Creating Animation with Mindshow

AVATAR
Today, we take a look at Mindshow and what it can add to your digital filmmaking productions.

MANU
Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?

AVATAR
Welcome to Pull My Focus; adventures in the world of Digital Filmmaking. I'm from Mindshow. Mindshow is a Virtual Reality animation and cartoon creation tool available for PCs on Steam. It's a totally new way to make computer generated content will revolutionize realtime digital filmmaking using computer generated actors.

MANU
Revolutionize? This stuff isn't really that new...uh...avatar dude. We've been doing it since the early 90's.

AVATAR
Really?

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MANU
Yeah. In fact, Frank and I are a couple of the pioneers in the world of creating narratives in realtime using game engines like Id Software's Quake or Valve's Source Engine. It's called Macinima which is a combination of Machine and Cinema.

MANU
Yeah, so back in the day our team called The Ill Clan created a couple of short comedy skits in the Quake and Quake2 engines. The first was called Apartment Huntin' where two bumbling lumberjacks search for a place to live. The second was called Hardly Workin' where the same two lumberjacks work at a diner and hilarity ensues. It went on to win the Best of SHO award at the Showtime Alternative Media festival back in 2001. So I think I know a thing or two about creating digital films using realtime tools.

AVATAR
BUT, back then you using a keyboard and mouse to control your cg actors, right?

MANU
Yeah, so what?

AVATAR
What would you say if I told you that with Mindshow, you can now control your cameras and characters in Virtual Reality? You can actually BE your characters!

MANU
Go on...

AVATAR
That's it.

MANU
Go on...

AVATAR
Okay, come with me...

 On a Mindshow virtual set.

On a Mindshow virtual set.

AVATAR
Welcome to Jurrasic Park! Just kidding, welcome to Mindshow.

MANU
Pretty neat.

AVATAR
Yep. Using Mindshow is super easy. First, you choose what set you want. We'll use this one. Then pick the characters from a collection of pre-built avatars. You can also choose some props if you like.

MANU
So far it's like what we used to do in machinima.

AVATAR
Here's the really cool part: Now, you point to the avatar you want to become and presto! You are now that character.

 Manu turns into a virtual space alien!

Manu turns into a virtual space alien!

MANU
AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!

MANU
Cool.

AVATAR
Oh, I forgot to mention. Everything is controlled through the HTC Vive VR headset and controllers. So when I say you are the character, I mean all your movements and gestures are captured in realtime and embodied in your avatar. You can also control facial expressions through your controller.

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MANU
Oh my god, this is so easy! Even my mouth is moving as I speak! Okay, now how do I record something? Where is the camera?

AVATAR
Simply bring up the camera interface, point and shoot! You can then record your scene. Once the recording is done, Mindshow renders the frames and saves it on your computer.

AVATAR
So now that we are done with our scene, we can bring it into our editor and give it some pizazz. You can add a title, music, effects and whatever. There is some real potential here, including creating content that doesn't just exist inside Mindshow. In fact, In this very video we are combining the ease of use in Mindshow with real video of places and people.

MANU
Wait, you're not actually standing next to me? Am I talking to myself?

AVATAR
No, you're talking to a tennis ball perched on a light stand.

 Tennis ball to act as eye line for Manu

Tennis ball to act as eye line for Manu

AVATAR
Well, this video is an example of how easy it is for a guy with half a brain to create content where a human person is talking to a computer generated character.

MANU
Hey, watch it Erkel, Frank uses the other half to make his videos.

AVATAR
As of this recording, Mindshow is in early access on Steam. It requires an HTC Vive VR setup and a PC to run it. If you're interested, check out Mindshow.com for more information.

MANU
Well, thanks Wall-E, for re-introducing me to this stuff. It's quite cool. Why don't you take us out?

AVATAR
Sure thing! Thanks for watching. As always, for more articles and videos go to pullmyfocus.tv. A big thank you goes to all our current subscribers. Please subscribe to our channel for more good stuff. We'll see you in the next one.

MANU
Not bad, maybe we'll give you a job at Pixel Valley Studio.

AVATAR
Great, just talk to my agent.

MANU
Who’s your agent? Wilson? Dunlop? These are tennis ball manufacturers...

AVATAR
Yes, I get the tennis ball joke.