Disney Utilizes 3D Animation to Bring Robots to Life

clock June 17, 2015 20:45 by author christpaul

To this day, animation is massively associated with Disney, and the corporation is continually trying to pushback the boundaries of what is possible. Disney has played a major role in the popularisation of 3D animation, and now it is looking to implement robotics at its Disney World locations.

Thus, the next time you see your favorite characters walking around Disney World, they might not be actors inside suits, but could be automated robots, instead. The scientific arm of the Disney corporation has recently made a massive breakthrough which will enable it to bring its animated characters to life in a unique way.

Engineers affiliated with the Disney research department in Pittsburgh were able to create a bipedal, walking robot, which was created in a way similar to 3D animation. Indeed, Disney built on typical 3D animation techniques in order to construct this robotic official intelligence.

Contemporary CGI animation studios are able to create different walks for every single character which appears on screen. Effectively, is this the way that animated characters develop particular traits and personality. Extremely complex animations can be applied to characters in order to give them a distinctive flavour.

This is now being transferred and personified into a walking robot, with researchers at Disney focusing on the physical aspect of 3D animation in order to transmit this to the AI robots. Co-author of the research, Katsu Yamane, stated that the researchers focused on the robot's saunter because, "walking is where physics matter the most. If we can find a way to make the lower half work, we can use the exact same procedure for the upper body.”

Recreating the animated walk wasn't without its difficulties. Among the problems encountered, were physical constraints of the robotic legs. The team had to design the legs to fit within the 3D animated character's form. Additionally, the engineers had to make compromises when it came to creating the ankles. Each animated ankle had nine degrees of freedom which couldn't be re-created physically without the robot falling down, so the same motion was achieved by adding additional motion in the hips and knees.

Disney is now working on implementing this on a wider scale, and this could have hugely positive implications for the corporation. Considering all of the huge amount of Frozen toys, for example, that Disney has sold, being able to create interactive robotic versions of these characters are genuinely convincing could be a positive breakthrough for Disney. 

Once more this an example of 3D animation opening up new avenues and commercial opportunities for a massive company and industry.

Becoming a Professional Animator with Natural Front

clock May 19, 2015 21:16 by author christpaul

Becoming a 3D animator is a goal for many people who fall in love with the art form. But becoming a successful 3D animator requires a huge amount of perseverance, patience and dedication. Even though outstanding software packages such as Natural Front are making 3D animation much easier for professional animators, to reach the level required in order to produce this quality of work certainly takes some investment of time and effort.

Ultimately, any goal which is worthwhile in this life requires a significant apprenticeship, and 3D animation should be considered no different to this. But the incentives for achieving competence and excellence in 3D animation are multifarious, and perhaps the most obvious of all is that high-quality 3D animators are the most highly sought-after artists in the world.


The underlying reasons for this are extremely straightforward. Producing quality 3D animation is difficult, even with the best tools in the world at your disposal. The great thing about Natural Front is that it makes what is otherwise an extremely laborious and challenging process considerably easier for everyday animators. Once you have done your apprenticeship and learned the tools of the trade, Natural Front can help you take your animation to the next level very rapidly.

Making animation that is believable and entertaining requires a lot of skill and practice. But any animator with his or her salt will tell you that if you invest enough time in the practice that the ultimate rewards, in terms of both what you achieve and the sense of achievement itself, completely outweigh the initial investment.

Keen observation may be the most important skill to develop as an animator. Observe life around you, and how things move. Make sketches, take notes, and try to give meaning to what you observe. Don't study just animation. Learn from film, theatre, and even comic books to understand how poses and movement create moods and nonverbally communicate messages.

And remember not to ditch the classics. Animation has changed significantly, and 3D animation has obviously become the dominant form of animation. But that doesn't mean that the traditional 2D animators should be confined to the garbage can of history. It is valuable to pay attention to such great as Walt Disney and Hanna-Barbera, and doing so can very much aid your own 3D animation work.

The bottom line with 3D animation is that nothing worth doing comes easy, but if you can invest enough time in it then a piece of software such as Natural Front can ensure that the 3D animation process is made as smooth and absorbing as possible for those who have mastered their craft.

