Exclusive: Meet Totoro and the Catbus in ‘My Neighbour Totoro VR – Bus Stop Scene’ Oculus Rift Demo (download)

The mind behind the Spirited Away VR – Boiler Room Scene has been toiling away, recreating another scene from a beloved Studio Ghibli film. This time it’s the bus stop scene from My Neighbor Totoro (1988), and it’s ready to be experienced in virtual reality right now! Download My Neighbour Totoro VR – Bus Stop Scene here.

Developer Nick Pittom has been eagerly working on this VR scene ever since he released the incredible Spirited Away VR – Boiler Room Scene back at the end of February. His latest work, available for download today on Road to VR, recreates the famous bus stop scene from Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro (1988), featuring crowd favorites: Totoro and the Catbus.

Download My Neighbour Totoro VR – Bus Stop Scene
Update: v1.1 (improved performance, now available for Mac and Linux)

studio ghibli logoFor those unfamiliar, Studio Ghibli is perhaps the most famous animation studio in Japan. My Neighbor Totoro, released in 1988, was the second film that the lauded Hayao Miyazaki directed after founding Studio Ghibli in 1985. While not the studio’s most successful film, My Neighbor Totoro clearly holds a special significance for the studio; to this day the Studio Ghibli logo features Totoro, the lovable character that the film is named for. Fans of the film also fell in love with Totoro and he has appeared in plenty of cameos, recently in Pixar’s Toy Story 3 (2010).

Miyazaki’s great skill is his ability to create engrossing worlds that the audience doesn’t want to leave by the end of the film. Being able to step back into those worlds in VR is an excellent way to re-live the magic and feel like part of the action.

Nick Pittom’s appreciation for My Neighbor Totoro comes through in the attention to detail given to his virtual reality adaptation of the bus stop scene from the movie. On this project he worked with animator Keith Sizemore who animated all of the moving parts in the scene, including the massie Totoro and the ten-legged Catbus.

Unlike the Spirited Away VR – Boiler Room Scene, the player has control over the progression of the Totoro VR experience.

“I didn’t just want the scene to just run and you watch it. If it was just going to be a passive experience you might as well watch the film and it would miss the opportunity for the player to affect the scene. In that spirit I chose to give two moments where the player gains control over the progression of the scene – which I think works well and gives players the chance to walk around and take everything in at their leisure,” Pittom writes in a blog post detailing the development of the Totoro VR scene.

As with the Spirited Away VR – Boiler Room Scene, Pittom ‘hand-painted’ textures into the experience with Photoshop. This serves to match the scene well to the look of the painted backgrounds of the film. For the characters, he used a cel-shaded style to match the animated style.

Animator Keith Sizemore explains that animating Totoro in the scene wasn’t as straightforward as it might seem:

For animation, translating from a traditional animated film to 3D was a task in itself.  There are many moments in the film, especially the umbrella section, where Totoro’s arms become much longer.  It was especially apparent when Totoro wasn’t able to hold the umbrella in front of his body.  I had originally addressed this with stretchy IK arms in the rig, but I learned quickly that Maya’s scale compensate for joints is not recognized by Unity and that forced me to throw that out leaving me with no other choice than to perform multiple animation tricks to try and make it work as best as possible.  The facial animation on Totoro was achieved with blend shapes along with joints driving the eyelids and lips.  This allowed for us to achieve the extreme poses on Totoro’s mouth.

Cowboy Bebop VR Coming Next

cowboy bebop

While Pittom had several options up in the air, he’s settle on a scene from the acclaimed Cowboy Bebop (1998) anime series for his next ‘experience’ project. It will be his last scene before moving on to his first attempt at a full-fledged game called Decay Theory.

Pittom wants to use a Cowboy Bebop scene to hone his skills before moving on to a full title. Specifically, he’s considering exploring dialogue and character interaction.

I think people would love exploring the ship, seeing all the locations, interacting with stuff (don’t open the fridge!) – and then having the opportunity to chat with the crew, with a dialogue system implemented to facilitate it. I have a few ideas for scope, however it will all take place on the ship, which I hope to bring in it’s entirety of on-screen location space.

Pittom has so far released these demos for free and accepts donations for those looking to support his work via PayPal or Bitcoin:

Comments

  1. Kemic says

    These scenes are pretty awesome, especially for anime fans. My girlfriend was a little apprehensive about trying out the rift, til I showed her the Boiler Room scene. I intend to let her see this one too, but I may wait for my dk2 to come in.
    The drift from the dk1 caused a fair bit of motion sickness for her after only a few minutes, and I don’t want to turn her off from VR completely.
    I know she’s a huge fan of Cowboy Bebop, so I suspect she’ll enjoy seeing that too.

Leave a Reply