Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Live2D will change the way we watch animated movies. Hopefully...

For better or worse, 3D computer graphics have become synonymous with 'animated movies' as of late. While some animation studios reject this trend, a quick look at the (often enjoyable) fare provided by the likes of Pixar, Dreamworks, and even the venerable Disney shows that CG animation is here to stay.

But for all of its impressive range, there's something inherently cold and ersatz about pure CG movies. Perhaps it lies in the expectation of the viewers, but they rarely capture the warmth of hand-drawn art in the way that traditional animation does. Live2D is looking to change this trend by bringing 3D rendering to the medium of hand drawn art.

Live2D is a recently developed drawing software suite from Cybernoids that allows animators to impart 3D depth, texture and (most impressively) movement to hand-drawn, 2-dimensional images. This demonstration video of the software in action shows its potential:

Through use of Live2D, a set of images drawn by a famous illustrator like Hayao Miyazaki or Joe Kubert could be animated to respond to an endless range of stimuli.

As the video notes, however, Live2D is less of a deus ex machina solution to animation and is simply an extension of drawing itself. Thus, if an artist submits a drawing that only shows the front of a character (as in the demonstration above), Live 2D will not magically render the back or sides but rather bring movement to the front of the image.

This limits the technology in its current form and suits it best to media where limited character movement/animation is required (like visual novels or text-based mobile games), but it's still quite impressive all the same. With time and innovation - to say nothing of funding - Live2D might very well change the way that artists bring 3D images to the world of anime, games, and movies.

...and so long as we never have to suffer through something like Beowulf again, I can't say that's a bad thing.