Previously animation had been a lengthy and expensive process, especially with regards to video effects (VFX) in film and television. However, real-time animation, which comes out of the video game industry, has the potential of revolutionizing Hollywood. Some say that it has already started.
Traditional animation originated in film and is optimized to produce the highest quality, and although real-time animation is optimized for speed (and subsequently, interactivity), the gap in quality between the two methods is narrowing. Currently, traditional animation is used in VFX to add animation to live-action sequences and completely animated feature films like Toy Story. In this case, this blog is examining the impact of real-time animation on VFX.
Right now, most VFX are added in post-processing; that is, the movie magic happens after the filming has already wrapped. This means that there is a lot of guesswork for the actors and directors on set, as the director would not know what the final footage would look like until after the post-processing had been completed. There is a lot of back-and-forth and confusion in this method, and it relies on tools that are expensive and slow. As such, the current process is a long and costly one.
Enter real-time animation. This technology allows for the VFX to be viewed during filming, which then means that shooting decisions can be adjusted accordingly. One case in which this was already happening was in “Solo,” one of the most recent Star Wars movies. In lieu of a green screen, high-resolution projectors displayed the animations in real-time, eliminating the need for post-processing and allowing the actors to interact with the VFX. These adjustments save both time and money by cutting out the back-and-forth between the director and the VFX team.
The technology behind real-time animation is itself revolutionary, but its impact goes beyond that. Real-time animation is changing the way that films are made, thus disrupting the entire process of filmmaking. This, in turn, changes the business of how studios operate. It streamlines the process and closes the gap between directors and the final project.
That being said, the revolution is unlikely to stop at Hollywood. As it catches on, it is likely that more media will demand instant visualization. Soon real-time animation and instant visualization will be the standard for film and television, and even, perhaps, yet-to-be-explored modes of interaction design.