3D Animation Brings Bach Composition to Life

clock May 19, 2015 20:07 by author christpaul

3D animation is increasingly finding itself being utilised in unusual areas, but rarely is it used to bring to work the life of a composer who died over 200 years ago.

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. Bach is one of the most renowned classical composers in human history, and his work has lived on for generations of music lovers to admire and enjoy.

Recently, visual artist Alan Warburton used CGI neon lights to create a haunting animation inspired by Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s recording of Bach’s masterpiece. The result is mesmerising. The animation took ten weeks to complete and involved creating 3D light models that responded to every note Aimard played.


This is a particularly innovative use of 3D lighting models to create a unique 3D animation. While there is nothing unusual about placing animation as a juxtaposition to music, achieving this absorbing effect in this innovative manner takes a certain amount of imagination and invention.

One should also appreciate the amount of effort that went into this particular production. Each frame took 15 minutes to create because of the thousands of calculations that had to be made to make the setting look life-like. But the final result achieved by this unique 3D animation was such as to make the process entirely worthwhile.

It would be natural to wonder why Warburton went to such lengths to acknowledge the music of Bach. The answer is that the video was commissioned by Sinfini Music to celebrate the launch of Aimard’s new recording of J.S. Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier on Deutsche Grammophon. Warburton apparently realised early on in the project that it was essential to keep the 3D animation involved as simple as possible in a physical sense, in order to ensure that viewers can concentrate fully on the musical compositions.

However, just because the final product was relatively simple, it does not mean that the 3D animation techniques involved were the same. This was an incredibly labourious process which could only be completed as a labour of love by someone who is incredibly passionate about 3D animation.

Bach's keyboard masterpiece, also called 'The 48' includes Preludes and Fugues in all 24 of the major and minor keys. Bach published Book I of the work in 1722 and Book II in 1742. The piece is one of the monoliths of the piano repertoire. The work was first recorded in the 1930s by Edwin Fischer and has since been released by composers ranging from Glenn Gould to Angela Hewitt. 

Meanwhile, 3D animation continues to breakthrough new boundaries and achieve exciting, pioneering effects and collaborations.

Wearables, Salvador Dali and the Future of 3D Animation

clock May 3, 2015 22:31 by author christpaul

The recent release of the Apple Watch will ensure that wearable technology becomes a very big deal in the near future. Whenever Apple releases a new consumer electronics device, one can be certain that the entire niche related to it will get a massive boost. So although wearables have yet to become a mainstream niche, we can certainly expect this to happen in the foreseeable future.

With this in mind, it is interesting to note that Vulcan Jewelry-founder Desmond Chan has recently created a collection of 3D printed wearables. If this sounds like a surreal concept, then it is perhaps appropriate, as it was apparently inspired by the surrealist master himself, Salvador Dali. The line of wearable art, titled the Tree in Cross collection, plays with the concepts of contradiction, illusion, floating objects and the stuff of dreams so often found in Dali’s work. 


The whole collection was sculpted using Autodesk Maya, which Chan prefers since it supports polygon modeling, and then 3D printed in sterling silver with white rhodium plating. Chan considers 3D printing a brilliant technology for producing a unique product based on my original concepts. Some of the ideas can be hard or expensive to achieve when it comes to traditional product development and 3D printing can also be integrated into on-demand production pipelines to reduce inventory costs.

There is already a well-established link between 3D printing and 3D animation, and this already symbiotic relationship is set to be extended further with the advancement of wearable technology. 3D animation has a definitive role to play within this particular niche, and the popularisation of wearable technology as a viable mobile niche will only advance this further still.

The combination of 3D printing, wearable technology, 3D animation and the development of 3D cinematic and televisual technology indicates a very bright future for 3D animation as a niche. 3D is becoming an absolute buzzword in numerous connected industries, as not only does this provide potential for 3D animation as an innovative technology, but it has also led to individuals working with 3D animation who would never have considered it previously.

In terms of the design process, Chan’s inspiration comes from everywhere, from Modern Art to things he sees on the street. “I love to mix new technology with art to create another form with a new definition,” he has stated. It is innovators such as Chan who will play a big role in the development of 3D animation as it continues to expand, diversify and grow in commercial importance.

