David O’Reilly has built a very cool animated walk cycle that takes advantage of the iPhone’s motion sensitivity.
O’Reilly describes the effect on his blog:
“The application works by assuming a constant viewing angle (35-45 degrees), typical for when the device is placed on a tabletop. The 3d scene’s perspective is warped using anamorphosis, the same technique used in Hans Holbein’s painting The Ambassadors. This application does the exact same but updates dynamically.”
There’s been some controversy online about whether O’Reilly’s animation is actually motion-sensitive or if all the animation was completed earlier and he’s simply moving the iPhone to match the onscreen action. Regardless, the reality is that there is amazing potential for interactive cartoons on the iPhone and other motion-sensitive devices. Let’s do a little blue-sky thinking and imagine the possibilities. Instead of simply watching a cartoon, viewers can now interact and control the actions of their favorite characters. A simple tilt of your iPhone could send a character walking in any direction. A quick shake could make your character turn away from another character. Don’t feel like watching an 11-minute cartoon today? Control the pace of short and make it a four-minute cartoon. New technologies will open up new narrative possibilities for animation artists.
The linear cartoon is so 20th century. For a new generation of kids, watching a cartoon with only one ending (i.e. every cartoon today) will test the limits of their patience. It’ll be the equivalent of riding a horse-and-buggy after cars had been invented. Sure, Chuck Jones and Mike Maltese came up with a good ending for One Froggy Evening, but today’s cartoonists can come up with twenty different endings for their shorts, exploring all sorts of what-if scenarios. They can begin to understand their creations from a deeper, more psychologically complex perspective. As a viewer, if you like a particular ending, you can control your character’s actions to always achieve the same result. But every individual viewer can also change the outcome of the cartoons they watch with a simple tilt or turn of their screen. Viewers can become engaged in the universe of their favorite cartoons as never before, and it will become a much richer experience for both creator and viewer. All of this could happen, but it will take the combined efforts of programmers, animators and studios with the vision and desire to push their cartoon characters into the 21st century.