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Blue Zoo’s ‘MoPo’ Real-Time Tool Scores Epic MegaGrant

The London-based studio’s production software allows artists to create 3D animated content for platforms such as TikTok and YouTube in real-time; smaller teams can create quality content faster and cheaper with fewer steps.

London-based Blue Zoo Animation Studio received an Epic MegaGrant to support further development of its new real-time tool MoPo, allowing animation artists to use immersive VR technology to rapidly create characterful 3D animated content for platforms such as TikTok and YouTube.

Developed in-house in Unreal Engine 5 by the studio’s real-time team, MoPo allows users to puppeteer a character in real-time, using a VR headset for a layered, additive, non-linear approach. Now a single artist can puppeteer an entire complex character independently rather than requiring multiple puppeteers to work together or be constrained by the physical limits of human motion capture. In addition, VR gives artists full six degrees of freedom of movement while being immersed within the scene to animate the puppets with nuanced, expressive animation at near real-time speed.

With this accelerated performance, MoPo can prototype new shows, create animatics, or produce finished animations for quick turnover platforms such as YouTube or TikTok. For example, a 30-second animation takes only minutes to complete.

The post-production process takes advantage of the sequencer in Unreal Engine - in-camera post-processing effects and fast rendering means finished frames can be output directly from Unreal, with no compositing step needed. Artists can also use Unreal’s real-time physics and dynamics, so characters and props react to and affect the world around them as the performance is created, rather than relying on after-the-fact simulations.

“We’re very proud and excited to have been selected as Epic MegaGrants recipients by Epic Games,” said Blue Zoo Head of Real-Time Phil Stewart. “The team has been working very hard to create MoPo, which will allow us to produce animated content faster than we ever have before, and also lets us harness the power of Unreal Engine to speed our workflow up even further. We have completed several pilots using MoPo already - including Silly Duck, launched on the studio's ‘Little Zoo’ YouTube channel in December 2022 - and our animators are loving the hand-made, spontaneous feel of the animation they are producing. Also, being able to take advantage of Unreal’s dynamics and real-time simulation, we can get a real charm and physicality to the content produced.”

Additional information is available here.

Source: Blue Zoo Animation Studio

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.