How to Create Animation in VR

Google has created apps that allow you to animate 3D scenes using virtual reality. See how it works here.

Google's Daydream Lab has found a way to use Virtual Reality (VR) to create 3D animation in a simple and easy way.

The Lab has released tech demo videos of two animation-based apps – Puppeteer and Animator.

They're based on the Google Daydream VR platform, which is scheduled to be released in October to work with Android phones, alongside the Samsung Gear V8.

Puppeteer's tools offer the equivalent of character rigging in a 3D suite like Cinema 4D or Maya. Animator lets you create animation using a smartphone docked into a VR headset and a motion controller.

In the video below you can see people using the controller to pick up objects from a simple palette, move them through space and time, and the scene was recorded and replayed back.

The software records the motion of objects one at a time to build a small scene out of virtual toys.

The remote control has sensors detecting rotation, allowing users to navigate the interface using it as a laser pointer.

Users were also able to experiment with animating joints of a character, such as hands, feet and head with the Puppeteer app. See in action in the video below.

This means animation could be freed up for anyone to use – even in their own living rooms.

Google says the process skipped out lengthy tutorials and people could modify their animations and add characters without additional help. This made the process natural and intuitive.

Animation on VR does away with 2D interface complexity seen in Cinema 4D or Maya.

The software also requires multiple features, such as a render setup and motion graphics, which are best used with a decent hardware system.

No price has been announced yet but Google Daydream isn’t expected to break the bank – it will need to compete with the Samsung Gear VR currently at just £80.

But although VR may prove to be time-saving, it might not be all beneficial to professional animators.

The physical demands of VR are sure to take a toll after a few hours – moving around and looking at a screen inches away will likely hurt the eyes, neck and maybe cause a headache.

There’s also the safety risks of having a headset that blocks vision and sound, and it can cause nausea.

Maybe the most worrying aspect is that there hasn’t been enough study to know the health risks associated with long periods of VR use.

But VR animation could be useful for creating a broad overview of how an animation would play out, comparative to sketching, blocking or storyboarding.

The Google Daydream Animator and Puppeteer are unlikely to replace professional tools, but the possibilities they represent are definitely worth keeping an eye on.

You might also like: Samsung explains why it’s all in on VR and how to create incredible, immersive VR and 360-degree projects.

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