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Aishah, Camilla and Mathias were actually searching for an internship in a company as part of the study of medialogy at Aalborg University, but before they found one, an opportunity arose to do a special internship programme together with students from Truemax and the National Film School of Denmark.
“All three of us were admitted to this programme, where, for the first time, an animation film was to be produced in a game-engine – that is, with gaming technology which is usually used for developing computer games. And, in a Danish context, using it for films was a completely new concept,” says Aishah Hussain.
To the three students, it was a familiar concept, however; they had been using gaming technology for filmmaking all through their studies. But seeing the enthusiasm of the filmmakers for the opportunity of using gaming technology as a digital tool in films made them realise that there might be a business opportunity there. And this was the start of their joint enterprise ‘Amunet Studio’.
Customers lined up before the company was ready
Immediately after the alternative internship, the three medialogy students were invited to see how a large-scale music video was made. And though it wasn’t really the plan, the invitation ended with them being in charge of the motion capture part, making virtual characters and digital textures for the production. And this resulted in the trio’s first mention in the credits of a production.
“At that time, our company didn’t exist. But we received an overwhelming amount of inquiries from filmmakers who had seen what we had done,” says Camilla Mødekjær.
In fact, the three were still students, working on their theses while trying to turn Amunet Studios into a real company that did not settle invoices in the founders’ private bank accounts.
To this end, they received help from the incubator at Aalborg University. For instance, they received mentor guidance and carried out their work from here the first year. At the same time, they received an ‘Innofounder Graduate’ grant, which financed their salaries in the first phase of development.
“It’s totally atypical for customers to approach you before you are ready, and the start is really a bit blurry for me, because we were simply so busy getting the company up and running since customers just kept coming in. We just had to keep up with the customers,” Aishah Hussain recalls.
Hollywood for everyone
Today, Aishah, Camilla and Mathias all work full time with Amunet Studio, where they do virtual production across the board.
“It’s actually production on a computer. But for us it’s format-free, so we make commercials, films and cut scenes for computer games. But it’s basically using game engines from the gaming industry for film production,” Aisha Hussain explains, and continues:
“The traditional pipeline for using computer graphics in films is very long. But using game engines, we are able to see everything live, which saves a lot of time in production. The technologies are not new, of course, but at first they were very expensive and only used in Hollywood. Now they’ve become much cheaper, so many more can afford them.”
Recently, the trio moved into their own office space near Nørreport in the centre of Copenhagen, but they are still strongly connected to the entire network at Aalborg University, where they also teach from time to time.