Meet 3D Monstercat: Your Favourite New Virtual Influencer
Words by Megan Venzin
This week, Monstercat enters a new dimension. In celebration of the label’s 10 Year Anniversary, their spokes-feline debuts in 3D with a fresh look crafted by Animism Studios, a Vancouver-based animation studio helmed by a team of leading VFX artists.
Monstercat’s glowing, mischievous smile and chunky headphones are just two instantly recognizable features. Even as a 2D character, the now iconic logo has embodied the electronic music label’s fun-loving attitude and innovative edge. Following his introduction in 2011, Monstercat has since graced label announcements, album art and event posters. His likeness became an essential tag on merchandise, both official and fan-generated, and his presence a constant reminder that anyone sporting his shape were part of a supportive community.
“He’s appeared in our social media communications and he’s been a part of our integrations with brand partners like Rocket League, but always in a 2D sense, which really does not give the full scope of who this little guy truly is,” says Monstercat Marketing Director, Jess Mitchell. “So, late last year, we decided to create our own virtual influencer in earnest. We wanted him to bear a very close resemblance to the Cat that people have grown to love over the last 10 years right along with us.” But in addition to giving him a novel facade, the label’s marketing team aimed to infuse the character with enhanced personality traits, realistic movements and a youthful point of view that will resonate with longtime admirers.
Modeling A Legacy
To achieve this goal, Animism’s artists took stock of the many different iterations of Monstercat that have emerged since his inception. Everything from fan art to a manufactured Monstercat figurine were used as reference points as they transformed the leveled logo star into an eye-catching, three-dimensional dude.
First, a small team (led by Animation Supervisor, Eric Petey) generated a 3D model of Monstercat. Next, the model was reviewed from all angles to ensure his appearance was consistent from varied perspectives.
“We’re working really hard to honour and embody his legacy into a singular design,” says Animism Head of Production, Kelsy Wittmann. “I think that Eric and the rest of the team have done a really good job capturing the spirit of all the Monstercats that have been.
3D Monstercat’s New Groove
Once the initial model is tested and reviewed (an exercise which takes about a week and a half to complete, give or take), the first steps of animation can take place. “You almost have to think of the model as a puppet,” Petey elaborates. “Then comes rigging, which involves adding a skeleton, adding controls, adding the ability for Monstercat to change the shape of his face, and whatnot. On its own, the model is really nothing more than a digital statue -- we have to add the strings per se, and that’s where the act of ‘puppeteering’ comes in.” It’s at this point in the process that the personality of Monstercat really starts to shine.
“There are some existing 2D animations of Monstercat which helped give us our foundation,” Petey continues. “In our discussions with the marketing team he was described as a teenager -- rambunctious but not in a mean-spirited way. So, at that point you really have to find your own hidden teenager that’s still inside and try to bring them out.”
So that’s exactly what Petey and the others at Animism did. Perhaps not so surprisingly, Monstercat likes to play video games, he enjoys chatting with friends online and obviously, he loves dance music. These passions were in full view when earlier this week the new-and-improved avatar introduced tracks from the ‘Monstercat - 10 Year Anniversary’ LP, a release featuring remastered cuts from names like Pegboard Nerds, Case & Point, Shingo Nakamura and other pioneering artists who helped shape the label’s fledgeling sounds.
Get to Know 3D Monstercat
From concept to completion, it took about three months to create Monstercat’s new visage, and now he’ll be around for years to come. Fans can look forward to more opportunities to interact with Monstercat in the coming months as he appears alongside artists on social media, and down the line, they may even be able to hang out with him in A/R and V/R spaces. The possibilities are as vast as Monstercat’s ever-growing repertoire of shuffle steps.
The evolution of Monstercat in many ways mirrors that of his home label. His image has grown from something modest, simple and memorable to a fully-realized digital being that’s larger than life.
“We’ve grown a lot as a company -- we started as a little YouTube channel that now has seven and a half million fans,” Mitchell says enthusiastically. “And yet, we had never truly dug into the lore of Monstercat until this project came up. We’re excited for fans to understand now that he’s a multi-disciplinary cat, and for somebody who doesn’t have eyes or fingers, he sure manages to get up to a lot of things.”
Are you ready to meet 3D Monstercat? Check out the video below.