Creating a colossal indie fan film series in a virtual production setup with Caleb Chamberlain

March 26, 2024
10 min read

When the "Titanfall New Frontiers" indie fan series was announced by Rokoko user Caleb Chamberlain, and its 19 month virtual production timeline (with no fewer than 867 mocap recording) for a 3 hour long 6 episode series, we knew something special was coming our way. We sat down with Caleb to listen to his inspiring story and to ask him for some useful tips any aspiring indie creator could benefit from.

Hello Caleb! Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

My name is Caleb Chamberlain, but online I go by Plot Coalition. I’ve always been an avid filmmaker but in the last couple of years, I have gotten into 3D and Unreal Engine which has reignited my passion for filmmaking. New Frontiers ended up being the most ambitious project I have ever embarked on.

How did you get started in 3D and how did you first start animating?

In 2021, the job I was working at asked if I knew how to pull off some 3D shots. I was  pretty certain I could figure it out so I took on the task and very quickly began applying my knowledge of real world cameras and lighting to apply it to my work in Unreal Engine and Blender.

If you had to choose, what is the single most defining characteristic that makes your content unique and entirely yours? In other words, what would you say is your artist trademark?

Cohesion. A strange definition, I know, but allow me to explain: across all the work that I do I put a dedicated effort into making certain that there is at the very least a bare minimum threshold for the content I produce which I am oftentimes trying to outdo. But across the board, I’ve found that I am able to bring everything together in ways that even surprise myself when they work. Getting each step of the audio and visual experience to align in such a way that you hardly notice it in the moment. It rarely calls too much attention to itself and hardly ever overstays its welcome. 

Do you have a favourite artwork or project you're especially proud of?

Titanfall: New Frontiers - my three and a half hour long animated fan-made series. It was made with folks from all over who came together on an entirely virtual production to lend their talents to the production. It was recorded fully over discord calls and the animation for the entire project was done with a single Smart Suit Pro II. The animation isn’t perfect but the contingency under which we made this near-zero dollar budget production makes it a feat on its own.

The additional novelty to this project is, as far as we are aware, one of the very few indie projects of this scope that has been done entirely as a virtual production. From remote writing sessions, actors recording their scenes together over Discord calls, distanced cinematographers inputting their creative vision in real time via Unreal Engine, and being entirely compiled on a single computer, our hope is that it serves as a beacon to other storytellers to bring their visions to life.

The approximate 867 mocap recordings were completed over the course of 6 weeks in our 19 month production timeline to tell this story.

What has been the most significant change to your life, since you started creating 3D content?

I sort of hopped on the bandwagon right when accessible 3D tools became available to everyone. Blender 2.8 had just dropped, Unreal Engine 5 was releasing in Beta, and more tools were on the way. When I first heard about Metahumans, that changed everything in my mind. They had only been out for a few months before we started production and the developments they have had since then are game changers.

Name three pieces of equipment (software or hardware) that you can’t live without.

The Rokoko Smartsuit Pro II, my Puget Systems work station, and the Maxon/Red Giant Suite (And Unreal… and Adobe… and – well I could go on and on).

Talking about gear, what do you love about Rokoko mocap tools / why should anyone buy them?

I’d love to be corrected if I am wrong - but New Frontier’s might be the longest/largest (in terms of the amount of mocap captured) indie production to use this tool to date. We approximate a total of 15 hours of recorded mocap data across the entire project and it handled it all. Sure, there were some technical issues along the way, but we certainly put it through the ringer and came out the other side with a quality production. Also, Rokoko single handedly has the BEST customer service of any company I have ever had to troubleshoot with.


Do you currently have any artists that inspire you in your work?

Mike York (“York Reacts” on YouTube) who is a seasoned animator in the videogame industry. He’s a genuine down to earth guy but also extremely talented in what he does.

What advice do you have for aspiring 3D creators? What would you say are the key ingredients when learning 3D you wish you had known from the start?

Go out and create stuff outdoors! Practice photography and familiarise yourself with a video camera. Nobody believed me in my first couple of months doing 3D that I didn’t have more prior experience but truthfully, there was a lot I understood about cameras and lighting that gave me an edge in 3D. It’s also what made me fall in love with the medium: shooting real world photography certainly has its rewarding moments but being able to craft something in 3D the way that I wish I could film things in the real world is what truly inspires me.

Can you reveal some of your next projects that we can look forward to?

When I began the New Frontiers projects - I had no idea that it would gain the sort of traction that it did. But now, I have a growing presence on YouTube and an eagerness around what I create. I don’t have any plans to do another feature length series, but I do want to continue this journey by exploring more video game worlds and creating cinematic pieces to accompany them. I’m a huge fan of the Netflix series ‘Love, Death + Robots’ and I would like to bring a community driven version of that to YouTube.


Thank you for sharing your story, Caleb, we're eagerly awaiting your next character animation project!

You can follow Caleb's work on his YouTube channel here.

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