Windows 10 to Embrace 3D Animated Tiles

clock April 28, 2015 06:59 by author christpaul

As Microsoft attempts to resurrect the image of its flagship Windows operating system, the corporation has interestingly decided to include 3D animation as part of this process.

One of the most notable new aspects of the Windows 10 operating system will be 3D live tiles. This feature has been leaked ahead of the release of the operating system later this year. Tiles have previously been criticised for being slightly dull in the technical preview of Windows 10, but this new setup utilising 3D animation is intended to make the appearance of the software more attractive.


This latest version of the Windows 10 operating system is intended to work across multiple devices. Therefore, with Windows 10 desktop and mobile being effectively the same OS, it is expected that this 3D animated tile system will show up on mobile platforms eventually. This new 3D animated approach appears to be a further move away from the original bland starkness of Metro to something  a little more lively.

Windows has, of course, been the market-leading operating system for many years, with Microsoft having developed something of a blanket control over the OS marketplace. But in recent years, Windows has been increasingly challenged by the prevalence of mobile as an important competing platform, and the runaway success of Apple, which is eating into its dominant market share.

Nonetheless, Windows is still installed in 88% of desktop computers in the world, and despite a disastrous Windows 8 release, Microsoft predicts that this latest and greatest version of the operating system will reinstall the reputation and prevalence of Windows.

The fact that Microsoft has turned to 3D animation to spruce up this critical piece of software is indicative of the importance of the genre. Although truly immersive 3D has yet to really emerge as a mainstream technology, it is still predicted that this will occur in the near future. Certainly the cinema industry is heavily invested in this prognostication, and it is expected that once 3D film can be delivered without audiences needing to wear glasses, that it will begin to make a serious impact. 

For the time being, 3D animation remains one of the most immersive ways to deliver a 3D experience in both computing and cinema. This is probably one of the foremost underlying reasons for the success of 3D animation commercially, and the decision of Microsoft indicates that this will not change in the foreseeable future.

3D Animation Providing Healthcare Solutions for Patients

clock April 9, 2015 10:10 by author christpaul

3D animation has provided an array of fascinating and valuable uses. But one of the most interesting and potentially life-changing implications of 3D animation is the ability of the technology to aid in medical care. Visual representations of the human body presented through such technology as magnetic resonance imaging have been extremely useful to surgeons, but now 3D animation promises to provide an entirely new perspective on human health.

One of the best ways that 3D animation is beginning to help patients is in communicating information. This may seem an obtuse concept at first, but when one considers the advantages of 3D animation over traditional communication, it becomes clear that it is actually an extremely useful technology.

Authoritative medical studies already indicate that explaining medical concepts via 3D animation is significantly more effective than doing so via text or 2-D representations. Animation can provide insight into a certain topic or concept which it is impossible to convey via 2-D illustration and words alone; particularly for someone with little or no medical understanding.

The idea of captivating through multisensory learning inspired Matthew Berry and his father Robert - two practicing orthopedic surgeons - to develop 3D animations that could better relay diagnostic details and treatment processes, including surgical procedures, to patients. This father and son combination both worked for the private health company Orca Health, and as a result of their work, the SpineDecide app was successfully released in 2010. Today, this unique 3D animation package offers 11 apps with content that covers diagnosis and treatment information in orthopaedics, cardiology, ophthalmology, and otolaryngology.

The proliferation of mobile devices across the planet is now ensuring that such technology can become extremely relevant for people of all ages, and from all four corners of the planet. The rapid adoption of mobile technology in developing economies, and even the Third World ensures, that the sort of healthcare technology developed by the Berry family can have a positive impact on public health in even the poorest communities. This will only expand further in the future as mobile technology becomes more affordable in non-Western regions of the world.

Providing information via 3D animation has already been shown to be statistically superior to previous approaches. According to reports from Orca Health, surgical retention rates have increased by over 50% since they began to use this specialised application. Additionally, patient satisfaction is increasing at a similar rate the among the 62,000 medical providers that Orca Health represents.

A future in which 3D animation is a central part of a visit to a general practitioner is just around the corner. This will further cement the role of 3D animation in our everyday lives.

