#btconf Berlin, Germany 11 - 12 Sep 2023

Robert Hranitzky

Robert works as a Designer and creative Director based in Munich, Germany, with a strong focus on motion graphics and animation for a wide range of projects from opening titles to showroom trailers and film projects.

Passion and enthusiasm drive him to create beautiful imagery and animation in every project. No matter if it’s live action, 2D or 3D animation – or everything combined. For the past 15 years he has worked with clients such as Adobe, Apple, Audi, BenQ, BMW, Carl Zeiss, Elgato, Mammut, Maxon, Wacom, etc.
Besides his creative work, he loves to share his experience and knowledge.

He is a speaker and a guest lecturer at schools, universities and various international events, which included among others: Adobe MAX, IBC, FMX, Animago, Siggraph and Cannes Lions.

Want to watch this video on YouTube directly? This way, please.

Unboxing the Gifts of Personal Projects

Robert Hranitzky takes you behind the scenes of his personal project “E-11: Standard Issues - A Star Wars Fan Film”. His off-and-on, non-commercial fan-film took him altogether over four years to finish and it’s a love letter to the creators and fans of a galaxy far, far away.

Robert openly talks about his experience and what he learned along the way including the ups & downs, challenges and solutions that went with this ambitious personal project. Find out about the outcome of his efforts, if he would do anything differently and what will come next!


Thank you, thank you, thank you, and hello everyone.

First of all, a big hand again for Tobi.

This is just so incredible.

So give it up for him, please.

And also give it up for everyone that is organizing beyond tellerrand, because I won't be here to say the goodbye or hear the goodbye applause, so give everyone that is organizing this fucking amazing conference a big hand.

I think it's a very special conference, not because I'm friends with Marc, but it's about the people, you know, the passion that everyone connects.

And I unfortunately have to leave, you know, to get back home to Munich to put my kids to school tomorrow, but already I had wonderful conversations with people I met here for the first time, and I could just leave now and just be happy, but of course I would still have to do my talk, so I will do that, don't worry.

So I'm very excited, and thank you again for having me.

In case you cannot read Arabesh, Hallo Berlin, that was written in a different language.

So my name is Robert and I would love to take you on a journey about my little side project, my little fan film project that I did as a personal project, and it's called Unboxing the Gifts of Personal Projects.

Well it's not just gifts, but it's also hard work and everything, but I will take you on this journey with me so I can share with you what I went through the last, well it took me about four and a half years to finish that, so hopefully you will be inspired by it or just find it funny or amusing.

Alright, so does anyone know what this is?

Yeah, yeah, Lorenz, I heard, yeah, it's exactly right.

It's the butterfly effect, the Edward Lorenz strange attractor, and this is a mathematical formula, if you put it together and twist it in space you will have something like this.

I sucked at mathematics, but I'm good at pictures I guess, so that's why I use pictures to describe what I have in mind.

And when thinking of how to start this off and how everything is related, I thought of this image because I think it resembles very well on how things work.

And Edward Lorenz, he was like a mathematician, unlike me, and he was a weather expert, weather meteorologist, so he could forecast things and he was doing calculations on like a flap of a wing can change the weather on the other end of the world, technically.

And I think he said, it was said it's the butterfly, but it was like a romanticized thing because in fact I read that it was probably a pigeon, which is not so romantic, or if it's a seagull, I don't know.

But anyway, all things aside, it's small causes that may have large effects.

So you can call it karma, you can call it whatever you like, just being here for example, you meet someone, you bump into someone, you talk to someone, this could set up a whole range of different things, like a new project, I don't know, marriage, kids, I mean we don't want to go too crazy here, but you never know what it's good for, and I'm a strong believer in that, so it's not always like, oh you have to have a direct result in terms of monetary compensation and stuff like that.

So I'm trying to find and tell you about things that I found helped me along the way to do this.

And a quick disclaimer, this whole project is a non-profit unofficial fan film, all the characters, everything is owned by Lucasfilm and Disney, I'm not affiliated in any way and all that blah blah blah, I have to say that, because they're aware of that, what I did.

So in other words, it's just like, don't freaking sue me, okay?

Let's get started.

A long time ago, in a kid's room, not so far, far away, raised in Heidelberg, which is a little bit more south than Berlin, give it up for Heidelberg, yeah there you go, I found out, funny side story, Flo, the photographer, we had dinner last night and he was like, yeah where do you go to school?

And I'm like, Heidelberg, oh Heidelberg, yeah I'm from Sandhausen, I was also from Sandhausen, so we went to the same school.

