Quill is a painting and animation tool that runs on Oculus Rift headsets. The application allows users to create paintings and animate in a virtual reality space. It was originally developed by Oculus Story Studio for their production of Dear Angelica, a story that was painted and plays out in VR. It was then developed beyond its initial internal usage to be commercially available on the Oculus Rift store.
Along with the Oculus Rift headset, hardware requirements include the Oculus Touch controllers, which allow users to utilize the virtual tools and interact with the objects on the infinite canvas provided.
Within the application, many typical tools of digital art are available. Like other platforms, Quill allows users to create different layers to build upon elements while keeping them separate. It also has a variety of different brushes available. These are elevated from the usual ones found on other platforms to allow painting and creating models in a virtual 3D space. In addition to painting tools, the application offers editing tools such as colorizers to help create works of art.
Traditional animation tools are also available within the application, some of which were elevated in order to work better in a 3D canvas space. Quill supports frame-by-frame animation, using keyframes, and puppeteering. Editing tools for animation creation are also available, allowing users to zoom or fade in and out, cut and paste different scenes, and edit the video just like with a traditional, 2D animation platform. Audio can also be separated into different spaces, mimicking a real life experience. Different regions of space can provide different soundtracks, playing them directionally. For example, looking at different sides of a building plays different audio in accordance to what the audience can see from that side.
For animation, Quill allows users to move and pose drawn 3D models manually after they have been established. This can mimic a frame-by-frame approach to animation without having to redraw each of them.
Within Quill itself, users can capture videos and photos. The entirety of production can be done within the application, from sketching and storyboarding to final editing and viewing. Even so, if users want to use external applications for functionality not provided by Quill, it supposedly integrates well with other applications such as Photoshop, Unity, and Maya, allowing easy import and export of assets.
USE OF VR
Quill is a good use of VR because it allows creation, editing, and viewing of virtual reality animations all in one application. Because artists can create their works within Quill, they can see exactly what the audience will be able to see. They can imagine and create worlds and settings easily because they are immersed within them. Being within a setting can help with more expressive painting because artists could understand the mindset of the characters and their interaction with the world better.
They can also view their works from several vantage points in order to ensure cohesive modeling and perfect elements that may otherwise be difficult to do. After working on something for an extended period of time, it is sometimes difficult to see mistakes. Being able to move around the space allows a fresh point of view with a tilt of the head. It gives them freedom and flexibility to create animations that can be viewed from any angle that they can think of. It may even inspire them to try out angles they may not have initially thought of because they can see their works from many different angles as well.
This way of animating and storytelling is super immersive for the audience, as all VR can be. Even if the models are not super realistic, people can feel as if they are actually within a cartoon or comic book while watching the animations. There is depth within every scene that is shown because the audience is allowed to pause and explore things in their own time, creating a unique experience from each person’s own vantage points. In this way, the animations created can bring an experience beyond just a movie or story.
There is also an added level of detail that artists can put into their works. Because the audience can explore what is presented to them on their own, artists can hide little details for viewers to find or notice at their own pace. They can also add these details in easier by, for example, pausing the foreground and working solely on the backgrounds or focusing on a specific layer.
The intended users of this application are artists, animators, and storytellers that want to create 3D virtual works to share with others. While it can be used by anyone who wants to create 3D animations, this application seems to be for more casual artists and independent animators rather than for companies like Disney that undertake large projects. Artists as well as people with little drawing experience can use Quill to create little 3D animations, but it may be difficult to create super polished works animation companies want.
POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES
Quill is free on the Oculus Rift store. This is great because it is widely accessible to everyone who would want to try it out. However, users are limited by the hardware requirements. The application is only available on the Oculus Rift. The headsets and Touch controllers are about $300 together, with varying prices and costs of shipment in other countries. If users did not have an Oculus Rift to begin with, it is unlikely that they are buying one just to utilize Quill. The headset also requires an additional device to connect to that would run the actual Quill application. While many people own a computer, phone, or console, it may not be optimal to run the application to their expectations.
An advantage of using Quill is that it eliminates the need for traditional CG knowledge in creating 3D models and animations. This is great for independent artists that may be interested in creating 3D animations, but do not have interest in or time for learning the rigging or curve manipulation needed in traditional CG animation. More casual artists can pick up Quill and create 3D animations without more training in using different applications for similar effects. Smaller teams can also benefit since they do not have a 3D modeling team that they can collaborate with or hand the project off to.
According to reviews, Quill is easy to use and quite intuitive. From screenshots of the application, the interface and menus look very similar to other digital art and video editing software available. However, people who have absolutely no experience with software like Photoshop or video editors may find some difficulty using Quill to its full functionality initially. Some reviewers say that having a tutorial to get started is extremely helpful. Just as any new piece of software, there are going to be difficulties learning the full extent of what can be accomplished with it. Other reviewers complain that the interface is confusing and hard to use, ruining the experience of the application. Overall, it seems once people get some experience using Quill, they enjoy the application, even if they are not great at painting or drawing.
Just as with any other application, users have different needs and backgrounds that influence their experience with the application. There is a unique visual style that animations made with Quill have, which might not suit certain projects. More professional and polished animations may be especially difficult to achieve because of the more sketchy feel that paintings in Quill tend to have. Some reviews also say that very detailed work is hard to achieve. In my own personal experience, it is hard to be incredibly specific and precise while doing anything in virtual reality, so it is easy to see how drawings may not have as clean lines as some may expect.
Whenever I use virtual reality, I get incredibly motion-sick, which is something that reviewers have pointed out. This is a problem with a lot of virtual reality games and applications for me, so it may be difficult for people who are prone to motion sickness to use Quill for creating 3D animations and watching them in VR.
In conclusion, Quill is a really cool application for storytelling, painting, and creating animations. There are still many issues with it, but with more development, it could be a great medium for artists and animators to create captivating and immersive VR experiences for audiences. Some features that would really add to the VR animation experience is a way to cater to senses other than auditory and visual. Providing haptic feedback when touching things could add to how real and immersive these stories are. As with a lot of technology, there are always many improvements that can be made, and VR is no exception. However, Quill could shake up the world of entertainment creation.