Why we invested in 37Degrees Studio


We’re excited to announce our 1st investment of 2024 - 37Degrees!


Figure Image



Akira Kurosawa


“To be an artist means never to avert one’s gaze”.

The brain and vision of Akira Kurosawa, the seminal Director of classic films such as Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, laid the foundations for the most successful Hollywood Directors, including George Lucas, Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg. While it is a fun pastime to revisit Star Wars and spot the almost direct references, his famous quote above formed our conviction to invest in the magicians at 37Degrees late last year. 

The idea of never losing an audience’s gaze by immersing them into a story and keeping their bums glued to the cinema seat is not hard to establish. However, how it is executed is one of the hardest parts of creating content. Obviously, great characterisation, scripts and direction play a seminal role in this goal. But, if I were to characterise the factor that fixes my gaze and imagination, it would be the visual and audio clues that cause my mind to wonder about the bigger world that the story and its characters live in. Since 1907, content creators across all visual mediums have used matte paintings to hint at the greater potential possibilities of the shot they are used in. Whether it is the scale of the Emerald Castle in The Wizard of Oz, the mic-drop conclusion at the end of The Planet of the Apes,  or how Orson Welles ingeniously used them in Citizen Kane, matte paintings continue to be the most effective way to maintain “one’s gaze”. Here is how it worked:

37degrees | manipulate scenewizrd of oz

In case you were wondering, the painting was done by hand, on location, regardless of the weather conditions:

37degrees | old manipulate pic

This snippet and subsequent visual breakdown from Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) is perhaps the best example of matte painting used in the filmmaking process during the early days of cinema: 

What the audience saw & How it was achieved:

Through our due diligence and writing this piece, I researched hundreds of examples of the most effective matte painting over the last 100 years, and perhaps the most famous one is this scene from Michael Pangrazio and his work on Return of the Jedi (1983):

Stars wars matte painting | 1Stars wars matte painting | 2


For almost eighty years, matte paintings were created using traditional painting techniques; however, the advancement of digital technology in visual effects (whose entrance was primarily attributed to a key scene in Young Sherlock Holmes - 1985) has steered matte paintings away from hand-painting. 

Fast forward to today, and the digital technological pipelines swallowed the traditional acrylic matte paintings of the past and made them a critical part of the digital FX process:

Digital FX Process

and has given us epic views into worlds such as these (credit: Disney’s Obi-Wan: Season 1):

Obi-Wan scene


It is these rich and expansive shots that Easter Egg hunters pore over for hours, trying to find a hint as to what else that storyline can provide. From an audience perspective, they are the scenes in which you most likely sit up and readjust your seating position to fully envelope. 

Commercially, if someone can open an audience member’s imagination to further adventures in a world, then there is a good chance that will pay for the pleasure.  

Twelve months ago, courtesy of Floating Rock co-founder Laurent Herveic, I met Marie Tricart and Guillaume Renier. They presented a vision for a next-generation studio that focused entirely on building better worlds. A vision encompassed their own creative and technical IP creation and working with triple-A license holders on bringing their stories to life. 

The Vision

Typically, today, visual effects pipelines keep the Art only at the early stage of the production process, using concepts and illustrations as guidelines for their development. Most of the time, those vibrant and engaging pieces of art get lost when technical challenges take over. With their broad knowledge of the VFX pipeline and experience building 3D environments on many feature films, 37Degrees aims to build an ecosystem where the Art Direction is maintained across the whole production. Breaking the gap between 'beautiful art' and 'feasible art'. Why would you aim for the moon and get the stars if you can have both? 37 Degrees is building a world-class creative team that can work closely with Directors and Supervisors to maintain a high-level vision from the beginning to the end of a project. From the first draft on paper to shapes, from shapes to extraordinary worlds.

By defining a new creative ecosystem, 37Degrees Studio aims to provide a unique solution to revolutionise how art is utilised throughout any production process. Working with a team of creative veterans, they will continue to push the boundaries of world-building with innovative technology and creative solutions, bringing both creative and technical IP to life. 

Moreover, to support its unique vision, 37Degrees Studio is also co-producing its own content. After exploring a new form of hybrid expression with 'Between Sky and Earth,' they are now working on a new hybrid kind of documentary series—an ambitious project, among others.

The 40,000lb gorilla - The Influence of generative AI on Art Departments

As we all know, the effect of generative AI art platforms is stirring up the conceptual art market and workflow. We have witnessed firsthand pitch decks for creative IP that only 18 months ago would have needed capital to fund conceptual art.

