Are Realistic Computer Animations No Longer Impressive?

clock September 26, 2016 09:47 by author EliciaT

 

When early attempts at realistic 3D animation like the 2001 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the 2005 Polar Express, and the Grand Theft Auto and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider series were produced, critics, audiences and gamers were either amazed at their advanced graphics and realism or creeped out because at moments, they fell into the uncanny valley. Now, over 15 years have passed since the earliest renderings of realistic animations were created for full-length films.

Realistic animation has evolved well past the days of the Final Fantasy films and Grand Theft Auto games from years ago. Now, the bar for realistic animation is set extremely high, because there are more developed techniques and technology available. Still, some animators avoid hyper-realistic computer animations, because they fear the uncanny valley. Others may think  that since realistic animations have been around for over a decade, it’s not that impressive. So, we asked the question: Are realistic animations no longer impressive?

Animation technology is still evolving.

Some may say that generating a realistic-looking 3D model probably isn’t that amazing anymore, because the technology to do that action has been around and used for a while. However, technology is rapidly advancing and creating animations that wouldn’t have been possible 10 or 5 years ago.

Also, there is still room for improvement, especially when it comes to facial animation. It’s one area that animators have struggled with for years, and it’s the pain point that NaturalFront software is tackling with advanced capabilities, algorithms and technology.

There’s a constant need for innovation.

The fact is that people have a short attention span and get bored easily. We are constantly looking for the next big thing. However, that isn’t to say that well-done computer animations are no longer impressive.

It means that you can’t rely on the same old, techniques and technology alone to impress people. (This is unless you are utilizing new, innovative technologies that revolutionize some aspect of old ones.) Like any art or entertainment form, you need to create something that is unique, thought-provoking and that resonates with your audience to differentiate yourself from other creators.

Game and film animation are different.

It’s also important to note that game animation and film animation are two different areas, that often require unique considerations and have different audiences. For example, games are interactive, which means that characters and animations need to look and animate smoothly from every angle.

When it comes to realistic computer animation, although it is important part of the film creation process, it is more prominent in the game industry. This is likely because game animation is about immersing the player into their own game world, and realism increases that feeling of being a part of the game.

Realistic animation is not dying out anytime soon. If anything, it’s flourishing as the desire to push the limits of art and technology grows. But, the key is to keep pushing the envelope and innovating computer animation technology and techniques, so that they will continue to amaze.





Why Motion Capture Isn’t The Best Choice for Your 3D Business

clock November 9, 2015 07:31 by author EliciaT

 

Even the greatest 3D animators struggle with mastering realistic facial animations. This is because the complex muscle system that controls numerous, subtle facial expressions is hard to capture using traditional 3D animation methods.  

Methods like rigging and morphing are often time-consuming and inefficient. As a result, some animators have tried to use motion capture, also called mocap. Motion capture for facial animation uses a system of wires, cameras, and sensors to capture the motions of real people and transfer them onto a 3D character model.

Major, renowned 3D animated productions like Avatar and characters like Gollum from Lord of the Rings were created using motion capture technology. Furthermore, the technique has transformed computer animation, primarily by making it possible to transfer human emotions onto a 3D character. However, motion capture has its own set of challenges and is not suitable for every situation.  

Why Isn’t Motion Capture The Best Choice?

There is a reason that major films have used motion capture in their animation process━they have huge budgets. To accomplish the highest quality, accurate video footage, it usually requires many cameras and an environment conducive to collecting motion data. The well-known 3D characters created by motion capture were made possible in a studio, fully equipped with hundreds of expensive, high resolution cameras.

The total setup and hardware costs can range from $200,000 to a million dollars. Animators can try to minimize the costs of motion capture by using cheaper and fewer cameras, however, the price is still high and the results can be lackluster.  

Furthermore, motion capture may make it easier by automating the process of transferring video of human movements into a 3D animation. However, it does not mean the entire process is automated. In order to make the animation flow smoothly, it still requires skilled 3D animators to manually clean up the animation. For animators that want high quality 3D animations while minimizing the cost and work time, there is another option━Curve Controlled Modelling.

What is Curve Controlled Modeling?

Screenshot (40).png

Curve Controlled Modeling or CCM is a type of 3D animation that is completely software based, meaning that it doesn’t require the expensive hardware costs of motion capture. It uses a tool called NURBs or Non-uniform rational B-spline curve to simulate the movement of muscles, making it ideal for facial animation.

NURBs curves are equations that allow animation software programs to animate the muscles of a 3D object. This allows for astonishingly complex movements to be generated very quickly, which is crucial to successfully animate facial muscles.

With CCM, all you need is a software program, and the knowledge of how to use it. It is relatively easy to get both of these things, while it usually more difficult to obtain the tools to correctly use motion capture. With the complex and feature rich software that is available on the market for CCM animation, you’ll be able to animate complex facial muscles without spending an arm and a leg on hardware and studio space.



