New Study: VR eliminates the learning curve for Maya

/ January 11, 2020

New Study: VR eliminates the learning curve for Maya

Could VR open doors for professionals of all backgrounds to jump in and assist the digital animation process without any special training?

New research suggests that VR effectively eliminates the learning curve of using the complex 3D graphics software Autodesk Maya. Lowering the time required to get your hands dirty in Maya means a wide variety of artists and supervisors can jump right in and join the previz process (and even the actual animation and review process as well). This ultimately means that professionals and consulting artists without any formal training in Autodesk Maya can be taught to use Maya in VR in the same amount of time that established Maya professionals can – a surprising discovery.

The research, out of Carleton University in Ontario, Canada, used MARUI PlugIn to bring a VR viewport to Autodesk Maya, and tested two groups, experienced Maya modelers and people with no experience in Maya. The researchers found that the ME (Maya experienced) and NME (non-Maya experienced) groups showed no statistically significant difference (t^14=0.284, p=.78) in the speed and accuracy of previz tasks. The non experienced users actually outperformed the experienced users by a small margin, and while this result was encouraging, it was not significant. Still, it indicates that overall, people with no previous experience in Maya can use the program in VR with just as much training as those with years of Maya experience.

The researchers conclude:

“The results of the experiment are positive and suggest that VR applications like Marui have the potential to inform process redesigns to make the preproduction workflow faster and less costly. Specifically, our results suggest that the use of VR in this context accelerates the learning curve relative to the conventional 3D modeling process. We found that novice participants with no prior 3D modeling experience were not worse at a camera layout task than experienced modelers. We surmise that VR may allow talented visual storytellers from other domains (e.g., live – action or gaming) with less domain-specific experience to perform these cinematic functions, potentially broadening the talent pool.”

The VR viewport was extremely popular with all the participants, both experienced modelers and beginners, with a unanimous 16 of 16 participants indicating that they view VR as the process that “most represents the future” and issuing a “Thumbs Up” rating on the VR immersive experience for setting up the camera. Both groups also gave MARUI and VR a 5 or above (out of 7) for perceived effectiveness and user-friendliness.

Here’s a video showing the ease of camera creation and placement in Maya using MARUI and VR:

MARUI PlugIn promises to increase the accessibility of Autodesk Maya. Initial results of this study in conjunction with the study by Cannavo et al (2019) suggest that VR both increases the accessibility of 3D graphics software as well as the overall speed of production. Hopefully research in this area continues to expand and major studios follow the lead of Magnopus and ILMxLab in adopting VR as a production tool for animation, VFX, and other 3D CGI work. 


VR previz study:

Blender VR speed test study:

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