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Software brings characters to life

Scientists at the ETH and Disney Research have developed a software that makes it easier to animate characters. The software could help inexperienced users bring their characters to life and tell animated stories.

Ipad, Figur
Image Credit: Disney Research

The entertainment industry deploys different software for computer animation. However, this software is complex and can only be used by experienced people.

Researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) and the Disney Research Lab Zurich have now developed an alternative software that is also suitable for inexperienced users.

With professional animation methods, motion sequences must be animated separately, explained the ETH in a statement. It added that the process is complicated and unintuitive.

The new software can counteract this problem thanks to a tool that is integrated into the software itself. For example, a foot movement can be animated with a so-called MoCurve, or a curve drawn around the figure’s foot.

Managed by the user with their mouse, this can be decelerated or accelerated through the extension or contraction of the curve at specific points. The movement cycle is thus tested in real time.

If the artist wants the character to lift an arm as well, they must create an additional MoCurve for this movement that they can then adjust independently of the foot movement.

"We want to make it quick and easy to create animations – without compromising on quality," explained ETH doctoral student Loïc Ciccone.

The software has already proved successful in a test with inexperienced users. After a 15-minute introduction, the users could create various motion sequences within an hour. 

"Our easy-to-use software gives anyone and everyone the ability to tell animated stories," added Ciccone.

The software has also been well received by professional artists, who were particularly impressed by the increased speed with which they could create animations. 

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