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Fundamentals of Game Animation 🎮 Feel

January 31, 2020 | Articles, Blog | 34 Comments

Fundamentals of Game Animation  🎮 Feel

hello welcome to video game animation
study today we’re continuing a miniseries looking at the five
fundamentals of video game animation as proposed by Jonathan Cooper in his book
game on him video game animation explained this episode is sponsored by
Squarespace a place to build your online presence in the last episode we covered
the five fundamentals in a general overview and lightly inspected their
relation to the existing 12 principles of animation as complementary offering a
new light onto current emotion skills in the video game industry today we’re
going to look deeper at the fundamental of feel I could lead the most important
of the five fundamentals of game animation feel is how a character
handles during gameplay and can mean the difference between sluggish unresponsive
gameplay and unrealistic detached gameplay feel directly links to the
function over form philosophy that games I think should adhere to you want to
feel in control of your character and animation that doesn’t align with this
will ultimately ruin your experience the player is going to be making different
choices on the fly so if you’re having to wait for an action to finish this is
going to lock you out of that decision-making until it’s done for
instance a bigger or stronger attack may take longer to perform than a smaller
weaker attack while if you’re looking to make everything as responsive as
possible you’ll want to avoid sacrificing the weight of a character or
the force of an action you’ll want your character to read well and feel good to
play fighting games are a classic example of where responsiveness is
important the feel of your game let’s compare my favorite fighting game
skullgirls to that of something like Soul Calibur one is sprite based and one
is 3d model based one has smaller and weaker moves that can play on Twitch
faster and one has slightly slower modes that must be tactically planned
one isn’t better than the other but they both feel different to play because of
the responsiveness of the characters another example could be when
controlling Sonic the Hedgehog or Megaman one of them takes ages to build
up to a top speed and one of them has a constant running speed from the second
you touch your control one of the jewelry’s when controlling these
characters is the different skill involved from knowing the inertia and
momentum of a character you know that you can control Megaman down to the
exact pixel and change his direction midair multiple times
whereas with Sonic you know you can do a little run up to gain some extra height
to get to a new platform let’s take a look at Batman from Arkham Knight now
Batman is a tough brute his large frame he wears armor has got lots of gadgets
readily at his disposal but he’s still relatively responsive and fast moving
the responsiveness of his moves are probably most apparent when you’re in
the middle of a brawl the Arkham series free flow combat system is something
that feels subjectively satisfying to take part in you can tap a variety of
buttons for a variety of attacks and dodges and you’ll generally punch the
nearest enemy no matter how far away they are or which direction you’re
facing there’s a complex system of rigs and rules that decides which animation
pose Batman or a part of Batman will need to be in depending on if near an
enemy which direction they’re in and what attack is going to do this can feel
great to play you might occasionally get this little
sliding around happening but it’s debatable whether it’s detrimental to
your enjoyment of the gameplay because Batman is still in your control you
could complement this with Marvel spider-man which uses that same free
flow combat system spider-man is very light in slender when
compared to Batman but he still fits this style of combat
you’ve got more opportunities for a bit of a meanness to allowing moves such as
zipping across with enemy with your web shot and staying up in the air while you
pull up a thug to smack him around a bit free flow combat works well in both
these games and only slight adjustment is needed to alter the feel of the
character but what’s important is that you build up a kind of trust of that
character you know that if you make a mistake it’s generally because you
haven’t controlled that character well enough it feels good to be able to
control a character with all these varying possibilities to a fine
precision that’s some good animation think about this though in Batman you
can control the Dark Knight himself and you can control his banner bill but you
can control it in car form or in tank form with both having different controls
and different feeling when playing some games have many variants of what you’d
feel good to play the bat tank should feel heavier and more precise because it
needs to move around and 360 degrees and be able to dodge and shoot whereas the
car should feel like it can escape quickly and be able to turn corners in
the way you’d expect a car to in other games like GTA and the fact you can
switch from car to tank in a second is something they’ll need careful
consideration when designing how responsive these elements will feel
let’s look at this transformation in Yoshi’s Island there isn’t a run button
but you do often take while to build up to running speaking however when you
turn into a helicopter your controls were much more drawn-out turning and
even staying up requires an extended press for button for the desired action
to finally come to pass this feels massively sluggish compared
to when you control Yoshi but this isn’t necessarily bad because this is adding
an element of challenge to a stage you’ll probably need to get to grips
with how this feels to control but once you’ve got it then you just need to
perfect it it’d be a different issue if the entire game controlled like this but
because it’s a minor gameplay gimmick it’s being designed with challenge in
mind additional animation tricks can be used to aid the feel of a character such
as follow-through and multiples for a big action if a big or slow action is
taking place it might help the player still feel in control of a character if
there’s some visual feedback before the action takes place perhaps if your
character is turning and it will feel weird and unrealistic if they’re able to
turn around from a fast movement really quickly then you can add in a bit which
shows them looking to where they need to go just so it doesn’t feel that the
action itself is sluggish or unresponsive other feedback tricks
include camera shakes and frame holds on impact or actions such as landing a
heavy hit or taking damage there’s no right or wrong way of applying field
into your character the game will feel how you want it to it’s very much like
the traditional animation principle of appeal in that it’s a difficult thing to
measure and teach the feel is an important thing to nail down first
because how your game feels to play will be how much your audience enjoys playing
it and likely how much they’ll remember it I’ve mentioned in my HoloNet video
that team cherry wanted to nail down how it felt to jump before anything else and
based the rest of the movement around that perfected action
and Halle Knight is a game that’s often remembered for feeling good to play
here’s a nice story just to tie this fundamental up as fancy as the
animations are the developers of Streets of Rage 4 are trying to match the feel
of the gameplay to that of the original Mega Drive games and they achieve this
by literally playing the two games side-by-side and until they fill the
same something as nostalgic a Streets of Rage is right for scrutiny and as such
nailing that feeling is important for fans of the series and animation will
come second to gameplay because of that of course that doesn’t mean you can’t
add some fantastic visual flair to the animations around that gameplay feel now
I look forward to playing you and that is the fundamental of feel thanks to
Squarespace for sponsoring this video if you’re an animator or creative mind
and you’re looking for them then professional-looking websites then go on
right ahead and click that link in my description just there I know you see
around all the time but having a Squarespace website is pretty neat I
mean literally you can organize everything easily you’ve got a whole
load of tools that enable you to share things that the platform’s tech
donations and so your analytical data and it looks professional to it which
really helps if you want to impress a potential employer so use my link in the
description to start a free trial to check Squarespace out for yourself and
when you’re ready to launch use my coupon code for 10% off your first
purchase for a website automate okay random patron shoutout Aaron s Aaron s I
like it sounds like some sort of DJ or music remix artist catch you next time
love you bye

PlayStation Careers | Worldwide Studios (Game Development)

The amazing thing about
Worldwide Studios is that the leadership really believe and
covets the creative process. They protect it. Cultures are very different but extremely
respectful of one another. We are all in this together
as a PlayStation family, so we’re always rooting
and doing what we can to support one another. Each studio has
its own personality. They have their own methods; they have their
own design goals. But being part of
that PlayStation family, there’s a big push for
really high quality content. Worldwide Studios has a
shared culture of creativity and inspiration, and everything has
a lot of story and heart to it. There are a lot of people here
who really care about what it is that we’re actually
gonna be giving to gamers. We want the game to be great. [SCREAM] I am constantly thinking about
what is the end user going to actually experience
with what I’m building, and what is their experience
gonna be and trying to make that as positive as possible
and as engaging as possible. We’re always
trying to be the best, push ourselves to be the best. Together we end up
elevating the work. When you’re in an environment
and it’s creative and other people are doing things that you
think are cool and telling you the
stuff that you’re doing is cool, you get excited.
You get this feedback loop. When you work on something
that you care about so much, it’s not hard building up that
energy to solve hard problems. It’s fun. It’s exciting;
challenges everyday. We make video games that
brings joy to millions, and that’s exciting. The best part of my job is when
I finally get a controller put in my hand, and I can actually play
the game that we’re working on. You know, just seeing all the
impossible things that we’ve been sort of asking for, asking
the team to put together and sitting there playing and
being surprised by that, that’s the best part of my day. From back from
PlayStation 1 days to now, all the different
franchises that have come out of PlayStation continue to sell. We’ve got games like
God of War, Horizon, Uncharted that continue to
really push the industry forward and to inspire gamers worldwide. Whether it’s being an
animator, being a technician, being an engineer, or
being a cinematographer, I think this is a place
where you can be challenged, be expected to grow, and be kind of
proud of your work, really. If you believe in your craft and
you want to deliver excellent product and work on things
that you truly believe in, I think Worldwide Studios is
probably one of the best places in the industry to be
doing that right now.

