I’ll start with saying that, even if I love anything that is animated, I am not an animator myself.
Have I tried to learn animating on my own in the past?
And did I give up pretty soon because anything that I don’t immediately excel in destroys my confidence?
However, putting my flawed approach to trying new things aside, the desire to animate definitely survived my failed digital adventure. So when an ad for Plask popped up on my Youtube, I was immediately hooked: I absolutely had to try it myself.
So, what is Plask?
Plask is a tool that promises, quoting from their website, “to make animation a breeze”. Essentially, it allows users to animate their characters through the simple use of any video-recording device.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, the program captures motion from your video and translates it onto a character (designed by you or provided by them), by mapping out and matching key motion points. You can use the program for free if you are working on a small project, although you will need to pay if you want to get access to its full capabilities.
Despite my limited amount of practicality with animation tools and softwares, I was able to grasp how to get started pretty easily. In a matter of ten minutes, I had watched the tutorial on the platform, uploaded my video, and given a zombie character we will name Alfred fire dance moves. I will spare you the original video, but below you can see the final result:
Does that mean we won’t need animators anymore?
I was definitely blown away by how easily the program translated my movements onto the digital mannequin. Using AI systems in creative processes may be controversial at times, but in my opinion, this is surely one example of how this incredible technology can empower, rather than undermine creatives.
In fact, contrary to what one may believe at a first glance, Plask does not take away the job of a skilled animator: it just makes it a little simpler by taking care of an otherwise time-consuming task.
This game designer on Twitter, for instance, seems pretty satisfied with the tool’s performance:
Decided to try out Plask for some motion capture and the results are pretty amazing. You couldn’t even see my feet in the half-assed source video I imported.— Nath (@headwaregames) September 19, 2022
This is with zero cleanup. Going to make cutscenes for Hollowbody a lot quicker.
(no you cannot see the source video 😳) pic.twitter.com/fcPFREHSDK
Not by chance, you cannot do much with your creation unless you export it to another program, where you can continue crafting your animated story; Plask just captures motion. Also, you’ll have to develop and design your own character, if you do not decide to use the few templates that the platform offers.
In regards to Alfred, I am afraid he will never leave Plask’s digital workroom.
What are you waiting for? Go check it out!
Your computer might get the hiccups in the attempt, if you have a less powerful laptop like mine, but playing around with Plask is definitely worth the while. Having a glance, for how small, into the behind-the-scenes of animated productions might make you fascinated with them.
Who knows, maybe I’ll give animation a real shot this time. And you should too! Or maybe I’ll just leave it to the professionals and simply enjoy the magical worlds they craft.