View Full Version : Character Studio/Game Animations

11 November 2007, 08:20 PM
UPDATE: Latest versions of these animations listed below (updated 12/9/07):

-------------------------- Original Thread Follows ------------------------------------

Hi everyone. I'm putting together a new reel with more of a focus on game animation. To that end, I've begun creating several short action vignettes using just CS bones; these will be placed at various points throughout the reel alongside the stuff I've done that's more "finished".

I'm going to try to keep this thread fresh with new clips and updates; I have a whole list of brief animations planned.

This first one is a ladder climb. If you have a minute, let me know what you think, and what needs more work:

<--link outdated-->

Thanks for stopping by!

11 November 2007, 02:16 PM
hi Kevin
nice idea keepin all the anims in one thread

mi tuppence:

this first anim is looking quite smart - maybe a bit fast going up the ladder and there may need to be a bit more body weighting before the next leg goes up... not much ...few frames extra hold should sort it?

at the top, the blue foot that first steps onto the roof lifts a bit too high, maybe try making that less of a 'stomp'

the straightening of the body at the end may come a little later it seems fairly quick here.. almost looks like he's gonna swing backward and fall off again lol! if you were near the edge would you straighten up at that point or take another step keeping your weight a bit further forward before straightening up? Just a suggestion on this one its still really nice :)

great work mate I'll keep me peepers out on this thread :thumbsup:

11 November 2007, 05:31 PM
Thanks Anthony. I agree with pretty much everything you pointed out, I'll take a look at all of these today.

The only thing I might leave the same though is the overall speed, mainly because it's intended as part of a game and as such I feel like it needs to be a little bit speedy. If this were an NPC in a FPS, for example, who told the player "Follow me up to the top level," I think it would be sort of annoying to have to wait more than a few seconds for the NPC to finish the climb. Your thoughts?

Thanks again for your feedback!

11 November 2007, 12:13 AM
Here's a quick update to the ladder animation:

<---link removed because it's outdated-->

11 November 2007, 01:34 AM
Hmm.. since this is for a game I'd imagine all the transitions would be dealt with in the engine. However, since you'd be showing it off on a reel or something, I suggest smoothing out the move from walking to climbing. He does kind of a sudden stop before he gets onto the ladder. Try to transition between 1 step in the walk, so that the other foot goes forward and up onto a step (think Assassin's Creed parkour transitions, which are basically seamless). Matter fact, you could have him jump the first step to make it more interesting

At the end, those two last steps are bothering me. Why not just take bigger steps before those? Iono, kinda nit-picky, but I think they're unnecessary. Anyway great work on the rest. Cool poses as well! Good luck!

11 November 2007, 05:13 AM
Thanks, Sam. I agree that the hard stop before climbing is not working. I'll take a look at some Assassin's Creed. Do you have mean around 4:57 in this video?:

Those last steps are there at the end so that he puts some distance between himself and the edge before leaning back again. I can see why they would bother though, because I think they need to be refined further to look more natural. I'll take a look at that next session.

Thanks for checking it out!

11 November 2007, 06:21 AM
Hmmm that's a bad example. I just meant how most of their animations blend into the next pretty seamlessly. They've really done it well in that game. Anyway I just thought there was too much of a hold in yours (or maybe it's ok, since AC has something similar), lol. I think if it was a more fluid motion instead of.. take a step, think about it, go.. then it would work a little better. Just icing really. What you have works well :D

11 November 2007, 06:38 AM
Hey, thanks! Seems like going for the icing can only help this one where it stands now, so I'll probably take another pass anyway just to refine.

11 November 2007, 09:02 AM
hey Kevin,

I agree with Mistasam's notes on the start/transition into climb bit and yeah the last coupla steps heres my tips:

the blue foot that first plants on top is now much better, the green step afterward wants to be a bigger step too. Couple this with his leaning forward spine and it should look quite smart. The steps after that motion want to be bigger too - maybe carry them on smoothly into a walk off screen?
good update tho - think you should have it nailed for the 3rd version with the amends everyone has listed :)


11 November 2007, 07:07 PM
Hey thanks guys. I sat down this morning to incorporate both a faster run-up into the main cimbing motion, and adjust the ending. But it looks like I might only be able to adjust the ending/middle for this particular piece. The reason is that sliding the body horizontal/vertical keys causes MAX to crash, this is 100% reproducible if I touch the timeline keys when the COM is selected!

So, I can slide all the keys for the other parts backwards several frames, effectively reducing the time leading up to the climb. However, I can only create new motion for the COM over top of the old keys, as touching them causes max to crash for some reason. As you can imagine, this quickly becomes a mess. Since we're mostly in agreement that the performance works with the brief pause at the start, I'm all for sticking to refining the ending to this piece and moving on. Your thoughts?

And if you guys have any idea as to what may be causing MAX to crash when attempting to manipulate COM keys, I would definitely appreciate your input. This piece can't be saved I don't think, I can't even delete keys in the dope sheet. But for next time I would deifnitely like to keep this from happening if I can.

