Posts about the Stone Soup studios/studio residents

Startups in Athens: Innovation made with ROKOKO

Petros Stone Soup Athens Coworker

Have you ever wondered how your favorite animation or video game is so life-like and realistic? Well, it’s probably because the developers used motion capture hardware and software, like the ones designed by Rokoko, our latest members!

We had a chance to speak with Petros, the Administrative Director of the Greek tech hub of Rokoko in Athens. He shared with us how it’s like to work with Rokoko, the competitive advantages of their tech products, and how online platforms help to build a digital community of creators.

The mocap technology 

Motion capture is the process of making human (and sometimes animal) motion digital. With the help of optical sensors or in Rokoko’s case, small sensors, an actor transmits the motion data to a computer. The captured data is then used for animating 2D or 3D models. In-game development and filmmaking, motion capture is an unparalleled method for making animated characters move more realistically. Rokoko has developed the Smartsuit Pro and the Studio software in order to deliver a complete service.

A Danish Startup in Athens

The Rokoko headquarters and the company’s supply chain are based in Copenhagen, while in Athens there is a tech hub focusing on tech support and software. Petros explained how the Greek branch sprang in Athens back in 2015. It all happened by chance! Some members of the Danish team visited Greece for a private event and met a Greek developer. At first, they started a loose freelance collaboration. As the time passed, the team grew organically from five to twenty people! The Greek company was officially set up in 2020 and has been expanding since then. 

So what’s it like to work for a tech startup in Athens? Petros noted that Rokoko is a startup in a scale-up process. Growing “from 5 people to a village” means that things are constantly in flux. A tech-oriented and relaxed work environment in the center of Athens proves truly exciting, especially for young professionals. Another appealing asset is that working in a creative tech position means that one must take ownership of the projects. It’s also really interesting that Danish and Greek cultures clash so it’s kind of a shock for Greeks who are used to a hierarchical system in the workplace. Adapting to a horizontal work culture means that team members can go with the creative flow and enjoy a relaxed environment. 

Some ongoing research projects might be used for commercial reasons or might be thrown away. That’s how innovation works and this is one of the most exciting aspects of working for a tech startup like Rokoko, according to Petros.

Making technology accessible to all creators

But how is innovation transferred into the market? Rokoko’s main competitive advantages are accessibility, affordability, and the way it offers a full-body tracking solution, covering body, fingers, and face. Big studios use point systems of reference that a camera has to detect for motion capture. Rokoko, on the contrary, developed hardware that uses sensors on the  Smartsuit Pro and the Smartgloves, which do not require a camera. As a result, the whole operation is much more affordable. This is the reason why Rokoko equipment is accessible to small and independent creators who make up more than 80% of the company’s customers. In addition, using their Studio software to gather all the data, you can get hyperreal results straight into your screen! Petros also revealed to us that we should expect much more to come in the future.

One such upgraded product is the Smart Suit Pro II that will be out in early 2022 and anyone can pre-order already! 

Can you imagine being able to impersonate your favourite video game character? Well, Shutter Authority’s VFX videos are #madewithrokoko!

Are you a fan of Lil Nas X? His video clips are #madewithrokoko!

Building a community

How to bring creators together? Petros underlined the importance of scaling up the digital community that Rokoko has been building. Users share stories on Instagram adding the hashtag #madewithrokoko while all creators can interact and share tips through a Discord channel. Rokoko’s customer base consists mainly of independent creators so bringing them together in an active and sharing digital community is crucial for strengthening their voices. Apart from learning more about possible ways to create content, another incentive for creators is the chance to win hardware and software prizes (last year the company awarded one of the biggest bundles ever)! In a digital world, there is no need for a formal submission so #madewithrokoko is all that it takes to register! 

What’s coming up?

Rokoko established a tech hub in Athens just before the pandemic. Because of that, they didn’t have the chance to host any networking events. Open innovation is one of their values, so Petros highlighted their effort to cooperate with universities. They try to approach educational institutions so that students can do their academic projects while getting professional experience in Rokoko. The buzz expected from the launch of the Smartsuit Pro II is going to be huge so more events are coming both in Athens and abroad! We are beyond lucky to have them in our workspace and we can’t wait to see what realities they’ll take us next!

Introducing Odd Bleat

We would like to give a warm welcome to our new neighbors Odd Bleat.

Odd Bleat is a versatile director duo between Yannis Zoumakis and Manos Gerogiannis, who  write, design, direct and animate for TV and web.

Collaborating since 2009, in 2015 they founded Odd Bleat, creating commercials which have already brought them numerous awards and recognition. Their work is characterized by subversive humor and attention to detail, while also retaining a soothing simplicity which has become their trademark. They have created short films that opened festivals around the world.