I mean, talk about butterfly effects and coincidence, karma, all that, it's crazy.

Okay, so I'm happy that my parents gifted me this for my 40th birthday a couple years ago, because they all collected my drawings, which I didn't know, and you can tell that as a small kid, Star Wars had a huge influence on me, as probably with many of you as well, you know, fantasy, storytelling, world building, all that stuff was mind-blowing to me and influenced and basically triggered my creative desire to express myself in drawings and films and whatever, but of course I didn't know back then that I wanted to do this as a job, being a creative as a job, I don't work at Lucasfilm or ILM, but regardless I express myself through visuals and things, and I liked it so much that I even applied as an intern during my studies in Mannheim to be an intern at ILM, and my heart was racing when I got that card, I still have this card as a keepsake, and I turned it around and it says, thanks for trying, but no.

And I'm like, okay, that sucks, but okay, whatever, I kept it as a little motivational piece and I thought, yeah, one day, I don't know, maybe I'll look back and think about it.

So, in some way you could also call this short film the revenge of the declined intern, but this is very dark, we don't want to go there, we want to keep it positive, so let's get rid of that, in other ways you could say how it started and how it's going, basically a screenshot of how it ended up looking, I drew this when I was, I don't know, 8 years old or 7, I don't even remember.

So let's talk about the idea of the whole concept, I don't know, has anyone seen that?

In case, what I'm talking about, the E11 short film, has anyone seen it?

Yeah, okay, cool, cool, couple of people, okay, cool.

I hope you don't mind watching it again.

Let's talk about the idea, and I gave this talk not in the same way, because it was more like behind the scenes, technical stuff, how to click, how to do, how to do, blah, blah, but this talk is a bit different because I talk more about the whole things around that, that happened before and after that as well, and funny, really weird stories, and this one starts in 2018 or 19, not quite sure, I actually should have looked up the metadata on the image, but my son had a ski course and he didn't want to go alone, he said like, dad, can you come with me, I don't want to go alone, I'm like, yeah, okay, of course, yeah, it's Monday, yeah, I have some time, let's go.

You know, put my skis in the trunk, drove him to the course, so he was happy, he was in the course, and I was like, yeah, have my skis with me, I can go up and down, I mean, it's a small course, as you can see, and there's like exactly one lift that goes up and one slope that goes down, so it's not challenging, but hey, you make the best of it, weather was nice, son was happy.

So I'm going up, I want to go up that lift, I see a guy getting ready to enter the lift, at a T-bar thing, can I join you?

And he's like, yeah, sure, of course, come on, come on in, so we're riding up, go like this, he's like, so what do you do for a living that a young kid like you can, you know, be on the ski slopes Monday at 11?

And I'm like, yeah, I'm a self-employed creative, I do design stuff, film stuff, animation, he's like, oh, cool, I'm a creative as well, I'm like, cool, what do you do?

And he's like, yeah, well, I'm a voice actor, I'm like, oh, cool, voice actors, I work with voice actors sometimes for projects, and who do you speak, do I know you?

And he was like, yeah, you probably know me for this guy, I speak Luke Skywalker.

Honestly, I'm not kidding, I almost fell out of the lift, I'm like, what?

And then, almost like an epiphany, you recognize the voice, right?

Because I didn't know the face, his name is Hans-Gerhard Panschak, he's a super, super nice guy, and there he is, on this super tiny ski slope, on the lift, next to me, the voice that I heard for, I don't know, 20 years, over and over again, now I prefer the English versions now, but as a kid, I heard his voice, and it was so surreal, so I told him the idea of my short film, of course, we wrote up and down all the time, probably he was a little bit, he thought I'm an idiot or something, but I told him I planned a fan film, and the idea was, what if, in the Star Wars universe, there were Stormtroopers doing actual review videos and Imperial unboxings of equipment and gadgets?

So that's the elevator pitch for you right there.

Also taking a little bit of making fun of myself, because I also do a little bit of reviews of tech gadgets for creatives and software and hardware and so on, and I thought, I was building my Stormtrooper armor, because I always dreamt as a kid to have a full on suit that I could put in my studio, I'm not allowed to put this at home, the lady is kind of like, well, maybe you put it in your studio.

So I was building the blaster, and when I was building the blaster, I was like, hey, how would I unbox this and review that?

So that's the idea, and he liked it, and he said, yeah, show me when it's done, and it took a couple of years, but I will follow up on that.

