Private Project

Belonging: DUCK

Belonging is a series of journeys into the emotional lives of MetaHumans.

In this episode, set on a quiet lake in Arkansas, two teens flirt with connection while exploring memories both beautiful and traumatic.

Directed, animated and edited by Cristina Mercado in her directorial debut. Starring Eric Bear and Janna Bear. Produced under the SAG•AFTRA micro-budget project agreement.

BACKGROUND: Isolated during quarantine, tech entrepreneur and actor, Eric Bear, craved connection and creative collaboration. He assembled a team of animators and filmmakers from around the world to explore what might be possible using performance capture and Epic Games’ MetaHumans for Unreal Engine. They embarked on a fully-remote experiment aimed at answering the following questions: Can virtual people effectively express authentic emotions? Can audiences be touched, moved and inspired by performances captured using free software and off-the-shelf hardware? Can multiple artists direct, shoot and produce high-quality episodes from their home studios during a global pandemic?

10 episodes. 10 directors. 25 MetaHumans. 3 live actors. 3 voice actors. 1 engine. Lots of love.

  • Cristina Mercado
    Third Eye Spies, We Are Not Alone
  • Eric Bear
    The HyperWatt Conspiracy
  • Eric Bear
    The HyperWatt Conspiracy
  • Nikki Levy
    OMG!, Don't Tell My Mother
  • Rebecca Miller
  • Eric Bear
    Key Cast
    Annie Hall, Yellowstone:1883
  • Janna Bear
    Key Cast
    "Katie Jo"
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Experimental, Short, Television, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    Romance, Adventure
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes 2 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 7, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Motion Capture via Unreal Engine
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Paris Women Film Festival 2022
    Award Winner
  • LA Femme International Film Festival 2022
    Beverly Hills, CA
    United States
    Award Nominee
  • Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival 2022
    Fort Lauderdale
    United States
    Official Selection
  • Montreal International Animation Film Festival - ANIMAZE 2022
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Cristina Mercado

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Southern California, Cristina Mercado was motivated by the death of her teenage son to leave her corporate sales job and pursue her dream to inspire and uplift others who face similar challenges. With her partner Lance Mungia she co-founded Waking Universe Films and co-produced “Third Eye Spies” and “We Are Not Alone” for Media 1091. During the pandemic, she became determined to bring her artistic inspiration into the digital realms of 3D character design and motion capture using real-time animation in Unreal Engine. With Duck, Cristina makes her directorial debut.

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Director Statement

Eric Bear [EXECUTIVE PRODUCER & SERIES LEAD] is a classically-trained film actor known for a meme-generating role in “Annie Hall” and recurring on the Yellowstone prequel “1883” on Paramount+.

As a kinesthetic artist, Bear specializes in primate motion capture and authentic, grounded expression. Prior to returning to filmmaking, Bear was a tech entrepreneur known for creating award-winning interactive media (e.g., Best Animation at SXSW Interactive 1999).

Bear’s invention of seamless video expansion in 1994 was popularized by "The Matrix” – enabling DVD viewers to “follow the white rabbit” to access behind the scenes footage. This technology has been licensed to all major motion picture studios in the USA and top consumer electronics companies in the world. Bear’s 100+ hardware and software patents also include body-based solutions to motion sickness in virtual reality. Products based on Bear’s inventions are in use every day by millions of people and thousands of companies.

Bear is a partner at Capital Factory Ventures and the founder of HyperWatt® Productions.

Additional episode screeners and details are also available.