Pixar Director Sees Rich Narrative Future for 3D Animation

clock June 24, 2015 21:50 by author christpaul

John Lasseter is an infamous name in the field of 3D animation, as he is the director of the Pixar animated masterpieces ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Toy Story 2’. Thus, when he offers his views on the future of 3D animation it is certainly worth paying attention.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Lasseter has presided over a revolution in filmmaking: as a director he has played his part in reasserting the fundamentals, no less, of the art of film itself. And as creative head, of Pixar then Disney (since 2006), he has reinvigorated the stale, corporate, executive-laden world of children’s entertainment.

While 3D animation is often emphasised as being a state of the art medium, Lasseter sees things differently. He suggest that 3D is just a new tool that the filmmaker has to help tell a story. In this sense, the Pixar legend just sees the technology becoming the mainstream of filmmaking, rather than a niche element of the industry.

Every technology that comes into filmmaking is first a gimmick. Think about sound with “The Jazz Singer” or the first colour or surround sound – it takes a while for filmmakers to understand how to use it. Most of the time, when people think about 3D, it is with images ‘coming out of the screen’ at the viewer.


But these are just the early days of 3D, and Lassiter believes that as people understand the technology even better than we do at the moment, that it will evolve rapidly.

There is certainly pressure on Pixar to produce something outstanding owing to its position in the industry. Pixar has become such a dominant name that it is literally synonymous with it. And under the circumstances, the billion dollar company which Pixar has become ensures that the industry constantly looks to the company for innovation.

But according to the comments of Lassiter, Pixar sees the future of the industry as involving 3D animation becoming a mature form of storytelling. Perhaps at times elements of 3D animation can still be gimmicky, but this pioneer of the industry has no doubt that this will not remain the case indefinitely. This is a medium which has huge potential to usurp existing forms of filmmaking and deliver an entirely new, more profound experience.

Considering the success of its biggest movies, there's absolutely no doubt that Pixar will play a central role in this, and don't bet against Lassiter himself producing another 3D animation classic.

Natural Front Intuitive Pro - Next Edition Taking Shape

clock June 22, 2015 12:43 by author christpaul

Here at Natural Front we are continually working at improving our software, and we expect to have some exciting announcements in the near future regarding our proprietary Intuitive Pro package. Our experienced team of engineers and animators has been working behind the scenes in order to improve our already outstanding animation software, and we anticipate that it will only be weeks until we can announce the latest improvements to the 3D animation package.

This is always an exciting time for everyone at Natural Front, and we are certainly enjoying putting the finishing touches to our latest product. But we always like to remind people at this time that feedback from our customers is particularly important to us. Natural Front and the Intuitive Pro software package have been built on the principle of a constant two-way feedback loop, with the software always treated as a beta build that is being continually updated.

So as much as we are looking forward to releasing our latest version of Natural Front Intuitive Pro, we're also looking forward to hearing from our extremely valued customers regarding their perspectives on the software.

One particularly exciting aspect of the new Natural Front software is the possibility that it offers related to video games. We are currently in the process of developing a plug-in for an extremely popular game engine, which will provide Natural Front users with even greater convenience. There is, of course, an extremely strong relationship between video games and 3D animation, and we're looking to develop and grow this aspect of the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software in the coming years.

We're also pleased to announce that the United States Patents and Trademark Office has just granted us another patent, and we will be utilising the underlying technology related to this in our new release. We can't say too much about this latest innovation at this point in time, but we are extremely confident that it will be something our customers simply love using.

So we're all hyped for this latest Natural Front Intuitive Pro release, and anticipate being able to release some more explicit information to customers in the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can rest assured that we're working extremely hard to develop the software, and that we have taken on board all the comments that we have recently received from our customers. In the meantime, we hope you're enjoying using the existing version of Natural Front Intuitive Pro, and we look forward to hearing more feedback from our valued professional animators in due course.

New Report Predicts 18% YOY Animation Growth

clock June 18, 2015 21:00 by author christpaul

A recently published report on the future of 3D animation predicts that the industry will achieve an average growth rate of 18% between now and the end of the decade. The Global 3D Animation Software Market 2015-2019 research report highlights Adobe Systems Inc., Autodesk Inc., Corel Corp., Electric Image and Maxon as key players in the industry in the coming years, and emphasises a major role to be played by an increasing number of small animation studios.

The research of the report analyses over 60 countries in depth, as well as looking at the overall state of the global industry. Animation has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the last couple of decades, and 3D animation unquestionably plays a central part in this success story. As 3D animation has become more technically possible, so it has become the primary form of animation in the cinematic industry in particular.

Although the state of the industry is already in extremely rude health, the report in question suggests that the recent gains that 3D animation has made are set to increase in the coming years. And it will be technological innovations that will play a major part in this seismic growth.

For example, emerging technologies like photorealistic tools and toon-shading will trigger the use of hybrid animation, thus enhancing overall picture and visual effects. This technology is already widely used in computer games, as it retains the 2D appearance of animation, despite the inclusion of 3D technology.

Another major source of growth in the 3D animation industry will be video games. The gaming industry is already a huge utiliser of 3D animation techniques, but this is expected to expand rapidly once virtual reality technology becomes cemented in the industry. With Project Morpheus, Cculus Rift and Hololens all nearing completion, this is expected to be sooner rather than later, and could lead to a massive boost in the 3D animation marketplace.

However, the industry also faces challenges. Piracy and the availability of open-source 3D animation software will pose challenges for established market players. However, the increasingly diverse and geographically expanded commercial 3D animation marketplace, along with a more professional aspect to many areas of the sector, will ensure that the industry continues to grow significantly.

As Natural Front and its Intuitive Pro software continue to develop, evolve and grow, the company intends to play a massive part in this industry in the coming years. With 3D animation increasingly playing a role in a vast range of industries including architecture, building and construction, academia and education, defense and intelligence, healthcare and life sciences, manufacturing and design, the future looks extremely rosy for the Intuitive Pro 3D animation package offered by Natural Front.

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.

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