We have been working on several projects with Trinity College since the launch of their new Innovation and Creativity School in 2019. Well, we say working, but playing is a better word to use!

From creating immersive experiences for their 360 projection room, to creating co-curricular programs and holding masterclasses for their students in digital, screen based storytelling, we’re thrilled to have such a strong connection to foster future creative industry skills in both the teaching staff and students.

So when we were asked to be the Artist in Residence for the College’s exhibition as part of the SALA Festival we jumped at the chance. The theme for the exhibition was Emergence. The process of becoming visible after being concealed.

What was our take on the theme? For opening night, artists from our studio, Troy Bellchambers, Jamie Pillarinos, Henry Bruce and Chris Green, made art from a new, virtual perspective and put on a Tilt Brush performance.

What emerged were four very different approaches to using the same technology…and four very different ‘paint-dance’ styles!

At this time we thought that we’d write to all of our Monkeystack community and give you an update on what we’re doing to keep the studio running as smoothly as we can. We work at Adelaide Studios and, being a big film studio, access might be restricted in the near future for short periods, and this might happen a few times.

We are committed to helping the creative industry in South Australia thrive and to keep on employing great SA creative talent.  We want you to have the confidence that your current projects will be delivered and, importantly, we’re ready and have the capacity for any new projects.

To sustain our business, and our industry, we need your business.

So, what’s the plan? Well, for us it’s business as usual in these unusual times.

For anyone that has visited our studio, you would know it’s full of animators, programmers and modellers sitting in front of lots of screens with headphones on doing what we do best – creating your wonderful animations, stories, games and experiences. As much as possible we provide a flexible working environment for our staff and contractors so every day, there are team members who are working from home or other studios.

To do this, your projects are coordinated through cloud-based production systems we have in place. We work with local clients – and it’s great to have face to face meetings – but we also work with interstate and international clients, and this all happens over video and phone conferencing with screen sharing.

So in these times of social distancing, building closures and uncertainty of how to get things done when it feels like everything’s far from normal, we’re letting you know that our systems work in one studio, or across many ‘home’ studios. We will continue to make stories, games and produce screen-based content that entertains, engages and educates.

The important thing is that we keep our wonderful, amazing, South Australian team working on your projects so they can look after their families.

Our thoughts are with all our friends, colleagues and clients. We’ll get through this with collaboration, understanding and temperance and by all of us making a commitment to continue to get the work done.

Justin, Troy and the entire Monkeystack studio.

Electric Dreams is a celebration of immersive storytelling brought to Adelaide by Crossover Labs.

As a part of the Adelaide Fringe, the event is an eclectic collection of some of the world’s best virtual reality experiences, and a conference featuring leading international artists and creative technologists. It all takes place at Lot Fourteen and the Masonic Lodge from the 19th of 23rd of February 2020.

Among the twenty-five speakers taking to the stage over the three days, Monkeystack Director Justin Wight opened the conference with the first panel session along with Yellaka’s Karl “Winda” Telfer, Director of the Adelaide Fringe Heather Croall, and Nell Kirsten from Novatech. The team presented a behind the scenes look at world-building and co-producing the Fringe 2020 Signature Project, Yabarra – Dreaming in Light.

Other presentations on the program are from innovators like Weta Workshop’s Greg Broadmore, Ubisoft’s Hinde Daoui, Katrina Sedgwick from ACMI, Kristin Alford from MOD. and Ana Kaleidoscope. Audiences can enjoy some seriously thought-provoking presentations about the future of storytelling.

Monday’s conference program ended with a trip through Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute to view Yabarra – Dreaming in Light, with Justin taking the conference-goers through the experience.

The Electric Dreams conference which ends on the 21st is complemented with a VR cinema at the Masonic Lodge until the 23rd February. Get along and see the productions Gloomy Eyes and Fire Escape.

We hope that Electric Dreams will return for the Fringe 2021!

The Australian Film Institute held the Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts awards in Sydney in early December, and although we were not able to attend, we are proud to have worked with some of the nominees and winners. Go Australian screen industry!

Hilary Swank in ‘I Am Mother’, a sci-fi thriller film that we worked on to produce 2D animated on set practical screen content was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Koala Man by Australian comedian Michael Cusack and produced by Princess Pictures was nominated for Best Online Drama or Comedy. It’s a tongue-and-cheek comedy that we are proud to have animated.

Wengie was nominated for Best Online Entertainment, and won! We worked with YouTube star Wengie to create the title animations for the scary short film “Parked | The Carnival of Secrets“.

The South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) supported film The Nightingale won four awards, including Australia’s highest film honour – Best Film. Across the awards program, South Australia’s screen industry took out over five wins, an amazing achievement for a state we are proud to be working in! Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners!

People often ask us, what does Monkeystack do?

We generally answer, “We tell stories”. We’ve been doing that for over 14 years, so we decided it was time to start telling ours.

On the 3rd April 2019, supported by the Office of South Australia’s Chief Entrepreneur and attended by a room full of 50 or so distinguished guests, partners and Monkeystack friends, we put on a showcase of our latest projects in animation, simulation, virtual reality and game development.

Along with a key speech from Mark Ledson from the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur and some fine South Australian food and drinks (can we say chocolate brownie without your mouth starting to water again?) case studies were shown on a collection of our work including:

Oh, and then there was this!

Tim Jarvis AM, Antarctic explorer and all-round champion of the environment was also in the room to help us with the announcement about the Thin Ice VR project. With support from Tim, the South Australian Film Corporation, Screen Australia, One Ocean, Kathmandu and new partner, Torrens University this is going to be an exciting project. Everyone in the room had the chance to put on their ninja masks and a VR headset and experience the Thin Ice VR completed proof of concept. We are now seeking further investment, partners, and sponsors to help us realise the gold standard version of this vision and take this important environmental message to the world. If you want to learn more about the project, we’ve made a thinicevr.com project site to keep you in the loop.