Since March 2020, the events industry has been in crisis. Virtual events have grown exponentially to meet the needs of company events, but where are the innovations in online events happening? Are there new ways to increase engagement and participation at virtual events?
There are many reasons why animation is an effective communications tool. It allows complex ideas to be simplified and explained in easily digestible videos. There is also an inherent quirkiness to the medium. Anything is possible with animation. The only limits are your imagination and budget.
Unfortunately, we have been programmed by Hollywood into believing that animation is a time-consuming and expensive process.
It takes an army of people several years to produce the average animated Hollywood movie, with weeks of work required to create just a few seconds of screen time.
Motion capture studio
Motion capture has been one way to get real-time data from a performer to a digital puppet. But while motion capture may speed up the delivery time, it is not necessarily cheaper to produce.
A ventriloquist and his puppet
Performance animation is not new. It is found in traditional puppeteering and ventriloquism. These are low-tech ways to achieve real-time motion. The movements and expressions are typically simplified, using a kind of emotive shorthand to deliver the character’s performance.
With the advances in technology, it is now possible to combine puppeteering with digital technology to get real-time animation of a digital character.
The technology combines aspects of motion capture with performance animation to bring an animated character to life in a live virtual environment.
Gamers have used this technology in their live streams, and this technique has also been used at live events. Bart Simpson and Archer have both done live Q&A sessions at Comic-Con. This creates further engagement and deepens the connection with fans.
Are brands ready to deepen the connection with their audience?
The word 'avatar' originates in Hinduism and means the 'descent' of a deity to take on a human appearance. In computing, an avatar has come to mean the digital representation of a character. Avatars are common in gaming with an avatar representing a player in the game world.
Avatars can add a different 'voice' or perspective to an online event. They can represent a brand in the form of a spokesperson or mascot or another voice such as that of the audience or a group of people attending the event.
Mickey Mouse meets the crew at Nasa – 1959
In branding, a mascot is one of the oldest ways for a brand to express its personality and values. A brand mascot can be animal, mineral or vegetable and acts as a spokesperson for the brand.
It is a way of adding a voice to a brand, expressing its persona and adding a fun element to the 'serious' business of branding.
By combining real-time performance animation with an avatar or brand mascot, it is possible to add a unique voice to a live virtual event.
An animated character allows for a fun, quirky element to be added to an online event and opens up a world of possibility to increase engagement and participation.