Over the last few years, we’ve seen fantastic work from the Quill community. In the past few months, Quill artists have helped us celebrate holidays and special occasions in a whole new way, like Valentine’s Day and Earth Day, by creating immersive pieces that transport the senses and spark the imagination. Today, we’re thrilled to present Tales from Soda Island, a new animated series made entirely in VR with Quill. The first episode, titled The Multiverse Bakery, is available now on Oculus TV on Oculus Quest and the Quill Theater on the Rift Platform.
The latest project from Studio Syro, Tales from Soda Island mixes 3D animation, spatial audio, and special effects to create a new kind of sensory playground. With so many ingredients involved in the production, the story itself begins in the kitchen. In The Multiverse Bakery, audiences follow a curious character known as “The Baker” who’s busy preparing one of his famous apple pies. As he gathers necessary ingredients, which include pulverized galaxies, apples from the tree of life, and a dash of gravity — audiences are taken through a sonic journey of creation that sets the tone for upcoming installments in the series.
We chatted with Quill artists Dan Franke and Funi Nini to hear more about Tales from Soda Island and The Multiverse Bakery.
Can you tell us about your background as an artist?
Dan Franke: I have a background as a generalist working with traditional 2D and 3D software as a concept artist, modeler, animator, etc. I was continually searching for the right tool to let me tell my stories independently and as efficiently as possible. After I got to know Quill in Goro's workshop a year and a half ago, I knew I had found that tool and have only worked with Quill since then.
Funi Nini: I've been working in the music industry for over a decade, creating artworks for musicians and record labels, trapped in a 2-dimensional reality, but daydreaming about the 3rd dimension.
How would you describe The Multiverse Bakery to someone new to VR Quill animations?
DF: The history behind Soda Island is as interesting as the place itself. It started as an independent music label to create free music and explore unique styles. Created by eight artists, each with their own rare and different flow and vibes, it visualized a colorful world and gathered the Soda Island lore in an encyclopedia. Funi was the creative mind behind everything, and this encyclopedia became the base for the series. Every creature or plant on Soda Island is making soda and music, and many names of those creatures are music puns; some of the inhabitants are alter egos of the musicians.
The story of The Multiverse Bakery follows a baker gathering ingredients for one of his mysterious recipes. We knew translating Funis's 2D world into VR would only be possible using Quill, mainly because we wanted innovative ways of guiding viewers' eyes. We added many immersive moments like flying through hidden portals, hovering mid-air, and even invented new techniques for hidden cuts and transitions. You need to watch The Multiverse Bakery a couple of times to find all the little hidden gems we put in there! We hope this series inspires artists to push the boundaries of VR even more and create stories that expand the horizon of VR storytelling.
FN: Soda Island started in 2015 as a collective of eight incredibly talented, young musicians. I was initially brought along to illustrate an album cover. Still, I fell in love with the music and the project so much that an entire ecosystem was created piece by piece. Each musician became an inhabitant, music production aspects became an integral part of the lore, and a complete encyclopedia of this imaginary oasis began to flourish. After releasing our debut album, ‘A trip to Soda Island’ in 2016, the project was put on hold, waiting for us to find a new, exciting way to evolve and expand on it. And then came VR and Quill.
Tales from Soda Island is an immersive journey through the mystical and the mundane of this complex musical ecosystem. A discovery of rituals, ancient civilizations, and cosmic symphonies working together in harmony. The Multiverse Bakery is the first, delicious step we take in this carbonated oasis we were able to recreate in VR thanks to Quill. Inspired by the unforgettable Carl Sagan quote, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe,” The Multiverse Bakery tells the story of a chef using knowledge and magic at his daily job on the Island’s coastline.
How does the creative process change when creating immersive art versus traditional art?
DF: The creative process is way more efficient and fun than traditional workflows. In Quill, you can jump straight into doodling a character in 3D space and designing a scene with easy and super fast iterations. The duplication workflow also speeds up the process a whole lot. With the modeled assets, you can freely move in the space and search for interesting angles, where to place the viewer. But other than designing a composition for the traditional 2D output in VR, you have to be mindful of space and build the scene all around the viewer.
FN: The feeling of absolute power over the piece you're creating, the ability to rotate, and scale everything in real-time, but probably the most surprising factor would be the simplicity of it all. What are the key considerations when making art in VR versus traditional art?
In traditional art, there's more prep work in terms of composition, lights, focus, and color palette. VR allows you to improve your original idea continually, and you end up with something that's generally better than what you wanted initially. It pushes you to such extremes that have always been unimaginable (for me, at least).
What first inspired you to use Quill? Can you tell us about your first experiences?
DF: I had followed and admired Goro's work for years before starting working in VR, but when his first Quill pieces popped up, I was even more intrigued. The piece that sold me on the revolutionary abilities of Quill was Goro's A Moment In Time, where he first experimented with Quill's early animation features. And then shortly after, I got super lucky when Goro came to my university to teach his very first Quill workshop ever. I was convinced that VR art creation would change everything, as soon as I picked up Quill. And 2 weeks after Goro’s workshop I was able to create a 2 minute short in Quill within 2 days. I haven't touched any other program since.
FN: Goro's Worlds within Worlds! When I saw that, I spilled my coffee, immediately left my house, went to the nearest store and got myself a Rift. Using Quill for the first time was mind-blowing, and it felt like stepping a hundred years into the future. Naturally, the first thing I painted was a giant avocado receiving an offering in the form of a chili.
You’ll want to grab your headset to fully experience The Multiverse Bakery. To get started, open the Oculus TV app on Quest and head over to the shelf titled “New Series! Soda Island: The Multiverse Bakery,” or visit the Quill Theater on the Rift Platform. And stay tuned for more episodes from Tales from Soda Island!
If you’d like to see additional artwork from Quill’s ever-growing community of illustrators and animators, be sure to check Oculus TV often for new material. You can also explore more Quillustrations on Oculus TV. And if you’d like to get creative in VR yourself, give Quill a try today on the Rift Platform. Happy viewing and creating!