Blue Zoo secures Epic MegaGrant for a new animation tool

The studio says its MoPo product, which lets animators produce content in real time using VR, can make animation cheaper and faster.
April 24, 2023

London-based Blue Zoo has been building a new production tool to more quickly create animated content for digital platforms, and Epic Games is investing in its potential.

The animation studio behind Pip and Posy has secured an Epic MegaGrant to support the development of its MoPo real-time animation tool, which blends VR technology with Epic’s Unreal Engine 5 to more quickly animate characters.

With MoPo, an animator can puppeteer a character in real time by using a VR headset. Real-time animation, which renders animation instantly, has more than proven its ability to reduce costs and time during production over the last few years. MoPo is aimed at fulfilling that promise even more fully by making it so that one animator can spend minutes, instead of days, animating a short scene, according to Blue Zoo.

The studio has already been testing the tech in the production workflow for a short-form comedy series called Silly Duck (pictured above) that’s earmarked for its Little Zoo YouTube channel. Blue Zoo released a pair of two-minute episodes in December 2022, and another 10 will launch in the summer. The short series is about a man trying to go about everyday routines (like playing soccer and getting on a bus) while keeping his slapstick companion Silly Duck from causing too much trouble. The studio also produced a 30-second demo for Jazz Badgers (pictured below) in 2021 to showcase the MoPo tech.

Other prodcos tapping into the US$100-million MegaGrants fund include: Sesame Workshop, which received US$150,000 to create a 360-degree VR Sesame Street experience; and Brazil’s Hype Animation, for AI tech to create music and assets for its series Kaia’s Discoveries. The fund was established in 2019 and is aimed at supporting protection techniques and tools that use the Unreal Engine real-time rendering software.

Blue Zoo’s demo Jazz Badgers, which shows an animator producing a video in real-time.

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