11 November 2007, 08:19 PM
Use Maya? :D

11 November 2007, 08:08 AM
yep fix the ending - thats def the way to go - look forward to seein update :)


11 November 2007, 01:15 AM
Hah, yeah I would like to use Maya, I'm more at home there. That's why I need the extra CS practice :).

Here's an update to the ladder animation:

<---link removed because it's outdated-->

Let me know what you think!

11 November 2007, 08:18 AM
much much better - only minor quibble is the green foot on top now just needs finessing a bit. When it comes off the ladder then plants on the roof it seems to hold then quickly plant. Try smoothing that out a bit :)

great stuff... now be nice and write something about my wip! :p Wanna hear ppl's thoughts!

11 November 2007, 07:22 PM
Moving on, for now. Here's my first stab at a drag cycle with a guy dragging another guy to safety:

<---link removed because it's outdated-->

Let me know what you think when you have a minute!

11 November 2007, 12:16 PM
I like them nice work!

- for a dragging loop it looks like the begginning pull kind of forced into a loop. Not really a fluid movement. I almost expect to see two other animations, a drag/walk and a drag/set down.
- On the drag animation the knees on the injured person pop up and the right foot rotates kid of oddly for a loop.
- It looks like all the key frames are landing on the same frames offsetting the frames might help. So the arms of the injrued guy wouldn't be in perfect sync with the legs of the guy pulling.
- The fingers are bent to mimic them resting on the ground but they don't unfold when the arms come off the ground.
The head of the guy pulling could look down just before he pulls and look up leading the body thru the pull.
- If this was to be the only loop that played you should reduce the tugging and make it more fluid.
- Personally if these where two soldiers I'm always in favor of of the one handed chest drag so one hand is free to keep holding a weapon. Or if two hands are needed over the shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

Keep at it, you're showing some good promise!

11 November 2007, 10:17 PM
Thanks Mark, for that extraordinarily detailed crit! I will take a look at each point next session. Been running around today, but I'll be back on this tomorrow.

11 November 2007, 12:43 AM
Here's an update to the initial dragging piece:

<---link removed because it's outdated-->

I think I got all of the points in your review, Mark. Let me know if anything looks wonky in this version.

To hit your last point I'll probably add an alternate version, with this dragging configuration (but cycled):

11 November 2007, 08:23 AM
Hey Kevin nice 2nd animation :)
my only suggestion would be to possibly slow it down a touch? It feels a little fast for my personal liking esp. when you consider he's pulling another characters weight.
2nd suggestion would be to add some offset to the keyframes on his head maybe?

again - they're just little suggestions, the whole animation is still really nice :D

11 November 2007, 05:02 PM
Hey thanks Anthony. I'll take a look at this today and try slowling it down and offsetting those head keys.

UPDATE: Adjusted the head, also slowed the overall motion and offset the dragger's footfalls to give more of a sense of the draggee's weight.

<---link removed because it's outdated-->

Let me know what you think!

11 November 2007, 08:22 AM
hey Kevin

liking it, runs at a nice speed now. Only minor adjustment might be the legs, they seem to lift a touch high creating a bit too much arc prior to planting down again? Might be worth seeing how it looks with the dragger's feet not lifting quite so high?

great work, enjoying this thread :)

11 November 2007, 08:27 AM
doh dupe post!

11 November 2007, 09:21 PM
Ahh looking a lot better, great progress! It's really starting to come together now. I really like the secondary motion of the head roll on the injruied guy. It looks very natural.

You might want to delay the feet/legs taking a step for a few frames. Then use those frames to build in some anticipation by moving the Center of Mass/pelvis down right before the tug, like he's getting ready to pull. It would add a bit more strength and struggle to the pull when he does do it.

11 November 2007, 12:49 AM
Nice, thanks guys. I scored a little contract work so I probably won't get to focus on this again until the weekend. Fortunately the weekend is coming a bit early this week.

Will combine your guys' points and work them into the next version. Thanks again!

11 November 2007, 09:58 PM
Here's an update to the drag animation:

<---link removed because it's outdated-->

I reduced the amount that the feet pick up, and delayed their movement a few frames to add the "tug" feel to the body movement. I think it looks much better now. Let me know what you think!

11 November 2007, 11:18 PM
Small update to my last post; I felt that the draggee's motion became a bit disconnected from the dragger's. So I tightened it up again:

<---link removed because it's outdated-->

11 November 2007, 12:21 AM
Here's a new one; this is the forward drag with a weapon that Mark suggested a few posts ago. When you have a minute, let me know what you think!

<---link removed because it's outdated-->

11 November 2007, 09:50 AM
hi Kevin
the dragE is looking good - my only prob is you cant quite tell how far he's moved. Any chance you could put a checkered floor in that tiles in motion and it gives us a feel of his distance travelled per drag?
If I hide the dragged char with my finger the dragger looks nice but the green foot is popping a little after planting like it moves a third of the distance quite quickly then slows down. maybe try adjusting this?
also at the end of the loop, try dipping the head a bit more before before it returns to the start pose (frame by framing in qtime so the head starts almost facing at draggee's head).

finally the draggee's body seems to recover quickly from the dragging - as a result it feels quite rigid. maybe try stretching out the keyframes a bit more and a bit of sink in the body after the drag prior to returning to the start pose?

looking nice tho :)

both bodies are feeling a bit rigid. The draggers body should bend a bit more thru all spine joints prior to the pull. Again a bit of head dip may help emphasize the pulling motion and give a feeling of weight or instead of the head looking up as he drags maybe it could be more looking down at the floor?

