What is Mixed Reality? Bringing animation into the real world

What is Mixed Reality? Bringing animation into the real world

Over the last year or so, you’ve probably heard the mysterious term “Mixed Reality” uttered in parts of Silicon Roundabout and in tech shops round Shoreditch. But what does it actually mean? And how will it affect the reality (virtual or otherwise) that we live in? The answer, is quite an interesting one.

 “The merging of the real and virtual world”

“Mixed Reality”, put simply, is a phrase coined to describe the merging of the real and virtual world in a sort of augmented space. Where real and digital objects, or animations as we’ll chat about in this blog, can co-exist alongside each other. And when it comes to animation, the scope is huge. We’re still in the infancy of the mixed reality business, with the likes of Microsoft HoloLens just starting to take real shape. But, in the mean time, we thought we’d run through some of the best mixtures of animation with the real world and consider how they could spell a bright future for the mixed reality world.

The Magic of Disney

No stranger to the art of animation, Disney took the challenge head on and brought their beloved characters into this world, through the movie style magic of silhouettes. Creating a mirror effect with a semi opaque, lightbox-style wall, they surprised and delighted shoppers by matching their movements with Disney’s shadows, instead of their own, in what could pass for a beta version of a mixed reality. In this instance, no goggles needed.

“It’s that movie magic we love, brought into the real world”

As one shopper wanders along, the silhouette of Goofy dances next to them, while Mickey strolls casually along for another. It’s that movie magic we love, brought into the real world. Giving the characters a physical presence taps into our nostalgia and creates an instant connection with the brand. We’ve all got a Disney Side – this film brings it to life.

The Congress


Alongside bringing animated silhouettes into the real world, what happens when animation and the world collide? The answer, in this case, is swirling, animated dystopia – another road for mixed reality to wander down. ‘The Congress’, an experimental piece which graced the Cannes Film Festival a couple of years ago, catapults the lead character into a drug-induced animated world, where literally anything is possible.

“It’s a perfect example of how 2D animation can transform a narrative into something more than a linear experience.”

Rather than dealing with scenarios as you might see them through your very human eyes, the lead character is forced to sell her digital likeness as a fictionalised version of herself and plays out her life as a mixed media animation. It’s a perfect example of how 2D and very real 3D surroundings can work together to paint a different tapestry and transform a narrative into something more than a linear experience – bringing motion into the real world and showcasing how mixed reality and animation work hand in hand.

The Magic of Studio Ghibli

Last but by no means least, comes the animated magic of much loved giants of the animation world, Studio Ghibli. Ghibli has received much acclaim over their years of craft, conjuring up visions of moving castles and friendly / unfriendly spirits, which tell the story of folklorish worlds brought to life. If we could combine these with the real world objects around us, you’d end up with a remarkable mixed reality, which might look something akin to this.

“The animation blends with the backgrounds with ease and fits the surroundings perfectly”

In this animated piece, DirectorDT brings the well known characters of the Ghibli world into this very real one – recreating famous scenes from the films in this dimension. What’s most impressive about this mix, is the way the animation blends with the backgrounds with ease and fits the surroundings perfectly. The shadows, reflections and reactions are as if they’re created by real world objects, making for a marriage of art and film.

Bringing animation into the real world, is a great way to experiment with the medium and see how the artworks we love, transpose into our everyday scenes. As the technology grows and ‘Mixed Reality’ grows with it, we might start to see more of these animation brought to life in a space where we can actually interact with them, and perhaps even handle them. After all, why simply watch an animation when we can bring it into the space around us.

So, next time you’re thinking about crafting an animation, why not consider mixing up the environment and combing reality and animation to make a mixed reality piece? And if you want to chat through any ideas you have, drop us a line and we’ll happily step into an animated coffee shop somewhere.

Pebble Studios
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