“Live2D” by Cybernoids

A new program by Japanese tech company, Cybernoids, could change the future of traditional animation…

…or could be another CG shortcut to producing crap. I have no idea what we are looking at here. A software breakthrough or a cheat… It is described as “live interactive 3D images of a 2D character”. According to the Cybernoids website:

“Live 2D is a technique that can animate full dimensional 2D characters from manga, anime, and illustrations without undergoing a 3D transfiguration. Characters unsuited for 3D movement can be animated much like hand-drawn animations while staying faithful to the original art. Live2D is the world’s first expressive technology that lets creators animate their art to their fullest desire.”

Okay, call me cautiously intrigued. I doubt this will replace hand drawn, but I can see some theme park applications. What do you think?

(Thanks, Nicholas Collins via DigInfo)


  • JG

    Basically: planar mapping a 2d animated texture on a 2.5d-3d mesh and then animating the mesh? That has been a possibility since you could put a texture on a 3d mesh – something around mid 90′s…

  • http://www.youtube.com/2MKcreations Matthew Koh

    Does that technique used before, like the animation in “Metropia”?

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    This looks like a transitional art form. Movement seems totally restricted to the head and face, which is all right, but there seems to be no real follow-through with the rest of the body. It’s a step forward but only a step.

  • Manu R

    Every couple of years, some company you’ve never heard of announces a technology that will revolutionise 2D animation by allowing you to animate in real time. Their demonstration is always a front facing, talking head. It can’t do a 360 degree turn yet, but they’re working on it.

    They never tell you how long it takes to build the 2D model they’re showing, as if that’s an unimportant detail. It’s one thing to spend some time building the model if you know you’re going to get lots of mileage out of it, like doing the animation for a dating sim. But it’s not feasible for doing most other animation projects.

    I can’t help but wondering how template-driven the software is. My experience with software developers is that they make very narrow assumptions about what styles animators want to develop, which results in very prescriptive templates.

    Don’t get me wrong, I applaud anybody trying to make life easier for us animators. I have no nostalgia about sitting in front of a lightbox for hours and having precious little to show for at the end. But this is not going to replace hand-drawn animation. Not by a mile.

  • Billy Batz

    Always innovate!

  • Mac

    I think your angle and incredulous tone on this is way off. The entire point is that dynamic, procedural animation systems usually need to be a 3D mesh which is actually 3D dimensional and doesn’t lend itself well to certain graphic touches. This product just streamlines the work managing the facing angles of chopped up 2D artwork, so that it can be integrated into real time interactive software. Note all the emphasis on “real time” and turning it all the way around. Any use of this for film animation would entail a lot of extra work.

  • Gobo

    Looks like it’s excellent if what you want to do is animate Japanese schoolgirls making pouty faces.

  • http://elephantmarch.blogspot.com William Bradford

    Certainly could be useful… possibly if combined with hand drawn

  • Chris Sobieniak

    No doubt another thing to satisfy an already familiar subculture there.

  • http://robertkohr.com Rob K.

    I think the point of this is the interactivity of it for gaming and new media not a replacement for animation. As JG said the style of animation isn’t anything new, however how you input the data and how you can interact with the character in real time is the significant advancement.

  • AnthonyA

    Makes me think of some of the ‘desktop pets’ that you have been able to download previously. Cats, dogs, or anime girls, who would ‘live’ on your desktop, and whom you could play with using the pointer. Poke, pet, groom, feed, whatever.

    • http://www.animatorisland.com/ J.K. Riki

      I used to love those things! Though I must admit I never heard of the “anime girl” version. Kind of creepy…

  • wever

    I can’t be sure it can do everything hand-drawn traditional animation can do, but for the time being, I’ll say this is more of a cheat.

  • Wolf Lahti

    Wow! She can turn her head and blink! I’m soooo impressed!

  • Aaron B.

    I’ve seen something like this used for teleconferencing; definitely not as technologically advanced, but the application rings familiar.

    …that and the eventual prospects of the “adult entertainment” business.

  • Tina

    We all know why this was made…well, most know. For them, this is less of a “breakthrough”, and more of a “we’re gonna use this for hentai-ish things”.

    • victoria

      if you actually invented a device that let guys have sex with anime girls in the most realistic way possible, you would be the richest person to ever walk the earth.

  • http://www.animatorisland.com/ J.K. Riki

    I’m not going to write anything off before it has had its fair shake, but for me the life that exists in 2D animation specifically stems from the fact that each frame is started ANEW. Any 3D model is going to remain on screen exactly as it was when you get to the next frame before it is posed, so it’s nearly impossible to approach it the same way. The human element is what MAKES 2D, just as the computer element is why 3D (even in “2D”) is what it is.

    Unless you must start each frame over from what is essentially scratch (blank page) the limitations of 3D will continue to exist by comparison no matter what type of “skin” they put on it. If you want 2D, you’re going in the wrong direction. You need it to be LESS perfect, not more.

    • Oluseyi

      Holds and loops don’t exist in your version of 2D animation?

      • InternetPolice

        Oluseyi — J.K.’s point is a great one and deserves more attention. The strength of hand drawn animation is that each drawing is created to serve the specific requirements of the frame(s) it occupies; whereas with CG you’re bound by the limitations of your rig. It makes no sense to simulate the hand drawn approach with CG, as it undermines hand drawn’s greatest asset.

      • http://www.animatorisland.com/ J.K. Riki

        Exactly. It isn’t that Holds and Loops don’t exist, but they are the exception rather than the norm. In CG you literally never get a blank frame to appear next, because as IP said, the model is always there and exists. Even in stop-motion where there is a model one frame to the next, alterations on that model can be such that you CAN’T go back to what once was. In 3D animation you can click a button and poof- you have exactly what you started with again without any thought. Even if you do a traceback in 2D, that drawing has a life of its own thanks to the imperfection of the human hand.

      • http://animationhardtofind.blogspot.com GW

        I’m a little late to replying to this comment, but it’s hypothetically possible to create a model for every frame in a program like zbrush. You could do a combination of that and remodeling a model for each new frame. You don’t need a rig unless you want details like realistic hair that you can’t animate by hand. This might take an unrealistic amount of memory at the moment, but it’s clearly in the realm of possibility.

  • http://www.drawing4life.blogspot.com/ Patrick Tuorto

    Definitely on the precipice of a big leap in traditional animation technology. Very interesting. I think it could (and will) be applied to many things, I can see it being viable for theme parks as Jerry mentioned, I can also see the technology lifting 2D off the screen and into a “holographic” kind of story experience. I just believe for anyone who’s in animation, the future will be one exciting ride.

  • Peter J Casey

    So glad they perfected the art of flash tweening! No more painstakingly drawing those needless frames! It almost had me fooled for actual animation. Bravo!

  • http://animationhardtofind.blogspot.com GW

    Why don’t they just use virtual 3D drawing? This is what SANDDE’s for.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/sanddeanimation1?feature=results_main

  • Matt Sullivan

    This is the latest in pervert-powered 12 year old girl technology.

    Seriously, what’s with the obsession with sailor-suit clad girls in Japan? I don’t get it.

  • http://theartofthomfoolery.blogspot.com Thom Foolery

    I think this technology combined with real time mo-cap and 3D hologram projection could be amazing. With that combination it could be possible (as the technology evolves and improves) that you could have “toons” walking around Toon Town in DisneyLand, or stage a real Gorillaz concert.

  • G Baby

    Why do people insist on revolutionizing 2D animation???…..leave 2D alone!!!

    The practical and technical application of this “technological breakthrough” would only be useful for low budget projects. I don’t see this making a break in the film industry or large software markets anytime soon.

  • Jeff

    Gee, maybe they’ll be able to use it to get the character’s chin and jaw to move when they talk.

    • http://www.animatorisland.com/ J.K. Riki

      Whoa now, let’s not get crazy!

  • Crystal

    What I saw in the video, it actually looked kind of impressive, but if the characters can’t do much more than what I saw, it could get old kind of quickly.

    I thought the 2 character designs were kinda pretty though.

  • Mark Caballero

    Mary Blair is better than Star Wars

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Congratulations Mark, you wins the Internets!

  • Chris

    I`v been experimenting with the same type of ideas for years now. Using a similar technique.

    This is some of the results

    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_C-T93Fnm4ILNEe3yikkbQ?feature=guide

  • hitface

    you get that its not just an animating program but something that helps you code things as well, right?
    they’ve used this type of animation for a while in adult dating sims, and thats what its intended for, is making interactive animations for dating sims, not just animating in general. Its more akin to a game making program than a straight up animating program

  • Rachel Gitlevich

    I think its pretty neat! I can see why there’s a cloud of skepticism surrounding this product, but I like the “real time” application of it. With the boom in “apps” and app games, this could be a valuable tool.

    I don’t know, flash started out as a limited program useful only to making impressive flashy websites that took eons to load, and now its one of the lead animation tools on the market! You never know. Doubt this is it, but its another interesting step in combining the aesthetics of traditional art with 3D computer animation techniques.

  • purin

    It works well enough for what they’re applying it to at the moment. In that context, this sort of thing is a real step up.

    It would be interesting to see this developed further. If they get that full 3D thing going, imagine what it could do for non-sim video games!

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com Frank Panucci

    CRAZY TALK ANIMATOR has been around for years.
    http://youtu.be/ed_HAJGJfeQ

  • Tito Villarreal

    No doubt This would defiantly be cool if it was used in theme parks and other similar means of entertainment, but for a full fledged animated cartoon… I think not.