Try waiting a few frames longer for the feet prior to them moving?

the gun arm feels quite light - guns are fairly heavy weapons so maybe try adding a bit of motion from that arm that he uses to his advantage to drag the draggee?

the draggee's body seems to feel quite rigid - the clavicle bone would be moving alot more in this.

try adding a touch of draggee knee bend after the drag?

nice secondary motion on the draggee's arm tho :)

hope these help mate. I found it a bit hard to describe them personally lol!

11 November 2007, 11:25 PM
Here's an update to the backwards drag:

<---link removed because it's outdated-->

Thanks for staying with this! Will move on to the other drag now.

11 November 2007, 11:30 PM
Duplicate post

11 November 2007, 02:21 PM
hey kevin
really great update!! there's now a nice feel of weight in his dragging. my only comment is the feet sliding a bit now BUT i'm not sure if thats because the feet are shifting or the keyframing on the floor isn't mating up with the feet motion. Either way its fixable! you can now see that he gears up to drag and then uses his full body to pull which is much much more effective. Did you slow the whole thing down a touch also?

Anyhow great work mate, I'm in nottingham at the mo waiting for the weather to clear this wkend so I can do some skydiving lol! I'll keep an eye out on the updates :) oh btw, what you planning for the next animation?

wouldn't mind doing some animation updates to my last game character which was a swat-like soldier (in the finished 3d stills section). I took a look at my last animations on me website of him and they're a joke lol! could do sooooo much better now so think I'll give it a go.. once I finish my current wip of course haha!

11 November 2007, 07:30 PM
Hey Anthony. I got your post in my email, but when I click page 3 here to read it, I only get page 2! I'm going to post something on the support forum after this.

I took another look at and yo're right about the dragger's feet sliding. This clip should fix it:

<--link outdated-->

I didn't slow it down overall, but I did stretch out the recovery keyframes for both guys as you suggested which gave it a more ponderous feel, and worked much better.

Next, I'm planning to polish off that other drag, and then I started a guy doing some boxing moves, something like inkcognito studio ( That reel inspired me to do what I'm doing here. Just super simple character animations, no models or textures, just motion. I like the focus that that reel has.

I like that SWAT cop model you've got, it appears that those particular animations are pretty old, am I right? Compared to your latest WIP they are not quite as strong. They seem a bit floaty, and some of the key poses could use definition. If you start a thread for that guy, I would definitely help out! It's a great model, so it would be cool to seem him really spring to life.

Thanks again for keeping up with these. Good luck with the skydiving, though I don't know why you'd want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane!

11 November 2007, 04:58 AM
Hey fellas, it's Saturday night, and you know what that means. I'm simply still working. I got an update to the forward drag here:

<---link removed because it's outdated-->

Let me know how everything looks when you get a chance!

11 November 2007, 12:33 AM
Here's my first stab at a sparring/punching animation loop. It's definitely not quite there yet, but my eyeballs are turning square from staring at it.

Let me know what you think if you get a minute!

11 November 2007, 11:15 AM
hey Kevin
the original drag is now looking really nice - great work :)

the alt drag still needs some tweaks. My main one is the green foot as he advances forward.. it seems to slide behind him giving a feeling that he would be moving diagonally across the ground as opposed to directly forward like he is. Other than that its looking quite nice :)

okay punching animation..

the bounce on the toe is quite nice :)

The first punch needs the pose adjusting... when I frame by frame it.. it initially looks like he's gonna fire from the blue arm as he dips to that side.. a straight boxer jab is a very simple motion forward looking down the arm with very little step forward. Its a feeling motion that allows you to set up for the rear arm to fire hard. Try to lose the step as he does it too. have a look at some boxer footage on youtube... shedloads of it there :)

the 3rd punch hook looks very odd I think because the elbow doesn't follow through. A person doing a hook would drop the body a little, and turn the body into the hooking arm, then swing the body and lift the arm and the arm would be just a shade behind the body motion as its the torque of the twisting body that pulls the arm around like a whip. the arm still retains a 90 degree bend in the elbow. A hook is a close range punch usually like an uppercut. The feet again wouldn't move much at all - the knees bent to lower COG and also aid power and stability. The rear foot might move onto the toes and rotate outward slightly as the hook progresses.

uppercut - same kinda thing really. body dips, bends, and pulls the arm upward with it. A close range punch designed to come under the guard.

try those things out but have a look at some boxer footage and see what I mean.
looking forward to seeing it update :)


11 November 2007, 05:15 AM
Hi Anthony. Thanks for the super detailed crit. I downloaded some boxing footage to study, and tweaked the forward drag a bit. Then I got called onto some contract stuff again, so I'll be on this again as soon as I can be and post the updates.

