Facebook hires Pixar artist to reimagine the emoticon
Emoticons have become a pretty standard part of communication these days. Ever since texting first started to get big, people have been using emoticons as a shortcut, because typing on mobile devices had been something of a chore. Even though text input has gotten quite a bit easier, emoticons are here to stay, but Facebook thinks it's time to reimagine emoticons, and has hired Pixar artist Matt Jones for the task.
This isn't an official partnership between Pixar and Facebook, Jones is working independently, and he is excited about the project. The plan is to
Dacher Keltner, co-director of University of California-Berkeley's Greater Good Science Program, was tasked by Facebook to find an artist for the job, and Keltner went to Pixar for help. Keltner gave Jones simple emotions to recreate, and was impressed, so he gave Jones emotions from Charles Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Some emotions were simple, some had quite lengthy descriptions, but Jones had a way of creating simple but expressive representations of emotions, even with emotions that haven't been scientifically studied, like gratitude, relief, awe, and guilt.
The big challenge now is shrinking Jones' work to fit in a chat/message box. Jones already had to adjust how he would create the emoticons because of the scale that will be involved in displaying them. He had originally wanted to add shoulders for shrugging gestures, and noses, but the scale would simply be too small. So, Jones found that he could portray what he needed with combinations in the tilt of the head, angle and curve of the eyebrow, and angle and curve of the mouth.
No word on when the new emoticons will be rolling out to Facebook users, but we're excited to see work being done to emoticons. So far, companies have been simply adding more and more images to sets, like aliens, pandas, and various symbols, but the basic range of emotions has stayed relatively static. The current sketches are looking pretty good, but shrinking them down to the size needed will be a big task.