Prague tech company’s new tool creates all in-between frames in any artistic style – oil paint, watercolor, pastel, and others.
Prague tech company Secret Weapons has released the beta version of their new tool, EbSynth, designed to automate rotoscopy in arbitrary styles. Animators provide a video reference but instead of painting over each frame, only have to paint a set of keyframes. EbSynth creates all the in-between frames in the same artistic style, which can be totally arbitrary – oil paint, watercolor, pastel, or digital media. The algorithm respects the artist’s vision and preserves their style in all its details. This workflow noticeably decreases the amount of time an animator would have to spend on a project.
According to Jakub Javora, lead artist at Secret Weapons, “The motivation is simple: we would love to see more painterly animated movies in theaters. And we feel the trend is moving in that direction - Klaus, for example, is such a gorgeous movie. The new animated Spider-Man was amazing. And then there is Loving Vincent, which was painted frame by frame and people thought it was crazy. Hand-drawn animation has been an incredibly tedious process until now. But it doesn’t have to be. With EbSynth, we want to help animators speed up the work while preserving their authentic handwriting. We want each of our tools to be this ‘secret weapon’ for artists that will help them focus on creation and eliminate routine work.“
EbSynth is currently in its Beta version, which can be downloaded free of charge at https://ebsynth.com.
The technology behind EbSynth is not artificial intelligence; it’s a texture synthesis algorithm. “You can imagine it as a jigsaw puzzle,” the company’s lead researcher Ondřej Jamriška explains. “EbSynth gets a video frame and its stylized version pair. It dissembles the stylized frame into little pieces and knowing the positional and color-based correspondences with the original frame, uses the stylized pieces to assemble other video frames as well.”
“By using the synthesis, we make sure that the final result is rich in texture and preserves the artist’s style with great fidelity, which is a quality most of the neural methods don’t have,” he adds.
Originally meant as a tool for rotoscopy, since the alpha release last year, the program’s range of use-cases spread into the VFX industry and 3D animation as well. “3D artists started using EbSynth to enhance their smooth renders with brush strokes, compositors use it for quick video retouching or colorizing, even people who have nothing to do with art often use it along with FaceApp, for example, to make videos with their older or younger selves,” Šárka Sochorová, Secret Weapons producer, notes. “It so great to watch people come up with new and original usages for EbSynth. The number of various use-cases makes sense because the idea is so simple – make an edit in one frame, EbSynth will distribute it to the rest of the video. It’s free 2D tracking, which can be used in so many areas. We would love to see those hand-drawn feature movies the most though.”
Source: Secret Weapons
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.