Don Allen III: pushing the boundaries of animation as an indie creator in AR projects
Meet Don Allen III, one of Rokoko’s most experienced and talented users! Don is a VFX and animation artist that has been using the Smartsuit Pro for a variety of projects, including Lil Nas X’s latest music video for his hit song, Panini. By day, Don Allen Stevenson III is a teacher at Dreamworks, one of the biggest animation studios in the world, and by night he’s a freelance creative artist creating some of the most innovative and cutting-edge motion design and AR/VR content in the world. Don Allen explains that one of his key motivations is his love of mixing new media and technology with his own creativity when he works on his projects. This has become quite apparent especially since he’s started incorporating his use of the Smartsuit Pro in his projects.
We had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with Lil Nas X after him and his team reached out and asked if they could use our Smartsuit Pro suits in his newest music video for his song “Panini”. However, since we were unable to physically attend the shoot, we reached out to Don Allen about it and he did a fantastic job in our place as the mocap specialist for the video shoot. The process of recording animations with the choreographer in real-time and being able to iterate so quickly is what made Lil Nas X and his team so interested in using our suit. The minimal setup and stable clean data allowed the team to focus on the creativity and actual content, instead of waiting on technical setup or a long data clean-up process. Not only was Don thrilled to be working alongside Lil Nas X with the suit, but he explains how he was also quite starstruck at the chance to work alongside the music video director, Mike Diva, since this is someone that Don has looked up to within the visual effects community for a very long time. Don was the perfect person to carry out this project. Not only due to his skill and experience with the Smartsuit Pro, but also because of the passion and creativity he always brings to his work and was able to share with the team.
"It was nice how fast we could go from recording motion data and just quickly reviewing it on the laptop. We could just focus on the craft of getting those cool dance moves ready"
Don Allen and his team have proven themselves to be true innovators of their craft and with their work with the Smartsuit Pro, they’ve been able to constantly release new and creative content. The biggest thing that Don describes as being a huge advantage to using the Smartsuit Pro is how fast you are able to see results. He describes his workflow with the suit as being able to quickly throw it on, instantly start recording data in Studio, export that data from Studio and throw it inside of Cinema4D, Houdini or whatever software they are currently working in. He tells us that you “don’t need an expensive mocap stage.” They are literally recording takes out of his own bedroom and able to achieve that great quality that they are looking for.
"Before I bought the Smartsuit Pro, there was a competitor, however when I saw the data coming out of Rokoko, I knew that was the one!"