Thanks again!

11 November 2007, 10:07 PM
Hey guys. Updated the forward fixing the green foot trajectory:

<---link outdated-->

Let me know if anything else looks out of whack.

11 November 2007, 08:31 AM
hey Kevin

looks really good now :thumbsup:

12 December 2007, 01:52 PM
My first crit would be that you should remove all versions of these anims from this thread except for your latest. It's kind of confusing at the moment to tell what's the most current.

Warning: I am home today so I'm in no hurry. This might be really nitpicky.

The ladder (assuming Im looking at the latest):
-His right foot really locks to the ladder when first placed on it. It should settle more as well as react more when his weight is brought onto it/he pushes off with it. One of the best things about biped is being able to animate your IK pivots on the limbs. Use it!
-similarly, the left foot doesn't push off the ground properly on the first step.
-Throughout the entire cycle you should be animating the feet's movement more. On a ladder climb, you're pushing with the ball of your foot so it should move accordingly.
-He doesn't anticipate the ladder climb. His center/bip01 should drop a little before he pulls himself up the first step.
-The left leg is hyperextending during the climb
-The last couple of steps after he gets off the ladder are a little awkward. It looks like the first stride is too short and the second is maybe too long.
-In general, I would make sure you're turning on trajectories frequently (another great thing about biped) and check the curves of your hands, feet and center of mass. Do this and the problems you're having with easing in/out should become more apparent.

The punch:
It's pretty rough at this point. I'd recommend getting some footage of professional fighters that you can scrub through frame by frame. Things that jump out at me are lack of anticipation and a disconnect between the body and the hands. My fighting instructor used to say "You always punch with your whole body; the hand is just where it ends". Feet should be planted mid punch and the whole body follow the motion more. I would spend a bit more time blocking out full poses.

The drag:
This is the best of the three I think.
-The main problem here is that it doesn't loop well. I think the pulling should be more steady, like a walk cycle, otherwise it really looks like an animation playing over and over again. I would do this kind of animation as three different animations (per character: Drag_start (Idle to grabbing the guy), pull_looping (what you have here), and drag_end (let the guy go, back into idle pose). If you prefer it to not be a consistent speed, it should at least never come to a dead stop.
-I would also have his gun arm sway less. The repetition only accentuates the fact that it's a looping animation.
-The left foot slide at the end is also kind of weird.

As I said above, animated pivot points and trajectories are your best friends with a biped. They should be used religiously in any biped animations.

It's a good start on everything, just needs to be polished up a bit. Good luck!

12 December 2007, 05:01 PM
Whoa, thanks for the extensive crit! I am still totally swamped in contract stuff right now, but I will take a look at each and every point next session. I really appreciate it.

12 December 2007, 05:28 AM
Alright, got to touch up the ladder today. I scrapped the old walk off-camera and re-did it. Also keyed the foot movement on the rungs and added some anticipation before the climb starts:

I'll get to as much of the others as I can tomorrow. I'm probably going to move the shadow boxer to the end; mainly because I'm planning to start the file over. I need to start from reference, rather than just trying to create poses that look right.

Thanks again for checking these out.

12 December 2007, 07:33 PM
Updated the drags, I removed the dead stop and adjusted the left foot on the forward drag as suggested.

Switchblade, I was planning to dissolve through these loops on my reel; do you think a reviewer would want to see that start and end sequence for both drags?

I'm also going to create a simple Maya rig to do some more character exercises (that's where the 'Game Animations' part of the thread comes in). It's been about a month since I've touched Maya so I want to make sure I stay up to snuff there.

Thanks all for your feedback!

12 December 2007, 09:53 PM
Switchblade, I was planning to dissolve through these loops on my reel; do you think a reviewer would want to see that start and end sequence for both drags?


No problem. Sorry, I dont have time to look/crit at the revisions but I wanted to offer a suggestion here real quick. I usually arrange start/loop/stop end-to-end in premiere like [start][loop][loop][loop][end]. I hope Im understanding the question correctly.

12 December 2007, 02:21 PM
hey Kevin sorry I aint been on the site of late and checked yer updates.

these are looking quite tidy an neat now - great work.

drag_altD - I would say the blue foot is still sliding outward as it moves backward - this gives the impression that he would be dragging the dude diagonally across the floor yet he isn't so it still looks sliding. Not sure how much of an effect this would have on the posing and animation to change it though?

dragH - looks nice to me. no crits :)

any more done on your boxing anim?

01 January 2008, 01:11 AM
Thanks Anthony. I'll take another look at that drag_altD.

In the meantime, I've started a new one to keep me busy, this is a first stab at a 'happy walk':

<<link removed (old & outdated)>>

So, I've switched over to Maya, and I'm just going back to basics here with a simple walk cycle. It's a good thing too, because I think this needs a bunch of work. It's the simplest things where I find I need the most practice.

Anyway, please let me know what you think if you have a moment!

