Muvizu

Developed by Glasgow’s DA Group, Muvizu 3D is an innovative animation package powered by Unreal Engine 3 that lets users of all skill sets create 3D animations with no experience required.

The Muvizu application, which includes all the assets and tools needed to create 3D movies, is available for free download from www.muvizu.com, a portal that enables users to collaborate on film, audio and drama projects with easy-to-use tools and viewable results in real time.

“We chose Unreal Engine 3 because it is proven technology with an excellent support network,” said Vince Ryan, managing director, consumer unit, DA Group.

“Furthermore, the engine accepts assets created in Maya, and this will lower the barrier to entry for our users when everyone will eventually be able to submit their own creations for others to use within the Muvizu community.”

The philosophy of Muvizu 3D is for content creators to put less energy into animating characters and more effort into directing them onscreen. The goal is to foster collaborative filmmaking by uniting people with contrasting skills through Muvizu’s virtual workspace and storyboarding capabilities.

During Muvizu’s development, DA Group relied heavily on Unreal Engine 3 for rendering, physics and especially scripting.

“The power of the scripting system allows code to be developed much more rapidly than if the entire engine were in C++,” said DA Group’s lead developer, Robert McMillan.

McMillan explained how his team came to work with Epic and ramp up to hit tight production deadlines by leveraging the Unreal Developer Network.

“In the early days, we had been in touch with Epic about using Unreal for another project that never went ahead. We’d had discussions with Mark Rein, who even came to visit our office. We didn’t know what to expect, but the help and assistance was really good. This set the tone for our expectations this time around, and it was no different. In addition, Epic were really flexible with us while the terms of the license were negotiated.”

McMillan continued, “In terms of the software, we got more than we expected. We found through UDN that people have been building add-ons for the engine for quite some time. Technology integrations for features such as animation blending systems and UI tools are available, so UDN saved us from having to do this type of integration work ourselves.

“There is definitely a feeling of community, and that community is dedicated, patient and helpful beyond the call of duty,” said McMillan. “Without UDN, we would probably have had to delay our launch for many, many months.”

“We had expected a professional relationship with Epic and not much more at first,” said Ryan. “The reality, however, was far better. We were encouraged and supported all the way by Epic. Nothing was too much trouble, and UDN seems almost to harbor a collegiate relationship. Truly remarkable and very, very helpful. It was nice to discover that, despite us being a minnow compared with other licensees, we were still accorded first-rate and friendly service.”

“The level of support and information that is available from UDN is incredible – with access to guys at Epic who really know the engine inside out,” said McMillan. “I am so glad we went with Epic, and I really don’t think we would be in the position we are in right now had we not made the right choice.”

Now that Muvizu 3D is available to the public, DA Group is working with its growing user community to bubble the most ingenious projects up to the top for all to enjoy. The studio is launching a competition that will award a high-end hardware prize to the best video created with Muvizu 3D, and the excitement will only grow as more creative types try out the application.

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