Marla Rausch – Philippines as a Great Partner for External Development
Last updated August 30, 2019
In this podcast episode, Derek is joined by Marla Rausch, Founder, and CEO of Animation Vertigo. They will talk about Marla’s background and experience in motion capture animation.
- Marla Rausch was born and raised in the Philippines. She is the founder and CEO of Animation Vertigo. The company has been around for about 14 years now and they have an office in the Philippines.
- Animation Vertigo provides motion capture animation services to production companies all around the world. They work on film, video games, TV and web by providing the fantastical characters with human motions making them realistic.
- Derek and Marla discussed in detail what motion-caption animation is.
- According to Marla, there’s an amazing technology now, which is almost like only a skeleton of a car exists and it has markers. And this car can then have any feature and it could be any car in the world.
- According to Marla, one of the biggest challenges she sees is that when people deal with the technology they are dealing with something that constantly changes. And that support is needed in the Philippines because this requires training which is what Animation Vertigo does.
- Derek mentioned Outsource Accelerator’s white paper which explains why outsourcing is a win-win. According to Derek, people need to be reminded that there are mutual benefits for everyone involved in outsourcing.
- Derek read a review of Toy Story and it stated that it’s harder to start with animation because you are starting with a blank page whereas if you’re filming a normal wherein there is a scenery and a set.
- According to Derek, Universities are no longer that relevant anymore because of the high redundancy. They need to empower people to learn and educate themselves.
- According to Marla, we need more experts in the Philippines.
- Derek believes that outsourcing eventually would just be called employment.
Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator Podcast. This is episode number one hundred and thirty eight and my name is Derek Gallimore. So today, I am joined by Marla Rausch of Animation Vertigo. I have a really good conversation with Marla about her background which is she’s Philippine’s she’s Filipino and now living in the US, L.A. and running a really kind of high tech high skill outsourcing operation. I’d like to call it but you will of course get a much better introduction and explanation from Marla. So I’m sure you’ll learn a lot here and really enjoy our conversation if you want to get in touch with Marla or know any more about this episode then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/138. Enjoy.
Derek: Hi and welcome everybody to Outsource Accelerator and today I’m super excited to have Marla Rausch with us of Animation Vertigo. Hi Marla, how are you?
Marla: I’m doing well Derek. How are you doing? Thank you so much for having me.
Derek: Now it’s an absolute pleasure. And so you have a fantastic story you’re a Filipino obviously and have spent much of your life in the US and spanning the globe now with the company. Pretty much I believe serving U.S. based on a back-end. So, super excited to learn all about this. But I suppose initially you do want to introduce yourself.
Marla: Of course.
Derek: And give people a quick update as to how you came to spanning the globe like this.
Marla: Of course. Wow, that’s that’s a big question. So I’m Marla Rausch, I am the founder and CEO of Animation Vertigo and it’s the office here as well in animation Vertigo Asia in the Philippines. Been around for about 14 years now and providing motion capture animation services to production companies all around the world. That’s the global part. So we work on film. We work on video games. We work on TV and web and just providing the fantastical characters with human motions and making them all realistic.
Derek: And I had confirmed exactly what motion capture animation services are but effectively it’s kind of the Avatar and so it’s 3D.
Marla: Yeah. So it’s yeah, it’s all the things that we see now on TV and the behind the scenes when you’re talking about Marvel for example and they’re doing all of their suits with their markers on their bodies and the green screen behind them. And and then they start being the Hulk let’s say or they start being Gollum or you know
Derek: it’s actually kind of bleeding into a lot of action movies now isn’t it?
Marla: Oh yeah.
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Derek: I mean honestly I ask myself as I talk but this avatar which is completely graphics but then yeah most of the Marvel has any kind of action scenes are effectively animation effects
Marla: Absolutely. And in fact motion capture makes things I hate to say the words simpler because you know people get an idea that if Oh it’s simple it’s cheaper or it’s simpler it’s easier simply just in the sense that you don’t have a lot of keyframes you don’t do a lot more longer term work. There’s still a lot of specialization and technical stuff that’s involved in it. For example when you do a scene like in World War Z where you see those zombies climbing up that huge wall. It’s unlikely that it’s going to be actual human it’s going to be climbing up that huge wall. So, it’s definitely motion capture that they were using and making that thing look that way. So it it gives it that ability to make it look realistic but at the same time also make it manageable to where you know you don’t actually have to draw all that or have people climb up a wall.