Santa Clara Conference Suggests Virtual Reality Future for 3D Animation

clock April 5, 2015 08:13 by author christpaul

While virtual reality has been predicted for many years, the reality of this technology being part of everyday life is only now being realised. 3D animation can actually play a massive part in this emerging technology, as the virtual worlds that people will be presented with will be very much based around a 3D animation model.

Already there have been augmented reality devices released on the market. For example, Google's Glass has not been hugely commercially successful, and for the time being the technology giant has removed the product from the market. But in the long-term, Google still believes in the Glass concept, and it is thought that more retail value and investment will eventually be committed to this augmented reality technology.

The promise of virtual worlds comes with some forthcoming virtual reality technology. The Oculus Rift project and the Project Morpheus device being produced for PCs and the Sony PlayStation 4 video games console respectively, both promise to take users into a virtual world. 3D animation will play a central role in the rise of virtual reality technology, and it could be that in the near future people are experiencing a 3D animated parallel universe on a regular basis.

The 2015 Wearables TechCon in Santa Clara featured much more than just well known fitness sensors. It also had headsets, tracking sensors and artificial intelligence technology apps for virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. Whereas virtual reality was once consisted of 3D digital replicas of real landscapes or environments created with animation toolsets, today 3D animation is providing an exciting new template for this technology and technique.

It is notable that several companies presented both virtual reality and augmented reality headsets at this event in Santa Clara. The sophisticated nature of contemporary 3D animation ensures that the three-dimensional worlds that people are sucked into by this new technology will be extremely absorbing. It is already predicted that Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus will play a significant role in regenerating a video games industry which has struggled to produce jaw-dropping games in recent years.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for 3D animation in virtual reality. Microsoft’s HoloLens appears to be a work in progress, but the company is investing heavily in it. Handheld displays can also show AR — iPads can be held up to render animated real-world overlays such as the popular Zombies! apps, or can show pictures of tools and instructions to a BMW mechanic.

While virtual reality has yet to install itself in our homes, it looks increasingly likely that this process will begin to occur in the next few years. By 2020, it is predicted that virtuality reality could be commonplace in our lives, and it seems certain that 3D animations will be a huge component of this.

Spongebob Squarepants Movie is Latest 3D Animation Outing

clock April 4, 2015 09:41 by author christpaul

Full-length versions of television series are big money spinners for filmmakers in general, and nowhere is this more true than in the field of animation. It is a natural move for popular television series to be converted to the silver screen, and such luminaries of TV animation as The Simpsons, South Park and Beavis & Butthead have already received this treatment over the last decade or so.

The latest small screen success story to be converted to a fully-fledged cinematic animation is SpongeBob Squarepants. This anarchic children's programme has already received a massive following all over the world, and perhaps part of its success has been due to the fact that it translates so well into several cultures.

SpongeBob Squarepants also follows the basic template for success in children's animation; there is plenty here for adults to enjoy as well. Many people consider this to be an adult series, with writing which often goes well over the head of its largely child-based audience. This means that there is something for all of the family to enjoy in this movie, and pretty much ensures that it will be another massive commercial success.

This is SpongeBob's second outing on the big screen, and this time the filmmakers employ some glorious new 3D animation to give the sponge a little twist. It is interesting that what is essentially a 2D animation on television has been converted in this way, and it shows the power of 3D animation in contemporary cinema.


The film starts off as most episodes of the TV series do, in the underwater town of Bikini Bottom, where SpongeBob Squarepants has a job at the Krabby Shack working with cashier Squidward. The plot as it is focuses around a rival restaurant owner who attempts to undermine our aquatic hero. And on this occasion his actions end up with SpongeBob certainly being a sponge out of water.

Screenplay writers Glen Berger and Jonathan Aibel - the writing team behind the Kung-Fu Panda movies - offer a fresh take on the Spongebob universe, and overall this is one 3D animation which is expected to be an overwhelming commercial success.

As 3D animation becomes more ubiquitous in the cinema, the number of people moving into this genre ensures that the future of 3D animation is extremely rosy. Natural Front intends to play a significant role in the development of 3D animation by continually refining our already renowned Intuitive Pro animation software.