If you want to watch it again, after the viewing now, you can scan that code, this will lead you to the YouTube page, it's free to watch, it's unmonetized, it has to be, because I have to follow the strict rules of Lucasfilm of keeping this unmonetized and basically free to watch for everyone.

So are you ready?

Let's go.

You can dim the lights.

It's fine.

You can dim the lights, it's fine.

This is Powerful Service Shuttle 209 approaching with a classified delivery requesting landing permission.

Copy that, Shuttle 209, you're cleared to land at base at a T. TK-421, I have a classified delivery for you.

Identify yourself.


What's up fellow troopers, I'm TK-421 and welcome to my weekly unboxing and review episode of Imperial Equipment and Gadgets.

I'm very happy to say our review table has been updated and is back up and running with a new operating system.

Today is the day.

Top secret, high level confidentiality.

This baby is so fresh out of the factory that it's still warm.

Is it a new thermal detonator?


Is it our beloved updated electric bat?


It's the one thing we've been waiting for.

Something that will never fail us again, a weapon that is so precise we won't even have to aim anymore.

I want to properly review this for you, but first, let's see what's in the box.

I can't wait to open this.

It has been years since the last update and I'm as excited as a Wookie on Live Day.

Before I open this case, let's check for content integrity with a deep package inspection.

Package inspection.



The content seems to be intact and verified, so let's proceed with opening it.

I have this special light knife that was created with some kyber crystal fragments gathered during Order 66 to slice open this bad boy.

Oh, you hear that?

Oh, yeah.

It comes in this specially designed box.

Beautiful, beautiful box that is super durable, that fits perfectly in overhead departments when you're relocating to other bases or planets, for example.

And here it is.

Do you want to make a difference for peace in the universe?

Join the Empire.

Learn valuable skills.

Bring order and unity to the galaxy.

The brand new standard issue blaster, DE-11.

So here's some quick facts.

Manufactured by Blastec Industries, it's our most modern blaster ever.

It replaces the good old DC-15 blaster used and loved during the Clone Wars.


Just look at this beauty.

You can clearly see the improvements over its predecessor.

Alrighty, let's see what else is in the box.

Apart from the DE-11 blaster, of course, there is also a quick start manual.

But who the f*** reads manuals anyway, right?

So this baby comes with two plasma cartridges and a tactical light, which can be attached to the side of the blaster.

It features three firing modes, lethal, stun, and sting.

That should be perfect for most combat situations.

Imagine a stun-buzz jaw up.

It also comes with a brand new cooling system, which allows for continued automatic fire.

And now, check this out.

There is an all new telescopic viewfinder with a new targeting system.

You heard right, a targeting system.

How sweet is that?

Let's check it out.

Okay, uh, there seems to be a few minor flaws in the scope.

But hey, I can see a little mouse toy.

Well, looks promising apart from those glitches, but I'm sure a firmware update will fix that soon.

Classic Industries claims that this targeting system is the most accurate ever.

So even troopers like me can improve their hit rate with this sick new scope.

Finally, this will help us to crush the Rebellion once and for all.

But before we proceed, let me try connecting the blaster to my computer and see if I can calibrate the targeting system.

Just a second.

Almost there.

Oh, what the f- What?

Piece of sh- Come on.

And we're back.

Just a little reboot and we're back in business.

Maybe calibration isn't that necessary.

The E11 also features biometric voice authentication that is coded to your voice only.

All you have to do is say, hey blaster.

Ready for command.

How many shots do I have left?

Sorry, command cannot be processed.

Okay, must be my accent or the helmet incompatibility.

Let's try again.

Hey blaster.

Set blaster to, uh, stun.

Sorry, blaster javas for fun is not a valid command.

Okay, so maybe this needs a firmware update as well.

I'll just give you an update in a later review.

And finally, let's check out what we've all been waiting for.

Yes, fellow troopers, the myth, the legend.

Will the new blaster really be as accurate as claimed?

I am so excited.

So to try out the blaster, let's move over to our state of the art Imperial shooting range.

Okay, so I'll be using the new scope to aim at the target at the far end of the shooting range.

Okay, here we go.

Whoa, wrong setting there.

All right, let me fix that.


I've got this.

Let's inspect my head.

Move along, move along.

Well, obviously the accuracy could be a little better.

There seem to be some minor flaws that are sure to be addressed in the next Imperial system update.

Also, our helmets will surely be updated to properly work with the targeting system and voice control.

Alongside the rumored super weapon that the Empire is building.

I'd say we're in great shape to destroy the rebellion to bring peace to the galaxy.

So join me next week when I check out a weird new training device that the Jedi used to practice with.

