Incorporating Virtual Reality into Arts: Glen Keane’s Duet

Glen Keane had lived a full life. He is renowned in the eyes of animators as the person behind The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Tangled and so much more. Duet is just his latest slice of Disney magic the Keane wanted to share with the world.

Unlike his previous endeavors, Duet was made completely with the use of Virtual Reality technology.

“When I animate, There’s a frustration that I have wishing that the flatness of the paper would go away and that I can actually dive in,” said Keane in an interview with the YouTube Channel Future of Story Telling, “I would draw not to do a drawing, but so that I could step in and live in that World.”

Keane working
Screenshot from the YouTube Channel Future of Storytelling

The idea is an extremely interesting one. Keane himself had continuously experimented with the idea of virtual reality animation, and speaks on how liberating the experience had been.

“By putting tools in your hand that can create in virtual reality, I can just step into the paper and now I’m drawing in it,” said Keane in the interview, “North, south, east, west; all directions are open now.”

In previous posts, the combination of different media of art through virtual reality was discussed. What Keane and his contemporaries are attempting to do takes the utilization of virtual reality in a completely new direction: by focusing on a single medium, Keane and his colleagues are attempting to push the art of animation to its boundaries.

Once again, the commercialization of virtual reality technology is turning this niche corner of animation into a daily commodity that any one with a VR headset can experience. Released on Steam in April 2016, Tilt Brush gives its users the ability to create Virtual Reality Art in a similar way Keane does, now for cheaper and for a wider use.

Consequently, multiple VR animation films were released following Tilt Brush. In a future post, I will attempt to view Dear Angelica, a VR animation that was extremely well received at Sundance as one of the first animations of its kind.

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