Did you ever wish as a child that you were part of your favorite comic book; that you were a character in the cartoon series you avidly followed on television?
Did you ever imagine that one day it would be possible to do so?
Animation helped bring our heroes and their adventures to life, but we always hoped for just that personal interaction with our favorite shows.
Over the years, technology has advanced and so have modes of entertainment. From just sitting in front of the TV screen to being active participants, animation in VR is helping bridge that gap.
What exactly is VR animation, and how is it different from conventional animation?
Simply put, VR animation creates a simulated environment and places the user inside an experience.
This means animators must now stage animation to help their audience step inside and move through the story. However, VR gives people the choice to look around at any angle. Which means, the usual editing of linear narratives and cinematography is gone.
In animation for VR, content makers have to stop thinking about animating from locked off camera angles and shots, and instead consider multiple vantage points that keep changing, just like in the real world.
VR animators feel the challenge and are, of course, delighted.
Jake Rowell, creative director projects for VR studio Wevr explains it well in an interview with Cartoon Brew when he says that, “The biggest difference between VR and linear projects is that you are putting yourself inside the experience and looking at the animation with this new perspective. This participation gives you a lot to think about and react to with regards to scale and speed of movement relative to the players’ size.”
While large scale VR experiences will need such an approach, for smaller VR experiences (like when the user is seated, for instance) a linear approach could work without you having to deliver top-notch animation for all angles.
How will VR impact the future of animation?
Since the user operates the camera in VR animation, animators will need to direct the user, account for various audience members, anticipate their perspective, and direct where users would look. According to experts, this is crucial to avoid confusion among users as to where they should look, and that means animators must collaborate with lighting, sound, and layout teams in animation for VR.
Here are three ways virtual reality will change how people interact with the world of animation.
• Increased emotional attachment – Stories invoke in us feelings of sadness, happiness or anger. With VR animation, these feelings are going to be further enriched because of the audio-visual immersion that comes with the feeling of playing an active part in the story.
• Experiencing animation as an interactive medium – Imagine going from wanting to watch a story, to actually playing a role in it. Or watching a favorite hero playing a game, to being the hero in the game; VR animation will help the audience cross over to their favorite imaginary worlds effortlessly.
• Improved visuals – Even though there have been plenty of 3D movie releases, theatres with their less-than-optimum projection setups were not geared fully to take advantage of the 3rd dimension. With the advancement and improvement in technology, VR helps bridge this gap and gives the user a completely different visual experience that is more hands-on and way more interactive than current modes of entertainment.
Virtual Reality in a new COVID-19 world
Countries around the world are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lockdowns have hit the conventional work environments in a big way. The very idea of how organizations and their staff must work together is evolving quickly. Enterprises are collaborating using video-conferencing platforms, besides the many talking and texting applications.
It won’t be wrong to say that despite these tiring and testing times, the virtual and digital worlds have actually gotten a lift. The greatest advantage of the VR medium is its ability to make people experience the same space together, without the need for them to physically travel thus, resulting in reduced travel costs, reduced absenteeism, and improved efficiency.
It is not surprising that some companies have, in light of the current COVID – 19 crisis, started looking at virtual reality as a viable option that will redefine how people work together in the future.
SPACES is one such new PC VR app. It enables its users to join video calls from within VR. It is being marketed as a “bridge between a VR world and Zoom, Skype, Hangouts and more.” The app aims to help colleagues, friends, and family stay connected without breaking any of the new social distancing norms.
Virtual reality might turn out to be one of the most effective and compelling communication and collaboration tools in the near future. Animation in VR will, therefore, take prominence in a world where technology and new, immersive experiences take center stage.
If you are looking for a partner for VR animation, consider Toolbox Studio. We undertake end-to-end VR projects and our experts would be happy to understand and deliver on your requirements.