Interview with Alicia Norman: How love drove me to become a VR animation creator
On VeeR, you can recognize Alicia Norman‘s works by looking at the thumbnails. Over the years, she has developed her own style. Her vigorous dancing videos have gained her a huge group of fans. Now Alicia will tell us her story about VR video production and how love supports her along the way. To check out her latest videos, please go to http://www.luvmultimedia.com or http://www.portalz.mobi
VeeR: Big portion of your work is dancing videos, why is that?
Alicia: Music is a big part of who I am. I used to be a singer and also wrote screenplays. From the bottom of my heart, I always wanted to try animation, and so my husband asked me “why don’t you try to animate your screenplays” ? So I started learning how to animate and incorporate my screenplays with music, which is just a natural mix for me. And these dancing videos is a way to introduce my characters in my screenplays, and a way to reflect a bit of who I am.
VeeR: So you are making many “animated Alicia” in your videos?
Alicia: Yes, as a matter of fact, I don’t always do motion characters, but when I do, I do me, moving around. So it will be an expression of me, I love dance, I love music and I love to write, and it all kind of comes together. My big dream would be to do a feature VR, that would have a lot of music. I don’t know if it would have dancing per se but maybe there would be a dancing scene in there. I don’t think I could do anything without dancing being in it.
VeeR: How did you design the looks of your characters?
Alicia: One of my characters had purple hair and a flowy dress which is very bright. That’s what appeals me. I guess we like what we like and we tend to gravitate towards what we like. And I like interesting features. It’s like, even if the girl has sort of an adult-like way about her, you can always see something a little off. She’ll have big eyes and she’ll have a little ‘off’ nose or she’ll have pointy ears, but there always has to be something off. Character means a lot as far as features go.
VeeR: Why did you pick VR?
Alicia: I was considering doing VR before because I like the idea of being immersed. When you are in the art business, it’s easy to get discouraged, and feel like you are spending your wills. And I was at that point with my animation and my writing. So I tried to make VR, and fell in love with it, I like something that is new and different.
VeeR: How long does it usually take to make a video?
Alicia: I have two rigs, a white rig and a black rig , so I can differentiate between the two. I set up on one side and I render on the other side and the set-up process takes not as long as my actual getting everything together because I have to set the camera just right. If they move around a lot then you have to figure out how to make the camera move. And that’s the thing I’m finding to be the most challenging.
VeeR: How do you choose the scenes for your characters? Sometimes they are inside the room, and sometimes out on backstreet, in the desert and grove. You want to let them dance anywhere they want?
Alicia: Yes, exactly. Usually I just choose somewhere beautiful, and you just want to encapsulate that moment forever. I love nature, it’s weird that I’m somewhat reclusive. So to me, it’s a way to live vicariously to find these beautiful settings and put my characters in these settings that I would love to visit.
VeeR: Do you have any advice for newcomers?
Alicia: First I’d say find a free software. I use several different things, and It’s more like a hybrid work pipeline. I love Blender and Daz because they are free platforms. The other thing is don’t let anyone discourage you. VR is not that hard. Go into chatrooms, forums, there are people who are willing to teach you. I got so much great advice at the beginning from people who have been doing it for a long time and the community is really nice. There’s ups and downs in the process and you will have to love it too.
VeeR: About the dance movement you chose for characters, do you draw them by AE or do you use motion capture?
Alicia: I’ve done some with motion capture, some with CapBVHS. And again that’s where the whole…”you got to love it” thing comes in, because a lot of these things aren’t geared or rigged for the particular figures that you have, so you have to rig it, you have to take time to frame it, you have to make sure it aligns. Some packages rig to whatever figure you have. However, there’re still things you have to spend time on it. I’m still learning new techniques everyday.
VeeR: Are you trying to express some messages behind these videos?
Alicia: Definitely. What I want to convey is that love is everywhere in the world. People are celebrating this concept, but in my opinion, you don’t have to show love with diamonds or flowers. There are different ways to express it. For example, in one of my videos, a cool, beautiful, sexy girl with hearts behind her is dancing. That’s what I love and I want to give it to people. I would like to share my love with them.
VeeR VR is a leading VR content platform with the mission of empowering everyone to create and share virtual reality content. Within a year of its establishment, it’s become a phenomenon sweeping through the 360 community, and has been featured on Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR and HTC Vive. While we believe that VR is the future of storytelling, we want to encourage all VR lovers to create beyond boundaries.