The title says it all. Naughty Dog’s Judd Simantov, (whom I understand works remotely from South Africa), takes us through the rigging of the amazingly appealing characters of their soon-to-be-released action title.
I’ve long held that the technical (i.e. non-artistic) pinnacle that videogames’ can attain, when we’ve finally achieved the point at which technology no longer holds us back, is the complete virtual reproduction of an immersive world in the manner of Star Trek TNG’s Holodeck. If we’re looking to offer wholly-immersive experiences in a virtual environment, then this is the absolute zenith.
As such, my interest has been piqued for some time now by the affordability and accessibility of virtual reality’s second coming in the form of the increasingly popular Oculus 3D headset. I lapped up the VR-related talks at this year’s GDC, convinced the immediate benefits would outweigh criticisms from developers at Valve and the Oculus guys themselves – appreciating the latter’s “mea culpa” approach and the former’s assertion that while far from finished, this is the first step on the long road of virtual reality becoming a viable gaming reality by comparing the current situation to that of the early days of PC 3D accelerator cards.
Long before Steve Jobs instrumented Apple’s meteoric rise, the British microcomputer world had Sir Clive Sinclair, responsible for making programmable gaming available to every UK home in the early 80′s. I’ve always believed there were an inordinately high percentage of Sinclair ZX Spectrums belonging the children in my home town of Dundee given they were all factory-produced right there in the city, (and therefore finding their way into homes at “discount” price), producing a generation of ready-made local game developer talent and eventually giving rise to games such as the notable Grand Theft Auto franchise.
Above, Micro Men is the BBC’s hilariously authentic 80′s-style dramatisation starring The Hobbit and chronicling the rise and fall of Sinclair’s all-too-brief era, though sadly overlooking my own version, 1984′s superior ZX Spectrum+ 48k, (yes, that was the memory limit at that time). Recommended viewing if you’ve got an hour and a half to spare and are interested in the UK gaming scene’s humble origins.
This is a post I’ve been waiting years to write as whenever I’m knee-deep in demo reels I’m invariably too busy hiring, but all that changes this week. After sifting through hundreds of examples while creating this Vimeo group of Game Anim Demo Reels, here are my thoughts on creating the perfect demo reel with the specific intent of landing a videogame animation job. Greater length, quality and variety is expected from someone with industry experience behind them, whereas a student need mostly show potential, passion and imagination that can be nurtured. Admittedly, these are only my opinions so I’d be interested to hear what other developers think, and please also add your reel or others you know of to the group – it’s open to everyone.
Ten steps to a great game animation demo reel:
Show really strong work
It may sound obvious, but this is so important above everything else that it’s worth putting as number one. This brief list won’t tell you how to do that as it takes years and years of hard work and practice, but it will help you sell what you have in the best possible light to stand out from the increasingly talented crowd while avoiding many of the pitfalls that can detract from otherwise good animation. Making a strong demo reel is the single most important way to get my attention and make me want to work with you, so take your time and approach it with the same level of creativity and polish that you would any other project with your name on it.
A month from today I’ll be participating in the first ever Animation Bootcamp at GDC, a tutorial session all day Monday ahead of the full conference. This should be an unmissable day for any game animators attending as it will feature talks from several animators in the game and film industry, and I’ll be giving a video-heavy presentation of behind-the-scenes process and technology on how we created the movement for Connor, entitled “Animating The Third Assassin”.
In related news, here is a podcast I recorded with the guys over at online animation school iAnimate that discusses the animation on Assassin’s Creed III and the upcoming GDC talk. Their school has come up on my radar in the past not only because they have dedicated courses for teaching game animation, but also have many instructors from the game industry; not to mention an impressive set of game-like rigs to work with. Check out their latest game reel below.
Once a cancer in our industry, game developers that seek solely to emulate movies are thankfully rarer and rarer these days as we harness techniques only an interactive medium can give. Here, UCLA student Matthias Stork presents a refreshing look at the remediation, (or cross-pollination), of influence between film and videogames – something I’ve noticed a lot more of now perhaps due to younger film directors growing up with videogames.
I would challenge the assertion that in-game camera “shots” are anything more than teams playing to their or their particular game design’s strengths, but otherwise this is a refreshingly unbiased observation of the now bi-directional influence between both mediums.
It was a champagne celebration friday following the news that Assassin’s Creed 3 won the Outstanding Achievement in Animation award at this year’s DICE (Design Innovate Communicate Entertain) Awards – essentially the videogame industry equivalent of the Oscars.
Competition was strong this year so I’m extremely happy that the Academy appreciated all the hard work and improvements made over the previous games in the series. I’m also incredibly proud of all the team-members that poured so much effort into a sequel – the collective drive to raise the bar at Ubisoft is something quite incredible to be a part of!
Here is a video on Far Cry 3′s full performance capture technology, which is virtually identical to Assassin’s Creed III’s given that we used their workflow entirely albeit from a third-person perspective. I can’t imagine recording face, body and voice separate again after seeing the subtle nuances picked up by all three working together in sync.
Marc is the Technical Director in charge of R&D at our Montreal mocap studio, (we have one in Toronto also), so oversees the motion-capture technology-sharing on all Montreal projects. For more info on FC3′s character pipeline you can see an additional talk by Character Technical Director Kieran O’Sullivan here.
He didn’t win so it was never aired, but here is the video I created for the Spike VGA’s “character of the year” acceptance speech. Not counting the mocap shoot, it was only a few days work with a little help from those on the cinematics team, (the fight portion is a modified combination of two of our ingame double-counter-kills), but I never made any cutscenes for AC3 and wanted to familiarise myself with the entire workflow.
First post of 2013 following a long holiday visiting with family in Australia. I’m terrified of 3 things in life; sharks, spiders and great heights, so it only made sense to dive off the Great Barrier Reef, venture into the tent-spider colonies of the Daintree Rainforest, and hike the sheer cliff staircases of the Blue Mountains among many other adventures. I actually found Australia to be a lot like Canada, only without the shit weather.
Anyway, I’m quite a bit late to this as it took place when I was somewhat occupied, many months before snow was falling here in Montreal, but here are my notes from the Andreas Deja Masterclass I was privileged to attend late last year. Many thanks to my good friend Sam Youssef and her Studio Technique for organising the day’s event.
Since joining Disney in 1980, German-born Andreas Deja has breathed life into some of their most memorable villains in their classic films, and has spent the last three decades charting what he refers to as “the rise and fall of animation”. Much to his disappointment, he entered Disney at exactly the same time as many of the Nine Old Men retired, but lucky for us he spent time visiting them at their various homes around the country, with much of the talk being about passing on what he learned to us – essentially a new generation of animators – with a focus on the philosophy of bringing characters to life.