Natural Front Intuitive Pro - A Disruptive Technology for New Pro Animators

clock March 9, 2015 12:43 by author christpaul

At Natural Front we are always working to ensure that our Products become even more user-friendly for our valued customers. That is central to the ethos of our operation, but also essential to the Process which continues to imProve the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software. We greatly appreciate the feedback that we receive from Professional animators, and attempt to take this on board as we integrate new imProvements into the Natural Front package.

One of the things that we have particularly attempted to include in the Natural Front Intuitive Pro package as the software has developed is an incredibly intuitive nature. We have always wanted to ensure that Natural Front Intuitive Pro does not require years of investment in developing skills. The package has always been intended to enable animators to pick up the key techniques very quickly, and then model and animate a three-dimensional face within a matter of hours.

This has been one of the key selling points of Natural Front Intuitive Pro package, as other animation software typically require animators to invest weeks of effort in animating a 3-D faces via time-consuming techniques. It can sometimes be possible to get what you want with Natural Front Intuitive Pro in the matter of a mere few seconds!

Many SMEs, freelance animators and small-scale professional animation studios have already been attracted to the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software for this reason. But we also believe that in price terms the package is one of the most competitive anywhere in the industry. Our automated software can deliver world-class results at a price that makes it ideal entry level software for anyone involved in the animation industry.

 

In order to showcase the capabilities of the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software, we have created a demonstration page which features a number of videos that have been created utilising just the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software. The sophisticated automated algorithms featured in this package ensure that the possibilities for Professional animators are endless with Natural Front Intuitive Pro.

We firmly believe that the Natural Front package provides the best way for budding animators to enter the 3-D animation industry, and grow their product in the shortest amount of time possible. Natural Front Intuitive Pro can help you to boost your productivity and profits in 3-D character animation, and master what can be an extremely labourious technique in a surprisingly short timeframe.

Getting 3-D animation right just got much easier with Natural Front Intuitive Pro.



The Ethos Behind Natural Front

clock October 5, 2014 08:21 by author christpaul

The driving force behind Natural Front was to create a computer software package that could deliver outstanding 3-D character animation. However, it wasn't good enough for us to produce a package that merely did the job well, we wanted to make Natural Front Intuitive Pro the best 3-D character animation software package on the market.

So with this ethos in mind, from day one of developing the software we deeply considered what elements we wanted the Natural Front package to comprise. Firstly, and arguably most important, was the ability to create absorbing facial animations easily. Not only did we want animators using Natural Front to be able to create world-class animations, but we also intended for them to be able to do it in a relatively hassle-free way.

At present, the most widely used techniques in 3-D character animation and 3-D facial animation are 3-D rigging and morphing, also know as blending key shapes. Most animators consider these to be a necessary evil, even though the laborious nature of the process makes it quite a headache.

The reality is that these techniques are extremely inefficient when utilised for 3-D facial animation. The reason behind this is that an effective approach in the core of 3-D modelling and animation has been lacking. Rigging and morphing have been the industry solution to the problem, but experienced animators will tell you that they are and insufficient solution. Other 3-D animation software has a focus on motion capture and tracking, but with Natural Front Intuitive Pro we intended to create a completely new system which blows such notions away.

Natural Front is not opposed to motion capture, tracking, or any of the rigging process. However, we do believe that it is currently utilised inefficiently. That is why we developed our system for capturing 3-D animations which is as simple as possible to utilise. Our curve-controlled modelling system makes the process of 3-D animation considerably easier, and also by delivering efficiency savings we can pass economic savings onto you the consumer. 

To paraphrase Albert Einstein, the simplest solution is usually the best solution, and this was very much the ethos and mentality that underpinned the development of Natural Front Intuitive Pro. Since we released the first version of the software, it has become a key animation package for small-to-medium animation studios in particular, and continues to go from strength to strength.



Natural Front Intuitive Pro - The Perfect Solution for Small to Medium Animation Studios and Animators

clock September 7, 2014 22:30 by author christpaul

Here at Natural Front, we're all too aware how difficult it can be for small animation studios and independent animators to gain a footing in the industry. The animation industry is extremely competitive, and with numerous huge corporations at the head of it, and significant overheads associated with every aspect of the animation process, remaining competitive as a small business, or as the little guy in the street, can be a huge challenge.

That is why our Natural Front Intuitive Pro software is specifically aimed at small, independent animation studios and freelance animators. We have built our package up as a small business, and we want to help out people who have been in the same situation as us.

Central to this process has been ensuring that the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software is available at a price that particularly suits small to medium enterprises and freelance animators. Although we are extremely proud of the powerful nature of the Natural Front software, we want its facilities and functions to be available to as many animators as possible. We don't want anyone to be excluded from the Natural Front experience.

