Entertainment : Games Animation
University games animation firm wins backing from Hollywood
A computer animation firm launched from the University of Surrey and inspired by space technology research has joined the UK games industry organisation after backing from Hollywood media giant 20th Century Fox.
The computer programme called IKinema, developed at the University’s Surrey Space Centre initially to help with control systems for spacecraft, has proved a brilliant way of animating the whole body of any creature in real time making them more realistic in their movements taking in gravity and balance.
The firm has been launched from the University by Dr Alexandre Pechev and has already won the backing of giant firms in the media world including 20th Century Fox.
IKinema has now joined TIGA, the trade association representing the UK games industry.
The company offers two products to market: IKinema middleware engine for PC, consoles and iPhone; and an IKinema plug-in for Autodesk Maya, designed for use in games, film, animation and TV. The company has already secured a number of high profile clients including 20th Century Fox, VICON, Framestore and Escape Studios.
Martyn Buxton-Hoare, Director of IKinema, explains the benefits of the technology: “By using IKinema, games developers can produce realistic, lifelike, fluid movement in games with minimal effort. IKinema can be plugged seamlessly into the animation pipeline to greatly increase the believability of characters and make them fully interactive with the scene.
“IKinema joined TIGA to take advantage of the services and benefits offered by the organisation. The team at TIGA has already helped us secure funding to exhibit at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco in early 2010, and has provided networking opportunities and advice that is invaluable to a start-up such as ours.
We look forward to meeting more TIGA members and would like to hear from any companies interested in trialing our products. TIGA members will also receive a special 15% discount when purchasing the IKinema plug in.”
Dr. Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, comments: “IKinema is testament to the fantastic talent for innovation and excellence that we have in the UK. This technology was honed and developed by academics at the University of Surrey and shows the importance of supporting research and development projects within our universities.”
John Griffith, 20th Century Fox Director CINEDEV (Cinematic Development), comments: “I am beyond excited to integrate IKinema into my performance capture pipeline. IKinema’s full body solver is unmatched in its ability to duplicate human behaviour.
It allows me to quickly adjust performance capture on the fly with just a few controls. I no longer need to spend hours tweaking curves to get a result. IKinema is now an essential part of my process now and in the future.”
Douglas Reinke, VICON CEO and President, comments: “IKinema provides a new and exciting method of mocap data manipulation inside of Maya. This is great news for Blade users!”
Callum MacAlister, Difference Engine Studios, comments: “A breeze to use. The learning curve is incredibly shallow and short, and it only took us a couple hours to be able to put together some interesting rigs with it.
This looks to save us a lot of time and money, too. Amazingly, we are getting close to real-time broadcast-quality animation with this system. In conclusion, this is one piece of software that has gone from ‘Interesting’ to ‘Must Have’ in about two days.”
You can see a demonstration of the technology and purchase the products at the IKinema website: www.ikinema.com