Derek: And zombies are to work with, aren’t they?
Marla: Truly, truly. They tend to eat your brain.
Derek: That’s uncool. That’s uncool. But and I always imagine I mean it’s I read a review of Toy Story and they said it’s harder to to start with animation because you literally starting with a blank page whereas if you’re filming a normal video then you have the scenery around you. But surely it must be kind of cheaper to blow up a building in animation as opposed to doing the real thing.
Marla: I think so yes. Also you know blowing up cars and yeah much cheaper.
Derek: Is that all animation now when a car blows up?
Marla: Yes. So they do animation and there’s actually this amazing technology now that they have this almost like a skeleton of a car that exists and they have markers they have. Well yeah some sort of but their version of markers on it and they’ll film that. And this car can then have any feature any it could be any car in the world it could be a Toyota. It could be a Ferrari it could be a Lamborghini. It could be a Ford you know and just change it without actually utilizing the real car. So I just saw that at a Siggraph Event and I was pretty impressed by that because you know a lot of advertisers I’m sure will be very happy that they don’t have to drive or borrow a Ferrari when they were doing the commercial.
Derek: It’s crazy. It’s… So, anyway so what I want to do is rewind first before you go into really into the future. But can you give us a little bit of your background? You’re probably Filipina.
Derek: And grew up here.
Derek: What is your personal journey and how did you end up in L.A.?
Marla: Well Derek that’s a great question because I always seem to when I tell this story people are surprised that I ended up where I ended up because I first I grew up here I was born here in the Philippines. I went to the University of the Philippines and I actually was studying to be a journalist. And halfway through once I finished my college I went into and decided I was going to be a lawyer. And then they studied law and then I quit because I didn’t think that I was actually going to be a good lawyer and met my husband work to the U.S. and became a financial adviser. And all and that while I was being a financial adviser, I learned how to do motion capture animation. I did clean up work. Did freelance on that and basically cut the long story short I ended up utilizing all the skills that I learned and all that and became a businesswoman and opened up Animation Vertigo.
Derek: Isn’t that incredible? So you actually, I mean you had a few careers there and certainly a lot of education. So you’re obviously capable.
Derek: But this iteration of your career with the whole animation thing was self-taught effectively
Marla: Yes. Effectively yes. And it’s one of the reasons why when people come up and ask me you know how do I do this. What can I do and everything. I always talk to them about skill and experience because it doesn’t matter what you know you’re you. You have to be interested what you want to do but it doesn’t matter what version of yourself you start with because at the end of the day you’re looking at where you want to be and what you want to be doing. Not necessarily you know I want to be you know a doctor or something and then. It’s a vague thing and a doctor. But what kind of doctor? And what area of specialty are you going to be doing? And where exactly are you teaching to be a doctor? Are you teaching are you going to be a hands-on doctors stuff like that and I think that’s where I am. I kind of see that. We pick up things along the way and we learn things about ourselves and then we can use that for whatever we’re interested in. And in a….
Derek: And I assume you stumbled on this kind of animation you were doing a bit of kind of freelance work for that you felt an affinity for that? Did you like more so maybe than journalism and law?
Marla: I did. I did. There was something interesting about it because I could actually use my journal, my communication skills and my law skills because God one can imagine the contracts and nondisclosure agreements one has to sign. But it brought about the creative side of me and the analytical side into one. So that was pretty interesting and I really like the technology in motion capture because it’s never the same. It’s constantly changing. You’re constantly driven to keep up with everyone else which you know I tend to be to get bored easily so something like that makes it easy for me to kind of go oh there’s something new and you know you go from there. So it was something that kind of fit my personality as well.
Derek: And I think it demonstrates a fantastic opportunity for people in the Philippines that are outsourcing and you know it’s not like kind of yesteryear where people were maybe working in factories. This is now like outsourcing this is kind of a white collar, highly professional, highly skilled sector.
