For this episode of WIP-Thursday I talked to Paula, one of our talented animators.
Paula has been an animator for ten years and in that time has been involved in a variety of projects: in games, VR, commercials and TV. As a child she’d go through Disney movies frame by frame, sitting in front of her grandma’s TV, studying how movement was created by individual images. And now we’re lucky enough to have her on our development team.
I asked her to walk me through the steps she takes for each character animation. She usually starts by acting out the movement herself, to feel how the movement goes. After, she will study the recordings to figure out how the body weight is distributed, what body mechanics are in action, and which body part leads the movement. And of course all of this recording and action is “also lots of fun!”
Now it’s time for “blocking”, says Paula. “Next stage is roughing it out in Maya. You take some key poses from the video reference and translate them to Maya. I like to add a lot of in-between poses as I progress. After feedback from Art Direction and Game Design, it is time to check the animation out in game!”
Next comes “spline and polish”. “Once we know the animation works and is readable in the game, it’s time for the next stage, which is called “polish”.
“That’s the time to really look at arcs, maybe re-tweak some timing, make sure not every body part arrives at the same time, and that characters are not frozen in place.”
I had to ask her what she means with “arcs”. “That’s the way something moves - like the arc a body part describes when it moves through the air. And ‘spline’ is making the software interpolate movement.”
The animation is not completely final yet - you can see the arm intersect with the leg at one point. But I like how Paula incorporated the vibration one would expect when working with a hard material.
Paula will soon start working with clothed Seedlings, instead of with the naked model you’ve seen above. Remember Ljubica’s tool from the last WIPT? That’s the tool that will make it possible to work like that. Once the models are covered in simulated clothing, Paula can finalize the animation. And I for one, can’t wait to see it!