Disney’s summer internship program results in a new VR tool aimed at 3D animation.
It’s no secret that Disney is constantly looking for new ways to boost the efficiency of their creators. More importantly, the massive American conglomerate actively fosters creativity within its workplace, regularly experimenting with new technology on potentially groundbreaking projects.
Most recently, the technical team over at Walt Disney Animation Studios developed an amazing new dynamic VR tool that could possibly shift their animation team away from long-established animation techniques towards a more state-of-the-art method that could very well be the future of Disney’s animation tool sets.
Referred to as PoseVR, the unique application lets you animate characters in a VR environment similar to how a stop-motion animator would manipulate a physical puppet, frame-by-frame, to create the scene — only now you are working with a poseable rig inside of VR.
Users put on the VR headset and can immediately reach out, grab the 3D character, and begin manipulating any part of its body by putting it different poses in the virtual environment. And since you are using your hands, the interaction with the model feels much more natural than using a single input device, such as a mouse or stylus. Think of it like playing with playing with a virtual action figure.
Another positive is the isolating VR environment, allowing users to focus on their projects without distractions from the outside.
PoseVR was developed through Disney Studios summer internship project. The team, composed of Jose Gomez, Wayne Unten, and Alberto Abril, and one very lucky summer intern, worked tirelessly with the goal of creating influential new tools that could assist Disney artists in creating brand new content using the limitless possibilities of VR technology.
PoseVR, along with various other tools, such as the VR paint and the animation tool, Quill, was used to produce Disney’s first-ever VR short film, Cycles, which debuted at Siggraph 2018 in Vancouver Canada earlier this year.
In an official video released by Disney, Wayne Unten, an animator for Walt Disney Animation Studios and one of the creators of PoseVR, talked about how the VR tool simple the animation process and allowed animators to worry less about the tech and more about the story, “I’m just moving things, intuitively, and now I’m just thinking about the performance of what does this pose represent.
“I’m just in it, I’m thinking about the performance.”
Disney’s PoseVR isn’t actually the first tool to allow animators the ability to create scenes in VR ( a tool called Tvori has been available since 2016). What sets Disney’s tool apart from Tvori, however, is the fact that PoseVR was built specifically to meet the needs of Disney animators based on direct feedback from the Walt Disney Animation Studios team.
Exciting things are happening at Disney as they continue to innovate AR and VR technology to create new experiences and films. With Disney now in control of successful franchises such as Marvel and Star Wars, hopefully we’ll begin to see these exciting technologies incorporated into some of our favorite films and television programs.
Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios