Q&A with Mixamo: Trends in Character Animation

Stefano Corazza is the CEO of Mixamo, a San Francisco based company that specializes in character animation. He talks to GBR about trends in character animation as well as the company’s recently announced partnership with Autodesk.

In March Mixamo announced a strategic partnership with Autodesk. The Autodesk Animation Store fully integrates Mixamo characters into 3ds Max products and is powered by Mixamo, giving developers access to free characters and a library of customizable character animations.

1. What does the partnership you just announced with Autodesk mean for developers?

Developers will have the best possible user experience when adding characters and animations to their 3ds Max project. They will have direct access to the online repository Mixamo is providing and they will be able to test any animation directly on their character and in their 3ds Max scene before buying it.


2. Motion capture is complex. How does Mixamo fit into the overall picture for aiding developers?

One of the core strengths of Mixamo’s service is that we do the “dirty work” of motion capturing, cleaning, editing, looping the animations so that they are game-ready and developers don’t have to do anything else other then integrate the animations into their pipeline. Our motion capture studio is a state of the art full performance capture system. That combined with excellent keyframe animations is what generates Mixamo’s animation library.


3. How has character animation for games changed in the last several years? What have been the biggest shifts in the development that you have noticed?

We are seeing a lot of new game development studios coming up; most of them are made of a few very motivated and skilled developers. These smaller studios are generally the first ones to pick up new technologies and new ways to get character animation in their games. Their main objective is to get the best character animation in their games the fastest and cheapest way possible. This is where Mixamo, with services like the auto-rigger and the online animation service, has been a key player in helping developers succeed.


4. What do you see is the biggest opportunities right now for character animation?

We are in the process of putting together an end-to-end solution for character animation that leverages smart algorithms and allows a much broader audience to create high quality animations in a few seconds. The biggest opportunity we see is the massive broadening of the user base once we finalize the workflow.


5. Can you share some general metrics with us: how much does one second of Mixamo animation costs how does that compare with standard motion capture rates?

Using Mixamo’s service, one second of animation for bipedal characters costs around $25. Creating one second of animation using a motion capture studio and the related post-capture work would cost a user around $100-$300 per second depending on complexity of the animation.


6. Can you tell us a little bit about how the company got its start?

Mixamo is a spin-off of Stanford University’s cutting-edge research. We licensed some unique IP from Stanford in the field of motion capture and character animation and from there were connected with two local VCs who helped get the company off the ground in the second half of 2008.


7. Aside from Autodesk, Mixamo has announced a number of recent partners. Where is Mixamo headed over the coming years and what can we expect?

The big partnership that we announced recently followed the shipping of Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 which for the first time has an Animation Store inside the software itself, so that 3D professionals can purchase rigged characters and animations from within 3ds Max with a click of the mouse. The Autodesk Animation Store is powered by Mixamo. Other important partnerships have been established in the last years including large content providers and other development platforms such as Unity which has been a great partner for us since the beginning.


Wanda Meloni

About Wanda Meloni

Wanda Meloni is a leading market analyst in the areas of digital and interactive media, VR/AR, development tools & graphics tech. As CEO and principal analyst of M2 Insights, Wanda has been quoted in Fortune, Fast Company, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times. She also speaks at numerous industry conferences and events. She can be reached directly at wanda@M2-Insights.com

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