We're excited to bring you our latest edition of In Your Words with Isaac Woodby of Monster Truck Ninja! Isaac is the owner of Monster Truck Ninja, a Colombian and American production studio that really knows how to party. Read on below to learn more about Isaac, Monster Truck Ninja, and their fun and innovative Batman Dance Part VR Video!
At the Center of the Dance Floor
Growing up, I was into everything art-related, from drawing to improv comedy. I got a degree in Digital Design at University of Cincinnati. I started my career as a freelance motion graphic designer in Los Angeles, working for studios such as National Television, Lightborne, and Imaginary Forces.
In 2012, I opened Monster Truck Ninja in Ohio. Freelancing had given me the confidence to start my own studio and it felt like a natural way to combine my skills and evolve professionally. After traveling and living briefly in Medellin, Colombia, I opened a production studio there in 2015 as a way to bring the US and Latin American markets together. Our team produces animated videos in 2D and 3D for a wide variety of clients and we are known for colorful, toy-like 3D characters.
Behind the Dance Party
We regularly run studio experiments to explore and showcase our team’s full range of capabilities. As Americans and Colombians, we love comics and dancing. So we decided to experiment by creating the Batman Dance Party which went viral in the comic community. We then decided to take that concept further and create an immersive 360-degree VR experience.
We had created over 40 dancing characters, so we put them all together in a Batcave nightclub. So it wouldn’t be just a passive VR scene, we built a story around being invited to the secret Gotham party where Batman’s greatest allies and enemies called a truce to shake their booties for a night.
We took inspiration from the 1966 Batman series when creating the look of the environment, modeling the scene using Blender. Working with VR taught us a lot about the challenges of storytelling in a virtual space where viewers tend to look around like distracted tourists. You have to lead them through the story using elements of light and sound to grab their attention.
The final video was rendered as one flat image with distortions, and then sewn together as a sphere in the player. When you experience an immersive, 360 VR environment, the brain doesn’t just remember watching it, but it records it as a memory of actually being with Batman in the Batcave!
Personal Creative Philosophy
I try to follow my ideas where they take me, even if they naturally evolve beyond my original vision. It’s almost like being a parent. You have a vision for the project’s life, but eventually it takes the foundation you gave it and matures into its own identity for you to discover.
Our internal Batman project completely surprised us when it took off. It became a Vimeo Staff Pick, and got us hired by Warner Bros and DC to celebrate Batman’s 80th Anniversary for DC Kids! Now we’re experimenting with animating characters on TikTok and Two-Face has over 1.2 million views alone!
I think it’s important for creators to give themselves time and space to explore and not limit your portfolio to only paid work. Letting a creative idea evolve into what it wants to be allows you discover new opportunities to grow, acquire new skills, and attract future clients who love your unique voice, style, and passion.
Want to get experience in augmented reality lenses? Participate in our new Creative Brief: Create innovative AR experiences in Lens Studio for Snap Inc! Submissions close September 16 at 5pm London local time. We can't wait to see what you create!