01 January 2008, 10:04 AM
hey Kevin

glad the work is finding you mate and your still getting time to do stuff outside of it too. I'd like to find work out in the US at some point in the future - nicer weather for skydiving for one thing hehehe! Lots of wing chun teachers too from what I gather! I'd be sorted out there lol!

liking the first pass of your happy walk - he really does look cheery and pleased with himself. I'm no expert on walk cycles so I dont wanna crit too much as to me that looks really really nice. My only thought might be his right leg seems to go forward a bit too much BUT it may be down to the camera angle really.
nice work :D

01 January 2008, 10:17 AM
Hi, Kevin
Nice work on the happy walk!
Are you intended to make a realistic character or a cartoony one??
and I think I see some "twitching" on his right knee, maybe 'cause you make it too straight on the contact position. well, it might true, might not.. :)

Keep up the good work, man!

01 January 2008, 06:16 PM
Thanks guys. I'll take a look at that right leg, I think you're both right in that it extends too far.

lime324, I'm going for a cartoony walk. I was thinking I might enlarge the head, hands, and feet slightly to accentuate that concept though. I think it may not be coming across clearly because the figure is realistically proportioned. Once the proportions are exaggerated I'll likely have to push the motion more to get the same effect. Maybe I'll make that a separate file.

Anthony - haha well, I am in between gigs right now which is why I have so much time to practice!

01 January 2008, 10:31 PM
Fixed the original "Happy Walk", and also added an exaggerated, even more cartoony version.

Here's the fixed original:

And here's the cartoony, more bouncy version:

Let me know what you think!

Also had some time to add a first pass at one more; a slow sneak:

<<Updated link below>>

01 January 2008, 03:37 AM
Yes, I think it's a little bit awkward on the realistic character, but on the exagerated one, it looks great! :thumbsup: I think it's good enough! well done!

On the sneak one, the first thing I saw is his hands, they both move at the same time and pose, or maybe just 'cause the camera angle.. don't know. still a little bit glitch on his left foot. timing is ok, but it would be great if you can make some ease-in or ease-out to his torso from the down pose to the contact pose, 'couse it such a broad movement.. what do you think? :)

well, great job pal! :applause:

01 January 2008, 08:29 AM
agree with what lime said above - the realistic feels a bit constrained but the 2nd one is ace.

initial sneak motion looking good with the feet but I think the body and arms need more offsetting and smoothing out of timing.
keep goin Kevin - they're all looking good :D

01 January 2008, 06:23 PM
Thanks guys! I think I'll ditch the realistic 'happy guy' then. I'll also fix the sneak and post an update a bit later.

01 January 2008, 07:28 PM
Updated the sneak. I added side-to-side movement which led logically to offset movements for the arms; when leaning left the right arm extends slightly, and when leaning right he extends the left:

01 January 2008, 09:43 PM
Thought I would add a weight carrying exercise I've also been tinkering with:

<<Link updated below>>

Let me know what you think if you have a moment!

01 January 2008, 12:12 PM
hmmm... for the heavy lift, I don't know, can you really lift your feet that high if you carrying a 20kilos of sack of sand??
Try to lift something really heavy and see what I mean..

01 January 2008, 08:23 PM
Hey thanks Helmy. Or do you prefer Emil?

Good point about the weight carry; I've adjusted it as you advised:

I've also re-visited an old run cycle with one of my more "finished" models, John McClane:

<<Link updated on following page>>

<<Link updated on following page>>

Let me know what you think!

01 January 2008, 08:23 AM
hi Kevin
the weight/bag carrying isn't too bad I think personally - agree with the possibility of the legs lifting too high BUT it does help emphasize the weight strangely and you appear to be going with a slightly cartoony edge to that animation. If thats the case maybe a bit of lift n sag in the arms would help like he uses his arms to lift it slightly and take the weight from under it prior to lifting each foot. Nice little anim tho!

I cant really comment too much on the McClane run cycle as I'm really not very good at them but I think there does need to be alot more weight into his motions overall - it feels like a very sedate jog and not a panicked sprint like he tends to do in the movies in times of stress. Maybe sit n watch the first film (lots of clips on youtube most likely) and see how he pegs it about the environment. Maybe set up a simple env for him to duck and weave about and then copy a segment of the film? Just a thought :D

great stuff tho Kevin good to see you carrying them on :)

01 January 2008, 12:18 AM
Thanks Anthony. Yes I will definitely spend more time with McClane, he's not quite there yet. I'm thinking, instead of a basic run cycle, maybe having him holding the pistol down at his sides, with both hands, or popping off a few rounds. Or maybe replacing the pistol with the MP5 and having him firing like a maniac.

I've also been further refining the Happy Walk, which can be viewed here:

<<Link Updated on following page>>

I'm just trying to push the cartoonish-ness a bit more and tighten things up.

01 January 2008, 08:30 AM
hey Kevin liking the happy walk - putting emotion into an animation is something I find really hard to do lol! All these are really looking nice :)

01 January 2008, 11:07 PM
Thanks man! Now I'm going back and refining the McClane run. I started from scratch, using the famous Highend 3D tutorial and Muybridge photos as reference. I've been staring at it so long though I'm not sure if I've got it yet or not:

<<link updated on following page>>

<<link updated on following page>>

Critiques welcome as always!