Derek: Also people are well enabled and able to educate themselves and pick up new skills and really compete on an even footing against anyone in the world, aren’t they? And you know these skills can be picked up and there’s education available now. There’s much of it free. There’s this huge opportunity I think for people anywhere. But in the Philippines as well to upscale themselves and really compete on an international level.
Marla: Absolutely. I think the only and that’s true for a lot of things here in the Philippines. I think one of the biggest challenges that we’re finding is that when you deal with technology and when you deal with something that constantly change we need some support in the Philippines. It’s not there’s not a lot of free information out there. It requires training which is what we kind of do in our in our in our studio. We hire full time. We don’t we we don’t do any contractual work or freelance work. So everybody that works there works there full time because it’s constant learning that we need to have there and if they’re freelancers that tend to you know your attention is you know animator’s by nature seems to be you know their attention seems to be divided anyway. But yeah freelancers….
Derek: Dealing with the creatives huh?
Marla: It becomes a little different more difficult.
Derek: Yeah. Exactly. But it is you know it’s inspiring really isn’t it? I mean the creativity and I think anything that is at the forefront of anything is has a higher level of redundancy doesn’t it? Like Law doesn’t change that much whereas animation is probably changing by the month, isn’t it?
Derek: But do you do. And this is what I kind of question that tech people here in Manila Philippines. I don’t really feel that the Universities are that relevant anymore because of the high redundancy they need to empower people to learn and educate themselves. Do you think people here need infrastructure support or are they just best to be guided to jump onto the US forums. The kind of U.S. accelerator programs so that they truly on an international platform learning whatever they’re interested in whether it be animation, coding or an app.
Marla: That’s a very good question actually because I mean I think it’s both. And the reason why is I think we need a very strong infrastructure here because I believe that there’s a story to be told and with a Philippine background the Philippine setting and a Philippine spirit. And you know understanding that our way makes it easier to organically develop something. On the other hand, having that knowledge and skill. Learning it from outside where it’s more shall we say the foundation already been built. And so it’s already more structured and more you know it’s gone through the fire and you know exactly what you’re going through. It’s actually, it’s very helpful because then you learn all the skill you learn that that talent you see from the experts what should and shouldn’t be done. I think that’s the thing that’s that we need here we need more experts that come here we need more people that come here to be able to do to get us to that level of understanding. And that’s what we do. You know I fly and train our set my guys don’t learn it from from above me I’m the worst person to train from. So I wouldn’t want to do that. So you need to get it from somebody who is going to push them and going to make their brains explode because they’re there haven’t seen this yet they haven’t done this yet. And so that’s kind of what I. That’s kind of how I see it. We need something that’s homegrown that we can develop ourselves because that would be cool if we can show something to the world that they’ve never seen. But at the same time gaining something from the world and then bringing them together and you know training people up here. I think that’s perfect.
Derek: Yeah. And you are you know you’re absolutely seeing this aren’t you? Because outsourcing I mean it’s a form of outsourcing but I think effectively, I believe that outsourcing eventually would just be called employment because it’s just you know sourcing the best candidates from wherever they’re sitting in the world really.
Derek: Do you see this continual upskilling because 20 years ago outsourcing was really just call centers, people on the telephone doing low-grade tasks. But now it’s really every high level functions isn’t it?
Marla: Yeah, actually there’s a great summit I go to now and then that’s actually how I’m changing my view of the word outsourcing because I think you’re familiar now some people have a negative connotation outsourcing and what that means and especially what that bring what that means to people in the U.S. for example. It’s called external development. And yeah I like that term because it means that we’re developing partnerships that I as a company here in the Philippines and the kind they have in Canada or in the UK or in the U.S. we have our means of doing what we do and we do it well and we’re now collaborating and working together so that we can produce this. And we’re working in that partnership and we’re seen more as a partner in external development compared to their internal development where they’re building their pipeline in-house and we have our own pipeline and we’re putting them all together so that it produces something. I thought that that was brilliant because that’s kind of how I’ve always dealt with and seen my role and our position in animation vertigo as an outsourcer. That we work with you, that we’re almost like a plug and play company where we can do exactly what you do. So you can’t tell whether it was done in-house in their studios or whether or not it was done externally in our studio here in Manila at Animation vertigo.
