Why professionals are recruiting Tilt Brush as an important tool in their creative arsenal
The first thing to note about Tilt Brush is it’s fun – so very fun. It takes a hammer to the physical limitations of actualising the ideas in your head. Who doesn’t want to paint with stars, light, or fire? Tilt Brush’s incredible ability to let users paint life-sized 3D creations dazzled the world upon its official launch last year. Reviewers dubbed Tilt Brush VR a ‘killer app’, and artists quickly embraced their new toy with impressive fervour.
The results? As well as mind-blowingly detailed masterpieces, we were blessed with brilliantly entertaining works. Ever wanted to see Clinton and Trump locked in a brutal boxing match? Well, the wait is over.
Less widely recognised though, is Tilt Brush’s huge potential as a professional production tool. No longer is it just for the casual or hobby artist. Savvy creatives have begun to catch on to its ability to revolutionise the content creation pipeline, for the following reasons:
1. Speed: Tilt Brush allows you to rapidly prototype the final state of an idea and make instantaneous adjustments – making it quicker than if modelled in Photoshop or other traditional design programs. The ability to make snap decisions on whether to grow or discard ideas is very valuable to the development process.
2. Scalability: The beauty of Tilt Brush is that you can interact with your creations. Typically, projects are prototyped on 2D screens, but our world is in 3D. So finally, being able to walk around your art is not only hugely liberating, but also means you can envision work without the use of a 3D printer. Which leads us onto the next point…
3. Low Cost: The sense of scale that comes with Tilt Brush eliminates the need to 3D print an idea or make expensive physical models.
4. Ease of Use: Using Tilt Brush doesn’t require lengthy training. Its intuitive interface is designed so that you can pick it up easily. Using your own two hands to construct feels simple and natural, as do the two controllers, which mimic a paintbrush and palette.
5. Ability to Integrate: With recent improvements to the functionality of Tilt Brush, you can export to other design programs, such as Unity. Particularly helpful is that the export contains data about your brush strokes and the order in which you made them.
“Now anything you can create in Tilt Brush can be brought into Unity through the Toolkit,” comments Chris Prynoski, President and Owner of Titmouse. “Audio reactive brushes? Check. Particle brushes? Check. That makes it like a Krillion times more effective for creatives and animators!”
With so many new and exciting technologies emerging, the ability to bridge them so effortlessly is key. Pointing to Nexus Studios’ latest project in WebAR, Luke Ritchie, Head of Nexus Interactive Arts, says we should expect to see the cross-pollination of immersive technologies to grow. Nexus’ WebAR visual assets were made in VR using Tilt Brush because of its speed and cost, before being viewed in AR.
Explaining the decision, Ritchie says: “The pipelines for the development of VR and AR are very similar, so it’s totally possible to see something in VR on a Monday, then see the same asset in AR on Tuesday.”
It Takes a Village
Where Tilt Brush seems to have gotten it so right is in listening to its users. Improving any new software requires the input of end-users and experts. With the Tilt Brush Artist in Residence Program, Google invited 60 creators from a variety of disciplines to explore the software, making Tilt Brush the product of both creatives and engineers. Titmouse, who were brought in early on to advise, are still in open dialogue with the team.
“The success of Tilt Brush is largely based on growing a network of creators that have a tool that works for them,” comments Ritchie. “Though it’s still very niche since you need a VR setup, I think they’ve been brilliant. I regularly connect with the founders on Twitter to ask questions, share projects or suggest improvements and they always respond and take advice. They’re also fast to iterate and update the product.”
The updated Tilt Brush Toolkit already offers new capabilities such as the ability to change light source location, and colours. Audio-reactive brushes, a new addition, makes creations pulse along to the beat of the overlaid sound. Using this new technology, Titmouse created a ‘crazy bananas’ rock opera, Icarus Six Sixty Six, using the updated capabilities.
Icarus Six Sixty Six (release date has not yet been announced) is also the same name of a track from Brendon Small’s upcoming album, Galaktikon II: Become the Storm.
Which makes me think, why couldn’t Tilt Brush integrate with audio-based operating systems? With voice recognition improving rapidly, perhaps the next logical step is to be able to vocalise your chosen brush, colour, or function (eg. undo) rather than to manually choose it.
And it looks like Google is only strengthening the Tilt Brush community. In April, they launched a dedicated social hub, Tilt Brush Sketches, where users can upload their art for others to download and remix themselves, resulting in epic remix battles.
So, What’s Next?
Tilt Brush’s ability to streamline complex and expensive processes is a hugely valuable asset, and the production opportunities are vast, with potential extending far beyond the creative industry. Schools could utilise it as a learning tool, fashion designers could experiment with materials and textures without cost, and automotive engineers could prototype cars without relying on clay models.
Game development has been a particularly rich field for asset building in Tilt Brush. Rather than spending hours coding, you can create worlds and objects by drawing or sculpting them in VR. Several impressive examples have already turned heads (such as Paolo’s Wing, created entirely in Tilt Brush, and Smash Party, which was prototyped in Tilt Brush), and we should expect to see far more.
In any case, both Prynoski and Ritchie are unwavering in their belief of Tilt Brush’s potential to streamline the content creation pipeline.
Says Prynoski: “I see it driving our production pipeline in 2D/3D VR because we are actually using it to do so. I could see it working out amazingly well for FX animation!”
Ritchie comments: “Whether or not VR makes it mainstream, there’s lots of potential to take complicated processes and explore opportunities for simplification in VR. So, I think we’re going to see more and more applications in VR which change the way we traditional manage a production process.”