How animation for games is different from animation for movies?
You might think animation for video games and animation for movies is really the same thing. That’s a fairly common misconception. Even though the same tools and principles of animation apply to both mediums, the processes and techniques actually differ greatly between the two. This article will give you a strong understanding of how creating animations for movies and animation for games is different, and what you need to know if you want to pursue a successful career as a game animator.
Animation in Movies
When it comes to animation for movies, the animator is only responsible for animating whatever is in the view of the shot camera. In other words they only have to worry about one camera angle at a time. If you’re watching a movie, you hit the “Play” button on a movie you can’t rotate around to look at the whole set. So you’re stuck looking at whatever the camera is viewing.
This allows an animator working on a movie to cheat in many ways, because they know that the shot will only be seen from one angle. So if it looks great from that angle, that’s ultimately all that matters. This isn’t to say animating for movies is easy. Quite the contrary. But there are certain difficulties that arise with video game animation that can be very different than the difficulties that arise with animating for movies. As previously mentioned, in movies the audience has no control over what’s happening. In a sense they’re just along for the ride. If you were to get a behind the scenes look at a movie you’d see a whole set, with the director, lights and many other things sitting right behind the camera. As long as they’re out of the shot of the camera, the audience is never going to see the whole production crew.
Animation in Games
Games, however, are meant to be interactive. When you play a game, you’ll have complete control of the character and the camera. You’re the one driving the story forward and making the character move. So not only does the animation need to look good, it needs to look good from every possible angle.
For instance, if the game is third person, and the player rotates the camera around they’ll see the walk or run cycle from a completely new angle. This new angle can reveal things like knee pops that may not have been visible in the normal camera view. These are things that a game animator needs to take into account to ensure their animation holds up to whatever the player may throw at it. Unlike animation in a movie where the animator doesn’t need to worry about how it will look from a side view or from behind, creating animations for games need to look good from any angle. For instance, when implementing the principle of arcs into an animation, the animator needs to ensure the character is following nice smooth arcing motions from any camera angle.
Creating Game Animation
As a game animator you’ll be exposed to many more types of animations than what is typically found in a movie like Pixar or DreamWorks produces. You may find yourself creating animations for fantasy creatures, giants, combat maneuvers, scripted events, etc. And you’ll do many different types of cycles, not just walk and run cycles. For instance, most games will need to have a breathing cycle, an idle stance cycle (when the character is standing still) crouching and walking, walking forward while aiming a gun, laying down and crawling forward, the list goes on. You can get an idea of what these look like in the Bringing the Hero to Life for the Indie Game Development Pipeline article.
May 3, 2019
September 15, 2018