Derek: Yes, it’s incredible isn’t it? And I would imagine why I mean I appreciate this with highly specialized services people just assume that they’re going to outsource because they would not have the special skills that you have. You do it. That is your sole role. Where is it. You know another agency or production studio might have a lot of other different roles. If you and people kind of accept that. Whereas if you outsource your customer services suddenly called sort of treachery or you know you’re a traitor, you’re not employing your own people, right? It’s a very difficult balance isn’t it? We market to the west Outsource Accelerator and part of that we get quite a lot of kickback specifically from the US actually. Yeah we get people calling us terrorists and traitors and yeah you know and it is such a shame. And in response to that we actually wrote a white paper on outsourcing being a win win. And I think people have to be reminded that there are mutual benefits for everyone involved in having better productivity and kind of making more efficient really
Marla: Absolutely, I agree.
Derek: Do ever you think, I mean this is.
Marla: I completely agree.
Derek: Actually, so we’ll get you back and I really wanna deep dive into Animation Vertigo but just to kind of complete the loop a little bit how long ago did you start with your freelancing and then kind of the escalation into your own business and what’s that journey look like?
Marla: Well I was freelancing back. I think in 99 or so 99 to about 2003. I’ve been doing some freelance work and we Animation Vertigo started 2004. So it just came about because there was the constant in the entertainment industry in the US. There’s a constant hiring training then releasing because the project’s done and you’re not going to be keeping them when the project’s done. And then you hire them when the new projects coming in. And this sort of thing makes it difficult because some companies have to retrain constantly because the people they’ve trained before already have other jobs or have been you know gone up to somewhere else. So we thought what what if I thought there was a company that you can go to that had full time that had full time people, experts in their field and you didn’t have to pay when you aren’t using them. And you only the only pay when you need to. And they know your pipeline and they can get you your quality that you need. And 2004 Animation Vertigo was born and we started trying out whether or not technology. Well technical artists can exists in the Philippines and 14 years later I guess they can.
Derek; Wow. So. Yeah I mean you were kind of novel in terms of it being an agency for that but also did you start with a Filipino team. Like it was sort of a true outsourcing from the beginning?
Marla: From the very beginning.
Derek: And again that’s kind of forward thinking again call centers are probably around maybe another five or ten years prior to that but there was a lot of the high skillset.
Marla: Yes yes it was true. At that time it was it was a fairly simple process that we were teaching. And that’s kind of where we wanted to start. It was just a very simple software package that we wanted to train and see if people can do. And I guess like any any sort of outsourcing business that started here it started something simple and measurable and that you can tell what the start is and what the end is. It develops of course because as your as the processes and pipelines get more complicated and the services that you offer get a little bit wider then the subjectivity of art and creativity comes in and you have to match that with the technical skills. And that’s the big challenge in any company and I’m kind of happy that it’s a challenge for any company in the world that has this kind of motion capture animation. And it’s it’s a shared pain that we have which makes me feel like we’re not. We’re not like somebody that you can just send stuff to but where people in your field, people in the field of motion capture animation and we know what we’re talking about.
Derek: Yeah now that’s fascinating isn’t it? And you’re kind of pioneers in a very new technology that’s continually evolving which I think is you know fantastic that it’s being done executed and represented by the Philippines. Just go see the level of skill and vestigia.
Derek: So thank you so much for your time. And I want to get you back of course to speak more about Animation Vertigo and really deep dive into what you do. But in the meantime if people are in touch with you or Animation Vertigo how can they do that?
Marla: Well go to our website. www.animationvertigo.com. We have our Facebook page we have our Linkedin and Twitter, Animation Vertigo or Marla Rausch and you can reach out to me.
Derek: Fantastic. Thanks so much.
Marla: Thank you. Bye Derek.
That was Marla Rausch of Animation Vertigo a really good conversation I enjoyed talking to her.
If you want to get in touch with Marla or know any more about animation Verco or anything we discussed go to our show notes at outsourceaccelerator.com/138 and of course if you want to ask us anything then please just drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. See you next time.