My Favorite Game Animation of 2019

January 15, 2020 | Articles, Blog | 100 Comments

My Favorite Game Animation of 2019

This was supposed to come
out in December! Oops. Well, whatever.
Let’s do it anyway. Hi! These are some of my favorite
bits of game animation I saw in 2019! Let’s begin with one of last year’s
early animation highlights… ANTHEM I think it’s fair to say that this is some of the
best-looking animation in a BioWare game yet. Characters are generally the highlight
of any great BioWare experience, and I don’t think I was prepared for how much
performance capture was going to add to that. Like, Owen as he’s voiced by T.J.
Ramini is already really charming. But Owen voiced AND physically performed
by Ramini brings a new level of charisma to that character that I don’t think
would have come across otherwise. Owen: ” Hey, considering that
the Monitor is both lancer and cypher, we could probably use a VERY fabulous
cypher/javelin pilot combo of our own.” Player Character: “Owen, be patient.” Of course, most of your NPC interactions use
this game’s conversation animation system, and there are some
gains on that front too, but seeing characters like these brought to
life with more natural performance detail in cinematics really makes me
excited for future BioWare projects. Also: running, jumping and especially flying
around in a javelin just feels cool as heck, in large part because the animation
sells their power so well. I will never get tired of sprinting toward a
ledge and launching into the air in this game. It just feels so cool. Next I want to
talk about Sekiro! The animation in FromSoft games has rarely been
the most polished-looking in the AAA space, but it almost always succeeds where
it matters: functional clarity. And that clarity is crucial
in a game like Sekiro, where players are expected to watch enemies
carefully and react to their attacks with so much more speed
and precision than before. The devs have talked in interviews
about how they spent a lot of time tuning each enemy’s attack animations
frame by frame, and it shows. Because, this game’s combat would not work
without those quickly-recognizable tells. And for their cinematics,
I love that From has maintained their trademark slooooow
timing and scene pacing. That willingness to let
characters move unnaturally slowly is a big reason why FromSoft
cutscenes feel so distinct, and it allows the sudden sharp movements
to feel even more surprising by contrast. From’s soft animation team really
is just getting better and better. Elden Ring cannot
come soon enough. Next up:
Luigi’s Mansion 3 Next Level Games has one of my favorite
animation teams in this industry. This is the same studio behind the
previous Luigi’s Mansion game for the 3DS AND – one of my favorite game
animation showcases of all time – the absolutely stellar
Punch-Out for the Wii. I already made an entire video singing
the praises of that game’s animation because this team is so good at delivering both
function and appeal simultaneously at 100%. And by gosh they are
good at animating Luigi. Next Level consistently brings
the best out of this character, from the moments when
he’s feeling scared, to the moments when he starts to feel
some of his confidence coming back to the moment that NOPE
NEVER-MIND, HE’S TERRIFIED AGAIN. Whatever Next Level is working on
now, I cannot wait to see it. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order We’ve seen a lot of Star Wars games
with lightsaber combat at this point, and a lot of different
approaches to animating it. Some of them have aimed to
replicate the fighting styles of existing characters as
we’ve seen them in the movies, and others try to create an
entirely new style all their own. And one thing that I really
enjoy in Fallen Order is the way Cal’s fighting animation feels like
it stylistically succeeds on both fronts. The way he handles a
lightsaber feels distinctly him and a little different from the stances or movements
that I’m used to seeing in Star Wars games, and yet I could totally see some Jedi moving
like this in a proper Star Wars movie which is something I’m not sure I
could say about the Force Unleashed. Combine that aesthetic balance with
some sharp controls and some stylish finishing animations and no wonder
the combat in this game feels so cool. Also, this? One of my
favorite Star Wars droids now. Look at ‘em. What a good little buddy. But next.
Pokemon Sword & Shield I’ve said before in a previous video
that the animation in the Pokemon series is a triumph of scope management rather than
visual flair, and that’s still true here. But in addition to the fact that they keep
managing to maintain a consistent level of charming animation quality across
these 400 creatures and human characters (which is still a feat
in its own right), I’m really digging the additional focus they’re
starting to put on animated personality. Like, the way the game instantly familiarizes you
with the personalities of all three starters just by showing you how they interact with
each other in one tiny cinematic is SO GOOD. And I think this cutscene
highlights a shift in focus that, really, has been happening
over the last few generations: Game Freak appears to be focusing
more and more of their resources on presenting Pokemon outside of
battle, which I think is a great call. Because one of the core elements of
the Pokemon fantasy is just living and traveling with
your team of creatures. And the earliest Pokemon games
just couldn’t provide that, so I really love the idea of the franchise
making that a higher priority now, because that’s where your Pokemon’s ability
to express themselves really shines. I think it’s telling that almost every time
I’ve seen people showing off their team online, or sharing clips
from their own game. Those clips tends to be video of their
Pokemon being goofballs in the Camp. So yeah! Real excited to see where
Game Freak takes things from here. Now high-quality traditional hand-drawn animation
is something of a rare treat in games, so I’m always grateful to see
the Banner Sagas and the Cupheads and the Hollow Knights out
there keeping that torch lit. And this year’s hand-drawn
champion was Indivisible. It is real fun seeing the
Skullgirls crew try on a new genre! I love these characters,
I love their designs, and their combat animations are just
loaded with tons of great little details… the team even brought in Studio
Trigger to animate the game’s opening! If you are enjoying the look of this
right now, I recommend picking it up, because not only is this
game loaded with charm, but you just don’t see games that
look like this coming out every day, and frankly I want to see studios like
Lab Zero, MDHR, Stoic and Team Cherry able to keep doing
what they’re doing. But, moving on. There were a LOT of extremely
AAA games raising the bar on photo-realistic human game
character animation this year. Devil May Cry 5, Modern Warfare,
Resident Evil 2, Death Stranding… lots of extremely
impressive work. I can’t imagine the hundreds of hours it
took hundreds of people to make all this. But the one team I’d like
to call out in particular is Remedy Entertainment for
their work on Control. I am legit impressed by
the degree of subtlety in character face performances
during some of these story scenes. Granted, certain moments and scenes can
dip into the uncanny from time to time, but this game’s setting already
exist so deep in the uncanny that, somehow, those moments kinda
just help contribute to the vibe. But the thing that push
this over the edge for me, and I’m sure that this effect is impart due
to the fact that your player character’s based on real
actor Courtney Hope and they occasionally use some live
footage of her in specific scenes, but I’ve got to confess: once or twice
while watching these story scene, there would be just a moment
that had me questioning: “…wait, is this the real
actor or the digital character?” And I can’t remember a time where a game
succeed in making me unsure of that before. So kudos, Remedy!
And good job making a darned cool game. But, leaving the realm of
the photo-real for a bit, let us all give thanks
to the indie scene for blessing us with so much
incredible pixel animation this year. Wargroove, Blasphemous, Cadence of Hyrule…
Katana Zero, for heck sake. Y’all spoil us. I do want to give special mention
to one in particular, though, and that is River City Girls. The Kunio-kun franchise has NEVER
had animation this gorgeous. Every character’s moveset is
just so fun to frame through. I highly recommend doing
so yourself sometime. Misako’s rage-y headbutt.
Kyoko’s selfie parry. The bookbag swing. The spinning power dab. How can you not
love a brawler with movesets like this. I’m so happy that games
with pixel animation are not only surviving in the year
2019, but THRIVING. And now for a couple
of honorable mentions! The first goes to Kingdom Hearts III, which
would almost definitely be on this list, except for the fact that I
intentionally have not played it yet. I’ve really been wanting to do
an unspoiled playthrough of it over on PlayFrame once
the ReMind DLC drops. But I’m just going to
take a shot in the dark and guess that the
animation was pretty darned good? Because it’s Kingdom Hearts and the animation in Kingdom Hearts
games tends to be pretty stellar, combat especially. And what I’ve seen of the Disney and Pixar
characters in trailers looks pretty incredible, so I am really excited to finally see
all this for myself pretty soon. And the other honorable mention goes
to Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, which I would talk
about at length here, but I already said all the exact same nice
things about Monster Hunter World last year. So just take everything
I said back in the 2018 Favorites videos and
add some snow I guess, because the animation in this
expansion is every bit as fantastic. And finally, before we wrap up,
let’s talk about Untitled Goose Game. Because having incredible game animation
isn’t always about realistic fidelity, or massive scope or
flashy movesets. Sometimes it’s about getting
one crucial thing exactly right. And for this game,
that thing is the goose. The perfection of that waddle
completes the comedy of this game. It’s amazing; it puts you in the right frame of mind
to be a dorky little nuisance almost instantly. And so many of your available moves
double as a tool for player expression! Like, I’m sure this wing-extension
move does something practical, but most of the time I’m just
using it to go MYEHHHHHHHH. Seriously, though,
if this waddle didn’t feel just right, I’ll bet this entire game would
feel noticeably less entertaining. And that makes this one
incredible piece of animation. But I think that should do it!
Did I miss anything? I mean, I will admit I
haven’t quite finished playing every single game
that came out in 2019, so… yes,
probably I did miss something. But, if you happen to know of
any games with stellar animation that I didn’t mention, please do call them
out in the comments, because I’m always eager
to see something cool! And here’s to all the great
game animation coming in 2020! I’ve got a lot planned for
New Frame Plus this year, so be sure to subscribe so
you don’t want to miss out. And consider supporting the show
like all these wonderful people. Thanks for watching,
and I will see you next time! [music]

