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Watch Legendary Disney Artist Glen Keane Draw In Virtual Reality

The animator behind The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast sells us hard on the possibilities of drawing in 3-D.

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When we think “virtual reality,” most of us imagine video games and movies with bigger explosions. Maybe there’s a virtual Facebook where we see people face to face. But is it really the place where we’ll discover the next wave of art?

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But put a few virtual reality drawing tools in the hands of Glen Keane–the Disney animator behind The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast–and it suddenly looks inevitable that the most radical, immersive art will take place inside a VR headset.

In this clip, made in promotion of the upcoming Future of Storytelling conference, Keane uses an HTC Vive headset coupled with the 3-D painting app Tilt Brush. With this setup, he can walk around a full room, drawing characters in midair. And the results become life-size sculptures of Ariel and the Beast–each impossibly captivating, even through this tiny Vimeo clip.

This clip is hardly Keane’s first foray into advanced animation technologies. In 2014, he collaborated with Google’s experimental ATAP (Advanced Technology and Project) division on the interactive short Duet. As he said in his 2012 Disney resignation letter, “I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist its siren call to step out and discover them.”

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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