Popular gamer 'SypherPK' plans Austin-area production space, incubator

·6 min read
Austin-based online streamer Ali “SypherPK” Hassan and Oni Studios, the production company behind his brand, are opening a local incubator program and production space for content creators.
Austin-based online streamer Ali “SypherPK” Hassan and Oni Studios, the production company behind his brand, are opening a local incubator program and production space for content creators.

For Austin-based Youtube and online gaming celebrity Ali Hassan, providing eight hours of streaming video and producing other content is a typical day at work.

The 25-year old Hassan — better known as "SypherPK" in the gaming community — has been streaming for six years, creating instructional content for the online multiplayer game Fortnite. He has grown his audience to 5.7 million followers on Youtube and 5.4 million followers on Twitch, a video game-focused streaming service.

As the SypherPK brand has gained prominence, a team including Hassan's wife, Daniela Ali, along with editors and producers have helped build the back end of his brand, allowing Hassan to focus on the content.

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Now, Oni Studios, the Austin-based production operation that helps fuel the channels, is looking to do the same for other people who create online entertainment or educational content on websites like Youtube. Oni Studios — which started out as an internal team designed to help manage Hassan's growing channels — will soon open an incubator program housed in a 30,000 square-foot gaming and production facility in Cedar Park. Hassan and his wife co-own Oni Studios.

"Just five or six years ago, I was still living with my parents, streaming from home to a small audience, maybe 100 people at most. And over the course of the past few years, I became a full-time Twitch streamer who blew up with the Fortnite hype. And I didn't stop," Hassan said "I always wanted to try to expand and take it to the next level and Oni Studios became what was next for me."

Daniela Ali, who is CEO of Oni Studios, called Oni Studios "the physical realization of our bold ambitions," and said the company's leaders "can’t wait to see how the community responds to our new production and content capabilities.”

Oni Studios will soon open an incubator program housed in a 30,000 square-foot gaming and production facility in Cedar Park.
Oni Studios will soon open an incubator program housed in a 30,000 square-foot gaming and production facility in Cedar Park.

The Cedar Park space is designed to be an incubator for local and national content creators. It will also host local gaming-related events, and aims to be a community hub for Austin’s gaming ecosystem.

"We want it to be a community space where people can come and learn about content creation, maybe have workshops, but also be a space for creators to produce high-quality content, which is something that's hard to do on your own," Hassan said. "You need the physical studio space and that's what we're going to be offering."

Oni Studios will soon open an incubator program housed in a 30,000 square-foot gaming and production facility in Cedar Park.
Oni Studios will soon open an incubator program housed in a 30,000 square-foot gaming and production facility in Cedar Park.

The new facility will include four custom streaming rooms, three micro stages with virtual backdrops and chromakey technology, two "big-desk" studios, a small basketball court, arcade, dozens of modular production desks, and a local area network space set up for multiplayer esports.

"It's going to be a fun spot but also have all the means of production for content creation," Hassan said. "The physical space is really what's going to allow us to take the content to the next level for people involved in Oni."

Hassan said the facility is equipped with anything people might need to fully produce content.

"We want to make the content creators focus on content, and not have to worry about thumbnails and video ideas and studying algorithm and studying what the next hype is," he said. "We want to do the back end for them so that they can focus on the one thing that they're really good at, and that's content creation."

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Oni Studios plans to involve about a dozen creators initially, which could vary depending on size of the brands. The company is looking for content creators who already have an established following and are looking to take their careers to a higher level. The studio has an application process on its website for interested content creators.

The studio has processes in place to assist with content creation on YouTube, social media management, development of merchandise and execution of sponsorships. Using Oni Studios' processes, the SypherPK brand has grown from one Youtube channel and video a day to five channels with almost daily uploads on all channels, and 10 times the sponsorships. He also has launched a clothing brand, Metal Umbrella, and signed a streaming deal with Twitch.

"I'm one individual, one content creator in the space, and we took me to a level where I can't split any more of my time. I'm doing so many different things," Hassan said. "But we can offer this service to other people."

Hassan said that while he focuses on creating content and covering Fortnite updates, his team — which includes editors, managers, and creative graphic designers —focuses on tasks such as setting up collaborations, working to upload videos, bringing ideas and editing. The company, which has grown to 35 employees in the past year, expects to have about 50 by the time the studio opens in August.

"Once Oni Studios came into the picture, and we really started plugging in my channels through the Oni system, I was able to produce higher-quality content. I was able to launch more YouTube channels, and really expand my reach across social media," Hassan said. "Another big part of it is there are all these sponsors that want to work with you, especially when you're popping off and have all these eyeballs on you. And Oni Studios allow me to execute sponsorships almost effortlessly."

Oni Studios will soon open an incubator program housed in a 30,000 square-foot gaming and production facility in Cedar Park.
Oni Studios will soon open an incubator program housed in a 30,000 square-foot gaming and production facility in Cedar Park.

Hassan, who plans to be heavily involved in the company as both a creator and in giving input, said Oni Studios will be set apart from other similar ventures because it's content creator-driven.

"it's not some third party coming in. It's a content creator who knows what a creator needs," he said. "People have been working with me on the inside for a very long time and understand the process."

The production studio will take a portion of revenue generated by the content creators it signs to recoup production costs, and will receive a share of profit from videos produced, according to the studio. The studio also plans to generate revenue through consulting work and supporting established digital stars through video strategy, physical production and talent development. The studio space will also be available to rent by other production companies or content creators.

Hassan grew up in Austin, and said he expects Oni Studios will help the area attract more talent in the digital content space.

"Austin is a huge creator space," he said, "and planting this flag with the facility is really going to get a lot of creators' eyes on it."

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Content creators can learn skills from streamer SypherPK at new studio

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