Why is Snapchat Building a 3D Character Animation Studio?
Ok, so I promised you guys I wouldn’t post about the looming battle between public policy and human progress for a while, so instead, I’ll go back to doing what y’all pay me the big bucks (no you don’t) to do: speculating on upcoming video technology. specnologhy? techulation? NM….let’s get into it.
Now usually I don’t do this but uh…go on ‘head on break ’em off with a lil’ previews of the speculations…
A quick glance at the Snap Inc. job board shows that they’re hiring 3d character modelers, riggers and animators as well as light/texture artists, editors and mo-cap (character performance capture) specialists with proficiencies in 3ds Max and Maya. I know. This means absolutely nothing to you. HOWEVER, if you’re in the film world, you’ll recognize this as pretty much every role you would expect to find on the Pixar job board, with the exception of maybe hair and lipsynch specialists (but those may be coming next week…I dunno). Basically, Snap Inc. is staffing out a pretty complete character animation team. What does it all mean?
Now, all of this hiring could just point to more of the same. Snapchat is already gamifying 3d filters and working on real-world AR ad integration, but I think hiring this amount of character talent points to something more sophisticated than AR billboards and gamified masks. Here are a couple of possibilities:
A much more sophisticated (AR+) morphing of your world and its inhabitants via 3d animation…sort of like the Spectacle speculation I threw out there last summer. This is super interesting, because it would indicate the ability to motion-capture and transform way more of the everyday objects in your snaps. So, theoretically you could transform the homey Ben into a cool ass dragon without like…doing the most:
Implanting actual characters and potentially even character-driven storylines/games into the Snapchat experience. Whether this would be entertainment content or ad/marketing placement remains to be seen, but pretty much everything that comes out of the big social ad platforms is some amalgam of the two so I would bet on that. We did a similar thing with the Muppets at Viddy years ago. It was a lot less sophisticated (used several pre-shot scenes that users could select and layer into their video posts), and required both a processing turnaround and pre-mod (because Disney) but it was wildly popular and a pretty damn impressive feature for an iOS app in 2011. People loved interacting with the Muppets in their videos…people like Warren Sapp.
Now that Disney and Snapchat are working super closely, don’t be surprised if you see them test a totally new type of integrated content marketing/advertainment on the Snapchat platform in 2017. Think like: there’s a new animated feature coming out for the holiday season and you can make short fan-fic scenes with the real characters on Snapchat. OR, maybe one of the series Disney is developing for Snapchat will be a completely original interactive property, allowing fans to fully integrate themselves as a character into the storyline. It could be just about anything. Like a very wise fictional child once told bruh:
Of course, this is all pretty futuristic and far-reaching for traditional brands and even for a soon-to-be-public social media platform, but I’m not here to start rumors about the present.