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Watch 2 New ‘Baymax Dreams’ Shorts Made with Unity Real-Time Game Engine Tools

Disney Television Animation continues their groundbreaking production work with just launched season of new short films based on their Emmy Award-nominated ‘Big Hero 6 The Series.’

Disney Television Animation (DTVA) just launched Season 2 of their innovative, ground-breaking short film series, Baymax Dreams, which premiered back in 2018 with three shorts based on the Emmy Award-nominated television series, Big Hero 6 The Series.

The first season of Baymax capitalized on real-time rendering technology functionality, employing non-linear workflows and tools frequently used in the gaming industry, all supported by Unity and Disney’s Direct to Consumer & International Technology (DTCI) group. Since 2018, many of these capabilities have been advanced further and brought in-house by Disney’s DTCI and TVA; the studio continues to partner with Unity, enabling speedy development and creative freedom so Disney’s teams can pursue innovative ways for fans to engage with content.

Season 2 of Baymax Dreams brings those innovations and enhancements to life. Highlights include new and innovative capabilities in visual effects, lighting and shading. The result is that this season’s shorts exhibit feature film quality, despite being produced – in a fraction of the time – using the game engine. 

Check out Baymax Dreams of Mochizilla - When Fred accidentally mixes Baymax's memory of Mochi with his favorite Kaiju movie, he creates a giant Mochi monster that attacks San Fransokyo.

Now check out Baymax Dreams of Too Many Freds - When a data backup machine splits Fred into a hundred tiny clones of himself, Baymax must smoosh the tiny Freds back together.

The multiplatform real-time animation team at TVA consists of artists and technicians with backgrounds in film, television, virtual reality, and interactive content. To create Baymax Dreams, they’ve used innovative workflows and game engines to allow for faster iteration and rendering, streamlined content re-use, and interactive experiences.

“Our group focuses on developing workflows and pipelines that adapt evolving content creations tools and techniques from other mediums, and integrates them into short-form and episodic content that meets Disney Television Animation's quality bar,” said Andy Wood, Producer, Disney Television Animation.

Using Unity’s VFX Graph & Shader Graph, TVA’s artists were able achieve creative results in a user interface that would previously have only been possible using code. The screen on Baymax’s stomach, the firepit, even the weather of the sky, are all more detailed and life-like, all contributing to a more dynamic and engaging viewer experience. Using Unity's High Definition Lighting Pipeline (HDRP), light layers and light flags allowed artists to make refined light-directing decisions, elevating the traditional “physically-based” lighting approach typical in games. With all these high-detail assets, developing a pipeline to efficiently ingest and validate them was enormously important. Tools that DTCI Technology developed gave the creative team at TVA an intuitive interface that significantly streamlined the handoff between digital content creation tools and the game engine while seamlessly linking to existing production tracking tools.

Season 2 of Baymax Dreams also introduces human characters for the first time. The DTVA and DTCI teams used humanoid animation – taking advantage of the real-time feed-back loop for greater iteration and quality. DTCI Technology also created a number of artist-friendly tools to help speed up this creative process, enabling Disney artists to efficiently export sequences of animation from the game engine along with entire editorial decision lists that could be read and edited in traditional editing tools. Leveraging the game engine and the real-time feedback loop, the standard challenges accomplishing precise character animation can be mitigated faster, speeding up the entire production process without compromising quality. 

“We’ve said from the start of our little experiment, technical innovation is the core goal, but we’re not going to inspire lasting evolution unless the creative quality captures imaginations” noted Gino Guzzardo, Executive Director, Multiplatform Content, Disney Television Animation.  “That cross-section of creativity and technology is in the history we’ve inherited as modern Disney storytellers, so we’re constantly pushing ourselves to carry that tradition forward on the Multiplatform Content team at Disney Television Animation.”

Kaki Navarre, DTCI’s Director of Content Technology added “At DTCI Technology, developing innovative capabilities and partnering with our colleagues across the company, like this instance with Disney Television Animation is a top opportunity. Real-time engines are revolutionizing what is possible at the intersection of content creation and development. The adoption of this forward-looking workflow opens a new frontier of production technology and lays the foundation for future innovation around viewing experiences on our digital platforms.”

Source: Disney Television Animation

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.