Raghav Anil Kumar is the man behind the artist name Shutter Authority and one of the most appreciated VFX artists and indie filmmakers on YouTube. From humble beginnings as an independent creator in India, he has today built a channel with more than 1 Billion views and almost 3 Million subscribers through his action-packed and VFX-heavy short films. We asked Raghav to share his incredibly inspiring story with us and explain how he has streamlined his animation workflow in Blender with Smartsuit Pro and Smartgloves and manages to create world-class VFX on a minimal budget.
Shutter Authority’s cinematic VFX shorts are filled with action, fantasy creatures, and sci-fi. Most of the inspiration for these videos comes from popular movies, video games, and comics and it is often his audience suggesting new ideas and asking him to portray their favorite heroes and monsters. Tiny Godzillas, giant Pacmans, Siren Head, angry raptors, and superheroes: In the past years, Shutter Authority brought to life and populated YouTube with all kinds of characters thanks to his powerful imagination and crazy CGI skills paired with Rokoko’s motion capture tools.
Raghav started his channel 13 years ago and with his current most popular video peaking at 75 million views, it’s safe to say that his filmmaking journey has come a long way. During this process, Rokoko and motion capture have played a great role in Raghav’s production:
“It’s really tough to come up with video ideas that 3 million people are going to enjoy. Fortunately, motion capture makes everything easier. The help of technology like Rokoko’s and the opportunities enabled by tools like the Smartsuit Pro and Smartgloves really make it an amazing time to be an independent filmmaker and VFX artist”
Raghav’s creative experimentation started with drawing and creating things and characters out of clay as a kid. These interests soon transitioned into a passion for video making and stop motion animation when he got his first VHS camera. One of his first popular short films was a 2004’s remake of one of his favorite films: Godzilla 1998. It was only in 2018 that Raghav decided to work again on that idea and then use his Smartsuit Pro in the production. That’s how the popular action short “Godzilla VS Baby” was born.
The opportunity to use motion capture in his workflow was a turning point for Raghav:
“I always want to tell stories with imaginary characters and that’s where motion capture comes in. Character animation used to be something that would take a lot of time and effort, but now I don’t have to worry about creating animations anymore. The progress with this technology for me has been crazy. The workflows shifted from modeling and key-frame animation to photogrammetry, 3D scans, and motion capture. This is taking all the laborious tasks out of the workflow and leaves me with more energy to put into the creative side of things.”
One of the most appreciated videos on Shutter Authority’s channel is from the “Siren Head” saga. These short horror films take the title after the name of the main creature - Siren Head - a hostile cryptid and urban legend created by the Canadian horror artist Trevor Henderson:
“I was always really inspired by horror films and I really wanted to make one myself. Siren Head seemed like the perfect fit. Thankfully I had my Smartsuit at the time so it was really exciting to put it into use and finally be able to animate this character.”
Raghav has successfully experimented with the Smartsuit Pro and the Smartgloves in character animation not only for humans and humanoid creatures but also for non-human characters. Most of Raghav’s animated creatures are in fact made with motion capture and his Rokoko tools:
“I use my Smartsuit to make all kinds of character animation. It works amazingly well when your character is a biped and even to animate dinosaurs!”
The perks of motion capture and working with Rokoko for Raghav have been clear from the very beginning: having the vantage of reiteration and an easier and faster animation workflow allowed him to focus entirely on creativity and narrative exploration:
“With the Smartsuit Pro and Smartgloves, I am able to do a lot of iterations and focus a lot more on what is actually needed to tell the story effectively. Before working with Rokoko’s mocap tools, I did character animation manually with key-frames, I always wanted all of my work to be seen in the final video even if the story didn’t require it. Now I can really prioritize quality and creativity. If something is not good enough, I simply re-record again and it’s just a matter of a few minutes.”
This complete focus on having original narratives, great character animations, and entertaining sequences is evident in all of Raghav’s work and we can say that it certainly pays well by looking at the popularity of each film and the vibrant community surrounding the channel. Despite the success of Shutter Authority, Raghav remains incredibly down to earth and has not forgotten the length of his journey as an indie filmmaker:
“It’s really humbling to know that so many people have enjoyed the videos. One billion views on the channel is an astronomical number and it took me a really long time to get there. The fact that I had a small audience for a while has taught me to appreciate every single viewer, follower, or subscriber.“
We are proud that Rokoko’s animation tools are playing a crucial role in the production of Shutter Authority’s videos. Enabling a creator like Raghav to really experiment with story-telling while entertaining millions of viewers is one of the many reasons why we keep being so passionate about motion capture, animation, and VFX. We really hope that stories like this can inspire more and more independent filmmakers to enrich their productions with motion capture and transform their workflow with Rokoko!