The Register

Muvizu animation suite: Unreal 3D modeling without the boring bits

Digimania’s Muvizu is a free 3D animation software running on the Unreal engine. It allows you to create movies and even upload them directly to YouTube or Facebook from the application. Considering how much Autodesk’s Maya or 3DS Max will set you back and how many man hours it will take you to do the simplest of animations (and trust me, I know), programs like Muvizu make me all warm inside with their simplicity and ease of use.

Muvizu is quick to install and impressively easy to use. The app’s strapline of “Direct, don’t animate!” indicates how it just cuts straight to the fun. Be sure to check out the tutorials will equip you with all the skills you need to complete a finished animation, including multi-camera shots.

Muvizu isn’t trying to be photo-realistic though and benefits hugely from this approach. Blobs and cute cartoony characters fill its silly stable of pre-made toons. With the ability to add tails, guitars and the odd funny hate, the people who made this software want me to have fun.

Lighting and shadows, on the other hand, do very well in the realism stakes, giving the software a feel that someone is paying attention to the details so you don’t have to. This also applies to the effects being able to add uber-realistic fire and fog to a scene really gave it some bling and took it to a new level of excitement.

There is a pre-defined movie gallery that I used and I could edit and direct most of the elements including nuances like eyes and head gestures. Staying away from the brain ache that is control vertices, rendering times and UV maps, Muvizu gives me real control without the boring bits. I can concentrate on the story and the fun stuff during the construction of my usual perverted narratives.

Having complex character animations with lip-sync dialogues preprogrammed is also helpful for those who don’t have any 3D modeling or animation experience. I can direct the animated characters rather than spending hours doing the actual animations. I can give directions like “Give me anger”, “Give me joy”, “Give me fear” then press record and watch my animation come together.

Controlling the cameras and fussing about with the timeline are the only elements of this software that made me pause for thought and stretch my neural pathways. Yet I’m sure that any teenager will hit the ground running when tackling this. Indeed, the very simple and intuitive interfaces make even these harder bits a breeze.

Being able to record my own dialogue was an added bonus – time to try out the squirrel voice setting on my Logitech G930 headset. Muvizu has the facility to import file types from other programs so I could knock up a few jpeg backgrounds and textures in Photoshop to really personalize my animation. There is an easy option though, as the Muvizu website is a treasure trove of add ons and ideas. I must admit I just couldn’t resist a free flying saucer or two.

Verdict

Having spent some time with it, I am not sure that Muvizu is aimed at the over thirties. However, as an educator, I can see this being really fun as a classroom tool or even for getting students to do reviews or presentations. But as I teach in a room full of iMacs, I do hope Digimania will release a Mac version soon, so I won’t have to resort to running it on Boot Camp all the time.