Also, new helmets and equipment for our lucky beach boys over at Scarif.

Thanks for watching and make sure to subscribe and feel free to leave me a comment and give me a thumbs up if you found this helpful in the line of duty.

And I'll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai Transcribed by https://otter.ai Transcribed by https://otter.ai Transcribed by https://otter.ai Transcribed by https://otter.ai Thank you, yeah, so that was a crazy ride to create.

And a big thank you also to Recru everyone that was involved in that film.

Although I did most of the stuff alone, I still had help with great friends, editing, music, it's just beautiful.

And that was also the first benefit I would like to share with you of working on something like this is to find new people to collaborate with on a somewhat realistic project, not just like a tutorial or something, but something that you set out to do to find new common ground to create magic and create worlds.

A couple of stats, it garnered 4 million views, 35 million impressions, so and so many of the playback, which is crazy, I started the channel with zero subscribers, a lot of comments, and speaking of the comments, it's super funny, I'm not gonna read through them, but I just wanna urge you to go through and read through some of the comments, it became like the sub-universe.

People saying if the manufacturer does not include free stickers in the box, it's not for me.

Or someone saying, can someone get those recruitment ads of the Holonet, I'm already an Imperial Stormtrooper.

I mean, it was so much fun to read through those, it's crazy.

It actually motivated me to carry on after this, because originally it was just like a one-off thing and be done with it.

But also reactions from the animation supervisor from Industrial Light & Magic, Hal Hickel, he said, really great, our lucky Beach Boys on Scarif, by the way that box opener is slick, but no matter how tempted you may be, do not try using it as a toothpick.

I will get back to that towards the end of my talk.

So let's talk a little bit about behind the scenes, I'll spend about 15 minutes, maybe 18 minutes to bring you on the journey of showing you how this was created.

It's always good to travel to new locations that you have never seen or been before, and one of the most mind-blowing locations was Iceland.

I was there for a talk, but of course I extended my talk a little bit and went out to shoot some footage with my drone.

I had a fantastic guide with Einar, who just showed me places and it was just mind-blowing and I thought, okay, well, this is the place I want to use as the establishing shot for my first scene.

And of course you have things like the houses and the streets that you can see there, and the roads and cars and everything, this has to be removed, so I removed that, just added a little bit of color grading, added a little bit of 3D objects like this base and a couple of spaceships flying through and then your not-so-terrestrial scene is already done and ready.

So that was the process for that, that was the first shot that I also finished for this entire short film.

But of course there was more, I knew there would be interior shots and I wanted to have the reflections right, so I ended up cutting out from cardboard, basically designing it first in Illustrator and then cutting it out meticulously with a pair of scissors and putting that in front of the softbox as a gobo to have controlled reflections and how the light should look like.

So basically this is me doing this, going really crazy, but as soon as I switched the light on, hold the mask and check out how it looks like and see all those reflections, I was like, alright, we're game time, that looks really cool, I like it.

This already places it in the universe because you already don't question it because we are so conditioned by those light designs that are so distinctive.

And of course I had a meticulously planned film in mind, knowing that when she goes through the corridor she'll be illuminated by those lights, so I built those lights in CG afterwards after keying the troopers out.

This was all shot in our little studio in Munich, it was totally cramped with lights and everyone that helped contributing, renting lights or borrowing lights to me was super helpful.

But also things like this where I knew that I wanted to have this light here on the side that reflects on the back and even a little interactive light that mimics the muzzle flash of the blaster so you have some reflections on the suit.

And in fact my friend Can, he did pew-pew noises so I knew when to pull the trigger, it was super embarrassing.

And yes, it was me in the costume, it was supposed to be my best friend, he became sick two days before the shoot, so I had to direct and play the character which was a little bit weird, but anyway.

Of course everything had to be designed, everything that you see, shipping labels, caution labels, I don't know, everything had to be designed, I didn't want to steal anything from the existing movies, so every pixel that you see is basically created by us.

And yes, you can scan those codes, there's Easter eggs, it leads to my website and stuff and it has hidden messages to family and kids and I don't know what.

In fact, I was waiting for that, people went in there and translated the Arabesque and said like, hey I found this Easter egg, I found that, who is this, who is that, it was so much fun to see that people got so engaged with it.

And I took the extra effort to make this not gibberish and nonsense but it says manual and I don't know, I forgot what it was, but that's the manual I printed out and that he throws away.

