Facebook introduces free animation tools for Quill

Although it was possible to create an animation with Quill – Emmy nominee Dear Angelique was done with – animation used to be a tedious process. These custom tools introduce a clean and efficient way to produce animation in Quill, while dramatically reducing production time. For example, while testing the tools, Facebook’s resident Oculus artist Goro Fujita created a new movie, beyond the fence, in just three weeks, which would be considered fast even by the standards of traditional 3D animation software.

The new Quill tools support three different approaches to animation:

  1. Traditional frame-by-frame animation where each frame is drawn from scratch with onion skin.
  2. Frame-by-frame animation by reusing and modifying existing strokes. The character is moved frame by frame by duplicating the frames. Strokes can be edited, added and deleted since each duplicate image contains unique strokes. The feature also works in playback mode where the user can colorize and move the strokes while the animation is playing.
  3. Animation brush. If you have a layer full of empty keyframes – say 60 keyframes – you can start playback and paint with the Anim brush on that layer. The Anim brush has a lifetime setting that makes strokes visible only for a certain number of frames, which is user adjustable. This allows the artist to quickly create a particle effect like animation and can also be used by an artist to sketch animation beats. Things like fire or smoke can be animated in seconds.

Facebook also notes that any visual layer in Quill can be turned into an animation layer, and each of those layers can run at a different frame rate. For example, “Layer 1” can run at 8 frames per second, “Layer 2” at 12 frames, and “Layer 3” at 24 frames per second.

Facebook is actively working on other Quill updates and features. In today’s press release, it offered a clue to the endgame for its embrace of animation: co-immersive social virtual reality. As its Oculus Rift headsets become more mainstream, Facebook wants people to watch and interact with Quill’s animated stories with friends through its Facebook Spaces platform. The company hopes animators will use the tools to create vr-native storytelling and “invent a new kind of storytelling that’s not just compelling to watch, but fully immersive and perfect for sharing together.”

To learn more about Quill and download the free animation tools (Oculus Touch VR motion controllers required), visit the Facebook website.

The Quill animation tools interface.
The Quill animation tools interface.
The Quill animation tools interface.
The Quill animation tools interface.

Feather animation tool