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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!

Gaming's Greatest Animation | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios



when we talk about great works of animation we tend to talk about famous animated films there's Walt Disney's classic cartoons Max Fleischer Superman Ren and Stimpy probably my neighbor totoro deserves a mention as well these are all big important milestones in animation but aren't we forgetting something what about video games games are animated too and they've made huge strides since the days of volleying a square ball between two paddles some of my personal favorite examples of the best gaming animations include Street Fighter 3 third strike where you can watch chun-li through a fireball it's wonderful Shadow of the Colossus the bosses are hairy house and good and Prince of Persia with its fantastic rotoscoping technique but with the exception of Don Bluth who's better known for films like The Land Before Time and the secret of NIMH than his work on Dragon's Lair video game animation kinda gets the short shrift of course a few bad apples give game animation a really bad name but by and large game animation is worth celebrating so for today's episode of Game Show we're going to do game animation a solid before we find out what game animation does that is so unique and interesting first we need to ask what makes classic animation good in the first place to find out let's take a look at the techniques of a few of the art forms true masters first of all good animation conveys the personality of the character as the famed Looney Tunes artist Chuck Jones says if you can't tell what's happening by the way a character moves you're not animating so when Elmer Fudd wants to kill the wabbit he moves like a man possessed but after bugs is dead he weeps like a baby and moves like this good game animation operates on the same assumption for instance Wario is concerned with getting rich so he greedily shakes out of the moneybags he finds klonoa wants to live with his friends in the dream world but sorry this is real life and soda pop in ski what a pompous jerk the second mark of good animation is staging this is according to Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas they animated Disney films such as Snow White and Pinocchio and also the scene of Lady and the Tramp eating spaghetti so they know what they're talking about staging means the animation should work in concert with the background art to create a clear and dynamic picture the fight with the elephant in Hohokam is a great example of this the scene has the potential for chaos because hey you're fighting an elephant and B the game is made for hippies and yet somehow everything exists in harmony the background is static so the animation of the elephant doesn't have to compete with it a third thing classic animation has to get right is that bounce in John Lasseter SIGGRAPH paper principles of traditional animation applied to 3d computer animation he explains how physics can be used to make objects squish and stretch in believable ways the example he gives is how luxo jr. aka the Pixar lamp folds up as it lands and then stretches out as it hops upwards again this is even more challenging in games because the animation needs to look correct no matter what the player does some games use what is known as procedural animation to provide that perfect bounce for instance in Halo you see the effects of momentum on the antenna and the turret and the shocks when the Warthog skids to a hard stop the slug cat in rain world has tail physics so if you crawl sideways over a hole the tail flops down in it if you run to the right it floats to the left so as you see the rules the great classic animation also apply to game animation but do games do anything with animation that cartoons just don't in fact they do great game animation both looks good and feels good this is because game animation gives a sensation of tactile feedback to the player Kyle Gabler the artist of World of Goo refers to this concept as juice what Gabler means by juice is a constant and bountiful overflow of user feedback that makes a game feel alive and responsive animation plays a huge role in this for instance check out how alien hominid has all these intense attack animations and perverse amounts of blood that flies out of enemies every button press is juicy and the explosions in love trousers rock the entire screen like an earthquake on the other hand dragon's lair might have too much shoes you're getting a ton of visual feedback for a single button press but it's basically a hundred and one Dalmatians with QuickTime events at its best game animation is a dance between the game designer and the player another world gets this right notice how it uses animation to guide you through the game right after the opening cinematic you find yourself submerged in water which way do you go well the animation of the tentacles reaching up from the depths tells you probably not that way so you swim up next you see this majestic beast up on the cliffs it runs to the right so you follow after it then you run into the Beast on the path and quickly realize following it might have been a mess to eat you so you take off running back the way you came with the monster chasing you when you reach the cliff you make a leap of faith grab the rope swing around the monster and continue fleeing on foot until you run into the aliens the whole sequence of events is an elaborate interplay between your characters animations and the beasts the end result looks beautiful and feels good and this is very new territory for animation classical animation was always about giving life to the characters Chuck Jones once said that he had to think as Bugs Bunny not of Bugs Bunny but game animation is about giving life to the player and letting them feel alive through the experience on screen and you don't even have to know how to draw which is good because my talents have always lain elsewhere what do you think what games have amazing animation tell us your favorites hash it out in the comments and if you liked what you saw please 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