So even designing T-shirts and graphics, which I love, basically I was using my whole skill set as a designer of doing just plain graphics to a little bit of animation, a little bit of 3D, a little bit of filmmaking, even two logos, this one I came up pretty last, the one I'm wearing on my shirt, I already had shirts printed so it was too late.

But nevertheless it was so much fun.

But even the biggest prop, which is the desk, the review desk, which really exists, it's like a proper thing that I designed, printed out on A4 sheets of paper, foam board, glued it together, put it on a wooden desk and off you go.

But also kitbashing from trash, like for example diaper cans or toothpaste caps or just printed paper and folding it.

So this in the middle is basically a diaper canister, like a refill thing, and on the right it's a Chinese takeaway lid, I had 4 or 8, which was vegetable with chickens and rice, I spray-painted it silver, weathered it a little bit, put it all together and it looks like this data pad from the movies.

But even toothpaste caps and milk caps, I was walking around the house like this.

Don't throw that away, this could make a good prop, I was looking at it, oh if I spray-paint this silver and put it there it could work.

So that was a lot of fun, again my family thought I'm a little bit cuckoo, but at the end I think it looks quite believable and fun.

And also this one is for example the frame of washing powder that I spray-painted black, and there is a cut hole in the foam board.

And that was for the iPads and the electrics, because this whole thing had to work, and my dad, being a retired electrician, he could help me to build this little mainboard and control all those lights, so everything that you see is actually working in real life.

So you could go in with a camera and film it and you have the blinking and all that stuff, and it's the real thing.

And put in iPads with some animation on the left and on the right.

Voila, you're ready with your Imperial Review Desk.

And of course all those animations had to be created, so the doll is in After Effects, messed them a little bit up so it looks like a CRT monitor, so no perfect lines, all the animations are linear, everything is jiggity-jaggity, the way you should not do it, now everything is super smooth and eased.

And then everything is like... because it's how it looked in the 70s, if you look at the Death Star animation in The New Hope, you can see it's like... 6 or 10 frames a second or so, so I tried to mimic that to take that into account and basically recreate the whole feel of these user interface things that you see in the real movies.

Slide them in, hope the battery lasts long enough for the shoot and then off you go.

But of course there also had to be CG sets, I knew everything that is green had to be replaced by virtual sets that I created, and of course everything started in Illustrator for most of the things, I took those and extruded them in Cinema 4D and then I had a 3D object like this.

And the problem is, for me as an artist that uses Cinema 4D a lot, I use a lot of parametric textures for what I would call product porn.

Like a client comes and says, yeah we have this beautiful product, render it, make it look sexy, add some text and feature stuff, and we always use procedural textures in a way of, ok this is plastic, this is metal, this is whatever, right?

But it's never grungy and messed up, and I didn't know how to do this really, and a friend of mine said, hey Robert, check out Substance 3D Painter, it's a tool that allows you to paint in 3D textures and make them scuffed and used and worn and organic.

And so that's another benefit I'm telling you, because in this project I took on this tool to learn with a proper goal in mind and a proper vision in mind, not just following a tutorial but actually doing the things that I want to accomplish.

And this helped me a lot to create those walls and those imperial corridors and it was just so much fun.

And now, having the skill set that I applied, or that I learned, I can apply it in everyday work for normal paid projects, so there's an extra benefit of learning a tool but also using the tool.

And here's a couple of renderings and how it looked like, just a couple of interiors, I went way too detailed with many parts, but I had so much fun with it and I thought, what is nice is giving back, I got so many good reactions and feedback, so I thought, why should I just leave those files dumped on my hard drive somewhere, so I thought, why not share them?

So I created this little collect them all thing, actually, if you download it you have them all, it's just a joke, but you can download them all and you have them to play around and create your own fan film or just disassemble them and look through them how I created or do whatever you want with them.

But you can download it if you like to do that, cinema 4D files.

And of course you have to populate the environment, you know, little mouse joys, I just like these characters, and that was the next thing that I wanted to try, because all the images, all the backgrounds are static backgrounds, they took, with the old version of cinema 4D, before I used GPU renderings, it took like between 2 and 4 hours in 4K to render a single frame.

So that was the time when I thought, hey, let's check out Redshift render, which is a GPU-based render, which is way faster, so again that was another technology that I used the first time, not in a commercial project, but on a personal project to basically use it as a playground, and that's my first Redshift rendering that I ever did, and this took like, I don't know exactly, a couple of minutes versus a couple of hours, which is ridiculous.

Which also meant that I could have like an animated camera, so this is the only animated camera in the whole film where he's actually looking through the scope and looking around, and then the mouse joy comes and he realizes, oh, oh, I'm looked at, and then he just gets the hell out of it.