The Five Fundamentals of Game Animation: An Introduction

Hello, welcome to video game animation study. This channel studies animation in video games,
and to kick off 2020, we’re gonna look at the five fundamentals
of video game animation in this new mini-series. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace,
the all-in-one platform to build your online presence. The actual medium of animation has been around
for well over a hundred years. The first use of CGI in animation could be
attributed to a number of pieces dating back to the 70s, 60s and even 50s. The first use of stop motion and hand drawn
animation stems to the early 1900s, and even the zoetrope and associated devices
date back to the 1800s. But video game animation is still relatively
new, and evolving all the time. Techniques and processes are always dictated
by the limitations of the host technology, which is why we had limited frame use during
the 8-bit era of video games, for example. And as techniques and processes are enhanced
and refined, so to are the outcomes. The 12 Principles of Animation are the animator’s
toolkit for creating convincing, coherent and appealing movement. My buddy Dan has begun this study within video
games over on his channel so you should check that out, and there’s
lots of information on the 12 Principles out there generally, and while all animation generally adheres
to most of these rules, video game animation is a little different. No longer is a story told in a linear fashion
beyond your control. Video games offer the opportunity to play
the story at your own pace in your own order, And so the visual identity of the medium must
adapt. Animated storytelling, for the most part of
the 20th century, followed the format of traditional film storytelling. Actions are planned ahead, your camera must
consider the clarity of your storytelling etc. But as the confines of linearity are expanded,
so are the principles that shape them. A camera in a 3D game no longer works how
it would in TV or film, it’s free roaming as opposed to fixed or planned. Since the popularity of the video game industry
has grown, animators and developers have always had in
their minds their own set of rules for animating in games. For instance, there’s an art to making a
character loop nicely in their idle pose, something you probably wouldn’t worry too
much about in a TV series or a film. You might rewatch your favourite animated
film over and over, but it’ll never match the amount of times
you might punch in Street Fighter over and over, so you have to think about how elegant and
efficient your animation is going to look, and from all angles, too! And now, for the first time, all these unspoken
rules and guides are coming together in the same way the 12 Principles did in The
Illusion of Life. Jonathan Cooper is the author of the book
Game Anim: Video Game Animation Explained, And from his experience animating and leading
on games such as Uncharted, Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed and The Last of Us, he has collated many modern techniques and
practices over the past 20 years into a single idea which compliments The 12 Principles, which
he has termed: The Five Fundamentals of Video Game Animation. This introductory episode will act as an overview
of these fundamentals, with following episodes going into more detail on each. Firstly, let’s look at Feel. The difference between a game and a film is
the interactivity. Jonathan Cooper posits that an animator should
relinquish authorship of an animation, lest it interfere with the interactivity. This means that no matter how good you want
an animation to look for a move, you should be prepared to scrap some or all
of it for the sake of better control. The fine balance you have to perfect is the
difference between a character feeling sluggish and a character feeling unrealistic. Some characters might take a while to turn
on the spot, while some might flip instantly with no inertia. This affects how the character feels to play. A big punch and a small punch will feel different,
turning a corner fast and slowly will feel different. This is Feel. Next, it’s Fluidity. Fluidity, which I’ve touched upon briefly
before, is how smoothly and coherently different actions blend together. It is the art of transition, removing and
reducing as best you can, as Jonathan puts it, any “unsightly movements” between different
actions that might “give away” the magic. It’s much easier to achieve this with programmable
maths in a 3D rig than it is with separate sprite animations in a 2D game. Going from idle to run, for example, could
look like this, or it could look like this. One of them is easier on the eye and likely
to immerse you more, but be careful you don’t ruin the feel. This is Fluidity. Let’s look at Readability. This is how your action reads on screen, and
is a close relative to the classic Staging Principle. While you may have control of your character,
the camera, in many cases, is independent and will fly around at all
sorts of angles, so a video game animator’s job, more so
in 3D games, is to ensure an action is identifiable and clear from any angle. You have to ensure your action is interesting
and doesn’t just move in one particular direction, but give it some texture by having varying
movements in different directions at once. This is readability. And now Context. This relates to where and how an animation
will be used in your game. Quite often, an animator won’t know when
an animation will be used by a character, or multiple characters, unless it’s a very
specific animation for a scene or character. For instance, all three characters in GTA5
generally have the exact same movement, as far as I can tell. There’s no real distinction between their
personalities, even though they’re all quite different. This is different to, say, Batman in the Arkham
games. You’re going to be controlling only Batman,
so you can have specific nuances and quirks that will apply only to Batman. Batman’s walk wouldn’t really work with
Catwoman, and vice versa. NPCs will often have animation that’s not
going to be seen as much by the player when compared to the player character, so
this is something to consider when designing an action for a character. And you have to consider how close to the
game camera that a character will be, with far away moves given a bit more exaggeration
to make them more readable, and more subtle movements restrained for cutscenes. And lastly Elegance. As the name suggests, this is how elegant
animations all look when working together. This is an idea that applies to design in
general, and not just to game animation. But in this case, it relates to the efficiency
of an action, and the animation systems in place that bring
different animations together. This can relate to the overall production
of the game and how this will affect workflow later in the project, especially when you need to change something
easily. Elegance can be about thinking smart. Jonathan gives an example where if your character
has to interact with a lot of objects in a game, then making the objects all a similar size
will allow you to make a more generic animation to save cost on lots of different animations. However, if your game is about interacting
with different objects, then it might be wise to invest a little more
into unique actions for varying objects. Or, if you have an action for opening a door,
can this be adapted for other things with a little tweaking to the animation? It’s all about being clever and efficient,
and avoiding having your workload being bloated. This will depend entirely on the content,
substance and budget of your game though. This is elegance. And these are the Five Fundamentals. They’re there to compliment the original
12 principles, to help shine a new light on animation techniques
that require a different line of thinking in video game production. The following five episodes will go into more
detail on each of these fundamentals, so do the thing if you wanna be in the loop. You can buy Jonathan Cooper’s book Game
Anim which is out now, you can check out his twitter or his website, it’s full of lots of different things to
do with animation in the video game industry, I thoroughly recommend it if you’re looking
to get into this career, and I also recommend this video by New Frame
Plus. Ooh, before I go: If you’re an animator or creative mind,
and you’re like me and your only experience of web development was editing CSS code on
MySpace back in 2005, then go on right ahead and click that link
in my description just there, and make the most of my Squarespace offer. I know you see it a lot of it around, but
having a Squarespace website is pretty neat. I mean, literally. You can organise everything so easily and
you’ve got a whole load of tools that enable you to share things to other platforms, take
donations, see your analytical data. And it looks professional. Which really helps
if you wanna impress potential employers and such, especially if you’re trying to get
into a big industry! So use my link in the description to start
a free trial to check Squarespace out for yourself, and when you’re ready to launch use my coupon
code for 10% off your first purchase for a website or domain. Okay thanks to my patrons and thanks to Squarespace. Random patron shout-out Silentbun. Thanks,
you quiet rabbit, you! Loveyoubye!

