We’re really happy to share this exclusive interview with Goro Fujita, a VR pioneer and unique artist we had the pleasure to welcome last year in Paris at IAMC in March. We would like to know more about his artistic path and his vision for the VR market and tools, as he is currently working on a VR painting tool called Quill at Facebook.
IAMAG : Can you give us a quick overview of your career?
Goro Fujita : I graduated from a 3D animation program in Germany in 2005. While studying animation I got interested in digital painting as well and started doing daily paintings. After graduating I started working as a freelance character animator and visual development artist at various studios in Germany. In 2008 I was hired by DreamWorks Animation as a Visual Development Artist and worked there for 7 years on projects including Megamind, Madagascar 3, Penguins of Madagascar and Boss Baby.
In 2015 I left DreamWorks and joined Facebook owned Oculus Story Studio as an Art Director. I worked on the tail end of “Lost” and Art Directed Emmy Award winning “Henry”. After the closure of Oculus Story Studio in May 2017, I re-joined Facebook to continue development of a VR painting tool called Quill that we developed at Story Studio for the VR experience “Dear Angelica”.
IA: You are known to have done hundreds of speed paintings throughout the years, how has it helped you to create art?
GF : I’d say those daily speed paintings were the reason for the unexpected turn I took from being an animator to becoming a fulltime artist. I used daily painting as a method to study and grow. If you set yourself a time limit (30min a day in my case) there is no time to get caught up with details.
Every mistake you make is very apparent which helps you to find your weaknesses and what you need to work on. In the beginning I made every possible mistake but the longer I kept up with it, the more I was able to see the goods and bads and was able to improve bit by bit to a point where I could apply my skillset on a professional level. Here are a few of my daily 30min paintings.
IA : Since 2015, you have been using VR to create art as well. Did it change your perception for art?
GF : I think VR is a wonderful invention. I’m using the above mentioned VR painting app ”Quill” to do VR paintings. I still remember the magical moment when Inigo Quilez (the creator of Quill) let me try his first VR painting tool prototype. Drawing a line in 3D space was something I’ve never done before.
But that’s only the start. Quill allows us to enter our minds. It allows us to physically be inside our imagination. I met my character that I created in 2004 for the first time inside Quill in 2015. I was literally standing next to him which was an unforgettable moment for me! VR truly opened a door to a new art form different from traditional paintings, sculptures, installations etc. it stands on its own.
I believe that as VR becomes more accessible to the public, art in VR will expand the VR audience far beyond hardcore gamers. Here is a piece I call Worlds in Worlds showcasing Quill’s infinite canvas.
IA : Can you explain to someone who’s never used VR for creation, the vision behind Quill, the software you are working on and use to create art in VR?
GF : Quill is a VR illustration tool built to empower artists and creators, whether to create final art or as a production tool for concept creation. It allows users to paint in virtual reality on an infinitely scalable canvas – with rich color tools and different brushes.
Quill is designed to be expressive, precise and to let the artist’s “hand” come through clearly. It puts the Artist first, there is no lighting, no smoothing of lines nothing that adds visual opinion to the artists imagination.
IA : What’s your perception of the future of art and VR for the movie and game industry?
GF : I believe that with VR we finally found the medium that is made for creating objects, characters, worlds in 3D space. Regardless if you are working on a VR production or a traditional 3D pipeline there is no faster method than creating assets in VR
In VR you are not constrained to a 2D surface (tablet or computer monitor) anymore. You can manipulate, paint and sculpt in all axis at one time which was not possible before. Everything you create can be then exported to other 3D applications and can benefit all kinds of departments down the production pipeline from previsualization to final asset creation. Creating in VR can significantly cut down production time and budget for any entertainment production.
IA : You’re now doing daily 30min paintings in Quill (Quillustrations). How does this kind of exercise differ from traditional speed painting?
GF : Knowledge wise it is the same as 2D painting, but the approach is slightly different. At first I thought it would take much longer to paint in 3 dimensions because you have to paint multiple angles vs one angle when you paint in 2D.
But after a few Speed Quillustrations I started noticing the benefits of painting in 3D and how you can use it to your advantage making the workflow in a way faster than painting in 2. A simple example is if you paint a tree in 2D and duplicate it to have a second tree, you have to go back and change the tree shape to avoid making it look like a duplicate.
