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.
Archives For Rigging
Valve have opened the beta for their in-house cinematic tool, the Source Filmmaker. Below is a video taking us through its various features, but those I’m most interested in are the abilities to not only pause and reframe shots in realtime, but also pose and and animate characters on the fly.
This is one of the new directions I’ve been anticipating we take as an industry as a whole as we do away with the idea of creating animations and rigs in content creation packages such as Maya and 3DS Max and animate directly in the engine, removing both the export step and more importantly the disconnect between what you make in the DCC and later see in the game with the correct camera, rigging, and all the motions blending together – allowing us to truly work in a WYSIWYG environment.
Wow. Unity just got a whole lot more appealing as a valid game-creation tool for the future. Looking a lot like NaturalMotion’s Morpheme state machine, except fully integrated into an engine and FREE, this GDC 2012 video showcases their forthcoming character animation system with all the bells and whistles a technically-adept animator could dream of. Blend trees, automatic rigging and input control should have animators working in Unity producing some incredibly fluid characters in future games.
I’m currently playing through this one on my new PS3 slim and must say that of all the unique features Little Big Planet has, the puppet-like emoting is the most fun I’ve had in ages. Here’s a little bit of info on the animation in (I believe the incoming PSP version of) the game.
Looks like a simple rig in Maya to compliment the game nicely, and they use morph shapes for the facial emotes which seems a natural fit given the squashiness of the character.
Still with Capcom’s fighter, the more I play it the more I realise the actual animation is merely “functional”, but I imagine that’s what is required to ship a reboot of a franchise where every animation is subject to timing changes for game balancing throughout the project. What appeals most about this visuals are the incredibly solid models and their accompanying rigging and facial poses, so it’s nice to see that the Japanese Softimage site has a page up regarding both these aspects, (with a link to another page demonstrating Resident Evil 5′s volume-retaining arm rig too). Check it out here.
Via the Google translation I see that the game has 25 characters of around 16,000 polygons each, comprising some 5000 animations. The rigging videos are of most interest however, highlighting both their facial & finger sliders and the unique controls for Dhalsim’s squash and stretch limbs. In a break from what I’m used toÂ , the team take a less modular approach to facial expressions, with broad sliders for various facial expressions as opposed to sliders for each area of the face which can afford greater control for the animator but proves more time consuming and being prone to going off-model. This might be a viable approach with such stylised characters however, and they control the following variables:
An enterprising player has figured out how to swap out animation sets on the PC version of Streetfighter IV, to great comic effect. What’s most interesting about this is that it’s all handled very gracefully (doesn’t break the system, which could have happened so easily) revealing a little about how their animation is stored. That the animations remap so well displays a consistent skeleton hierarchy (or bone naming convention) across all characters shown, which one would expect given the humanoid shape of each character in the game.
All body animation appears to be rotation-only, given that the limb lengths do not warp and stretch to assume the positions of the bones in the animations. IK does however appear to be solved for each limb as the arms and legs of the shorter characters hyper-extend (stretch out) to meet the required feet and hand positions of the original animations. The only visual artifacts like this occur in the face, showing that position keys must be involved in creating the facial animations.
The camera animations for intros and special moves are bundled with the animation sets, highlighting that both the sound and visual effects of the chosen character remain intact on the character rather than the animation sets and play out on corresponding actions quite well. This illustrates that there must be identically organised sets of each for every character.
In a recent japanese videogame tech magazine, (why don’t we have these?), Namco discusses the optimisation of Soul Calibur’s female skeletons from the PS3 to the PSP:
In both Soul Calibur IV and Soul Calibur Broken Destiny, everything, including fabrics, is animated by “bones”.
On the PS3, there are two separate bones in each breast, giving a total of four, and it is these which give rise to breast motion, whereas on the PSP for the sake of load reduction things had to be simplified. We managed to obtain satisfactory results with only one “bone” across both breasts.
Swaying breasts may be most enjoyable, but from time to time we are warned that they move a little too much.