A gigantic redback spider, dung beetle, honey bee, lady bird, worm and meat ant are the six heroes of a high-tech animation developed by the team at Deakin Motion.Lab in partnership with ABC Education and produced by ABC R&D.

“Minibeast Heroes” has been created for ABC Education and is available online  from February 6. 

On February 5, the ABC launched the program “Minibeast Heroes” as part of ABC Education and will be seen by millions of students online and on TV. With breathtaking photorealism, each animated insect is shown as an environmental hero and towers over the animated “human” host, who is half their size.

The program has been created as a miniseries of six episodes, each two-and-a-half minutes long, and will form a centrepiece of ABC Education for 2018, linking to the Australian Curriculum for Primary Science classrooms. It will be available online at ABC Education and on iView from February 6, 2018. The project was produced by ABC R&D.

Adding to the excitement, a behind-the-scenes featurette on how the program was made by the ABC and features the Deakin Motion.Lab team during production late last year. 

 

 Project leader Dr Jordan Beth Vincent explained that Motion.Lab has developed a ground-breaking process for creating animation that is totally different to traditional animation production techniques. Its use of motion capture, facial capture and computer game engine technology allows the team to render animation in real time.

“We worked with a very fast turnaround time, completing the whole program in only a few months,” she said.  

“We wanted to give the director a lot of creative control in directing the talent (ABC’s Carl Smith), even though the outcome was going to be fully CG. With virtual cameras that imitate live-action cinematography tools, this is a tremendous step forward in how quickly we can create this kind of content. With traditional methods, producing something of this quality would have taken many months.

“Our system gives us a sneak peak of what we’re getting, which meant we were able to see human characters, bugs and the virtual environment together. This helped the director, Stefan Wernik (Armchair Productions) to make informed decisions quickly, so we had a rough cut of all the episodes by the end of the shooting week. This is a huge time and money saver, compared to traditional animation techniques, and is a process that we have been applying to a number of industry contexts over the past few years.” 

“We feel incredibly lucky to have worked so closely with ABC R&D (Producers Astrid Scott and Amy Nelson) on this project,” Dr Vincent says. “The R&D team really championed the use of innovative technology and it made for a terrific collaboration.”

Carl Smith has written about his experience during production: read his article here on the ABC.

ABC R&D have outline their findings about using virtual production and streamlining production: read the article here.