01 January 2008, 12:20 AM
Thanks man! Now I'm going back and refining the McClane run. I started from scratch, using the famous Highend 3D tutorial and Muybridge photos as reference. I've been staring at it so long though I'm not sure if I've got it yet or not:

Critiques welcome as always!

I think this run is way too fast. 16 frames, is it? It looks pretty jerky as a result but really, 16 frames (assuming 30fps) is an all out, top speed sprint and is pretty hard to do. If I was actually going for an all out sprint, Id animate @60fps to give myself more wiggle room but I would likely only do a run that fast if it was really necessary. For this I would slow it down a bit. Maybe closer to 24 frames? A jog is going to be a lot easier, especially if you're not used to run cycles. Stretch your keys out by 50% and take it from there.

Also, watch your curves and overlap. I can see that the pelvis is not in constant up and down motion but is holding for a couple frames in a row. Turn on a motion trail on the root (or a locator constrained to the root; biped trajectories are so much simpler...) and you'll see what I mean. The curve should be a relatively smooth up and down. Maybe loosen up the arms a little too so there is a hint more motion in his elbows.

I would lengthen his stride too. Especially the foreward foot doesn't seem to be going out on Z far enough.

Happy walk looks good but you're hyperextending his legs for a couple of frames on each leg.

You ought to playplast with frame numbers in your viewport. It's much easier to crit that way :) I know there are MEL scripts out there that'll do this.

01 January 2008, 04:38 AM
Hey thanks switchblade. Went through and addressed everything you mentioned. I aimed for 20 frames for the cycle; previously it was 15. 24 looked a bit sluggish to me, though that could have been because I had been staring too long at the version where he's breaking a land speed record.

Here's the updated run:

<<link updated below>>

<<link updated below>>

I'm not sure but something still looks a little off to me. As if something isn't cycling correctly, but it's such a subtle problem that it's hard for me to pinpoint where it is.

Here's the updated happywalk, sans hyperextension:

<<link updated below>>

Thanks for your feedback!

01 January 2008, 05:34 AM
20 is looking much better.

I wish I had a better way to describe this but the legs still look a little too IKed. This is something that bug me about a lot of Maya rigs; while it's effortless on a biped, you have to spend a lot more time getting the feet right on an IK only leg rig. Try to keep in mind how the leg really works during a run; it's not by an end effector. The quads tenses lifting the leg then the hamstrings and calves to lift the lower leg. They hit the ground then the quads tense and push off the ground, lift and repeat. The foot is pretty much just along for the ride. It should appear to be following the motion, not leading it.

The up and down of the pelvis is still not smooth enough. I think if you put a motion trail on it, a flat spot will be pretty evident. It looks like it's on the most compressed pose, right before he springs back up for the next. I think the arms still need some work too. Try having their extremes lag a few frames behind the legs.

The main thing to focus on, especially for such a fast loop is to make everything animate smooth and loop smooth. Right now there is still a hitch and I think it's coming from the pelvis.

The thing Im noticing most about the happy walk now is that is pelvis seems to be hitting the end of it's leash in order to keep the leg from hyperextending. I think the old pelvis motion was more fluid; instead of limiting the pelvis you should roll the foot up more on it's ball on those hyperextended frames to make the leg follow the pelvis rather then the pelvis be constrained by the leg.

Despite all my shredding of the animation, you are clearly making progress with them both :) Keep at it!

01 January 2008, 10:27 AM
switchblade I think your description of ik legs in maya is absolutely bob on there mate - great way of wording it and exactly something thats bothered me in the past but I've never sussed it till I read that thanks!! :D

Kevin have you had a look at District13 - it features a fair few freerunners - theres some good high speed running in there where they're really pegging it! It may help emphasize that sense of urgency and panick in the run as opposed to the chilled out run :)

good updates

01 January 2008, 05:08 PM
switchblade I think your description of ik legs in maya is absolutely bob on there mate - great way of wording it and exactly something thats bothered me in the past but I've never sussed it till I read that thanks!! :D

Thanks. It's a lot easier to avoid this problem with a biped but Kevin has already made the switch :)

Kevin, I think I found one more problem. You mentioned you were using the muybridge plates as a template. Last night I was doing the same thing with a canine run when I noticed that while highly useful, Muybridge didn't always snap right on the keyframes (I use the word in the traditional sense, not the 3d application sense) so the poses aren't always ideal to how you would build a run cycle. In retrospect, this makes total sense but I hadn't thought about it before.

Even though John McClane is a realistic character, you'd be better off basing run cycles off of the ones in Richard William's "The Animators Survival Kit."

01 January 2008, 09:34 PM
Hey thanks guys. I went through and addressed every issue you mentioned. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I only just ordered "The Animator's Survival Kit" today. I'll have it to reference tomorrow. Not having the book in front of me, I went online and looked at a number of realistic run cycles, animated, and with actual people. I think what mine was missing, and what I attempted to incorporate in this version, was the whipping forward of the foot during the passing position. I think that my key distances were all a bit too even, which contributed to the "Too-IK" feel. I also brought the feet into the equation, keying them more so that they were being pulled through the motion by the lower leg. The plevis up-down motion was fixed as well, and I adjusted the curves to give the lowermost keys a sharper angle rather than a smooth curve. This all but eliminated the "hanging" at the compressed poses. The arms have also been offset by 2 frames, giving the elbows a more realistic rhythm.

