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.



Bournemouth University Pioneers 3D Animation Courses for Budding Animators

clock April 10, 2014 13:57 by author christpaul

In a world in which the 3D animation industry makes billions of dollars for some of the most prominent companies in the world, it’s hardly surprising that young people are looking to get into the animation industry as a sensible career move.

Thus, adolescents are increasingly seeking a way to get a foot in the door in the world of animation, and studying the subject, particularly 3D animation and visual effects, is proving to be a common approach to breaking into this exciting and profitable industry.

Within the field of 3D animation, the British university of Bournemouth has marked itself out as a leader in educating students in its critical aspects. The university has been very much a pioneer in running courses in 3D animation and particularly 3D animation, and with its alumni working on blockbusters like Avatar and Gravity, Bournemouth University is very much a force to be reckoned with.

As a result of the success of its most prominent graduates, Bournemouth University has gained a reputation as one of the best centres in the UK for anyone wanting to get into VFX and 3D animation, whether graduates wish to go on to work in fields of cinema, animation or video games. Increasingly there is a lot of overlap between these areas, as video games become more cinematic and both animated and live action movies attempt to attract gamers through their doors.

 

Graduates from Bournemouth have recently worked on the sci-fi blockbuster, and hugely acclaimed movie ‘Gravity’, while more than 50 graduates and former Bournemouth University academics worked on the Oscar-winning visual effects for Avatar. Elsewhere, other Bournemouth graduates have gone on to work within the animation studios of Disney and Pixar, and a plethora of students have secured positions within the flourishing British video games industry.

While traditional educational paths are still open to students, and still perfectly valid, the rich cultural society which exists today has naturally led to large numbers of young people wanting to work within creative industries. Young people today grown up in an environment in which they have never had more choice regarding entertainment, and many are inspired by popular 3D animation and 3D animated video games to want to work in this field to help play their part in creating the next generation of masterpieces.

In a world in which the animation industry is worth billions of dollars, universities and colleges are increasingly offering students an opportunity to study with a view to a career in 3D animation. As 3D technology becomes more sophisticated in the coming years, it seems highly likely that this will become ever more popular in the coming years.



Disney's 'Frozen' Continues to Smash Animation Records

clock March 6, 2014 11:26 by author christpaul

The 86th Oscar ceremony just took place, with many famous faces and films getting the usual attention, but there was also a raft of animated movies competing to pick up a covered Academy Award. However, despite stiff competition there was only one likely winner this year.

Disney’s ‘Frozen’ has been something of a phenomenon, overshadowing all other releases in the animation field this year. The 3D animated picture which which features the voices of Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, is already the highest-grossing animated non-sequel in history, but is set to go beyond that and become the most commercially successful animated movie of all-time in due course.

‘Frozen’ crossed the $1-billion mark over the weekend, and should soon become the most successful animated feature of all-time; no mean feat given the surge in popularity of 3D animation in particular in the last few years. Ticket sales for the winner of the ‘Best Animated Feature’ at the Oscars reached a staggering $388.8 million in North America alone over the last week, with an additional $611.5 million having been gleaned from all the other territories in the world combined. It is only a truly special movie that rakes in over $1 billion at the box office whether animated or otherwise; by point of comparison, the biggest movie in North America of 2013, ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’, failed to break trhough the magic $1 billion figure.

 

Despite the fact that it was released some months ago, ‘Frozen’ continues to be shown in movie theatres worldwide, with the popularity of the animated film apparently knowing no bounds. Thus, ‘Frozen’ can expect to rack up quite a few more dollars for Disney yet. And with one more opening in Japan still to take place in the next seven days, Frozen is closing in on the record set by the Pixar animation 'Toy Story 3', which grossed $1.06 billion dollars when it was released just four years ago.

The success of ‘Frozen’, both critically and commercially, is indicative of a changing movie landscape in which mature 3D animations can attract as much of an adult audience as live action films. While there is a natural conservatism among older audience to animation, younger generations that have grown up with shows such as ‘The Simpsons’, ‘South Park’ and ‘Family Guy’ simply consider animation to be an absolutely viable art form.

The success of ‘Frozen’ has been a massive coup for Disney as the legendary animation studio continues to add to its already mammoth reputation.



Frozen could be the most advanced 3D animated movie ever

clock December 11, 2013 19:52 by author christpaul

3D animation has once again been in the news in the last few days with the release of Disney’s ‘Frozen’. The legendary animation studio has high hopes for this movie which is based on the story of The Snow Queen.

The early indications regarding this charming 3D animated movie is that it has been received particularly well, with critical acclaim being heaped on the film almost universally, as well as the box office figures being highly encouraging for Disney.

Disney will be very pleased that ‘Frozen’ has been released to a great deal of box office support. In the United States, it instantly replaced ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ as the top movie in its native country, while the movie has jumped straight to number one in the UK box office as well. The 3D animation had impressive takings of £4.7m in its opening week, easing the dystopian sci-fi epic Fire’ down the list in Britain as well.

‘Frozen’ is classic Disney. It is funny, festive and ideal for all the family to watch together. It contains enough material for adults to find it an enjoyable movie, yet it contains the sort of cute and adorable animation that kids love.

Critics have particularly acclaimed the animation in ‘Frozen’ as some of the best examples of 3D animation that we have yet to see in the genre. Some of the scenes have been described as “jaw dropping”, and it has been seriously suggested that the movie has raised the bar of what can be achieved by 3D animation.

