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Autodesk kicked off a branding campaign at the Oscars tonight with a series of commercials aimed at raising awareness about its behind-the-scenes tech for digital content creation.

On the entertainment industry’s biggest night, Ryan Reynolds’ creative agency Maximum Effort honored Otto Desć, an influential, groundbreaking — and entirely made up — Hollywood legend and icon. It’s all in the name of drawing the connection between the artist and the tools under the hood that make the artist’s creations possible.

The irreverent spots debuted on Oscar night to drive awareness for Autodesk, which describes itself as creating “design & make” software.

Elizabeth Banks appears in the Otto Desć commercials.

Autodesk’s technology helps Hollywood’s filmmakers — as well as game developers, architects, engineers, students and more — make their creations. But those tools are largely unsung.


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“Raising awareness around Autodesk is definitely a priority,” said Diana Colella, head of media and entertainment at Autodesk, in an interview with GamesBeat. “Our focus is more on the creative. The [digital] artists don’t really get spotlighted on the day of the Oscars because there is a separate kind of Oscars for the creatives. The creatives are in the backgrounds, but they’re the ones making the magic. So I think it’s more of an homage to them.”

Colella said just about movie that it has won an Oscar or been nominated for an Oscar has used Autodesk products, from Maya to 3D Studio Max, which are used for computer animation. The aim is to manage the whole pipeline from the artists to post-production.

The three-part ad series that ran during last night’s Oscars broadcast introduced viewers to Otto Desinski, known to his friends as Otto Desć, who is described as being fearless when it came to digital effects.

The second spot gives the view a look inside the impact he has had on his peers in Hollywood including writer/director Elizabeth Banks (Cocaine Bear, Pitch Perfect and Reynolds’ Definitely, Maybe Co-Star), Actor Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Beauty & The Beast, Sons of Anarchy), Academy Award winning special effects supervisor Paul Lambert (Dune, Blade Runner) and Academy Award nominated cinematographer Mandy Walker (Elvis).

Otto Desć is a made-up movie artist.

“Maximum Effort loves playing with the cultural landscape and the Oscars are a major cultural event,” said Ryan Reynolds, in a statement. “Autodesk has been a secret weapon for Hollywood’s artists for decades and what better way to highlight that than to create a fake man of vaguely Germanic descent to receive an award that doesn’t exist? Huge thanks to my Definitely, Maybe co-star Elizabeth Banks, the legendary Ron Perlman as well as Mandy Walker and Paul Lambert for taking serious stuff so unseriously. ”

In the third and final spot, Otto Desć is finally revealed — Otto Desć is actually a software technology product, Autodesk.

“Autodesk is how the world gets designed and made — including the beautiful films that delight and inspire us all. The Oscars are a night to celebrate the biggest names in Hollywood, so we’re thrilled to celebrate the design and technology from Autodesk that makes this magic possible in such a fun and creative way,” said Dara Treseder, chief marketing officer at Autodesk, in a statement.

While Otto Desć isn’t human, Autodesk wasn’t making a reference to AI filmmaking, which is all the rage in some tech circles. But Autodesk is doing research on AI in media and entertainment.

“That is definitely an area of investment for us,” Colella said.

But the company isn’t suggesting human artists can be replaced with AI.

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