How Trico Was Animated  /  Video Game Animation Study

The Last Guardian is the third game in a spiritual
trilogy directed by Fumito Ueda, formerly of Team Ico, who developed the games
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, and is now part of GenDesign. The game is about a boy who befriends and
eventually commands a large fictional part-bird, part-cat/dog creature called Trico through a ruined, castle-like maze. One of the gimmicks is that Trico can act
independently while also obeying instructions, and that you must train Trico to listen to
you in order to solve puzzles and explore the environment. It feels like a combination of both Ico and
Shadow of the Colossus. One of the challenges the production team
faced was creating convincing movement for Trico as it freely explored the environment. And I think it’s safe to say they pulled
off a visual delight with the creature. Let’s take a quick look at how they achieved
Trico’s animation! Much of this information comes from a Japanese
presentation by GenDesign which was translated by Twitter user @brando_themando
for Jonathon Cooper’s Game Anim website, which is where I found it all, and Jonathon
Cooper’s Game Anim book, which I recommend you check out. So I’ll list my sources in the description
below if you want to learn a bit more about The Last Guardian’s development. Despite the realistic motion of Trico, no
motion capture was involved in the animation process. Instead, the team spent some time deciding
which creature they’d take influence from in order to mimic its movement, and fill in any gaps in information with procedural
animation, but we’ll come to that in a bit. They started with a cat as a reference point
for the majority of movements, stating that people around the world love
cats, even if they don’t always listen to you, and it was also a good reference point for
having their own creature climb up high structures and squeeze into tight spots. Other animal movements were used depending
on the action Trico performed, and this is why motion capture would have
been difficult to implement with the animation process. They then thought about the sense of scale
and size. Scaling up the movements of a cat to the size
they wanted wouldn’t have been as convincing, so they looked at big cats like tigers and
how they moved to give a more realistic sense of scale. The end result was movement that didn’t
reference one single existing creature, instead using a collection of different movements
that created something familiar but fantastical and new. But that wasn’t where it ended. There’s something very realistic about the
movements of Trico. As a character, it feels very alive. This is where the team’s use of Procedural
Animation came in. Procedural Animation is producing motion in
real-time using in-game calculations. You’ll often see this in games where a character’s
limb or appendage automatically connects to a surface. The boy does this himself when he’s near
a wall or surface. This type of calculation is called inverse
kinematics, and it’s a bit difficult for me to explain
technically, but it very basically ensures that the joints of a skeletal frame move correctly
and allows correct connections between characters and their environments. This procedural animation is what allows Trico
to explore its environment naturally. The animators will have programmed a walking
motion into Trico, which would work well on a flat terrain, but
animating that same motion on varying levels of terrain would be incredibly laborious and time consuming, By adding procedural animation, this allows
that same movement to happen on a different terrain and still stay close to the original key pose,
and thus look “correct”. So if Trico has to step over a broken pillar
or something, he’ll still have that same walk cycle, but
whichever paw lands on the obstruction, it’ll step onto it instead of clipping through
it, and it won’t affect the other paws or the overall motion. This results in a very natural action. If you look closely, you can often make out
each part of Trico that’s being mathematically controlled depending how it’s standing, where it is
and what it needs to do next. The next part of making Trico feel alive was
adding artificial intelligence. For instance, Trico would often be interested
in something, and move to that interest, and then react
to it accordingly. But objects of interest were based on priority,
with Trico paying more attention to high priority objects first, and then directing attention to the interest
that’s next in line. This is what gives Trico its apparent natural
inquisitiveness to its surroundings. The environment was a big factor as to how
Trico would react to interests. For instance, if there’s a barrel, then
Trico will choose how to get to it and then eat it. If there’s not enough space, then Trico
would think of a way to get at it. If it got stuck trying to reach it, then it’d
ask for help from the boy. The actual action of looking at a point of
interest is literally called ‘look-at’, which is linked to inverse kinematics. Particularly for Trico, the designers felt
that simply moving and rotating his neck and head to look at something gave a somewhat robotic feel, and added in
a method which fixed the head position, followed by the neck, which they called “lion-dance
control”, which references some real world animals that
can control their bodies while keeping their head still. The designers felt this added a bit more realism. Corrective action was another form of calculation
that kept Trico feeling real. If it’s line of sight to the point of interest
is obscured or altered then it’ll readjust its body to a sturdy
and realistic position so it can observe the object clearly again. Making calculations within the model frame
of how to move the body while referencing as closely as possible the original key pose. Generally, Trico’s AI involved identifying
a point of interest, how to get to the point of interest, and then
making a decision about the point of interest, and the procedural animation built into the
motions surrounding those choices added to Trico’s realism. But the reason Trico felt so real wasn’t
just because of his artificial intelligence and procedural animation. Calculated movements can only do so much, they can’t replicate or produce strong,
interesting poses. The corrective calculations which gave Trico
realistic movement would only work if there’s manually animated keyframes to
begin with. Each new calculation regarding the environment
still has to stick realistically to the key pose that’s been manually animated into Trico. The magic bringing Trico to life was a complex
mixture of artificial intelligence, procedural animation, and good old fashioned animation by hand, using real world animals as reference points
to create strong dynamic key poses. We leave the game remembering Trico as a character
much more because of this multilayered production into his movement. And that is how Trico was animated. Thanks for watching this one, and thanks to
my patrons for funding this episode. Let’s pick one….Ben Williams, thanks mate. Good name, I like the double L in your surname
there, and I like the ‘B’ in BEN. It’s good. Okay, have a great festive period everyone,
and see you in the new year! Loveyoubye!