That's why we have recently announced a new monthly payment system for our two most sophisticated Natural Front Intuitive Pro packages. These deliver incredible functionality and intuitive 3-D facial animation in particular, but are now well within the price range of small studios and freelance animators.

The Natural Front Intuitive Pro software delivers incredibly user-friendly and easy photo-to-3-D modelling. It enables you to create 3-D animations intuitively and speedily, with lip syncing particularly efficiently supported. You can put in place your own distinctive blend of expressions and mouse shapes, and the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software supports complete export to the popular SBX platform. With the Natural Front Intuitive Pro complete version now available at the bargain price of $25 per month, you really can't go wrong in signing up for Natural Front.

Aside from the value for money element of the Natural Front software, we are also conscious of the fact that small-scale animators want to be able to save resources in every step of the animation process. Therefore Natural Front has been designed to make 3-D facial animation particularly easy, via its revolutionary curve-controlled modelling system. Natural Front makes the most time-consuming, expensive and complex processes associated with 3-D animation obsolete.

Natural Front Intuitive Pro is the ideal package for any small to medium animation studio and freelance animator. Sign up for the free 30 day trial today, and start finding out what Natural Front Intuitive Pro can do for you.



New Natural Front Intuitive Pro 2.2 Version Released

clock September 1, 2014 20:40 by author christpaul

We're always happy at Natural Front when we have some good news for our customers. And as the saying goes that bad news comes in threes, we’re happy to announce that sometimes good news comes in threes as well! So we have three morsels of good news to announce to all of our customers, and we're sure that this will please animation studios and professional animators alike

Firstly, the new Natural Front website is now up and running. We have been working on our new site for quite some time, and we're extremely pleased with the new design of the website. It features a lot of useful information about the Natural Front Intuitive Pro package, so whether you're thinking about purchasing the Natural Front animation software for the first time, or would like to learn a little more about it as an existing customer, the website is a good place to start 

Secondly, as a companion to our new website we have also recently released a new beta version of the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software. This is effectively the 2.2 version of the Natural Front package. In this latest release, we have particularly focused on ensuring that the 3-D animation facility in the software is improved, and we're delighted with the level of smoothness that has been achieved. We're confident that our customers will really love this new Natural Front Intuitive Pro release. You can access the latest version of the software by clicking here.

Finally, in order to make our payment system more suitable to our customers needs, and having received a lot of feedback on the matter, we have recently changed the payment system for Natural Front from a one off payment to a monthly subscription model. Natural Front Intuitive Pro Complete 2.2 will cost $25 for a monthly subscription, while Natural Front Intuitive Pro Simplified 2.2 will cost $9 per month. We also have our Intuitive Pro Free version, and the two premium packages are also available on a free trial basis. 

Nothing else about Natural Front Intuitive Pro has changed. NaturalFront Intuitive Pro remains the ideal piece of animation software, designed for 3D professionals, businesses and developed on revolutionary 3D algorithms. It offers incredible animation power, while making the process of 3-D animation considerably easier, particularly with regard to facial animations. We're extremely proud of this fantastic piece of software, and recommend professional animators and animation studios to check it out today.



Natural Front Intuitive Pro 2.1 Release Offers Exciting Feature Set

clock June 19, 2014 10:13 by author christpaul

It’s not many moons ago that we at Natural Front released our second version of the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software. But we don’t rest on our laurels for long, as responding to the desires of our customers is extremely important to us. So we’re pleased to announce that we’re already in a position to release our latest update to the Natural Front Intuitive Pro software - Intuitive Pro 2.1.

Our latest software release is particularly valuable for owners and animators at small-to-medium 3D animation studios, and will also find particular favour with freelance professionals and educators. We have significantly improved on the already excellent Intuitive Pro package, with this latest release that enhances the powerful feature set included in Intuitive Pro, providing a piece of software that offers even greater animation power and value for money.

Central to the Intuitive Pro 2.1 release was our desire to improve the speed and cut the cost of 3D facial animation. Natural Front has particularly specialised in producing facial animations, and many of our customers have appreciated this; indeed, it has been one of the central reasons that animators have signed up to Intuitive Pro in the first place.

But although the facial animation package offered by Natural Front has attracted many animation studios, we wanted to do even more. So based on customer feedback, we have produced our latest release which offers an even more user-friendly and powerful package. Already feedback from our beta testers indicates that the new changes have gone down extremely well, so we’re very happy that the Natural Front Intuitive Pro system continues to grow and build on its reputation of being one of the very best facial animation packages in the world.

 

Additionally, although small-to-medium animation studios have been the core audience for previous releases of Intuitive Pro, this latest release also offers an improved feature set related to pre-visualization. This should be particularly useful for larger animation studios, who often require this functionality during large animation productions.

