Deep Learning Animation

25/11/2021
blog

What is deep learning?

Deep learning animation is changing the way animation is done in the world. If you’re new to the idea, it may sound like the ominous lead up to destruction in the latest Hollywood flick. But don’t worry! We’ll unpack what it means and share an optimistic take on how AI animation can benefit any artist.

So what is deep learning, you ask? According to IBM, deep learning is a subset of machine learning. What’s that? Machine learning is a man-made neural network with three or more layers. These neural networks attempt to simulate the behavior of the human brain, allowing it to “learn” from large amounts of data.

Think about self-driving cars- they have the ability to learn new routes, traffic patterns, and obstacles and they use that information to get you to your destination safely. And that’s a lot of information! Deep learning is increasing how much complexity an AI can process at once. When it comes to deep learning animation, we take it a step further.

It even creates the capacity for an animation program to learn an animator’s style, design interests, and visual concept and create something new from it.

What does it look like for animation?

Let’s get concrete about the difference deep learning animation can make. In the early 1990’s the average animated film took several years to complete. Pixar’s Toy Story in particular took 7 years to create. And that was using the most sophisticated technology of the day. For contrast, the 2019 movie Toy Story 4, was on pace to take 2 years, before the crew discarded about ¾ to rework the story.

Still curious? Check out this video about the potential for deep learning

Deep learning blends different kinds of machine learning. By layering different kinds of learning, we are growing the capacity to create tools for artists.

How deep does deep learning go?

Deep learning technology lies behind everyday products.  Chances are you run into deep learning technology on the daily without even knowing it. It’s behind most of the services we’ve become accustomed to. Most people can’t afford an assistant, but we can all appreciate that Siri or Alexa wakes us up in the morning, reminds us of our appointments, and even puts together our shopping lists. 

Truly everything from digital assistants, voice enabled devices, and even simple card readers are powered by this technology.  Deep learning animation is just the next step. This time to support the creatives of the world. So, yes, AI has become integral to how we work and live.

What is deep learning animation?

Now, can you imagine the concept of a streamlined automation process for AI animation that creates a basic skeleton for a human or four-legged creature? Artificial intelligence opens up new opportunities for animators by being able to present suggested designs for other characters using deep learning. Often, an animator’s most challenging job is to create new characters.

This is where new advancements in AI animation come in. If an existing set of characters (think about Shrek or Monsters Inc) are created, the software can come up with new samples by learning from them. Additionally, deep learning and artificial intelligence can be helpful when it comes to animating the character. The same way it learned about the shape of a face, body, or nose from thousands of characters, deep learning animation can also learn about movement – from dancing to combat.

The coolest part about AI animation?

Imagine having your absolute favorite artist working with you on an animation- guiding your style to be reminiscent of their own, while saving you hours and hours of time trying to replicate their work by hand. That’s the power of style transfer in AI animation.

Yes! You could even replicate that renaissance artist you’re obsessed with. Deep learning animation ultimately opens the door to more possibility for artists.

Style transfer is an optimization technique that can be used to transfer drawing to AI animation instead of by hand. It can let animators transform what they’re creating in the style of someone whose work they admire, like Van Gogh. Style transfer blends a style from one image into another image keeping its content intact.

The only change is the style configurations of the image to give a different artistic touch to your image. The deep learning animation shifts the layout or the sketch and style, be it the style of painting or the specific colors.  No need for the animator to learn every stroke of the style.

Is deep learning animation still real creativity?

Absolutely! When we look at artificial intelligence, it’s natural to wonder about the human element of creativity. When animators started to pick a computer mouse over their pencils, many worried that machines were taking over. But the results have been quite the opposite. Since then, not only do animators have more control over what they produce, but the quality of visual effects and animation has improved dramatically.

Did I mention how much AI animation can do?

An essential part of bringing 3D animated characters to life is the ability to translate their physical movement seamlessly into any scene or environment. AI animation has enhanced artists’ ability to create! Animating characters to naturally interact with objects and the environment requires putting together different types of movements in a complex manner.

And yes, I mean really complex. Motions can greatly differ not only in their postures, but also in their duration, contact patterns, and possible transitions. Most machine learning-based methods for user-friendly character motion have been limited to more simplistic actions.

These simple commands look like commanding an animated character to move from one point to the next. Deep learning animation increases the frequency and complexity of these actions and motions. This AI animation creates seemingly endless options for animators to create more in less time.

The future of deep learning animation

Simply put, we could be closing in on a future where we sit down in a theater and watch a movie that was conceptualized and created by artificial intelligence, and animated as well as rendered by deep learning algorithms. Is that such a bad thing, though?

The world is asking if algorithms, AI animation and robots will start dominating the film industry like they have other industries. While it is true that there are certain tasks that no longer need to be performed manually, the result is a need for even more creative people!

Talented people who can train deep learning algorithms to perform beautifully, and who use AI animation to further enhance their own unique style of art so that the world can enjoy it for everything it deserves to be.

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