University of Maine at Farmington to Offer 3D Animation Course

clock March 14, 2015 16:51 by author christpaul

As 3D animation continues its inexorable rise worldwide, another educational institution is offering a valuable opportunity for students to gain a grounding in the subject. It seems that the University of Maine at Farmington will be offering a 3D animation course in May, thanks to the efforts of a local entrepreneur.

Steve Milligan of Sidney will be teaching "Introduction to 3D Animation," which will use industry-standard systems and programs to introduce students to the world of 3D animation. The intention is to use the course to buttress an attempt to establish an animation studio in the local vicinity. If successful, Milligan said, he hopes to continue teaching the course in the fall or spring semester.

Milligan has stated that the course will give students a strong grounding in the fundamental principles of animation, such as how objects and people move, before graduating onto more complex aspects of this diverse subject area.

A graduate of Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, Milligan first became enthralled with 3D animation in 1995, after seeing the movie 'Toy Story.' This film, of course, has inspired so many people down the years, and still stands out as one of the most absorbing and successful examples of 3D animation on the silver screen.

The film inspired Milligan to learn the art of animation, despite the fact that he was never a particularly talented two-dimensional artist. But Milligan began following 3D animation work in the media and Internet, using an old copy of animation software and a lot of trial and error to begin modelling objects.

Soon he was a successful freelancer, and as his career has since built up with a variety of different successful jobs. At this time, Milligan began to fantasise about opening a local 3D studio in Maine. After negotiations with the local university, this course is an attempt to establish such a studio with nationwide prominence in the New England area.

Meanwhile, Milligan continues to build up a freelance portfolio in the hope that this can at some point to be converted into a brick and mortar studio. Milligan hopes that he has laid groundwork that might allow some Maine residents to follow in his footsteps.

With 3D animation being a multi-billion-dollar enterprise worldwide, there is no doubt that an increasing number of educational establishments will offer courses in the subject in the future. 3D animation is certainly here to stay, and more and more people now view this entertaining aspect of the arts as a viable career path.

Freeze 3D Animation Combines 3D Printing and Sculpture

clock March 12, 2015 13:00 by author christpaul

A state-of-the-art technique which keeps creeping into the world of 3D animation is 3D printing. Many predictions have been made about the capabilities of this technology, and it is already being utilised widely in fields such as architecture. The concept of a completely 3D printed city, full of buildings rendered via the technology, may seem fanciful, but already experts in the field believe that this will be possible in the coming decades.

Meanwhile, 3D printing continues to have an influence over animation. New examples of animations being created via 3D printing seem to emerge on an almost weekly basis. And in line with this, a pair of innovative animators have recently produced another striking animation utilising this technique.

The crew at Job, Joris & Marieke, have recently produced an animation entitled “FREEZE!”, Which is based around 100 frames from their looping CGI creation. The pair have effectively recreated an entire digital event in one frozen sculpture. The result is extremely striking, and constitutes an odd looking string of characters presented in a variety of poses.

3D printing may be a remote technology for many people at this point in time, but it is becoming more mainstream on a daily basis. It meshes particularly well with 3D animation, and this latest CGI-based creation very explicitly underlines the principles of animation.


Animations created with 3D printing objects are nothing new, but the ability to create one based on entirely still frames, and then turning that project into a sculpture, is an extremely rare and intriguing concept. Although 3D printing has many practical and utilitarian purposes, it is also worth pointing out that the technology can make a significant contribution to arts and entertainment as well.

The animation in question was produced by the two Dutch artists via the painstaking process of producing 100 separate frames. Using an Ultimaker 2 3D printer and liberal amounts of glue and string, artists Job, Joris and Marieke squeezed all the cells from a short animation into a single mise-en-scene.  

This revolutionary place will be exhibited at Amersfoort's Kunsthal museum on March 29th, where lovers of animation and artwork alike can experience FREEZE at close quarters. This groundbreaking animation is indicative of the extent to which 3D printing is now having an influence on the animation industry. And Natural Front Intuitive Oro offers the opportunity to scan 3D printed objects into its software, in order to create absorbing and spectacular results.

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