SQUASH & STRETCH – The 12 Principles of Animation in Games

and welcome to New Frame Plus, a series about video
game animation. It’s time to learn about another
one of the 12 Principles! Last episode we
discussed Timing. This time,
we’re moving on to Squash & Stretch. Squash & Stretch is exactly
what it sounds like. It’s the squashing and stretching
of animated characters and objects to exaggerate motion
or show impact. It helps to convey
weight and elasticity. It helps to emphasize
contrast between poses. And it lends animated characters
an organic flexibility while still preserving
the volume of their form. As with many of the
animation principles, the easiest way to demonstrate Squash
& Stretch is with a bouncing ball. Let’s say we want to animate a rubber
ball bouncing across the floor. Here’s what that looks like with
no Squash & Stretch whatsoever. Which… I mean, it looks fine. Doesn’t really feel like it’s
made of rubber, though, does it? It’s too rigid.
It feels more like a marble. But what if we softened it up a
bit with some Squash & Stretch? To start, let’s make it so that,
when the ball contacts the floor, the downward force squashes it
down into a flatter oval shape… and we want to make it wider as well
to preserve the ball’s sense of volume. This compression is basically what
would happen to a real rubber ball, we’re just
exaggerating it a bit. See? That already makes the
ball feel a bit more rubbery. We can go even further, though! Let’s make it so that
the ball stretches a bit when it rebounds and
launches back into the air, emphasizing the ball’s
rapid momentum upward. And heck, we can do the same
thing when the ball is falling just before it hits the ground. Makes a pretty big difference, right?
This is what Squash & Stretch can do. As you can imagine, this principle lends
itself best to cartoony styles of animation, where the characters
are malleable and their movement can be exaggerated
to physically impossible extremes. The more Squash &
Stretch you apply, the more elastic and cartoony
the character is going to appear. When a cartoon character
moves somewhere super quickly, you’ll see their whole body stretch in
that direction to emphasize that speed, and there is a wonderful appeal to
that kind of extreme exaggeration. Of course, that squishiness isn’t going
to feel appropriate on every character, especially ones who are
meant to look more realistic. Like, you probably wouldn’t
want to animate Aloy this way. That would look very wierd. As an animator, it’s important to know when to
push this principle further and when to hold back. Fortunately, an object doesn’t
HAVE to be made out of rubber, or impossible cartoon physics to
benefit from Squash & Stretch! After all, compression and extension
are things our body does all the time. When we jump,
we start by squashing down, then we stretch out as
we leap into the air, and we stretch again in preparation to
land so we can squash down once more to absorb the force
of the landing. Our facial features even squash and
stretch while making expressions, which is something you’ll frequently
see exaggerated in animation. Even on realistic characters, adding
just a little bit of Squash & Stretch can make them feel slightly
softer, a little less plastic. Or when a character
is moving really fast and there are large gaps in
the spacing between each frame, stretching parts of that character out
in a smeared imitation of motion blur can be a handy way to bridge those gaps just
so our eyes can follow the movement better! You’ll see this in Overwatch and League
of Legends animation ALL THE TIME. Now, generally speaking,
Squash & Stretch is a principle that you don’t often see
pushed very far in games. There are examples to be
found, obviously, but especially when compared
to film and TV animation extreme Squash & Stretch in
games is relatively uncommon. Part of the reason for this is that
much of our industry currently favors realistic visual styles in which excessive Squash & Stretch would
just feel aesthetically inappropriate. But another big reason
is that 3D animation is far more common than
2D in today’s games, and cartoony elasticity can be
quite challenging to achieve in 3D. You see, for the traditional animator,
Squash & Stretch is pretty easy to apply. If you want to have your character hit
this really stretched-out bizarre pose, then just draw them that way.
Bam. Done. But in 3D, your ability to
distort a character’s proportions is defined by the skeleton
of joints inside the model, and those sorts of extremely
cartoony deformations can be rather difficult to achieve
without a robust character rig. Which means that it’s even HARDER to do
extensive 3D Squash & Stretch in games, because game characters have to be
rendered in real time, and complex, deformable character rigs tends to have
a pretty big memory and performance cost. But just because we can’t always easily
contort the character into bizarre shapes doesn’t mean we aren’t still
applying Squash and Stretch. Like I said before,
you don’t have to be doing zany cartoony stuff to
benefit from this principle. Even if your character rig won’t allow
for a complex rubbery squishiness, you can still apply this principle
in the way the character moves, exaggerating the extension and compression
of their body in the poses you make. Just look at Spider-Man. Remember when we
talked about his Zip-To-Point move; the way he coils, launches
himself, and then bunches up again to absorb the momentum at his destination?
That’s Squash & Stretch! Just like a cartoon ball springing
from one point to another. In fact, I think there
might even be a little actual stretching happening on
Spidey’s body during that launch? I might be wrong,
It’s very hard to tell, but there might be a subtle
amount of stretching in there. Or, going even more subtle, check out
the javelins’ jump launch in Anthem. Now they’re not actually stretching the
proportions of the javelins (to my knowledge) which is good, because they’re supposed
to feel solid and metal and heavy, but the animators are still deploying this
principle in the way the body compresses and then sharply extends to
really emphasize the speed and power of that
launch into the air. Which is one of the big reasons that this
basic move looks and feels so darned GOOD. But if you’d like a more extreme 3D example,
then look no further than Jak & Daxter. You can see Squash & Stretch happening
in just about every single move and attack. You can see it in Jak’s torso when he
runs… squash… stretch… squash… stretch… His entire body stretches out when
he jumps, then bunches up in middair, stretches out again and than squashes
down with the force of the landing. And you REALLY see it in his attacks. LOOK at that. And look at how much Daxter
cartoonishly stretches behind him! I’m still amazed at how well Naughty Dog
pulled this off so early in the PS2 era. And you can tell the animators were
having to fight those technical constraints. Like, they probably weren’t able to deform
every part of the characters’ bodies quite as much they
would’ve liked. Notice how Daxter’s head
stays perfectly round throughout this whole move instead
of stretching along with the body. But still, it is amazing what they achieved
in this early era of 3D game animation. Most of today’s 3D games aren’t pushing the
cartoony Squash & Stretch quite that far, but if you look around,
you can find examples. Some of them extreme,
some of them quite subtle! I am so happy that Nintendo’s animators
have started pushing the Squash & Stretch a little further with Mario lately.
It just looks so good on him. But of course, if you want to see where
the REALLY exaggerated stuff is happening, just look for the games
with 2D and pixel animation. The abundance of Squash & Stretch is
one of the big reasons why the animation in these particular games
is so fun to look at. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston called Squash & Stretch the
“most important discovery” those early Disney animators made
when establishing these principles. And you can see why! It can make your cartoony characters’
movement even more appealing, it can make your realistic
characters feel more organic, and using it to exaggerate the extension
and compression of your character’s body will often lead to stronger,
more visually-dynamic poses. It is one of the most powerful
tools in the animator’s toolkit. But I think that’ll do
it for Squash & Stretch. Two principles down,
ten left to go. If you haven’t already, be sure to
subscribe so you don’t miss the rest. And consider supporting the
show like all these great folks! Thank you for watching and
I’ll see you next time. [music]

