In which we return to our roots - Airborn Showcase

General / 11 August 2022

Hello there!

As some of you knew or guessed based on a few teasers we dropped, a while ago we at Airborn Studios decided to stop by an old friend again. Rekindle an old love. Return to our roots. You get the gist. :)

What if…?

After a hibernation phase of five years, we made the call to revisit the project that our studio is named after. Wondering what it would be like if we dove back into that world with new ideas, a different approach, a mix of Airborn veterans and new team members, and the determination to use the latest technology to push stylized game art and stay true to the core pillars of the work that was done way back.And without further ado, we proudly present the result and won’t make you scroll for it!

From UT 2004 mod ...

If you’re not familiar with our history–and chances are that’s the case–here’s the Cliffs Notes version of that.When the first sketches and 3D models for Airborn were done…

  • the Xbox 360 was fresh on the market
  • the youngest artist in our current team was probably busy doing preschool doodles
  • 3ds Max 8 (not 2008) and Photoshop CS2 were all the rage, and Autodesk had just acquired Maya
  • UDK wouldn't be released for another 4 years, so UT 2003/2004 mods were the only way for hobbyists and small teams to work with Unreal. (And so we did.)

Yes, it’s been a while! And since then, we gradually iterated on and expanded the world of Airborn over time with a team of superb artists. Many of them are still a part of our team in one way or another, and some went on to do terrific work at other places. If you want to get a sense of how far back everything goes, feel free to check out our old album, this thread in the German DigitalArt Forum, and this one over at Polycount. The Airborn project was never officially put on hold, but other endeavors like Ori and the Blind Forest, Halo 4 & 5, and Overwatch demanded our attention - and that was even before the likes of Epic Games, Riot Games and Toys for Bob knocked on our door.

... to Unreal Engine 5

Still, we never forgot about Airborn due to the artist relationships forged back then. And to this day, people ask us about the state of affairs, and we regularly encounter some of that work in reference boards sent to us by clients. We set aside some time to go back. We made sure that most of the artists in the team get to be involved in some capacity at some point even if it's only for a brief stint. We took a bit of a gamble and employed Unreal Engine 5 right when it got released in Early Access. We made sure that Ian Dorsch is available and around since the music he had composed way back had become an integral part of Airborn, too. He brought along the fine folks of SkewSound to handle the sound design. Lastly, we reached out to Funkeyz Animation Studio. We knew their work from their contributions to Spyro Reignited Trilogy and Crash Bandicoot 4 and were happy to have them aboard for rigging and animation work on this one! We integrated a subtle clue to our undertaking into our Holiday 2020 artwork. And if you saw our Holiday 2021 artwork, you got an actual first glimpse at it - without knowing it. Sneaky bunch, eh?

We really hope you like what you're seeing. If you do, please go ahead, share and spread the love. Thank you! :) A bigger portfolio drop with individual assets will follow in the not too distant future. Oh, and we also reworked our website while we were at it. 

To conclude everything, some tips to the hat are in order. Firstly, big thanks to all the magnificent artists who worked on Airborn way back for laying the foundation and being an inspiration then and now! Legends!

Secondly, a massive thank you to the friends and peers who got to see WIP stages of the new project and provided awesome feedback! And thanks to everyone who has been around since the old days and kept supporting us!

Thirdly, a gigantic shoutout to and group-hug to everyone who worked on the showcase for knocking it out of the park. We’re super-delighted with how everything came together! Big round of applause for:

Airborn Studios
Alexander Delagrange - 3D Env/Prop Art
Alexandra Graap - 3D Character Art
Artur Rosário - Tech Art
Benjamin Sauder - Technical Director
Boris Patschull - Managing Director
Ching Rappsilber-Li - Management Assistant
Erik Neubauer - 3D Character Art
Fatos Tahiraj - 3D Character Art
Gabriel Hanna - 3D Env/Prop Art
Ilka Hesche - Concept art
Jan Wyss - 3D Env/Prop Art
João Sapiro Josue - 3D Env/Prop Art
Johannes Figlhuber - Art Direction & Concept Art
Jonas Kunert - 3D Env/Prop Art & Concept Art
Julian Dasgupta - Project Management & PR
Kevin Skok - 3D Env/Prop Art
Lennart Berger - 3D Character Art
Malwina Czech - 3D Env/Prop Art
Manuel Sitompul  - 3D Character Art
Manuel Virks - 3D Level Lead
Niels Timmerman - 3D Character Art
Simon Kopp - Art Direction & Concept Art
Steffen Unger - 3D Character Lead
Svenja Roesner - 3D Env/Prop Art
Tim Moreels - 3D Character Art
Verena Porcher - Website Relaunch Coordination
Victor Pancrazi - 3D Character Art

Ian Dorsch

Funkeyz Animation Studio
Shuki Gamliel - Animation Supervisor
Sonia Wolfson - Animation
Arthur Kazine -  Animation
Michael Fabris - Rigging

Dan Crislip - Audio Director
Christopher Wilson - Sound Design
Nicholas Kallman - Sound Design
Steve Pardo - Sound Design

Production Babies
Joshua (Yoshi)

Special Thanks
Adina Krause
Ezgi Bulut
Josh Dina
Matthieu Schneider

Note: the development of this prototype was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Transport & Digital Infrastructure. Funnily and fittingly enough, the logistics of that were handled by the German Aerospace Center.