An example of their work is their first experimental documentary, or as they call it mockumentary, about the wise giants that live amongst us. It is called Jachalay and has been screened in numerous festivals around the globe and has also won the Best Documentary Award in TOP Shorts.

A more representative commercial project of their work though, would be the TV commercial they created for the European Reliance, which is written, directed, designed and animated by them.

In order to increase awareness and civic engagement, Odd Bleat have created a short animation film for Odyssea, a social enterprise designing resilient solutions for environmental and humanitarian challenges in Greece.

A short bio:

Yannis and Manos are both from Heraklion, Crete and have known each other for many years. They have studied together graphic arts and design in the Technological Educational Institution of Athens and did their internship at NOMINT, a multi-awarded animation production company. When Manos moved to London to do his masters in filmmaking-directing he continued working with Yannis through Skype and in 2015 they founded Odd Bleat. After Manos returned, they found their new home under the Stone Soup roof and have been housing their offices here ever since.

Odd Bleat have worked for many clients abroad, in Canada, Lebanus, London, New Zealand and USA but also with organizations here in Greece like the Piraeus Bank, the Coca Cola foundation, European Reliance and more. Apart from these projects, they have also worked with non-profit organizations like the UN, TedX and Odyssea.

You can see more of their work on their website or their Facebook page!

Stay tuned for more!

Welcoming SELIA, a French company producing infographic documentaries.

We would like to warmly welcome Ludovic! A creative media artist from France currently based here at Stone Soup.

Ludovic is working on a project producing 10 to 15 min documentaries about fine arts using infographics. The subject of every documentary is about one painting of modern art chosen by the customer. The idea is very interesting and the results are amazing but there is a whole process that needs to be followed in order to complete a documentary. Ludovic works from the original texts to scripts, starting with a search for the appropriate pictures and editing, then he has to record the voice text, clear the sound, put together the pictures with the sound and add music and video effects. “The idea behind using infographics is that we’re not using live video footage to make the documentaries but animation of still images. An example of what I’m talking about is the Ken Burns effect, a type of panning and zooming effect used in video production from still imagery”. The technologies and tools he uses vary, so there is still some self-learning process while making each actual video documentary.

The overall idea of producing a set of documentaries was in the mind of the customer for at least 3 years but the project seemed too expensive to be budgeted. Ludovic started working on the project on his free time to help with discussions with possible contractors, but after a while it became clear that he was the right man for the job. So in the end of June 2016 he founded his own company, called “SELIA”, an online content provider company and he’s been working on the project ever since.

We hope to see more of Ludovic’s work in about 6 months!

Stay tuned!




Entering Iasonas Kampanis art studio

Iasonas Kampanis is a painter based in Athens and in London, currently housed under the Stone Soup roof. We visited him in his studio to learn more about his work and future steps.

Iasonas started his career back in 2003 working on jewelry design and even though jewelry making was something that interested him and earned him a living, he discovered that visual arts was much more the thing he wanted to be involved in. “I found more freedom in painting, as it is a form of art where you can express your ideas without any restrictions, as the results of your work have no primarily practical function. I like to paint anything that I see and inspires me and I need it to be more than an ornament, mean more”. He started experimenting with painting and other visual art forms in 2007 and he has also worked as a graphic designer, illustrator and assistant engraver.

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Right now he is working on different projects and one of them is a collection of 53 artworks (it stands for the 52 weeks of the year and one extra ), which is inspired by all sorts of artistic affairs that have happened throughout the years, mainly since the beginning of modernism. “I think that nowadays, artists have a much bigger source of inspiration because of the Internet. Currently my research is based on this, surfing in the web thinking oh, this might be an interesting thing to put on a canvas and that’s how this project started as well”.

You can find out more about Iasonas’ work on his website.

A small bio:

Iasonas was born in 1985 in Athens, Greece. In 2003 he moved to Thessaloniki to study jewelry design and lived there until 2010. In 2012 he moved to London and started experimenting with the digital processing of images. He participated in various exhibitions both in London and in Greece. Most of London projects were about photography and this resulted to his ongoing collaboration with the ART:I:CURATE platform. He has also participated in exhibitions such as in the TINAG Festival in  Bishopsgate Institute, in London Print Studio and in the Nonsense Exhibition in O3 Gallery. His first solo exhibition was in Athens in 2011 in Parapera Cultural Multispace,  followed by another one in Bord de l’eau design factory in Thessaloniki in 2012. Group exhibitions include IANOS Art Space in Thessaloniki, Chryssothemis Gallery in Athens and the Art-Athina Platforms Project in collaboration with London-based Lubomirov/Angus-Hughes Gallery.