In 3D however, you can paint a tree, duplicate and simply rotate it to get a completely different looking tree. Another big advantage is that you don’t have to spend time on getting the perspective right as in 3D space perspective is given. It’s been exciting to find out more and more about the possibilities in this new medium and doing Speed Quillustrations are a very effective way finding them.
IA: At the beginning of the year you released your incredible animated piece made with Quill “A Moment in Time”. Can we learn more about this special piece?
GF : Painting in 3D was a dream of mine long before Quill. In 2013 I created 3D illusions in photoshop. I would generate a left eye right eye image out of one painting and animate back and forth between them to create the illusion of 3D.
Then Inigo came along and allowed me to actually paint in 3D with Quill making my Dream possible. A Moment in Time was beyond that Dream….kind of like a Dream that I wasn’t able to Dream about cause I did not ever consider it as a possibility to animate a painting but also rotate around it at the same time.
When Inigo opened that door for me I asked myself :
“What if I painted and animated a moment in time that people could explore and experience from multiple angles at their own pace?”
This is when I started working on my first animated Quillustration. I started with a street and animated a guy walking down this street frame by frame. Then I added a guy smoking a cigarette on the other side of the street all as looping animations. The more I added to the scene the more magical it became.
Seeing my painted characters come alive and being inside my painting with them was incredible. The scene kept growing and as I added positional audio to the mix it became complete. This piece took me about 80 hours to finish and the fact that Quill allows a single person to create something like this is still mind boggling to me.
IA : What are your thoughts on hand drawn/painted animation done in VR?
GF : There is something truly special if one artist can create an animation in VR from start to finish. In traditional 3D pipelines you tend to lose the initial charm that you have in 2D concept paintings due to many steps and opinions in the production process. The end result might still look good but often times you lose the “hand” of the designer during the process.
Quill and VR allows the creator to do every step from start to finish without computed lighting or simulations and maintains 100% of the artists hand till the end. Here is my latest animated piece. All the charm that you see in a single painting is maintained when animated.
IA : How do you think a software like Quill and its associated technology, can help to create new ways for the public to consume/interact with art?
GF : I think that’s what we are trying to find out. This new art form opened so many new doors for art consumption and interaction. Quill doesn’t have multi user capability yet but I can’t wait for the day where I can paint with my fellow artists in the same space as an old painting tool open canvas allowed us to do.
Here is a taste of what multi user could be like. This is a piece I did with the VR Art community. My friend and artist Carlos Felipe Leon started with an empty wrestling ring with a referee and then we started to take turns (Quill tennis) with people from the art community to add to the scene. 10 people ended up participating to create this awesome mayhem.
IA : What are in your opinion the most promising markets for VR and Quill?
GF : I think Quill limitless potential to touch many industries and individuals but I have no doubt that it will be a huge asset to any entertainment production such as feature film, tv and games. The information you can extract from one single painting with minimal cost and time investment is invaluable for any production. I could also see it impacting Product Design, Industrial Design, Fashion Design etc.
IA: We’ve really enjoyed your presentation last year at IAMC, can we except some surprises this year at IAMC18?
GF : I think we will have quite a few surprises coming up! We are working on some exciting new features that I can hopefully share sooner than later. Stay tuned! Here is a piece I did for our Quill update we released at the beginning of July.
IA: What software/hardware do you need to use Quill and where can we learn more about the software?
GF: You need to have a VR Ready computer and the Oculus Rift with Touch controllers and you are all set. Quill is downloadable from the Oculus Store. Check out our Quill Page to learn more about the tool.
IA: Anything else you’d like to share?
GF: I’ve been working on building a VR art community to show the world the wonderful possibilities of creating in VR. There are three Facebook groups I created I’d like to highlight:
Virtual Painting group for drawings done using painting tools in VR
Virtual Sculpting group for 3D models done using modeling tools in VR
Virtual Animation group for animations done using animation tools in VR
These groups are growing fast and it has been aw inspiring to see what everyone has been creating in this new medium.
IA : If people would like to contact you how would you like to be contacted?
GF : You can send me a message on my Facebook page.