My Favorite Game Animation of 2018

August 19, 2019 | Articles, Blog | 100 Comments

My Favorite Game Animation of 2018

Hello, and welcome to New Frame Plus! It’s been a good year for video game animation, and since 2018 is just about wrapped up I thought it might be fun to list some of my
favorite examples of game animation I saw this year. Not necessarily the BEST Animation
of the Year, Hands Down, just the stuff that impressed or excited me most. We have got a lot of games worth talking about,
so let’s just start running down the list! I want to start with God of War. Sony Santa Monica has always done amazing
work, especially when it comes to
combat animation and big set pieces. But the thing that impressed me most this
time around wasn’t the big bombastic moments, but the small ones. The moments of stillness and quiet. I’ve never seen a God of War game put so
much emphasis on character performance, and I love it. There is some really nice, subtle character
acting in here, and I love that the game gives
these little scenes the time they need instead of just rushing through to the next fight. If this is the direction they want
to take God of War in the future, then I am 100% on board. Also, it has to be said: nobody sells scale through animation
quite like Sony Santa Monica. Hot dang. Next up… Smash Bros Ultimate I already made three videos (and counting) about what makes the
character animation in this game work, and everything I already said
is still true of Ultimate. It is genuinely impressive how
Smash Bros somehow manages to make this enormous grab bag of characters all feel like they belong together in one game, without sacrificing what makes
any one of them unique or special. That is a daunting challenge, and yet, no matter how many
new characters they add to this roster, Smash Bros just keeps making it look easy. Next up: Moss This mouse is amazing. I’ve only had the chance to see
bits and pieces of the game so far, but Quill is already one of my favorite video characters. Her animation is just loaded with
appeal and extremely polished, which is all the more impressive given that (I think) Polyarc only has one animator on their team? I mean, Richard Lico has been
in this industry a long time, so I’m not SURPRISED the animation’s this great but I am still impressed. And my favorite part of all is that, as you
play, Quill communicates with you, the player, using sign language. Sometimes to give you a hint for a puzzle or something, sometimes just to tell you how she’s feeling. As far as I know, Quill is the first video
game protagonist to communicate using ASL, (at least, outside of the educational gaming space). This is a specific form of inclusivity that
gaming hasn’t really done much of yet, and it just makes me love this mouse all the more. When I do eventually pick up a PlayStation VR, it is primarily going to be so I can
finally meet this mouse, and I am REALLY looking forward to that. Next up: Just Shapes & Beats If you watch our sister channel, PlayFrame, then you already know that this rhythm bullet hell
was one of my favorite games of the year, but one of the things that most surprised me about it was how effective it’s minimalist animation was. I mean, the entire game is just simple shapes: the environments, the projectiles, the enemies, the characters… but the animation on
all of them is still really charming. And (this I did NOT expect)… in some cases, it comes together in some
downright impressive spectacle! I highly recommend checking this one out
if you haven’t yet, because… It is a DELIGHT. Another one of my favorites this year was Monster Hunter World. Now, Monster Hunter has always had some of the
best creature animation in the business, but with World finally bringing the series
back to home consoles and cranking up the AAA fidelity big time, that amazing creature animation
is finally getting a chance to really shine. The physicality on these creatures is so good, and the way these games encourage you to improve by learning each monster’s body language
to predict their next move is just so well-executed. The player character’s animation is top
notch too, with some really impressive
weapon attack combo work. And, of course, most important of all… it has MULTIPLE cutscenes in which an army of chef cats make you dinner. So…. your move, Rest of the Game Industry. Next up: Spider-Man I already made a video about this game’s
animation, and everything I said about that particular Zip-to-Point swing applies to the
rest of animation in the game. The web swinging animation looks amazing, the combat work looks great… and all of it perfectly capturing that
unique Spider-Man movement style. It’s just exceptional work all around. Not to mention some really effective
story scene performances. Kudos to both the animators and
all of the motion capture performers for bringing this character’s world to life so effectively. And it would definitely be silly if I
did not also include on this list: Red Dead Redemption 2 I already did a whole video on this one too, but whatever misgivings I
may have expressed in that episode, there is no question that the
attention to detail on display here IS incredible. And not just because of all the realistic
ways your character performs mundane actions (although those do look amazing) Even just the fundamentals of movement and
aiming your gun and riding your horse just look so darn solid. Like, this is probably boring
for anyone who’s not me, but… I really like Arthur’s crouched
movement animation set. Just that hunched over walk, the way he settles
onto one knee when you stop, and the little fidgets as he tries to get
into a comfortable kneeling position… Say what you will about the sluggish movement,
but these little natural details are so fantastic and they are EVERYWHERE
in this character’s animation. Another salute to the animation team
behind this gargantuan project, and I still hope your employer starts to treat y’all with the respect and sustainable
work conditions you deserve. Moving on… Super Mario Party Any time you have to animate a wide variety
of characters performing the same task, that’s a great opportunity to create some contrast
and express each character’s personality by showing how THEY specifically
look doing that task. But with a character like, say… Goomba you’ve got an opportunity to get REALLY creative, because they CAN’T do most of these
activities like the rest of the crew. They gots no hands. And I love that the animators took this opportunity to actually try and show Goomba doing each of these games in their own way. Balancing stuff on their head… grabbing stuff in their mouth… It is ADORABLE. And they just look so happy
to finally be at the party! Look at how much fun they’re having! I love ‘em. Now we had some really great pixel animation work
came out of the indie scene this year. We had Dead Cells with their really clever
‘pixel art/3D animation’ hybrid technique. We had Octopath Traveler, which didn’t necessarily
break any new ground on the animation front, but did feature a uniquely gorgeous 3D implementation. And we finally saw the release of Iconoclasts, which is remarkably well-animated
for a single-person project. Whenever an entire game
is being made by one person, I don’t usually expect to see
the same quality of animation that I would expect from someone who specializes in it, but Robin’s animation in this looks awesome! Just her run is so charming.
And really distinct! I’d be impressed by this run
if a full-time animator made it, and the fact that the guy who animated this ALSO made the entire rest
of the video game? That’s amazing. And speaking of great pixel animation… have y’all seen Bomb Chicken? Dang. Look at that. I honestly don’t know what else to say about it. This game is just pure pixel art appeal. Look at that wild squash and stretch
when it lays a bomb! Look at that animated explosion! Look at it’s bouncy walk! Aww and look at the way it settles when you stop. Highly recommend checking this game out. this is seriously some of the best
pixel animation I’ve seen all year. Also the gameplay is
really clever and fun, which… that’s a nice bonus! Spyro Reignited Trilogy Now I don’t personally have a
childhood history with the Spyro games, but I do really love some of the
animation work I’m seeing in this remake. Toys for Bob had a really exciting opportunity here to not only reproduce the charm of the original but to amplify and build upon it. And I’m so happy that they went all in on this. I so love that they not only gave so many
of these characters more detailed and distinct designs, but also more distinct animated performances! It’s really fun going back and forth
between the originals and the remakes and seeing how the animators delivered the more specific, nuanced acting choices that these higher-fidelity
character models are capable of. I mean, look at some of these
complete animation overhauls! “Oh, hello! We didn’t get a chance
to introduce ourselves before. My name is Elora.” “Uh, hi! I’m Spyro. What are you? Some kind of goat?” “I’m a FAWN, you dork.” “Oh! Sorry.” “Oh no.” “Oh, hello! We didn’t get a chance
to introduce ourselves before.” “My name is Elora.” “Uh, hi! I’m Spyro.” “What are you, some kind of goat?” “I’m a fawn, you dork.” “Oh! Sorry.” Seriously, way to bring an old classic back
with more character appeal than it started with. Finally, it would be utterly ridiculous of me
to not include in this video: Dragon Ball FighterZ. Or Dragon Ball Fighters? I don’t know what it’s supposed to be. Look. People have been trying to emulate the look
of hand drawn anime in 3D games for a long time. Some of them have been
reasonably successful at achieving that goal. Others, not so much. But what Arc System Works has been doing with
Guilty Gear Xrd and now Dragon Ball FighterZ is some next level stuff. The amount of care and detail work that has gone
into trying to make these 3D character models convincingly appear to be 2D animation is incredible. I might have to do an episode on this later. It’s just so stupidly cool. And that they’ve done this well on their
first and second attempts makes me REALLY excited for what they’re
gonna be capable of a few years from now. Oh! Also… I haven’t had a chance to play this
one yet, but I’m just gonna give an Honorable Mention to Gris? Because… I don’t know. I just have a feeling it’s going to belong on this list. Hot dang. And I think that’ll do it! Did I miss anything? I probably did, honestly. Between animating at my day job and
running two YouTube channels, it’s pretty hard for me to keep up
with everything that comes out in a year. But if you do know of some
amazingly-animated game
which isn’t on this list, go ahead and call it out in the comments because I would hate to miss out on something cool. Anyway, here’s to all the great game animation
that 2019 no doubt has in store for us! It’s been an exciting first year for this channel, and I’ve got a lot of videos planned for next year
which I am also very excited about. If you haven’t already, go ahead and subscribe
to make sure you don’t miss any of them. Thanks for watching and
have yourselves a lovely new year!

