderie that my guys share with them you know they’re like, hey have a red horse and i’m like stop trying to get them drunk, or try this this is balut and they’re like ok stop it. Everybody is in it and everybody is enjoying and you know the clients that visited us have nothing but good things to say about the team and the experience here in the Philippines. They always say they wanna come back and they wanna come back and visit and see the team and they are trying to find ways to do that in a business way so that they can deduct it in taxes and stuff. But you know it’s cool.
Derek: It is and there’s such a sort of cultural alignment and affinity and I really think that is huge boom for the Philippines and you know it’s been colonized and but really there’s huge advantage in the cultural alignment in the English. Do you, I mean in terms of outsourcing and the skill-based are there any other competitors in the world like is India a destination now for rendering or Eastern Europe?
Marla: Yes India still has a lot of other companies that compete with me. China also started as well and I think there’s still a few that are doing it in the North America but certainly not to the extent that I can expand because if you could imagine the cost of living in the US as well as the salaries and the expectations of hiring motion editors or animators is vastly different from the US and the Philippines so while it is something of an expense to hire a lot of people here it certainly wouldn’t compare to if I decided to hire 50 people in the US compared to hiring to 50 people in the Philippines. That said I always think of it as I’m letting my partner clients grow their skill set because they’re spending their money now more on the highly skilled and specialized animators who are doing what they want to do in the first place. The stuff that we do tend to be more technical and loud and artistic. When you talk to an animator they tend want to be artistic rather than technical but since we do that part and we do that part well then their animators can focus on the artistry of it all, so really it’s almost like a cohesive partnership that we have because we allow them to hire their specialized skilled people and allow them to do what they wanna do and we get to do what we want to do and be a part of the animation industry of the world.
Derek: Exciting isn’t it and that is where it’s a win-win isn’t it. Fantastic so thank you so much, Marla, and if anyone out there wants to make a hundred million dollar animated movie and wanna get in touch with you, how can they do that?
Marla: They can get in touch with us at www.animationvertigo.com, we have our facebook page or you contact me as well at [email protected] and social media is always so nice these days.
Derek: We’ll put those contacts in the show notes. Thank you so much, Marla.
Marla: Thank you so much, Derek, it’s always a pleasure
That was Marla Rausch of Animation Vertigo so if you want to get in touch with Marla at all or know more about what she does, go to our show notes at outsourceaccelerator.com/141. If you want to ask us anything then drop some email at [email protected] See you next time.