PixCap's CEO and Founder CJ Looi has shared some behind-the-scenes info about PixCap, an innovative, cloud-based 3D animation platform that allows users to create 3D animations in the browser.
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PixCap 3D Animation Platform
80.lv: Please tell us about PixCap, when was the company founded? How does PixCap operate? What services do you provide?
CJ Looi, Co-Founder and CEO at PixCap: The company was founded in 2020, the team is fully remote. We provide a 3D animation platform that runs on the browser. The goal is to make 3D animation a lot simpler and more collaborative. A good analogy is Canva for 3D animation.
80.lv: Let's discuss your recently revealed 3D animation platform, how did you come up with the idea? What are the platform's advantages? Why did you decide to make the platform cloud-based?
CJ Looi: The idea of creating our 3D animation platform came up mainly because we couldn’t find an easy way to create animations for custom games and apps. I was working on a VR game 4-5 years ago, and back then 3D models and animations were a nightmare to source. At the time I thought someone would have solved this problem within 5 years, so I didn’t think much about it.
But fast forward to the present day, and it’s still a problem. 3D models these days are relatively easy to find through platforms like Sketchfab (though not necessarily cheap), but animations are still very hard to come by (and are also very time-consuming). Mixamo seems to be the main resource but it’s only for humanoid mocap animations. Many games and apps are not based on realistic mocap animations. And even if they were, game devs/artists need a lot more variety beyond Mixamo’s basic game animation cycles.
Most existing software charge several dollars per animation in their asset stores, and from what I’ve seen this isn’t very helpful to the 3D community. We want to make it more accessible and make 3D a bit more open for everyone.
We decided to make PixCap web-based because it enables collaboration and community from the start. A lot of animators think this is crazy and won’t work, and they’re probably right in that web-based won’t work for complex high-end CG. But that’s not our target. We focus on 3D animations and assets for games and apps. That means less emphasis on high-quality rendering and fidelity, and more on making animations easy to find and compatible exports with game engines. If you look at the most successful marketplaces like Sketchfab and Turbosquid, or community platforms like ArtStation, they’re all web-based. It’s just a lot easier to find 3D content through the web and to share things via a single URL, instead of dealing with file exports.
80.lv: What 3D Animation problems do you aim to solve with your platform? What are the features of PixCap's platform that will help animators to deal with the challenges of 3D animation?
CJ Looi: Our main target is game artists and devs that do not necessarily have a lot of animation experience. Believe it or not, the most liked features of PixCap are the easy IK and Finger widget, followed by AI mocap.
Rigging and IK are quite tricky to set up in existing software like Maya/Blender, but in PixCap this is achieved through a few simple clicks. The Finger widget also requires very little to no setup at all, and it makes animating fingers a lot quicker.
AI Motion Capture
80.lv: Let's talk about your most prominent feature – AI motion capture, how was it created and implemented into the platform? What tools did you use to create it? How was the AI aspect set up?
CJ Looi: AI motion capture is meant to make 3D character animation faster and easier, but only if the AI works well on the video. We have shown that with AI and a good reference video, animators can spend 2x less time on the animation. The AI is not perfect, but it gets there 50-60% of the way. Most of the time animators have to do a bit of cleaning afterward, but it’s easier than keyframing from scratch.
We do all the AI on our servers, which means that users don’t need a good PC to run AI and use PixCap. We have an in-house AI algorithm for the image capture part. For the video capture, we’ve partnered with DeepMotion for that.
Drag-n-Drop Animation Libraries and Assets
80.lv: And what about drag-n-drop animation libraries and assets, how were those set up? How can animators use them to their advantage?
CJ Looi: We haven’t released drag-n-drop libraries and assets, but it’s in our roadmap for early this year. Animators and game devs can use them to quickly get started instead of doing everything from scratch. One of the hardest parts about animation is how tricky and time-consuming it is to get both the blocking/posing and timing to work. It’s a skill that not many game devs and artists have. So we aim to provide a library for them to build from because it’s much much quicker and easier to make simple tweaks to an existing animation instead of a keyframe from scratch.
80.lv: What are the company's plans for the future? How do you plan to attract new users? What new features do you plan to implement?
CJ Looi: Our main priority is to release drag-n-drop animations and assets in the next 3 months, as well as a few key features that we can’t share yet but will be released soon! The library would be split into paid/premium (where artists can monetize their work) and free.
We’ve started to create 3D animations and models in-house and hope to make most of them free and available for commercial use. Our goal is to help make 3D a bit more open and easier after all. But we probably can’t do this alone and would need contributions from the wider community.
It would be amazing to request 3D Artists to contribute and make the PixCap library available to even more artists and devs. We will have an option for artists to sell their art and/or contribute to the free community library as well.
For example, we have partnered with Zac from Poly.pizza and Quaternius to provide our first library version with a few thousand low poly models, all for free and commercial use. We’re looking for a lot more creators to help build up the library into something that is valuable to even more members of the wider community.
3D artists, if you’re reading this, we’d love to get to know you and your work in our Discord!