Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Know Thyself

"the process of knowing my own body continues to be a source of learning and the source for improvement" - Brad Clark

"3D is all about the body. Knowing how it works because you're using it is going to make you a better modeler, rigger or animator." - John Neumann

Both of these quotes are excellent examples of what I hope to achieve with my new blog format. I even have a story that relates!

I remember one project I was on where I performed video reference for many of the in-game moves. One was pulling myself up from hanging on a line by the hands only, to hanging upside down and prone on the line for shimmying. I animated to the reference, punched it out, and got it in game. A few days later I had someone tell me that the move was unrealistic- I believe his words were along the lines that no human could possibly move that way. I quickly pulled up the vid ref, explained what I did and how I knew that a gymnast could do this move. Given that our main character was a thief with gymnastic abilities, the move fit within the design of the game. With that ensued a discussion after which that person moved on more educated to my process and my experiences, as well as to the goals for the animation design of the game. Without having had that knowledge before I animated the move, I may have second-guessed myself or just done it wrong to begin with, and I certainly would have had trouble engaging in a fruitful discussion with that person.

The same goes for me now- I'm still not an amazing animator by any means, but I still refer back to my training when thinking about how a body would need to behave to perform a move. It's not always easy when I only have 15 frames or even 5 frames to work with, but at least I can get those few frames working properly. If I don't know how a person would move, I get the other animators to throw out ideas. When all else fails, we either find vid ref, vid ref it ourselves, or even animate it backwards.

During this whole process though, I'm constantly thinking of how not just I would perform the move, but how the character in game would- what his motivations are and how his physical ability would allow him to perform not just that move, but all the moves that are related.

It goes the same for my strength training- how do all of the exercises and lifts I do contribute to my current goals? Once I am able to map that out and execute, I find myself successful at achieving them.

1 comment:

  1. Unrealistic. Wow. I get that feeling every time i see uncharted videos but you seem to have spotted something most critics of game animators often forget. Frame limitations. I come from a fighting game back ground so i have a distorted view of frames (3-6 frames great anything else is getting slow) but in reality to animated a punch in 3 frames is down right insane (street fighter's Ryu's dragon punch 3-frame start up). This is not even enough to show anticipation of any sort/ generation of power. Do you think in the future we will have to tone down this snappiness? Cos i don't see game animations really getting richer with such constraints also the gamer's experience is limited in away since all games copy each other and want that same snappy feel from last years successful game.

    How to animators hide anticipation from the gamer?