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Patch Animation Pushes the Boundaries of Short  Film Development with Innovative Use of Unreal Engine Technology in ’Stached

Entrepreneurs David Romani II, Kelly Farmer, and Sofia Soldevila always knew they wanted to bring great stories to life through animation. In 2020 they launched Patch Animation™, LLC, a remote full-service animation studio with headquarters in Ebensburg, Pa.

Their first short film, ’Stached, is about the unlikely duo of an old man and a hermit crab whose lives collide as they navigate their own trials and tribulations while dealing with grief, they each have experienced.

“Animation has a unique ability to make the unapproachable approachable, igniting our desire to connect and understand,” said Farmer, partner and head of design at Patch Animation.

On the technical side, the studio is betting on Unreal Engine, the open-source, live-rendering software initially developed for gaming, to produce the film. In fact, ’Stached, will be the first 3D film with a 2D overlay to be done in this fashion. Previously, Unreal Engine has been used for big productions such as Lucasfilm’s “The Mandalorian.”

“This innovative use of a gaming software for a short film results in greater efficiency, cost-savings and more pipeline flexibility,” said Romani, partner and head of business operations. “We want to push the boundaries to see just how far we can go—from both a technical and creative standpoint.”

Patch has already generated diverse support and   identified potential funding, according to their Startup Alleghenies Coach, Blake Fleegle. Debbi Prosser, director business-development, Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission (SAP&DC) said “Patch is exactly the kind of startup we are delighted to support at Startup Alleghenies. Not only are they breaking new ground in short film development, they also are shining a spotlight on the Alleghenies as a great place to start a successful business.” SAP&DC is the organization that launched the Startup Alleghenies movement.

The studio hopes to reach the film’s funding goal by May, 2021 with a Kickstarter campaign they launched on April 13.  “Our goal is to produce and launch our film in 2022, once we have all the funding in place,” said Romani.

Giving back is also an important part of Patch Animation’s philosophy, and they plan to support a meaningful cause with every project. “When the story started developing, the idea of highlighting the impact of grief already held a special place in our hearts,” said Soldevila, partner and head of story. “Now, with how much we all have lost during the pandemic, it has become even more relevant.”

Part of the proceeds from ’Stached will support, griefHaven®, an organization that has provided grief support and education since 2003. Susan Whitmore founded the nonprofit after losing her 32-year-old daughter to a rare sinus cancer. “Grief is seldom talked about. That is why ’Stached is so important—it gently allows the viewer to feel the grief and integrate the experience of another’s loss. Approachable, relatable, and even humorous, ’Stached engenders empathy and opens hearts,” said Whitmore. “The hope is this partnership will help amplify the importance of grief management, and reach an audience that might need a story like this to help them understand that they are not alone throughout their personal grieving process.”

A teaser for the film, and more information about the Kickstarter campaign can be found at:

Patch Animation™, LLC  Founded in 2020, Patch is a remote, full-service animation studio forged by curiosity-driven storytellers who have worked with renowned companies such as Disney, Lucasfilm, Marvel and TBWA. Creative capabilities include story and script development, animation, character design, modeling and rigging, visual development and graphic design. Patch founders believe in the power of authentic stories fueled by universal human truths that inspire and empower. Follow them on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

griefHaven®  Susan Whitmore founded griefHaven® after losing her only child, Erika, to cancer. During her personal journey, she realized the many support tools she needed were scattered everywhere and finding them was a painstakingly arduous process. That is how she came up with griefHaven®, a place where anyone in need could come and find all that was available. They provide a vast array of proven and unique grief tools, education, support, and lots of love. Part of ’Stached’s proceeds will support her efforts.

Startup Alleghenies  is a free program that connects existing and potential entrepreneurs with experienced Coaches to help them navigate a vast network of partners at economic development groups, private organizations, colleges and universities. It was launched with a POWER grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), a federal-state partnership investing in the socioeconomic future of 420 counties in 13 states in the Appalachian region. The support of the PA Department of Community &Economic Development also was instrumental in establishing SUA.