Facebook introduces DIY VR for Quill

Facebook’s popular drawing tool gets an update, and it’s a big one, with tools for animation and support for professional pipelines.

Goro Fujita’s A Moment in Time is a self-reflexive experiment piece in which the creator can experience the art in the same way viewers can.

Facebook’s compelling VR drawing tool, Quill, has been updated with animation tools, and improvements to the drawing tools.

The new animation tools include layers and frame-by-frame animation. Models can be copied, repositioned, and re-posed.

The new features for Quill in this version include:

  • Layers: support for complex layer hierarchies
  • Layer Nesting System enables large extensions of drawings without losing precision. The company claims it’s possible to draw a real-scale version of the solar system at sub-millimeter precision. (We’re guessing this is an untested feature.)
  • Animated brush settings, allowing control over how strokes are drawn in clips
  • Support for very large files
  • Frame by Frame animation
  • Support for Alembic, FBX. Facebook also offers sample materials for use with Unity and Unreal
  • Standalone Quill Viewer for debugging
  • Spatial Audio Support: Mono sounds can be used spatially; support for WAV and MP3 import, and ambisonic sounds
  • Erasers, colorizers, and adjustment tools for editing

Quill came on the scene as the distinctive authoring tool used for the creation of Dear Angelica, the third title created by Oculus Story Studios.  It was shown at Sundance in early 2017. In May 2017, Oculus announced the closing of Oculus Story Studios. At that time, the company said Quill would no longer be updated, but Quill has lived on as a VR title, because people love it.

There have been hints about the animation update. Oculus Story Studios art director Goro Fujita demonstrated animation tools that had been developed for Quill in April 2017. Fujita created A Moment in Time as a bit of a thought experiment. He says, the piece was created in answer to his question: “what if I painted and animated a moment in time that people could explore and experience from multiple angles at their own pace?”

The work took something more than a moment as Fujita became fascinated with the process, creating interlinked loops. He says this first “Animated Quillistration” took about 60 hours to create.

More to come

It hasn’t taken Facebook long to go from we’re not going to update Quill to revealing new feature coming with the next release. In the demo post for Quill Animation, the company says: We’re working on many more Quill updates and features, including the ability to discover and watch animated Quill stories in Facebook Spaces with friends. People naturally want to share the experience of enjoying art with someone else, and social VR will open the door to a brand new kind of co-immersive, 3D entertainment. Today’s Quill animation tools are one step toward that future as they empower artists to push the boundaries of VR-native storytelling—to invent a new kind of narrative that’s not just compellingly watchable, but fully immersive and perfect to be shared together.

What do we think?

Facebook has introduced Spaces as an Oculus app to allow people to share VR worlds. Donning a headset and chatting with animations can only go so far. (After all, we have telephones, video chatting, messaging, etc.) However, creating and sharing worlds and stories is a new form of media the power of which we are only beginning to understand. Facebook asks that creators share their work and there is already, some great content to see.

Related links:

Oculus unveils new virtual reality art software