Here is the latest:

And I also adjusted the happy walk as recommended:

For some reason I had added all sorts of keyframes to the happy walk pelvis, keys which ran along the intended curve shape, but made it less smooth. So I eliminated those extra keys, and adjusted the tangents on the key poses, which seems to have helped.

Thanks again for your detailed critiques guys! You can see that they're really helping.

01 January 2008, 05:27 AM
Hey guys, hope all is well. Continuing to plug forward with my massive list of brief animations. In addition to the human/bipedal character animations that I'm still refining, I'm also adding some animal/non-human characters to round out the portfolio a bit more. Here's a first stab at a facehugger from Aliens, doing a simple walk:

This one doesn't cycle correctly; the tail jumps because I'm using dynamics there. Do you think I should try something else to solve the tail? By-hand animation would definitely loop; but to me it seems like the "wrong" way to solve that problem because it would be so time-consuming. I suppose to some extent the solution would be dictated by the target game engine.

I'm going to do "run" and "attack" animations for this guy as well, using the scene where Ripley and Newt are trapped in that room as a reference.

Thanks in advance for any critiques!

01 January 2008, 01:19 AM
Worked up a quick first stab at a horse canter today:

Not sure if you guys have ever encountered this, but when I flip on Hardware Texturing, my texture totally glitches out:

But it renders fine:

The loop is 20 frames. I can't decide if I should speed it up, or slow it down, or just leave it. A canter is in between a gallop and a trot, so I feel like if I mess with it too much I'll wind up with a trot that's too fast, or a gallop that's too slow.

Anyway, as always any feedback is greatly appreciated!

01 January 2008, 02:48 PM
hey Kevin
sorry I aint looked at these sooner - been fairly busy overall! surprised no-one else has.. often feel like we're the only two on here hahaha!

nice updates :D the facehugger is really creepy lol! My one crit would that it feels like its limping because the body motion drops to its left at some point as it shifts some legs so you'd expect the other side to do the same as other legs move later on. Maybe the anim loop is too short to do this so it may be worth making 2 leg cycles to 1 body Left sway/right sway cycle. does that make sense?

the horse is really nice - the body and thighs work really well together and it feels like its pushing with its back legs mostly which is nice. I'm no horse expert so I cant crit this as well but I think its really really nice. My one thought would be that the feet dont feel like they're quite planting as well as they could - almost tiptoe? If you could get a bit more shock through the legs as they impact that might work but overall I think its really great!

great updates mate - that anim portfolio has gotta be getting quite diverse now :) Have you considered doing any more acrobatic stuff? I'm working on a capoeira character at the moment - its great fun to animate :thumbsup: (oh ps - should have new anim update 2moro for mechanical arms!)

01 January 2008, 07:51 PM
Thanks Anthony. Haha, know what you mean. This WIP board, in particular, can be pretty sparse. Animators are often really busy though. Looking forward to the updates on your arms piece!

As far as more acrobatic stuff, yes, I have planned to do a forward roll, where a character runs forward, dives over a low obstacle, then forward rolls into a "finished" position, like aiming a rifle or pistol or something. That's all I have planned for the moment.

Thanks again for the detailed crit! I agree with them all, and will look at each of these points today.

01 January 2008, 08:19 PM
Thanks Anthony. Haha, know what you mean. This WIP board, in particular, can be pretty sparse. Animators are often really busy though. Looking forward to the updates on your arms piece!

Honestly, it's kind of hard to crit when you're posting so many different anims in the same thread. It's kind of overwhelming :P That's why I usually just look at one or two.

I dig the horse canter, btw. I think the speed is okay and the only thing that jumped out at me (two hours ago when I watched it) was that you could offset the timing of the legs by a frame or two so it's not so syncronized. Otherwise I think it's pretty tight.

01 January 2008, 08:47 PM
hey man, like what switchblade said.. so much stuff!

i'm gonna give you a little crit that jumped out for me on your last one, the horse. It's lookin nice, but the head seems too low, try lookin at some reference on youtube maybe, the head seems like it should be up a little bit more, watching where it's going

Looked at the happy walk quickly too, really like it, only thing is he like he's leaning too far forward for a really 'happy' walk, the motion is pretty nice though! maybe it's just the perspective, but the right side's animation seems different than the left side's, especially the head. Again though, could just be the perspective and if it's for games it's probably not a good idea to cheat it for the camera.

Keep up the great work!

01 January 2008, 09:33 PM
Hey thanks guys. I know I am just bombarding this thread with stuff, so I appreciate that you still stop by and give me feedback on what you can. The reason for the speedy work is that I'm aiming to have a new reel together for the spring, with a game animation focus. So I'm trying my hand at as many brief game-style action clips as I can, and then I'll go back, review, and put the best stuff on the reel. Right now my reel has some 'almost' game animation, but there's also some dialogue on there, and a finished clip from 'RoboCop', etc. I think a sharper focus will help me leave this period of "between-jobness". On that topic, also, I am definitely open to suggestions and advice.