So that was fun to play around, and again, Redshift is a tool that ever since this project I use in every normal commercial project.

But of course, all the scope stuff had to be designed as well, in After Effects, animated, laid out, everything has to make some sense, so the reticule is always lagging behind a little bit.

There's also some lag and some mess-ups in the scope, so you see some glitches, and I always kept the narrative in mind, because I want to tell the story of like, hey yeah, this whole thing is like messed up, that's why they can't hit anything.

So basically, having like a mini-movie in the movie, with every scene having that in mind, all those glitches that you can see here when he's looking through the scope, so that was a crazy lot of fun to do.

And I just love creating user interface stuff.

If anyone is out there having feature film user interface stuff, let me know, I would love to do that.

But also stuff like, okay, how much can you actually see, and how distorted is it, it has to make sense, it has to be believable, like, oh, he can't see anything, but even with the scope it's even worse, so of course no wonder that they can't hit anything.

So, let's talk about dirty tricks and Covid.

Or how to make the most of what you have.

In some way, this whole project was like, half of the time was during Covid, half of the time was before.

We finished the shoot literally in 2019 before it started, in December.

And then all of a sudden I had a lot of time, I was like, okay, so...

I had anxiety, I was like, okay, what's happening, I don't know, and to cope with that I was in bed, couldn't sleep, I was frame by framing the movies, just to, like the real movies in the show, just to ingest the look, like, how does the color look, how does the grain look, the imperfections, the overall feel, the grading, that helped a lot, basically also applying those tricks to basically use what I memorized in my mind to apply it onto what we filmed.

So this was a lot of fun, with the smoke, it was like film school basically, where Max, my friend who helped me, he brought that vapor into the studio and said, yeah, I can just blow the steam into the barrel, and I get quickly out of the frame and when the blaster is gonna be pulled up you see that nice little smoke streak, so it's real smoke that is happening, and we looked at the footage and we were like kids, like, yoohoo, we have smoke!

It was like film school, it was so much fun.

But also here, when you have the interactive lights, and you can hear Chan saying the pew-pew stuff, so that we line it up.

But then again, here's the dirty trick, right, because I didn't want to render a whole sequence, I only rendered like three frames.

So one frame is basically just the lights, not animated, I animated the lights afterwards in After Effects, so they are blinking, I overlay them, and then of course I had all the stuff that I composite in, like the muzzle flash, and the lens flare and all that, and of course the trooper, but it's two more frames, it's one frame where you have a red light here, and a red light there, so one basic frame, red on the middle, red on the side, and it's moving over, and I just repeat those frames over and over, so I could save some render time, so instead of rendering, I don't know, 200 frames, I only had to render three frames and repeat them.

I know it's cheeky, don't tell anyone, but it worked.

Okay, so let's talk about the ad.

Do You Want To Know More?

From which movie is that?

Starship Troopers, that's right, I heard it somewhere there.

It's another one of my all-time sci-fi favorite films, and there's a little homage to those films, and a friend of mine, Steffen Hacker, he's a filmmaker, I made his opening titles for a feature film of his, and he owed me something, so I said, hey Steffen, you owe me a favor, right?

And he was like, yeah.

Well, can you work on an ad for the Imperial propaganda machine?

And I was like, yeah, sure.

What do you have in mind?

So he assembled a team together with me, these guys did an incredible job working on that, and the idea was to create something that reminds you of the World War II propaganda stuff mixed in with the Star Wars feel.

We wanted to have that animated, so they created that to come up with something that looks like this, and I'll play you the whole ad, because we skipped the ad, and in fact, I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of comments there are like, oh shoot, I thought my ad blocker is not working anymore, I have YouTube Premium, why is it showing me ads?

Oh, hang on, it's hilarious to read those reactions, but here we go.

Do you want to make a difference for peace in the universe?

Join the Empire.

Learn valuable skills.

Bring order and unity to the galaxy.

Explore and enjoy exotic new worlds.

Be a part of something bigger than you.

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Of course.

Thank you.

Thank you.

You have to have a disclaimer in there, right?

So let me play a 3 minute reel of how the effects were created, do you want to see that?




So we can dim the lights again if you want.

You got a base?

This is Parcel Service Shuttle 209 approaching with a classified delivery.

Requesting landing permission.

Shuttle 209, you are cleared to land at base 78.

TK-421, you are cleared to land at base 78.

TK-421, I have a classified delivery for you.

I'm TK-421.

Copy that.