The latest 2.1 version of Intuitive Pro is currently at the beta release stage, and also includes among its improvements to the core Natural Front software the ability to create and export 3D models in quad mesh. Our previous version 2.0 only had triangles for the mesh, and we felt after receiving customer feedback on this matter that it was important to improve on this functionality.

All in all, we are extremely excited about the release of Intuitive Pro 2.1, and would heartily recommend it to any established professional animators, particularly those interested in producing high-quality facial animations.



Natural Front Intuitive Pro Release Imminent

clock March 25, 2014 14:41 by author christpaul

We are very excited at the moment, as the release of the latest version of our NaturalFront software is imminent. We believe that this breakthrough technology will achieve a literal revolution in 3D facial modelling, and provide the slickest 3D animation package available, at the usual affordable price.

The world-class professional results that can be achieved with NaturalFront offers incredibly speedy animation solutions which are also intuitive and user-friendly. In this latest NaturalFront release we have built on our experience in creating facial animation software to make the process of producing 3D facial animations even more simple and straightforward than in previous NaturalFront releases.

We strongly believe that all professional animators at all levels of the ainmation industry can benefit greatly from the NaturalFront software. We are offering a free thirty day trial of the new NaturalFront Intuitive Pro edition as usual, and you can even win a year’s free access to the full version if you offer us feedback and are selected as the lucky winner of our free prize draw.

NaturalFront ensures that realistic 3D facial animation can be achieved at a fraction of the expense and time that must be invested in other approaches. With NaturalFront’s curved controlled modelling, you can produce double the work in half the time, and get incredible and absorbing results.

We have long since prided ourselves on ensuring that the NaturalFront package renders some of the most laborious animation techniques obsolete, but the new Intuitive Pro version achieves this even more profoundly. With NaturalFront Intuitive Pro there is no need for rigging, no need for morphing, no Need for key-framing and no need for motion capture. We’re sure that professional animators will be rubbing their hands with glee at that prospect!

Another unique element of NaturalFront is that we adapt and evolve the software on a lightning fast and ongoing basis based on your direct feedback. We value our customers extremely highly, and a continual feedback loop is at the heart of NaturalFront’s ethos.

We pride ourselves on this interactive approach – if you see something you'd like added to, or changed within, NaturalFront let us know - because we can usually get your idea created and updated quickly. And if we can’t, we will work tirelessly to do so in the medium-term. We greatly value our users and their feedback and consider our users as more than customers, rather we view all NaturalFront users as a genuine community helping build the software together.

To read more about our NaturalFront Intuitive Pro software, browse our website, or you can download a beta version if you want to check out the 30 day trial.

 



Pixar to receive prestigious 3D animation award

clock December 16, 2013 19:39 by author christpaul

Pixar Animation Studios has become a name synonymous with 3D animation, the biggest company in this increasingly important genre. Their commercial success since they were founded back in 1986 has been truly astounding, and many of their 3D movies have become critically acclaimed classics, as they have established themselves as an absolutely great movie studio.

Their achievements over the years have secured Pixar a huge amount of awards and accolades. And it has been recently announced that Pixar is to receive another award to add to the pile in the coming months.

The International 3D & Advanced Imaging Society will honour Pixar Animation Studios with the Sir Charles Wheatstone Award for creative excellence. This award be presented to the animation studio at the fifth annual Creative Arts Awards on 28th January at Warner Bros. Studios. This particular award is handed out to give recognition to outstanding achievements in 3D movies, TV shows and 4K technology.

The CEO of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, John Lasseter, is being recognised, along with the whole team at Pixar, for their outstanding achievements both in technical animation as well as storytelling. Pixar is by far the most successful studio in this particular award having already received four previous gold Lumiere Awards from the Society. Pixar’s ‘Brave’ was pciked by the Society as the best animated 3D feature of 2012, and the studio was also awarded prizes for the best 3D short film for three consecutive years with 2010’s ‘Partly Cloudy’, 2011’s ‘Day and Night’ and 2012’s ‘La Luna’.

Pixar’s success story has continued this year as they released the latest in the ‘Monsters’ franchise of movies, when ‘Monsters University’ was released. There were no signs that the momentum of this series had slowed down in any way, as ‘Monsters University’ managed to take over $743 million worldwide.

The studio has been consistently praised for the quality of its character models and animations, and this is something that we also recognise to be of particular importance at Natural Front. Our curved-controlled modelling technique allows the highest quality of 3D character and facial animations to be achieved, but with the minimum amount of fuss, effort and expense. This means that professional animators of all budgets can produce world-class character animation to engage and enchant audiences.

The success of Pixar is indicative of the success of 3D animation as a genre, and we at Natural Front are extremely enthusiastic and positive about the future of 3D animation, and of playing an active part in it.



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.



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