Once again, I agree with the points you've made switchblade327 and NilsLS. Will address these this afternoon.

Thanks again for staying with this!

01 January 2008, 11:55 PM
Updated the recent clips, incorporating all your feedback and refining further. NilsLS, I actually wanted the 'happy walker' to seem a bit old. Like a scientist or old postman or something along those lines; so I've kept him leaning forward, but I did even out his motion from one side to another. It was indeed off, and correcting it created the need for some new refinements. Anyway, here they are:

Facehugger walk: I got rid of the tail on this first clip here so that the loop was easier to see: (with tail)

Horse canter: Offset the legs more and raised the head so the horse is looking more towards where he's going.

Thanks again for your crits!

02 February 2008, 08:44 AM
hey Kevin

holy smokes all of these are really good! I didn't realise they were all done in maya either lol!
the facehugger looks great. Possilby a little slow overall maybe BUT I think thats cos we're so used to seeing them really giving it full beans on the ground in their bid to throttle Ripley or the nearest marine hehehe!
that horse is amazing - really wish I could animate something like that!

happy walk is realllllly nice - nice loop, nice motion - its all good :bounce:

02 February 2008, 03:40 PM
Awesome man, everythings looking great.

One thigns that's buggin me about the horse is the top part of the back leg looks almost like it's translating, rather than pivoting. Might just be bone placement, just looks a bit like its movin around too much.

02 February 2008, 03:35 AM
Thanks guys! NilsLS, I'll take another look at the horse tomorrow. I got roped into some freelance today, so I couldn't do as much animation as I would've liked. But, gotsta pay the bills.

I did get to do a quick facehugger run though:

Here's a side view:

Now that I have Richard Williams' book, I thought this would be a good chance to drop the dynamics and try a whip action on the tail, so it's a true cycle.

Critiques always welcome!

02 February 2008, 11:59 PM
Hey fellas. Did some more work today, added the beginnings of a horse gallop:

Here's a side view:

Also, NilsLS, I tweaked the canter, so that that extra motion was smoothed over. The left rear hip had a few extra keyframes which I eliminated. I also adjusted the motion of that hip bone so it's more circular, like the others, giving the top leg bone more of an arc-like motion. Anyway, let me know if you think it's fixed or if you notice anything else:

Thanks again for your help and feedback, everyone.

02 February 2008, 12:37 AM
Nice job.

The front half of the horse conveys a solid showing of weight and strength. Although, the motion for one of the hind legs just seem a tad off. For some reason I cant place it yet but the RT Rear Leg appears to have a hitch of some sort. Aside from that, the back half of the horse seems a little "lite" as well.

Regardless, I think it's pretty good :)

02 February 2008, 07:45 PM
Hey thanks Kid Mesh. I went over the back legs and especially the right rear leg for this version:

Let me know if you still se anything wonky!

04 April 2008, 10:50 AM
hey Kevin

Sorry I aint posted up on here in a while - just took a look at that latest horse gallop and bloody hell that is really nice! Hey have you thought about doing a bit more of a complex animation - maybe the horse running then jumping a fence and falling taking reference from horse races/grand national and things like lord of the rings where the wraiths attack the horsemen? That'd be ace and its always fun to tackle that kind of thing :)
I'm itching to do some new animation moves - I've got a few capoeira tricks I've been working on to break the monotony of my mechanical arms project but thats starting to look quite smart too in places so it wont be long before I'm done on that (ie: once my machine stops crashing mid render at 4.30am lol... its like having a screaming child wake me up thru the night hehehe!) I'm gonna work on some smaller shorter projects after this one - need a minute *smirk*

anyhow loving that latest animation - have you done any more of late or some new work?


04 April 2008, 04:47 PM
Hey thanks man. That's actually a really good idea, instead of just focusing on cycles, adding a couple of curveballs in there like hopping an obstacle or doing a turn-around. I haven't been working on these so much lately because they got me a job already! I got a job back in mid-February as a game animator.

When that happened, I gave a short film idea I'd been kicking around priority. But, I will definitely get back to these. These brief exercises are important to do, they look nice on the reel, and I'm discovering that short segments of business are how game animations are strung together as well.

04 April 2008, 08:38 AM
wow fast work Kevin - really pleased for you! :bounce: I'm finding games work a little slow to be honest but that said I seem to have amassed a fair amount of ingame character animation in the year I've been here so I cant gripe really and I find that altho the things I do at work may get curbed, limited or altered it just makes me all the more eager to go home and make sure my own anims are that much better.

yeah doing non-loop anims is good fun mate, I'm itching to get started on some more Capoeira animation. I went to the Seni20008 expo at london over the wkend and got heeeaaaapppps of capoeira footage and loads of other martial arts reference from all the various styles - it was really cool :)

anyhow let us know when you get your other personal project up - from my own personal experience the simpler you make it the more possible it is to finish it hehe! Dont start a 1 hour epic ;)

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