AI, despite its futuristic allure, is inherently tethered to the past. It analyses existing data and generates predictions based on patterns it identifies. However, this reliance on historical information means that AI systems inevitably inherit the biases and limitations in the datasets they are trained on. Consequently, these systems reproduce societal biases and perpetuate existing gaps in knowledge. The challenge lies in integrating meaningful human oversight into AI development to mitigate these issues.

To envision a more harmonious relationship between humans and AI, we can draw parallels with the interaction between a violinist and their instruments. A violinist possesses a nuanced control over their craft, leveraging physical gestures to translate artistic intent into tangible outputs – notes and melodies. In contrast, current interactions with generative AI feel distant and limited; they often amount to inputting text and receiving predetermined responses. Bridging this gap requires imbuing AI systems with a level of interpretive agency akin to that of a skilled musician, enabling them to dynamically interpret and respond to human input rather than simply regurgitating preprogrammed outputs. Achieving this would entail a fundamental shift in how we design and interact with AI, moving away from treating it as a black box and towards fostering a symbiotic relationship where human creativity and AI capabilities synergistically complement each other.

AI-generated “art” will still and likely always be trained on someone’s previous artistic expression. It may combine them interestingly, but to create wholly original art, probably not. AI may well help in the creation of non-story-specific effects. Still, iconic scenes like this in Raiders of the Lost Ark, which opened an audience’s imagination to almost unlimited future stories, will never be replaced:

Raiders of the lost ark


Despite the leaps in the sophistication and execution quality of platforms such as Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, the applications of generative AI in the scale of the projects that 37Degrees focuses on will likely be in the early phases of development (st. Audiences are becoming trained in identifying the hallmarks of AI-generated imagery and, for the time being, will reject it in big-budget games and content.

The Founders


Marie (37degrees)
Marie Tricart 

Marie was born in France. At 18, she joined a visual effects and film school, where she confirmed her passion for creating digital environments and the art of storytelling. In 2014, she started her career in London as a concept artist before making her way into environments for film and TV, for which she moved to Canada and, since 2017, to New Zealand. Since 2022, she has focused on more pre-production roles and her first love: environment design.

Guillaume (37degrees)
Guillaume Renier 

Guillaume was also born in France. Inspired by adventure books, at the age of 18, he created his first travel sketchbook in Cambodia. Back in France, he honed his artistic skills and technical knowledge by learning visual effects for another three years at Fine ArtSchool. He has worked as a VFX Artist and Lead in London, Canada and since 2017 at Weta Digital. More recently, he has been working on a real-time project to create worlds for video games and virtual art for an upcoming TV series.

They have worked on some of the biggest box office smashes in the last decade, including the Avatar series of films, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, to name but a few. 

The Business 

Marie and Guillaume have been building this business for the past few years, have grown it to a healthy six-figure revenue run rate, and have been extremely capital-efficient. 

Hillfarrance’s new injection of capital will speed up critical hiring, further develop new creative IP and build a new office for 37Degrees. 

Their first IP - Between Sky & Earth



Between sky and earth” is where the journey begins for Marie and Guillaume—the story of the first IP that brought the concept of 37Degrees Studio to life.

In 1832, a famous French painter, Eugene Delacroix, created one of the first Travel Diaries of all time by mixing pencil, pastel, and watercolour sketches accompanied by notes during his long journey to Morocco. Deeply attached to all traditional Art forms, in 2015, Marie and Guillaume decided to modernise this Travel Diaries genre by adding high-end visual effects into a heartful and authentic road movie adventure in Vietnam—a fully self-produced project driven by their passions for art and modern techniques. Blending all forms of art and video using animated maps, paintings and drawings, Marie and Guillaume illustrate the vision of their encounters. As a subtle balance between animated fiction and real facts, ‘Between Sky and Earth’ was born.

Following the success of their 3-episode documentary in Vietnam and as an extension of their cinematographic journey, Marie and Guillaume decided to return to their roots by publishing their first book: ‘Vietnam between Sky and Earth’. They learned from this experience the power of creating cross-media content and used this opportunity to set up 37Degrees Studio. A creative development studio that could support their love for creativity, environment art and their approach to cross-media storytelling.


Always inspired by the world, 37Degrees could be a longitude or a latitude, but not only.

For the founders, 37 degrees refers to the human body temperature we all share globally. Leaning on this universal need, 37Degrees’ creative content aims to highlight what makes them unique and different.


Never averting one’s gaze is a strategy or viewpoint that nearly all businesses could adopt for growth and success. Due to the rapid advancement of AI, the ever-changing world of art creation is facing an uncertain future. Those who will emerge victorious from this shift will be those who have a unique and defined skill set and, above all, the ability to create original and compelling stories. We believe Marie and Guillaume are two such people.

Stay tuned for the latest in gaming and NZ tech right here:


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