3D Animation Meets Virtual Production with Cart and Horse

Dive into the world of Cart and Horse, a 3D animation studio passionate about virtual production and its potential to revolutionize filmmaking.

by Greyscalegorilla

Cart and Horse studio hitches a ride on the future of filmmaking

Forget green screens, Cart and Horse has reimagined the future of cinema! They’re ditching the limitations of traditional filmmaking and embracing the game-changing world of virtual production. Get ready to explore how this dream team is harnessing the power of LED walls and real-time environments powered by Unreal Engine to rewrite the rules of movie magic.


Who is Cart and Horse?

Cart and Horse is a Detroit-based studio made up of Dan Maurer and Kris Bargen, two guys who joined forces to establish a cozy studio dedicated to 3D animation and Virtual Production. Their journey began a few years back when they realized their shared enthusiasm for 3D motion design. Dan brings his expertise from the digital product and interactive realm, where he’s adept at using game engines like Unity and Unreal alongside 3D animation and some laid-back “run-and-gun” video production. While Kris boasts a rich background in video production, animation, and crafting compelling content for marketing purposes. It’s in the realm of 3D motion design and animation that their paths converged, allowing them to blend their skills and creativity harmoniously.


What is virtual production and why are you so excited about it?

Virtual production encompasses a wide range of techniques involving computer graphics in the world of filmmaking. Our particular focus lies in exploring how virtual production enhances live-action filmmaking, especially utilizing enormous LED walls as dynamic backgrounds. It’s essentially a new twist on visual effects (VFX). Unlike traditional methods where shots are captured against a green screen and all the CG magic happens in post-production, our approach involves meticulously crafting and executing shots during pre-production, then bringing them to life in real-time on a grand LED Volume stage. It’s a massively collaborative process and ultimately allows for more control of filming environments. The mantra we’ve embraced through this process is “Fix it in pre.” 


We embarked on this project with several goals in mind, all aimed at making a positive impact. Recognizing that this technology is still relatively new in the industry, we saw an opportunity to bridge the education gap. Our primary objective was to showcase and demystify how this technology can benefit not only large-scale film productions but also smaller commercial shoots. Through this project, we aimed to narrate the story of virtual production, empowering artists to unleash their creativity and delve into the possibilities of Unreal Engine.

Additionally, we sought to foster collaboration and networking within our local industry community. By supporting, encouraging, and nurturing local talent, we aimed to contribute to the growth of our creative sector while creating something we could take pride in.


First and foremost, we’ve been avid users of Greyscalegorilla assets for quite some time now. From following tutorials to incorporating assets into our projects since the early days. The “GSG Everywhere” update that allowed us to utilize assets across various platforms was a game-changer. Frankly, nothing quite matches the quality and breadth of the Greyscalegorilla Library when it comes to materials. When we experimented with bringing them into Unreal Engine, the results were nothing short of spectacular. It seamlessly integrated into our virtual production workflow, elevating our scenes to a whole new level.

We created a diverse range of eight environments, spanning from spaceships to forests, cyberpunk cities to department stores. Across the board, the GSG Library proved invaluable, enhancing almost every aspect of our scenes. Additionally, we relied on the HDRI Ultimate Skies for all our exterior shots. Not only do they look stunning, but they also ran efficiently and allowed for quick iteration, making our workflow incredible.


It’s been a fantastic journey blending skills from various industries throughout the years, and seeing how they can be applied to more than just rendering animations. Embracing this diversity has introduced us to a plethora of new challenges, but with each challenge comes exciting opportunities for both work and creative enjoyment. It’s been a rewarding experience, to say the least!

You can follow our tutorials and see our latest projects here.

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