This is no mean feat given what has come before, yet many are asserting that ‘Frozen’ blows past 3D animated feature films out of the river. The ice formations, snowstorms and giant waves are brilliantly animated on the one hand provide a spectacular backdrop for the movie, but the character animation has drawn particular praise as well.

 

This just underlines the importance of character animation in even the biggest animated productions. Creating absorbing and convincingly animated characters is the key to sucking people in to any animated film, no matter how long or short, and whatever its budget may be.

It is ideal then that Natural Front’s technology is particularly aimed at creating absorbing and attractive character models. Our curved-controlled modelling is particularly adept at creating facial features which draw you into an animation, and we do it at a price that doesn’t require the sort of budget that Disney has access to. 

We’re all about user input at Natural Front as well, as we constantly seek suggestions from professional animators regarding how to improve our software. It has benefitted greatly from this thus far, and we’re sure any professional animator will be impressed by what our unique and intuitive software can do.



The Key Landmark in 3D Character Animation

clock November 25, 2013 11:20 by author christpaul

3D animation has become one of the most popular cinematic genres in the world in an incredibly short period of time. It is difficult to think of such a meteoric rise in popularity of a singular genre, but this description of the ascent in prominence of 3D animation would be entirely appropriate. It is less than twenty years ago that this approach to animation first really reaches a mass market, when Disney’s ‘Toy Story’ made over ten times its budget. This was the beginning of an industry that was to become a billion dollar success story.

Disney, a corporation naturally associated with its classic 2D animated films, did produce more two-dimensional animated movies after ‘Toy Story, and some of them such as ‘Pocahontas’ reached an audience and remain well-known. But there is no doubt that today the sole focus of animation, in the cinema at least, is on the 3D genre. 3D animation has quite simply become the industry standard, a global industry which was worth over $200 billion in 2012.

Of course, while this new commercially successful genre is viewed as a massive opportunity by major players such as Dreamworks and Disney themselves, there is no doubt that 3D animation also poses problems as well as prospects. The main issue which professional animators have with 3D animation is that it is more demanding in every respect. It costs more, it takes more time, it requires more skill from animators, and it is considerably more labour intensive, despite the assistance provided by computers.

Thus, although 3D modelling techniques can achieve incredible lifelike results, this comes at a cost. It costs time, it costs money, and it costs human endeavour. This is where Natural Front comes in. Natural Front offers powerful 3D modelling technology, which will appeal to professional animators as it is capable of producing the highest quality results. But it also encompasses unique and radical technology which can help save professional animators a hell of a lot of time and effort when crafting their creations.

The approach of Natural Front to 3D character animation is extremely innovative, but also intuitive to ensure that those who are working with it for the first time can pick up its powerful features quickly. Natural Front includes a brand new technique called curved controlled modelling, which allows professional animators to negate such time consuming techniques as 3D rigging, morphing targets, and blending shapes.

Natural Front delivers a package that is particularly adept at producing high-quality facial animations; a particularly expensive and involving, yet important, part of 3D animation. Natural Front will enable you to produce the highest quality of facial animations, yet also makes the process far easier for professional animators. It really is an excellent piece of software, and one that won’t make too big a dent in your wallet.

So why not check out what Natural Front can do for you today?



Hugely successful 3D animation Monsters University gets home release

clock November 10, 2013 14:41 by author christpaul

One of the most beloved 3D animated movies in the history of the genre has recently made its way to Blu-ray. Monsters University, one of the iconic Disney corporation’s biggest hits and most loved movies has recently seen a release on both high-definition Blu-ray and the more populist DVD format.

Directed by the veteran Pixar operator, Dan Scanlon, Monsters University did extremely well for Disney, making nearly $275 million in the United States, and close to $750 million in worldwide box office grossing since its release in June. It is thought that DVD sales could push the overall money made by this 3D animation over the magical $1 billion threshold.

A prequel to some of the previously released Monsters movies, at least in terms of the films’ timeline, Monsters University attracted some of the most renowned vocal talent in the movie business to voice the adorable three-dimensional characters who appear in the film. Thus, in the course of watching Monsters University we hear from the likes of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Dave Foley, Julia Sweeney, Joel Murray and Peter Sohn.

This particular DVD release has been particularly praised for the extent of bonus material which comes on the disc. This is of particular interest with regard to animated movies, as people are generally fascinated by how the 3D animation process is achieved. The Monsters University release contains a great deal of material looking at the animation process, and really casting a spotlight on all the hard work that goes on beyond the scenes of such a movie to bring the characters to life via 3D animation.

 

Of course, any 3D animated movie is hugely reliant on the quality of the animation techniques that go into its production. And any professional animator will tell you that producing convincing character animations, particularly facial animations, is an extremely challenging process. Not merely is it extremely demanding for animators to produce detailed 3D animated characters, but the expense to the production can also sometimes be prohibitive.

There are no such concerns with Natural Front, because ethos behind the software from day one was to create a 3D animation system that delivers both high-quality 3D facial and character animations at a price point that doesn’t exclude small or medium-sized enterprises. We believe we have achieved this, and the instigation of such innovative technology as curved controlled modelling has also enabled us to make the animation process much easier.

With Natural Front, creating absorbing 3D characters such as those featured in Monsters University becomes much easier and more affordable. It is a very powerful implement in the right professional animator’s hands.



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