Muvizu's Movies

Glasgow's animators put you in the director's chair with a new tool for would-be Pixar people, from cutting edge digital studio Muvizu

Feature by Alex Cole | 27 Feb 2012
  • Muvizu

For all the stuff the computer lets anyone do these days, from editing together crappy music video remixes to making your photos look like vintage knockoffs, 3D animation has always been one that’s way out of reach for the common mortal. Thankfully, there’s now a fancy-pants tool to make animating a scene or story as easy as it’s ever been, and all that’s courtesy of a couple dozen brains in Glasgow.

Muvizu, the animation spin-out of the DA Group, is all about letting users direct an entire scene with minimal effort and maximum emotion. The way head honchos Vince Ryan and Kerry Kasim tell it, "You tell your actor how to behave - angry, sad, happy, scared etc. The actors therefore perform as directed, by mood.” The software, built on the Unreal 3 engine, is stylised to accommodate a good array of scenes, and users drop in their script and voices, and let the program take care of the rest. What comes out the other end is a shiny new animation right out of Pixar’s bag of tricks. “Directing people – telling them what to do and coaxing a performance out of them – comes more naturally to people than traditional animation.”

The real strength of the approach seems to be Muvizu’s rabid user community, who become experts quickly and are very vocal on the forums. The videos end up as school projects, music videos, and even regular web series, but the core tools seem to bring together natural storytellers. “What these clips tend to show is how powerful good writing and clever dialogue can be.” The fact that the software is free doesn’t hurt either.

While any digital start-up these days fights against the London bias, the team at Muvizu seem pretty pleased with the talent available in Scotland. “We have artists working with us who are world-class in their field; our developers, too, could give anyone a run for their money.” The office, too, seems littered with the detritus of creative types, all of which seems to contribute to some impressive design and natural animation.

There are a handful of ‘ordinary-people’ level animation programs out there, but few of them have quite the ease, charm, and Scottish irreverence as Muvizu. For a fast, creative tool that can churn out industry-quality work, there ain’t much better.