TK-421, you are cleared to land at base 78.

Copy that.

TK-421, you are cleared to land at base 78.

TK-421, you are cleared to land at base 78.

TK-421, you are cleared to land at base 78.

TK-421, you are cleared to land at base 78.

Copy that.

TK-421, you are cleared to land at base 78.

Copy that.

TK-421, you are cleared to land at base 78.

Copy that.

TK-421, you are cleared to land at base 78.

Copy that.

All right, lucky beach boys, over at Scariff.

All right, let's go.

I'm going to try to find a good spot.

I'm going to try to find a good spot.



Ready for command.

Ready for command.

I have got this.

I have got this.

I have got this.

I have got this.

I have got this.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I have got this.

I have got this.

I have got this.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I'm going to try to get a good spot.

I appreciate it, thank you.

So yeah, why?

Was it worth it?

Well, I probably ran over five minutes if that's okay with you.

So, I can't monetize it.

So this is kind of like the, oh shoot.

Of course, that's the deal, right?

I have to keep that and I'm happy with that.

Because there happen so many things that are probably made much more valuable than probably getting monetization out of YouTube because you can't get anything.

So it's a practical benefit as well as an emotional benefit.

So it's a mix of two sides I would like to spend some time.

Of course, expanding your skillset with tools like Cinema 4D and Adobe Substance Painter 3D and After Effects and all these things that I already use but always stagnant because with paying clients you don't want to be experimental because you don't want to mess up the job.

So it's always a good thing to find your personal project to try to assemble new strategies, new tools, new people, all that together to find something new.

It doesn't have to be a Star Wars fan film, it can be whatever you like.

But that was the beauty of it.

Of course, being on the cover of Digital Production was nice.

Having this to have signed off by Disney, saying like, make sure that it says it's not from us, okay?

Which was kind of like a compliment, to be honest.

Which was wonderful, see like 16 pages of the making off of that was super nice.

But also projects, just like recently, where I was inquired by the agency Flavor 3D in Munich, they said we have the Festival of the Future coming up in the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

We need someone who can visualize an AI character as an eye, very similar to the way Hell was shown in Odyssey 2001.

And I mean, do you know 3D and do you like and know science fiction?

And I was like...

So I sent them my short film and the next thing was, alright, you got the job.

So I ended up doing this one here.

So that was also a fun project to do, doing all the things that I learned basically in this thing, which was a paid project, which was nice.

But also conferences and public speaking and serendipitous moments where you meet people where you never thought you will meet, which is crazy.

And the VUE conference, which happens every year in Turin in Italy, is a conference that I really admire, because they have the crème de la crème of Hollywood, directors and animators and supervisors and artists talk about their work.

And I was like, wow, I would love to attend.

So I was on holidays last year, I see that they kind of like my posts about my short film and follow me.

I'm like, what the hell?

So I was like, yeah, I'm an open person, I reach out and say like, hey, dear VUE, thanks for the follow, I like your conference, I mean, I'm ready if you want to talk, you know, and they write back and say, we would love to have you.

And that was like my reaction, like, what?

So three weeks later, or four weeks later, I'm on a plane to Italy to present my short film in front of a bunch of ILM people and everything, and there's this guy sitting that did this tweet, right?

So that's Hal Hickel, I got to meet him backstage, he's a super funny, nice guy, animation supervisor, works on all the Star Wars stuff.

And I remembered his tweet with, do not use it as a toothpick, and I gifted him this.

So it is the prop with little fold-out paper thing, do not use as a toothpick, and I told him, this is a thank you from me as a fan for the stuff that you do, usually it's the other way around, I collect your stuff, but now I'm giving you something from my stuff, and he was super happy about that.

We're still in touch and everything, and it's funny.

But also, conventions, right?

Conventions are a part of the Star Wars fandom that I never attended, I thought it's weird to have people dressed up in costumes and run around as Chewbacca or Luke or I don't know, but I never attended them, never had the access to those people, never had the access to the benefits of knowing those people that have all those wonderful costumes that they built themselves mostly.

And then I remembered back to the German voice of Luke Skywalker, to Georg Panczak, and I showed him the film, and he was absolutely mind-blown, he brought me a super kind message saying, this is so great, can I share it with everyone I know and actors?

I'm like, okay, of course, share away!

And then I know these organizers of this conference in Nuremberg, a big Star Wars fan conference, maybe I can get you hooked up with them and maybe you can speak there, so yeah, of course.

