Try out Xtranormal, a 3D movie building startup that launched last week, and there’s a good chance you won’t get any work done for the rest of the afternoon. As Ouriel Ohayon reported on TechCrunch France last night, the site allows users to quickly build their own 3D video clips out of a variety of models and backdrops using an intuitive drag and drop interface.
To begin creating a scene, you choose from either a set of “realistic” actors that resemble the characters in the Sims, or a set of Lego-like cartoony models. The site then presents you with a “script”, which you can fill out with text that you’d like the actors to recite in a computer-generated voice. You can also drag and drop actions for each character into the script, like facial emotions and gestures. And if you’d really like total control over the scene, you can manually position the camera (the site will automatically place it if you’d rather not deal with this).
Xtranormal clips don’t look anything like the 3D movies you see from the likes of Pixar or Dreamworks – characters look goofy, backgrounds are minimally detailed, and there are a limited number of possible animations. But the movies have a certain charm to them that makes their quality irrelevant. And because you can make them say whatever you want, they have endless possibility. Friends could easily recreate some of the classic memories they’ve shared with hilarious effect, and it’s hard not to crack up when a familiar movie scene is acted out by some Lego-like characters (see above for a great example).