Animating in the Air: The Magic of ANIMVR

Animation is tough.  Like REALLY tough.  Like most other creative endeavors, the techniques to learn and possible workload are endless, but animation is also magical.  NVRMIND has brilliantly designed a VR animation program that captures and streamlines the magic of animation in 3D space.  ANIMVR succeeds in bringing the difficulty of making animation down while still keeping robust features that make the process way faster.

It’s harder than it looks!

While I’m not an animator personally, I’ve used countless animation programs with varying levels of success.  Creating a good animation interface is extremely challenging: there’s a ton of tools, settings, keyframe interpretations, modes and other options that can really clutter and distract from the process of creation.  ANIMVR excels at keeping everything out of the way, while keeping important options easily accessible.  The button layout was perfect, and after 15 minutes everything became second nature.

Since I’m pretty bad at making traditional animation (the kind that doesn’t interpolate a model or rigged 2D drawing between keyframes), I was quite intimidated at having to redraw the character in 3D space on every frame, but luckily the inclusion of ‘timelines’ allowed me to break up the characters I made into different objects which could be cloned and moved independently per frame.

The ANIMVR interface

I wished there was a way to group these timelines together so when I cloned or deleted a frame it would do the same for all the other pertinent objects.  I found the best way to work was to animate one object until the end of my project, remember the amount of frames and then animate the other objects for the same amount of frames, but I found everything would often get out of sync (thankfully the developers put in a frame offset for each individual timeline, so I’d often be able to put the elements back into sync).

The ‘timeline’ layers were extremely powerful while being incredibly simple and easy to understand (everything on that timeline layer flashes when you select it, so you can see how many objects you accidentally drawn on that layer).  Everything on this the app had an incredible level of polish, although I had problems with the eraser tool not being able to destroy small sections of my lines, and the colour brush lacking some important customization like brush size (or at least no feedback for brush size).  Overall, nothing got in my way of making some really fun stuff in under an hour.

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I was surprised it turned out as well as it did: my first hour in the program!

While I really enjoy VR gaming and experiences, my real excitement for the technology is in making computing more natural and less abstracted.  The mouse and keyboard, while extremely efficient and precise, don’t feel as fun (or as healthy) as manipulating objects through more human gestures and actions.  Crouching, reaching, stretching, walking as you draw an animation in the air not only breathes life into your creation, but into your body as well!  Here’s to the future!

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Yahahaha! You animated me!


ANIMVR is currently in beta and looking for other artists to try out their app!  See more details on their Twitter:

Full disclosure: This press key was provided for the creation of this content.

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