So I met them, I got to be at the conference, met all those costume guys from the 501st, met this guy here next to me, his name is Tim, he connected me with all those people and everyone literally was saying like, hey, for your next movie, if you need like 50 Stormtroopers, let me know when, we're there.

I'm like, what the f...

It was surreal, and it was wonderful, and there's all kind people, and the first thing I heard when I arrived at the conference was him saying, welcome home, and I'm like, wow, that's so emotional and so nice because we all share the same passion, and it was just beautiful.

But it didn't stop there, because Georg Panczak, the voice of Luke, he's on the left, he's wearing my shirt that I created, biggest fan, sitting in the first row during my talk, clapping and going wild, taking photos, and a completely surreal experience, meeting Susanna, who speaks Princess Leia, also a very nice human being, just totally surreal, right?

But also meeting Brian Muir, who is basically the designer and he was shaping the Stormtrooper armor, right?

He was the sculptor of the Darth Vader helmet, which is ridiculous, I'm shaking hands and talk to him on dinner for 45 minutes, about anecdotes of why he did this and that, and the things I found when building the armor.

It's completely asymmetrical, by the way, finding out things like these, if you cut in half and you want to mirror one side with the left side, it's completely asymmetrical, you cannot match one side with the other, and maybe that's the aesthetics to it, because every human being is not symmetrical, and he was using those principles, and Darth Vader, one of the cheeks is silver, or anthracite, and the other one is black, and you never really see that in movies, but it's there, and finding out those things was surreal to me as a huge fan.

And also this experience, I don't have a photo with him, because he was charging for photos, but I thought spending 35 minutes with him talking is more worth than any photo.

But meeting Anthony Daniels who plays C-3PO in person was also completely surreal and a beautiful experience.

So he was on stage giving a talk, and as a surprise they had a costume builder who built out of basically just by himself, not as a finished kit, 3D printed and whatnot, like a C-3PO costume, and he didn't know, and the curtain goes up and C-3PO walks out, and he was completely mesmerized, he was like, what, wow, and I filmed that and I have this reaction and it's super interesting.

Hello, I am C-3PO, human-cyborg relations.

How good to meet, look at this.

Isn't that wonderful?

And that was so nice, because he instantly changed the tone of his voice, and all of a sudden you just go like, wow, oh my god, this is like my childhood memory, this is C-3PO, and then a little side note, I found it super interesting the way he raised his hand so that the vision is very limited, so the person could see the hand.

So yeah, those things are super fun and I'm almost done.

But what's next?

Well, after two weeks or so, I found that too many people want to have more.

And of course, I'm like, yeah, I have more ideas, so I'm continuing on, I'm working on three simultaneous new episodes, I don't know when they will be ready.

We tried a few new techniques, one is... let me go back...

One is this one, I'm playing with virtual production a little bit, so we have like a 3.5 meter big screen with a short throw laser projector, and our studio has this windowed wall, so we can do crazy things like pretending we're in hyperspace, and have all those reflections in camera.

And here's me, and when we shot that, with the wall I'm like completely...

Like, this is so embarrassing.

But anyway, you get shots like this, so this is like a pre-grade, it's not final, but you have everything in camera, all the reflections, all that stuff, everything looks real, and yeah, it's just so much fun to play with those new technologies.

I don't know for what I can use this in commercial, but it's right there, and it's fun to work on that.

But also to do the outside shots, trying new technologies, new renderers, new tools, to do that, to replicate the look of how it looks like with the real movie, or the real shows, for that matter.

And a friend of mine rotoscoped Tom Cruise out of his...

He put it on the net and said, people do make fun of that, put it in whatever you want.

And I'm like, alright, I have an idea.

So I put him holding on to that, to that cruiser.

But the biggest benefit was seeing my kids, the last two years especially, during the making of the short film, really understanding what green screen is, understanding what 3D is, filmmaking is, what is storytelling, and inspiring them what inspired me 40 years ago probably, to strive for your dreams, do your thing, do what you love, be creative, mind your own stories in your head, mold them and then show them the world.

And then when I got home from my first presentation from the premiere, May the 4th last year, my family surprised me with my own Oscar, which says Best Fan Film of All Time, in any not so far or even farther away galaxy.

So that was the best gift that I can have, so I inspired my kids to chase their dreams, they do Lego work now, with stop motion and stuff like that, so that's the best compliment I can have, regardless of what everyone else is saying.

So with that being said, thank you so much for listening to my little story about my little fan film.

Again, thank you Mark and everyone else that is doing this wonderful conference, make the best of it, make the best of your time and have fun with whatever project you're working on.

Thank you.