Reverse Shadow Theatre from gabor papp on Vimeo.

There’s no shortage of stunning motion graphics in the world. But something’s missing: human beings. Sure, you can render endless, polished animations, but can you perform with animation like you can a musical instrument? Just as studio recording gloss and sameness has made people crave live music in clubs, so, too, has increasingly sophisticated visual software.

Enter Animata, an incredible-looking 3D animation tool. By working in real-time, it enables performance, physical control by live bodies, sound reactivity, and interactivity. And its unique approach to design makes it incredibly quick to build characters and put them in motion, thanks to simplified, bone-like character geometry and physics models. From the creators’ site:

The peculiarity of the software is that the animation – the movement of the puppets, the changes of the background – is generated in real-time, making continuous interaction possible. This ability also permits that physical sensors, cameras or other environmental variables can be attached to the animation of characters, creating a cartoon reacting to its environment. For example, it is quite simple to create a virtual puppet band reacting to live audio input, or set up a scene of drawn characters controlled by the movement of dancers.

In contrast with the traditional 3D animation programs, creating characters in Animata is quite simple and takes only a few minutes. On the basis of the still images, which serve as the skeleton of the puppets, we produce a network of triangles, some parts of which we link with the bone structure. The movement of the bones is based on a physical model, which allows the characters to be easily moved.

Watch how quickly those characters are animated. That has an added benefit: by saving time on the animation side, you have more flexibility to do the hard work of choreography, adjusting physical inputs, and integrated media, instead of lots of reinventing the wheel just to get some static animation done that won’t work with the dance. (I, uh, speak from experience here.)

Animata: rigid body creation from bencesamu on Vimeo.

I imagine that some creative abuse of these tools could produce idiosyncratic results nothing like even these jaw-dropping demos. Have a look: it’s entirely open-source, cross-platform, and comes with a number of tutorials. I can’t wait to see what people do with us, so be sure to share your projects!

Animata Project Page

Animata Jazz Pub from gabor papp on Vimeo.

Thanks to grigori for finding this: vdmo Kstati

  • Darren Landrum

    Well, this would certainly make it easier for a small team to remake Fantastic Planet in the original animation style. 🙂

    The problem I have is that you can't seem to do perspective changes on any of the appendages. The drummer especially bothers me, as all he's doing is twitching, and his left arm never moves to where I know the snare actually is. That would require the perspective on his left forearm to change in real time, as well as its position. My question then becomes, how might one accomplish that?

    Yes, I know, gift horse, mouth, and all that, and this does look like really cool software, but between early-onset arthritis and having a bad cold, I've been feeling an awful lot like Dr. House lately.

  • grigori

    I mentioned this to Jaymis just over a week ago.. 🙂

  • Michael Forrest

    OH MY GOD 🙂

    This is what I've been waiting for, and periodically failing attempts to code myself since about 1999! Ooray!

  • mj


  • WOOOOW. This is soooo cool!!! Will check this out as soon as I get the time. I will do a workshop for kids, so this would be soooo cool.

  • This is freaking great stuff!

  • Joe

    This looks wicked!!! Im going to have to not work for an hour now.

  • shit love it – but used the gravity button, now my indonesiean felt in a big black hole – can't find him anymore

  • Here's a lil video of a performance work connecting gesture through an iPhone (running thru MaxMSP for the mapping) into Animata:


  • Keith Crosley

    Hmm – this is really neat and all, but why are these open source thingies always to *tragically difficult* to figure out. The app has no help file (at least, nothing happened when I selected Animata Help/F1). How on earth are you supposed to hook a bone up to a MIDI or OSC controller? Sigh…

    The concept here is a lot like Anime Studio (formerly Moho) which would be perfect for stuff like this except that it has no support for MIDI controllers.

    Double sigh.

    The whole "science fair" side of live visuals is so tiresome.

    Can anyone point me to documentation for using MIDI CC's with Animata?

  • Cort3x

    I think the title of this post is a bit misleading – it seems to me that the animations are more 2-dimensional than 3-dimensional. Maybe you could call it pseudo-3d?

  • Keith,
    you can find information about the animata osc messages on the animata-users mailing list. this message might help from the archives:
    you can also subscribe to the mailing list and ask questions if you get stuck:

  • I wrote a little tutorial on how to control Animata from Max/MSP or Pure Data

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  • mars

    can you export the movies?

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