Chalk and Awe: Studio Crafts Creative Battle Between Stick Figures with Real-Time Rendering

SoKrispyMedia enhances virtual production for Stick Figure War with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, Blackmagic Design and Quadro RTX-powered Dell Precision 7750 mobile workstation.
by Nicole Castro

It’s time to bring krisp graphics to stick figure drawings.

Creative studio SoKrispyMedia, started by content creators Sam Wickert and Eric Leigh, develops short videos blended with high-quality visual effects. Since publishing one of their early works eight years ago on YouTube, Chalk Warfare 1, the team has regularly put out short films that showcase engaging visual effects and graphics — including Stick Figure Battle, which has nearly 25 million views.

Now, the Stick Figure saga continues with SoKrispyMedia’s latest, Stick Figure War, which relies on real-time rendering for photorealistic results, as well as improved creative workflows.

With real-time rendering, SoKrispyMedia worked more efficiently as they could see the final results quickly, and have more time for iterations so they could ensure the visuals looked exactly how they wanted — from stick figures piloting paper airplanes to robots fighting skeletons in textbooks.

The team enhanced their virtual production process by using Unreal Engine and a Dell Precision 7750 mobile workstation featuring an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU. Adding to this mix high-quality cameras and DaVinci Resolve software from Blackmagic Design, SoKrispyMedia produced a short film with higher quality than they ever thought possible.

Real-Time Rendering Sticks Out in Visual Effects

Integrating real-time rendering into their pipelines has allowed SoKrispyMedia to work faster and iterate more quickly. They no longer need to wait hundreds of hours for renders to preview — everything can be produced in real time.

“Looking back at our older videos and the technology we used, it feels like we were writing in pencil, and as the technology evolves, we’re adding more and more colors to our palette,” said Micah Malinics, producer at SoKrispyMedia.

For Stick Figure War, a lot of the elements in the video were drawn by hand, and then scanned and converted into 2D or 3D graphics in Unreal Engine. The creators also developed a stylized filter that allowed them to make certain elements look like cross-hatched drawings.

SoKrispyMedia used Unreal Engine to do real-time rendering for almost the entire film, which enabled them to explore more creative ideas and let their imaginations run wild without worrying about increased render times.

Pushing Creativity Behind the Scenes

While NVIDIA RTX and Unreal Engine have broadened the reach of real-time rendering, Blackmagic Design has made high-quality cameras more accessible so content creators can produce cinematic-quality work at a fraction of the cost.

For Stick Figure War, SoKrispyMedia used Blackmagic URSA Mini G2 for production, Pocket Cinema Camera for pick-up shots and Micro Studio Camera 4K for over-the-head VFX shots. With the cameras, the team could shoot videos at 4K resolution and crop footage without losing any resolution in post-production.

Editing workflows were accelerated as Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve utilized NVIDIA GPUs to dramatically speed up playback and performance.

“Five to 10 years ago, making this video would’ve been astronomically difficult. Now we’re able to simply plug the Blackmagic camera directly into Unreal and see final results in front of our eyes,” said Sam Wickert, co-founder of SoKrispyMedia. “Using the Resolve Live feature for interactive and collaborative color grading and editing is just so fast, easy and efficient. We’re able to bring so much more to life on screen than we ever thought possible.”

The SoKrispyMedia team was provided with a Dell Precision 7750 mobile workstation with an RTX 5000 GPU inside, allowing the content creators to work on the go and preview real-time renderings on set. And the Dell workstation’s display provided advanced color accuracy, from working in DaVinci Resolve to rendering previews and final images.

Learn more about the making of SoKrispyMedia’s latest video, Stick Figure War.