I could never really get into those CGI animated movies like the ones Pixar makes.  For some reason the 3D animation always appeared stilted no matter how well it’s done.  Traditional 2D animation always had a much smoother and strangely more lifelike quality to it but it’s not without its limitations either especially in the realm of video games.

Live2D, developed by Cybernoids seems to have successfully taken the superior aesthetics of 2D art and rendered it into the superior flexibility and efficiency of 3D more smoothly than ever seen before.

The system works by taking a 2D drawing and applying identical 3D elements over top.  In this way rather than having an artist of the caliber of Osamu Tezuka or Hayao Miyazaki try to wrestle with creating in an entirely new medium they could simply submit a picture created with the inherent warmth of ink and paper.

The software could then give the 2D image 3D qualities with minimal changes to the original.  Judging by their demo videos, they did a pretty good job of it too.

At this point you can probably imagine the limitation of such a system.  If the 3D model is based on a 2D image, how does it render the backside?  At the moment it can’t and as such this technology is limited to games that don’t require a 360°view of characters, but Cybernoids is working hard to rectify that.

An app for mobile devices called Shizuku Talk is currently available for free if you want to see Live2D in action for yourself.  It’s not bad here but they may need to smooth it out some more in the future. It basically looks like 2D animation with 3D glasses on.

In the video below you can see them playing with Shizuku much like one would a cat but it gives you a good sense of her range of motion.  According to the spokesperson for Cybernoids:

“We’re aiming for this technology to be used worldwide, hopefully creating a market for revolving graphics in 2D, like with 3D. So, our goal is for this technology to become a de facto standard worldwide.”

Live2D has the potential to do it, but they’ll definitely need 360°rendering for that.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to poke my virtual school girl in the face some more.

Source: Diginfo (English) via IT Media (Japanese)

Shizuku Talk: Apple Store, Google Play

▼ Promo Video for the Shizuku Talks App