How To Become a Game Animator – New Frame Plus

And welcome to New Frame Plus, a series about video
game animation. Are you interested in a
being a video game animator? I mean, you’re watching this, so I assume
you must be at least a little curious. And I don’t blame you! Taking an inanimate object like a
drawing, pixel sprite or digital model and transforming it into a
living, thinking character is slow but satisfying work. Today, I want to tell you how
to not only pursue this career, but EXCEL at it. Of course, as with most
careers, there’s not just one viable path to
success in this industry, but I’m hoping that this video
guide will at least give you a general idea of everything
you’re going to need to learn, how you can land that first gig, and how to be great at the job. And to make sure that this guide
is as thorough as possible, I have enlisted the help
of a bunch of my peers! So, in advance, a special thanks
to: Mike Jungbluth, Jonathan Cooper, Gwen Frey,
Dan Lowe, LeeLee Scaldaferri, Simon Unger, Michael Azzi,
Lana Bachynski, Jason Shum, Kristjan Zadziuk,
Eric Luhta and David Gibson. These are professionals
working in the industry today, many of whom are WAY more
experienced than I am, and their help was invaluable
in putting this video together. But alright, let’s get started! Let’s say you’re
starting from square one, but you KNOW you want to be
an animator for video games. What’s the first
thing you should do? I’d say the first thing is: STEP 1: Figure out what kind
of animation you WANT to do. What kind of animator
do you want to be? Because there’s a wide variety
of animation jobs out there! You could be a 3D animator, you could be a 2D animator, or you could be
a pixel animator! You could be an FX
animator, even! You could specialize in
creating animations for gameplay or for cinematics! Or heck, if you happen to have
a knack for programming or just technical problem solving,
you could be a technical animator. The industry ALWAYS
needs more of those. You may not be certain
of what sort of animator you want to be right
now (and that’s ok!), but it is a good question
to be thinking about, so take the time to
do a little research. At the end of the day,
all of these specializations are built on the same
core animation principles, but they do each have their own
workflows and requisite skill sets. Heck,
try dabbling in a few of them, see if anything strikes your fancy. Knowing which specific sort of animation
work you’re most interested in doing will help you to know which
skills you need to focus on honing. Ok, so now that you have a rough
idea of WHAT you want to do, it’s time for the most
important step on this list… STEP 2: Become good at it. Now it’s time to
learn the craft. Fortunately, there are all kinds
of resources available to you! To start, you’re going to want
to pick up a particular book: The Animator’s Survival
Kit by Richard Williams. Just about every animator I’ve ever
met knows it (and probably owns it). It is STILL one of
the best books on the fundamentals of animation
that you’re going to find. It may describe everything in terms
of old school hand drawn techniques, but the fundamentals
it teaches apply to every form. Odds are: no matter which
form of animation you pursue, you will be referring back to this
book for the rest of your career. So just go ahead and get it now. You might also consider picking
up Game Anim by Jonathan Cooper. This one’s much newer,
in fact it just came out this year, but if games are the medium
you want to be working in, this book is going
to be a big help in understanding the
particulars of the medium. Now, if you’re serious about
pursuing animation as a career, you’re probably going to want
to look into some schools. There are a number of universities out
there with animation programs on offer (some of which are fantastic),
but they can be pretty expensive. Alternatively, you could look
into an online animation schools. These trade schools have the benefit
of being more focused courses, often costing less money,
requiring fewer years of schooling AND allowing you to enroll
from anywhere in the world. I can personally vouch for the
quality of Animation Mentor, but there are several
good options out there, so be prepared to
do some research. There are a lot of metrics you can
use to gauge a school’s quality, but my personal favorite approach is to simply look
at the animation work of its graduates. The average quality of the student
reels coming out of an animation program will say a LOT about the
quality of that program. Better yet, see if you can find out each
school’s graduate job placement rate! What percentage of
graduates from each program actually succeeded in landing an
animation job after graduating? That’ll tell you a LOT about how
effective any given program is at preparing its students
for employment in the industry. It’s also worth at least
considering the school’s location, because schools do tend to network
with the studios closest to them. Now, fair warning to the
2D animators out there: you’re probably going to
have an easier time finding the traditional animation
courses at the universities. And pixel animators, you’re not likely to
find formal courses for your craft anywhere, but pixel animation is all built on
traditional 2D fundamentals anyway, so your best bet is probably
to look into the 2D courses. Then you can dig into online
resources for pixel art on your own time to see how best to apply those traditional
2D skills to your chosen medium. Of course, expensive schooling isn’t
the only route available to you! Self-teaching is
always an option. You absolutely CAN just download a
demo for Maya, Max, Blender, ToonBoom, Spine, or Aseprite and start
figuring this stuff out for yourself. You’ve got a long, difficult road
of self-training ahead, though, so take advantage of every
single resource you can find. Fortunately, there are a wide variety
of resources available to you! Way more than there were
when I was coming up. And now there’s even an
easy way to find them! Got to animatorsresourcekit.blog and you
will find an enormous list of tutorials, books, rigs and tools which you can
use, many of which are freely available! Just remember that your focus should
be learning the CRAFT, not the tools. Once you’ve internalized
the principles of animation, you’ll be able to jump between tools
(and even animation mediums) WAY easier. Now, if you’re hoping to get into
pixel animation, you may need to do some further searching to find
resources specific to your craft. I do know of one particularly good book
called Pixel-Logic by Michael Azzi. It is an excellent resource,
especially for the price. And you can actually find a lot of great
pixel animators sharing tips and tutorials on blogs or Twitter, so seek those
people out and absorb all you can. Honestly, make use of this stuff even
if you ARE attending an animation school. Use every resource you can find and
keep looking for ways to improve. Because, at the end of the day,
animation is a pretty competitive field. A LOT of people are going to be
applying for your dream job, and those people will often have
WAY more experience than you. So if you want to be the
one to land that job offer, the quality and creativity of your
work HAS to stand out from the pack. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you
yourself should stand out from the pack! Quite the contrary: connecting
with other animators should be one
of your top priorities. Don’t work in a bubble! Build yourself a network of
peers who you can give you honest critique. I know it can be scary
asking for feedback, but it is so,
so important to getting better. I won’t lie: it’s going to take
you a long time to truly get good. Internalizing the fundamentals
of animation until they become second nature is likely
to take years of practice. And that’s ok! Take the time you need to
master those fundamentals. I know you’re going to want to jump right
to the exciting stuff and start animating a whole complicated fight sequence or a whole
short film by yourself or something, but trust me: you will git gud so much
faster if you take the time to master those
simple fundamentals first. Maybe start by trying to animate the best
dang bouncing ball anybody has ever seen. Then maybe like a pendulum.
Or this thing. Except better than these. These are my old
student assignments, you can do better than that. But then maybe move on
to simple body mechanics. Like a walk cycle or an attack,
dances, that sort of thing. Then maybe a really
simple acting shot. Keep building to more and more
complicated stuff, mastering the fundamentals along the way,
and you will be SO MUCH better by the end. No one becomes an
animation god overnight. But okay,
now that you’ve put in the time and become an animator
to be reckoned with, your next step is going to be… STEP 3: Build a demo reel. To get a job in animation,
you’re going to need to show potential employers
examples of your work. I can’t stress it enough: this demo reel
is the thing that will get you hired, so you want to put together
the best one possible. If you aren’t sure where to start
or what your reel should look like, try looking up the reels of
other accomplished animators! You can find a lot of them
publicly viewable online, and studying them is a great way to not only
see what a good demo reel should contain, but also show you the level of
quality you need to aim for. If you want a good place to start,
Jonathan Cooper created a Game Anim group on Vimeo that is
jam-packed with high quality reels. I’ll link to it below. I know this may feel intimidating
at first, but trust me: setting a high bar for
yourself will serve you well. Now, a lot of people have written
up tips for constructing demo reels, but here are some of the
most important guidelines: Include only your BEST work,
and polish the HECK out of those shots. You are aiming to put your
best foot forward here, and 45 seconds of
incredible animation will make you look way better
than 3 minutes of mixed quality. I know a guy who landed
a job at Blue Sky with a demo reel that was
just 20 seconds long! I cannot stress enough
how important this is: inconsistent quality is a
BIG red flag for recruiters, because it suggests to them that
you can’t see the difference yet. Your reel is only as good
as the worst shot on it, so if you’re looking at a particular shot and
you’re not sure it’s good enough for the reel, either make it better
or just cut it. Also as a general rule: put your best
shot first and your second best shot last. And don’t hide your animation behind
fancy lighting, particles or camera moves. Good lighting and camera work CAN
be a great plus for your reel, but the people doing
the hiring really want to see proof of
your animation skills, so try not to obscure those
behind flashy presentation. And try to show the full
range of your strengths! Versatility is appealing. Whatever you’re good
at, be it acting shots, realistic body mechanics or cartoony
action, have your reel show that off. That said, it is always in your
best interests to cater your reel to the specific employers
and types of work that you want. Recruiters love to be able
to look at a reel and see that you can do EXACTLY the
kind of animation they need. If you send a reel full of nothing
but wacky cartoony animation to a studio that almost exclusively
makes realistic-looking games, even if your cartoony
animation is AMAZING, even if you probably COULD do the
realistic animation they want, they are very likely to pass
you over for someone else. Same if you send a reel full of acting shots
to a studio that never does cutscenes. Or a reel of 3D animation work to
a studio seeking a pixel artist. So cater your reel to the
workplaces you’re applying to. Heck, make custom versions of the reel to
send to different studios if you got to. And if you want to win
some MAJOR bonus points, show off your animation
working in a game engine! Making animation look good in
animation software is one thing, but making it look good in an
interactive environment with proper blends and transitions is a great way
to prove that you KNOW YOUR STUFF. Also,
never EVER plagiarize work. Don’t copy somebody
else’s animation Don’t try to pass off somebody
else’s work as your own. There is no faster way to get
blacklisted from this industry. Just don’t ever do it. And finally, try to make the presentation
as broadly appealing as you can. Avoid including anything
offensive or unprofessional. You don’t want to blow your chance
with a studio over something like an unreadable font or profanity or an
obnoxious background music track. Ok, so now you have a great reel.
At long last, you are ready for… STEP 4: The Job Hunt. At this point,
it’s just a matter of finding out who’s hiring and
sending out applications. Since you have no
professional experience yet, that first job is going to
