Kabaret is a virtual reality experience directed by Gina Thorstensen. It is about a singing shrimp, corals, moon light, and the once popular Norwegian dish: kabaret. The experience is part musical, part documentary and invites people to indulge in the spectacles of coral reefs, strange creatures, and plants.
A number of animation techniques were used on Kabaret along with some experimentation with animating in VR. I animated the 3D characters and rigged the characters together with Rikke Alma Planeta. The Muppets were used as a reference for the animation style, and because of this, I wanted to experiment with using the VR controllers to control the characters in a Muppet-like fashion.
Animating the characters in a Muppet-like style involved creating a script for mapping VR controller input to the characters and recording the performance. The recording was afterwards exported to Maya, where additional animation and clean-up were added to give even more life. Part of the characters were also simulated, though the simulations were baked to the joints for performance reasons.
Different scenes had special shader requirements. For instance, the coral scene needed ocean caustics to give it that special underwater feel. Caustics were achieved by mapping an animated texture sequence in world space across all 3D models as well as sprites.
The moon seen from below the water surface needed texture distortion to give the impression of being refracted by the ocean, and other sprites needed UV distortion as well.
The shrimp and his choir needed a shader with custom lighting, to make it look closer to the hand-painted sprites, while still maintaining some sense of volume.