New Kinetic Wire Character Technology From Disney Research

New Kinetic Wire Character Technology From Disney Research! Disney Research has been at the forefront of entertainment technology since day one of Walts vision for Disneyland. Since the 1960s and they’ve been improving technology created by Disney Imagineers including the first modern animatronics.

Times have changed and now Disney has developed some interesting techniques for animated characters made from wire.  “The Disney team came up with a computational model to predict which template shapes could be added to each wire to make it bend to fit the animation needs without deforming. A commercially available CNC wire bender installs the templates that lie in the plane of the wire, while coiled templates are added later with a spring-bending jig.”-HACKDAY

Elastically deforming wire structures are lightweight, durable, and can be bent within minutes using CNC bending machines. We present a computational technique for the design of kinetic wire characters, tailored for fabrication on consumer-grade hardware. Our technique takes as input a network of curves or a skeletal animation, then estimates a cable-driven, compliant wire structure which matches user-selected targets or keyframes as closely as possible. To enable large localized deformations, we shape wire into functional spring-like entities at a discrete set of locations. We first detect regions where changes to local stiffness properties are needed, then insert bendable entities of varying shape and size.

To avoid a discrete optimization, we first optimize stiffness properties of generic, non-fabricable entities which capture well the behavior of our bendable designs. To co-optimize stiffness properties and cable forces, we formulate an equilibrium-constrained minimization problem, safeguarding against inelastic deformations. We demonstrate our method on six fabricated examples, showcasing rich behavior including large deformations and complex, spatial motion.

Take a look at the technology and how it works!

Source: Disney Research

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Heather Adamczak