The Party is on! – Epic Acquisition Of 3Lateral (Interview)

VFXSerbia has a long trail following 3Lateral on their voyage of self-positioning on the cutting-edge of digital human creation with projects like The Kid, Hellblade, Siren, Meet Mike, Digital Andy Serkis and many more. A social media earthquake shook us and the whole community very well when Epic games have revealed the news about 3Lateral’s acquisition into Unreal Engine team.

Obviously, we craved for more information, and 3Lateral was there with the answers.

So, let us start with Douglas Adams words to take a breath.

 

In order to fly, all one must do is simply miss the ground.

Douglas Adams

 

Congratulations on the big news, we can imagine you are feeling really great, isn’t it?

It is more than great! We feel excitement, happiness and pride! It is like a fairy tale for adults!  We are a great team of 85 experts and this is a major step forward for each one of us, for the company, for Serbia and for the whole industry!

 

The news that you joined Epic games has spread quickly across the IT and digital entertainment industry. What is the reason for your acquisition when you are a successful business company that has worked on over 200 game titles?

Our company was prosperiours for more than 15 years with a rising number of employees each year. We were empowering innovative technologies for creation of digital life and offering our technologies and services to the world, without geographical limitations.  We have numerous projects behind us and huge experience in a work with world wide companies. This was a strategic move where our tech development plans align perfectly with Epic Games and their vision of the future.

As a part of Epic Games, 3Lateral will have a tremendous support to develop our technologies further, while our solution for digitalization of humans will become available to broader industry via Epic Games and Unreal Engine. Of course we will still continue to empower external parties and interesting projects with our technologies and services, and being a part of Epic Games will allow us to do it more efficiently while always introducing cutting-edge quality.

Hellblade_02
Hellblade: Senua`s Sacrifice – Ninja Theory

 

Are you going to continue working under 3Lateral or become Epic Games?

Epic Games is a company behind Fortnite (a revolution in gaming industry with 200 million users that can interact in a same digital world across diverse platforms), Unreal Engine, Gears of War, Shadow Complex, and the Infinity Blade series of games. Their Unreal Engine technology brings high-fidelity, interactive experiences to PC, console, mobile, AR, VR and the Web. We are proud to be part of the Epic family!

At the same time 3Lateral has a well-recognized name with a great history and proven impact across the world of interactive entertainment. Epic Games has recognized this, so 3Lateral as a brand with clear association to digital humans brings extra value to everyone. So 3Lateral will continue operating under 3Lateral brand that will be tied closely with the general appearance of Epic Games and Unreal Engine branding.

Osiris Black & Andy Serkis – 4D Technology Demo – Epic Games

What does this merger means for the local community and local industry?

3Lateral has always been local knowledge hub. Within Epic Games this knowledge base will expand drastically! Our goal is to share it with the local community and to engage local industry and academia as well.  

3Lateral will be developing as an accessible center of excellence with an infrastructure along the highest standards worldwide. We will be opening new jobs to collaborate with people inspired to work on the ambitious and industry changing projects. We will be promoting work culture and work conditions that are competitive and inline with the standards of leading economies across Europe. Epic Games believes in our team and local ecosystem, and this trust will affect us all.

Siren – Real-Time Performance Demo – Epic Games, Cubic Motion, Tencent, Vicon

What will be your new duty in Epic? Does this mean that you will continue to engage in the work you have done so far or will your work and research expand into another area?

3Lateral will lead worldwide digital humans technology development efforts within Epic Games. We will stay focused on digitalization of human motion and appearance, and although it seems a narrow topic the associated technologies we develop are all becoming increasingly relevant in diverse areas (from interactive entertainment, artificial intelligence and machine learning, to medical and psychological research, etc).

Within Epic Games our development efforts will significantly speed up and our legal, distribution, technical, research and artistic capacities will drastically expand to secure that all our solutions become available to this growing audience.

Are we going to see 3Lateral expanding in new locations beside Novi Sad?

Our main office will remain in Novi Sad, we want our team members to stay in their mate country and city, since it is the natural environment for their inspiration, happiness and life-style. Serbia is full of smart, educated and creative people we want to introduce with the challenges we’re solving at 3Lateral and to open new world of opportunities for their professional development and career.

 

With the expansion of your team, how would you bring local talent up-to-date with your pipeline?  

New job positions are opening soon and we are thrilled about enlargement of the team in many different disciplines, since multidisciplinarity is the key of our success. It will still require patient selection and progressive integration within the team, where we want to make sure every new team member is supported with detailed mentoring, and is given sufficient time to assimilate with the team and the company culture. So stay tuned for the job openings!

Hellblade: Senua`s Sacrifice – Ninja Theory

What would release of your proprietary tools bring to wider Epic’s customer base?

It will empower everybody to produce realistic and interactive digital characters by themselves and apply them for the use of their interest. We will be expanding our development around the Gene Pool and Digital DNAs, an approach we’ve showcased about two years ago at GDC 2017 in San Francisco. It makes perfect sense for us that any digital human should have their own digital DNA and the applications of that are too long to list or even imagine at this point. So the idea is to set the standards when it comes to digital humans.

We have already standardized everything internally about six or seven years ago. This helped us a huge deal in breaking this complex problem into smaller problems, which is always the approach we prefer. This means that if you are an artist, you will be able to use certain tools which are artist friendly. If you’re a technical director, again, there will be a set of tools which are built for TDs. People can approach the problem from their own context, from their own angle. For example, as an artist you will be able to sculpt shapes, you will be able to solve animations and improve on them.

How hard is to decide on such a move when you know where you started and developed revolutionary sophisticated technology?

It was a decision that took years actually. We have a long history of collaboration with Epic Games and we really enjoyed working with them. The synergy of skills was perfect and general alignment of our views for the future.

When we realised that this merge will not jeopardize the trust of non of our client, that we will still be working with all of our partners, we will keep on doing what we want and love – and that is developing technologies, we will keep our focus on digital humans and get an opportunity to work on world changing projects, then there were no doubts that this is the right move.  

 

When is the celebration party, are we invited? 🙂

The party is on! Crazy times have started and we strongly believe that this will be a lifetime party without end. So drop by any time:)

Congratulations to your team again. We can’t wait to see what comes next from 3Lateral.

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