Polishing the Animations

So now that we are nearing the end of the game and all the animations have been complete it comes down to polishing.  That requires a lot of play testing and attention to detail.  Just because an animation is complete doesn’t mean it is done.  You can always improve upon an animation.  It is critical that you go over everything you animate before you send it off with your stamp of approval.  Its essentially proof reading your paper before committing.

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Animating a short film has a different approach then creating looping animations.   For example if I were to create a cut scene animation everything would be controlled by me and the user wouldn’t have a chance to break anything because they wouldn’t interact with it.  However when creating animations for a video game you have to deal with transitions.  Good transitions are something you won’t notice, its a difficult thing to accomplish.  The way I went about making this more manageable was to have a default pose which I used at the beginning of all my animations so once the animation was finished it would go right back to the default pose and move on to the next animation with no one noticing the transition.

A lot of the times what may seem like a good transition in maya might not look that good in unity.  Mainly because it all comes down to user input on the controller.  If you have an animation being spammed over and over it might not look as you wanted it to.  This happened with Kaia’s first jump animation.  I had the wings flap for the initial jump and then flap again on the double jump.  However when you played the game it felt as though she was flailing about to much and did not look how I wanted it too.  I ended up changing it so that she only flaps on the double jump.  This ended up with me changing the animation entirely but there are some transitions that don’t require such drastic changes.  For example the animation between the jump and the glide was not fast enough.  Luckily there is a lot of control unity can give you to help out.  You can tell unity which frame of your animation you want to start at and adjust the speed of the transition itself.  With a little fine tuning and number changes we ended up blending multiple animations much better through the character controller.
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I think the most difficult aspect of the the whole project would have to have been understanding how the transitions were going to play out in the game.  Attention to detail and communicating with the the programming team helped a lot from where we were to where we are now.  Another difficult aspect that many animators start out having trouble with is giving your animations a soul.  What I mean by that is you have to give it a little extra something that makes it unique.  There are many generic walking cycles out there but if you don’t give it that extra quality that defines what kind of walk cycle it is you’ll be missing out on your overall goal which is to give the character life and I think that is what it is all about.  Animation is creating life.

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