3 Big Things Google Has Learned From VR Animation

 "Animations had a handmade charm that conveyed a surprising degree of emotion."

What if making an animated short film was just as easy as posting a video to YouTube?

Google is experimenting with that kind of a future through its Daydream platform that’s scheduled to come out later this year. Users would be able to dock a compatible smartphone in a virtual reality headset much like Samsung’s GearVR, except Google would include a motion controller that allows for greater interactivity in a VR world.

Google already revealed research on social norms in VR. On Tuesday, Google showed off some footage of its experiments inside an animator tool it built for VR and shared three findings from those observations.

A user creates an animated scene in Google's Daydream VR. 

3. Virtual Reality Is Very Intuitive

Making an animated film or game is a hard concept in 2D. Animators have to essentially learn a computer language that allows them to communicate space and time in order to move objects frame by frame.

With Daydream, users intuitively knew how to pick up objects and move them through space to create a scene. Google wrote that it was just like playing with real toys, adding “These simple animations had a handmade charm that conveyed a surprising degree of emotion.”

2. No Lengthy Lesson Needed

Google says users were able to almost instantly pick up the objects and begin manipulating their environment with very little tutorial. In the video, Google shows a user intuitively pick out a handful of its iconic droid characters, form them into a floating pile, and animate a plane to fly right through the group.

A user animates a skeleton in virtual reality. 

1. Users Feel Free to Experiment

Once users entered the creative space and saw the toys, Google says they weren’t afraid to play around and get creative. Adults presented with tangible art materials might feel cautious so as not to waste materials. Or if presented with a complicated computer program, they’d be concerned something could break.

Not in a VR world. Users felt creative freedom to play around and screw up if necessary because it’s a more inviting environment. Things got a little more complicated when Google conducted a separate experiment that gave users tools to animate the limbs of a cartoon skeleton, but still users picked it up quickly.

“While this kind of animation system won’t replace professional tools, it can allow anyone to tell their own stories,” the post reads. “There are many examples of using VR for storytelling, especially with video and animation, and were excited to see new perspectives as more creators share their stories in VR.”

Media via YouTube (1, 2)