The wonderful world of self-taught Blender short-film creator Marvelous Media Engine

April 19, 2024
10 min read

If you like short and entertaining animated videos, there is a good chance that you saw a piece by Marvelous Media Engine. From a Mark Zuckerberg satire, to wonderful music boxes, to a Barbie sequel, Troy (the Artist behind Marvelous Media Engine) shows how mastering the craft of 3D animated shorts combined with pop culture references can lead to delightful, engaging and fun content to watch.

We are very lucky to have Troy in our community and we hope you enjoy learning more about his path as a 3D Artist and Blender master. Happy reading!

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

My name is Troy and I run Marvelous Media Engine. I make 3d animated shorts and I found success using pop culture references in my work. I think it’s an easy way to appeal to fans, but it’s more than that, too. I like to study the masters to try to figure out how they made their high quality visuals and it’s also fun to twist our understanding of these characters on their head.

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

I came to 3d art pretty late in life. I started back in 2015 when I was almost 30 years old and loved it pretty quickly. I think it reminded me of when I was a kid and I used to play around on my family’s Macintosh Performa with a program called Hypercard. It was the precursor to a program like Powerpoint and you could make slides. My brother taught me how you could turn the slides into animated videos. I loved it, but sorta lost my way as I moved into highschool and college.

It never occurred to me that 3d animation would ever be affordable on a basic computer so I never pursued it. About 2015 I came across Blender 2.71 while working at a TV station. It was a steep learning curve, but the results looked so good. It was like returning to my childhood and I haven’t looked back.

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?

I develop fun ideas and push them as far as I can. More importantly I think the characteristic that makes my work stand out is that there is some underlying message or meaning. It may not be obvious, but it is there for me. I think that is the advantage to starting when you are older, you have things you want to say.

For example, I was really frustrated when Facebook unveiled their ‘metaverse.’ Zuckerberg unveiled his metaverse like it was his genius idea or something, but most of his ideas have been inspired from someone else. That "OKAY! I just wish he didn’t market himself as such an innovator" moment. My frustration led me to make a few short videos making fun of Meta, including a satire of an official Instagram post advertising the metaverse:

I don’t mean to hate too hard on Facebook though, there is a much more popular video app which I think is far worse and much more dangerous.

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

I just finished my Barbie and True Lies mashup. I love the Barbie movie, but it also frustrated me. I have probably seen it 15 times. My latest video is my way of coping with my frustrations, again. I think I understand the genius of Greta Gerwig’s movie, but it gave me so much compassion for Ken that I had to give him a heroic, 90s action movie moment.

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

I started to believe my dream of making movies was possible. It’s also a roller coaster. Sometimes you feel high as a kite when you make something cool, but also you can feel worthless the next day when you find out there are new tools that everyone says you need to use.

There is so much noise in the art world, and AI hasn’t helped. I’ve started to withdraw from social media quite a bit so I can focus on creating the things I feel I need to create before I die. Social Media is a double edged sword. It gives artists a potential audience that didn’t use to exist, but it’s also full of garbage and run using predatory algorithms that excite human’s rage and horniness.

Plus I grow more and more disillusioned with people and their taste. The algorithm may just be a reflection of society’s weaknesses. If you want to get noticed on Social Media, it isn’t about creating quality so much as it is about shock value.

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

Blender has been my main since 2015, but I started learning Houdini in 2020.

Houdini is a love-hate relationship. It is so complex, but I’ve made some amazing stuff with it, so I feel I need it.

I’m not being paid to say this, but the Rokoko Mocap suit is becoming something I can’t live without. It lets me make incredibly long animations without any hassle. I love the look of hand-crafted animations, but I want to make movies and I can’t spend days perfecting one shot like Pixar. The Mocap suit lets me whip out a whole scene of animation pretty easily.


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

First off, I’m not sure anyone should buy them. To get the full value out of mocap tools, it helps immensely to have a good understanding of how animation works in your program.

For example, I hand animated two fairly long videos and really understood rigging and animation tools in Blender. Now that I have a Rokoko suit, I know exactly what is going on in Blender as I retarget animations and make various actions. I can be more flexible with how the Smartsuit Pro is used and get the full value out of it.

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

Movies are really my passion so a lot of the artists who inspire me are famous directors from the past. Most of us know James Cameron and Steven Spielberg’s films are amazing (especially their work from the 80s and 90s).

Lately, I have gone on a binge watching Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach (they co-wrote Barbie) movies. I wanted to better understand how they think.

I also recently watched Priscilla and I think it is one of the most beautiful-looking movies I have ever seen and the style is incredibly restrained. It really looks like it was made in the 60s. For example, if you compare Priscilla to another music biopic taking place in the 60s, Walk the Line, you will notice immediately that one looks authentic, the other looks like a film set. I don’t understand the secret of the style, but I like to study these things so I can figure it out. I want to someday capture an authentic ‘cinematic look.’ Does anyone know the secret?? 

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?

I think a lot of people aspire to do things, but never do them. For me, Blender was frustrating at first, but very quickly it became addictive. In other words, it was fun and I loved the feeling. I started with tutorials and it took about 4 months of false starts, but once I committed to learning everyday, the love started almost immediately. If you don’t feel the love, give up and find something else.

Also, I used blender for three years without using social media at all. I didn’t have an Instagram account until 2018. I’m sure staying away from social media solidified my passion for many reasons. I was in my own little bubble and self driven. I think a lot of people are driven to get attention and that isn’t sustainable. Also, I think seeing the amazing art out there would’ve crushed my spirit and made me hate my own art. I had a folder of all my saved renders in chronological order and I liked looking at my own progress. Social media is also such a time suck. 

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

You know, my most epic dream would be this: I make a film, it’s so good that a studio wants to put it in theaters. I would love to make a pixar-style film with a strong anti-drug message. I love the idea of seeing Moana using meth and showing how one time can ruin your life. Imagine, Requiem for a Dream meets Moana. Yeah, that’s what I hope you can see someday in a theater near you. That may be a long shot, but maybe making a local film and putting it in a local theater for a weekend is more possible.

I also love the idea of making a social media post that makes people want to quit social media. It’s like slipping a bomb into the algorithm. Maybe we can all do that, too. We can be the rebel alliance against the evil empire.


Thank you for sharing your journey as a 3D Artist, Troy!

You can follow Marvelous Media Engine's work on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

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