be the HARDEST one to get, so be ready to cast a WIDE net, and look for internship
opportunities if you’re student. If you go to gamedevmap.com,
you can find a list of most of the game
studios in any given area. This can be a great way to see if
there are any studios near you, but – unless you just happen
to live in a game dev hub like San Francisco or Montreal
or LA or Seattle – chances are that you’re going to
need to be prepared to relocate. But apply everywhere. Even to studios that
aren’t your top pick. Even to jobs that you don’t feel
like you’re good enough for yet. Believe me, the first animation job I landed
coming out of school was at Pixar Canada. I STILL feel like that
shouldn’t have happened, but it did, and ONLY because I actually
took the time to apply on a whim. So just do it. But don’t send in the
same application twice. If you don’t hear back from a place,
just assume they passed on you and move on. Or, even better,
politely ask for feedback! Chances are they won’t have
time, but it never hurts to ask. Maybe later, when you see
them post a job opening again and you’ve
updated your reel a bit, you can give it another go. Networking is going to
help you a lot here too Remember when I said
how important it is to build a network of peers
and animator friends? This is the other reason that it’s
good to get out there and meet people. There are so many great animator
communities to be found on the internet, so go get involved in them
and make some friends! You will be amazed how often those connections
result in future job opportunities. Now, the places you’ll
be applying are likely to vary based on the
medium you’ve chosen. If you’re a 3D animator,
you’re gonna have a lot of options From AAA to Indie, the industry has lots
of demand for 3D animation right now. If you’re a 2D animator,
your options are slightly more limited. Expect to do more of your job hunting in
the indie, mobile and casual gaming scenes. And if you’re a pixel
animator, well, those jobs are almost exclusively coming from
the Indie scene these days, so start looking there. But then, once you’ve finally
landed that first job and officially entered the industry,
it’s time for the final step… STEP 5: Make a good impression. Start your fledgling
career off right. Be professional,
do good work and play nice with others. Be the sort of coworker who people
would love to work with again. This industry is smaller than you
might think. And it can be unstable. Contract gigs, layoffs, even studio closures
are tragically common, so odds are good that
you’re going to be looking for your second game
animation job eventually. And when that day comes,
it’s going to be a LOT easier to find that next job if people
like working with you. So there you go!
That is how you become a game animator. BUT. Let’s say that’s
not enough for you. Maybe you want to be…
a GOOD animator. Maybe even a GREAT animator. What sorts of skills or traits
make somebody GREAT at this job? What will guarantee that your work
is not only consistently excellent, but also consistently
in high demand? Well, here are some tips… TIP #1: Always be learning. Learn more about animation, learn more about tools, learn more about
game development, learn more about storytelling, learn more about people. Keep expanding your skillset. The more stuff you know how to do,
the more valuable an employee you become. And keep learning those animation
fundamentals inside and out! Heck, I know people who have
gone back to animation school even after working in
the industry for YEARS. Mastering those basic principles
never stops being important. TIP #2: Study
movement every day. Our entire craft is about
analyzing and reproducing movement. So, learn to observe that
movement in your daily life! Keep an eye out for interesting
walks or expressions, learn to analyze the
intricacies of body language. Think about how you would
animate that body language, how you would exaggerate it
for maximum clarity and effect. If you see some interesting
movement in a video, frame through that footage to
study the body mechanics at play. Heck, study footage of yourself
performing various actions sometimes. Actually getting up and doing the
movements yourself can be a great way to better feel and internalize
the physicality of an action. TIP #3: Prioritize
studying real life. It can be tempting to spend a lot of
your energy studying other people’s animation. But, ultimately, reality is the
thing you should be studying most, because real life is the source
material we’re ALL drawing from. when you’re looking at
another animator’s work, what you are seeing is their
creative interpretation of reality. And if you spend all of your time
analyzing other animators’ interpretations, you’re not going to understand
the source material any better. The only thing you’ll learn is how to replicate
someone else’s interpretation of it. And if that’s all you know, then your
work is going to start looking derivative. Now, don’t get me wrong, studying other people’s interpretations
can still be EXTREMELY helpful! Learning how the greats who came
before you interpreted and stylized reality can be inspiring and
teach you a lot of helpful tricks. Just don’t forget that THEY were
working from reality when they did it, and that you should too. TIP #4: Study acting. You don’t necessarily
have to be a good ACTOR (because that is a fundamentally
different skill), but it is still important to
understand the fundamentals of acting. I mean, when you’re animating a character,
you’re effectively acting through them. And you want that performance
to be interesting. So, if you have the chance, take an
acting class or two! Or an improv course. Try to learn how to get
into that acting headspace. And make a habit of studying your
favorite actors’ performances so you can learn from the best. Watch movies and plays, and start building a library
of inspiring performances and characters in your head so you
can reference them in the future. TIP #5: Learn to draw. If you’re planning to be a
traditional 2D animator, you are definitely going to need
to hone your skills with a pencil. Or stylus. Whatever. But even if you’re not planning
to go into hand-drawn animation, drawing is still a very
useful complementary skill. You’ll be able to sketch out your
ideas during the planning phase, and previsualize poses and silhouettes
before diving into your software of choice. I don’t care what kind
of animation you do; a life drawing class will
ONLY make your work better. TIP #6: Avoid
performance clichés. Don’t just default to
animating the first, most obvious creative choice
that pops into your head. Because it’s probably the same predictable idea
that dozens of other animators already did. Instead, take an extra few
minutes and see if you can come up with some other, more interesting
ways to animate something. You might still
go with that first idea, but you don’t want to
just default to it. TIP #7: Be a good team player. Chances are high that you are going
to be working with other people, so it is imperative that you be
somebody people like to work with. You need to be able
to collaborate, communicate with people
from other disciplines, take criticism well and offer it
to others in a supportive way. Read some books on the
subject if you’ve got to. Again,
if people like working with you, they’re going to want to keep
working with you. And that’s good. TIP #8: Know what your
animation needs to achieve in the larger
context of the project. It is possible to
make a beautiful, mind-blowingly awesome
piece of animation that is 100% WRONG for the
project it’s intended for. So it’s important to be able to recognize
what your animation needs to functionally achieve in the greater
context of that project and adapt your work accordingly. You need to be able to adapt to
the aesthetic style of the project. You need to be able to
adapt to the project’s gameplay needs and
technical limitations. If your animation is only good outside
the context of the game it’s meant for, then it isn’t actually
all that good. TIP #9: Learn how to implement
your animations in-game. This is only becoming
more important as a skill. Being able to make beautiful
animation is great, but things always look different
when you put them in-game, when the player has control
and other animations are blending into and out of
yours at unpredictable times. Being able to participate in
the implementation process will not only make you a
more desirable employee, but it’ll also give you the tools you need to
make your work look even better in-engine. And at the end of the day, how it looks
in-engine is all that really matters. Video game animation has to
balance aesthetics, responsiveness and
clarity all at once, and there is no better way to
master that balance than to be the person actually hooking
the animations up in-engine. I know this stuff looks
intimidating from the outside, but trust me: it is SO much easier
to learn now than it used to be. I mean, you can download
Unity and Unreal Engine for free RIGHT NOW and
just start playing around! There is an abundance of free tutorials
and learning resources out there. The Unreal folks have even been doing
educational live streams on the subject. Again, if you can show that you know
how to do this on your actual demo reel, you have no IDEA how many bonus
points that is going to score you. TIP #10: Consider learning
some basic scripting. If you’re like
me, code is scary. But code is also what video games
(and your animation software) run on. So knowing how to do
some basic scripting can unlock all sorts of potential
for your work. It’s amazing the animation
tricks and workflow efficiencies you can achieve with just a
little bit of scripting knowledge. Plus, knowing this stuff will make it
even easier for you to communicate and collaborate with programmers and the
more technical members of your team. At the end of the day, you are not
going to NEED this skill to find work, but having the skill will act as a multiplier
to your effectiveness AND employability. TIP #11: Consider
learning to how to rig. Rigs are the puppetry-like armatures that computer
animators use to animate characters. They can be extremely complicated,
and there are people whose entire job is JUST being good at building
good rigs for the animators to use. But if you know just a little
about building them yourself, you will unlock so many possibilities
for yourself and your work. This is going to be an essential skill
to have when working in small studios where there’s no
dedicated rig builder to be found, and it’ll even be helpful
knowledge in big studios even where there’s an entire team handling
the rig-building for you. Again, not necessarily
something you HAVE to know, but being good at it will make you
an even more valuable employee. Like, no joke: this industry does
not have enough rig builders. They are in HIGH DEMAND. So if you want to dramatically
increase your employability, going this route
is not a bad idea. TIP #12: Learn the
fundamentals of game design. One of the primary purposes
of gameplay animation is to provide visual
information and feedback. That means your animation is
inevitably going to have a significant impact on the larger experience
your team is creating, and it’s really important that
you UNDERSTAND that impact, which means you’re going to need to know
the basics of game design. You don’t have to be an expert, but knowing those design fundamentals
is going to be JUST as important as understanding the basics
of acting or storytelling. Finally,
and perhaps most importantly: TIP #13: Keep pushing
yourself to get better. You are never going to hit a point
where you have finished getting better. Even the best animators in
the world are still learning and honing their
craft with every project. That’s WHY they are
the best at what they do. My first creative
director put it to me this way: you will never reach the top climbing
this mountain, because there is no top. You’ll see a ledge above you that
looks like the top from where you are, but once you finally
get yourself up there, that’s when you’re going to see the
next cliff face waiting ahead. So just take a minute to
celebrate how far you’ve come, and then start climbing again. If you do choose to climb this
mountain yourself, I wish you the best of luck, and I’m very excited to see
the animation you create. And just know that you won’t
be climbing that mountain alone! This industry is full of fellow climbers
who are happy to help each other out. And I hope that you have
found THIS to be helpful! I want to thank the Animation Exchange
for hosting the debut of this video, as well as all of those
wonderful animators who contributed their
knowledge to the script. If you’re interested in seeing
more videos about game animation, be sure to subscribe
to New Frame Plus, and consider supporting the
show like all these nice people. Thanks,
and I’ll see you next time! [music]