I have picked Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed 3(AC3) as my iconic works because of a number of reasons, these reasons are: it was a complete redesign of the assassins creed animation system, the procedural and physics additions to the animation system, and finally the motion capture implementation.
What makes this work significant?
Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed 3’s animation system was strides ahead of the next gen curve, utilizing massive amounts of motion capture coupled with keyed animations, layered over the top of a brand new procedural animation system that used predictive methods to allow the character to predict environment interactions opposed to simply responding to them. To elaborate the animation system would predict all of the possible movement actions that you as the controlling player could make to a set degree, and in doing so construct an animation sequence to allow the character to not only respond to environmental factors, but actually anticipate them, many games have been faking the anticipation, but through this predictive system the character could accurately anticipate obstacle avoidance, assassinations, jumps, and other environmental factors.
The complete redesign
Jonathan Cooper, was hired to lead the animation team for the development of AC3, and tasked with overseeing the redesign of the AC animation system. His first stop was to approach the Ubisoft tech development team, to find out what could and could not be done, utilizing new forms of physics implementation, and changing the way the character responds to turning as speed, they worked out ways to allow the character to be responsive but still feel grounded, by not having any delay in the change of the character’s direction but by delaying the rotation of the torso and leading with the head, this resulted in a very responsive and realistic looking character without sacrificing game responsiveness.
How this affects me
Knowing how the AC3 team tackled this issue of responsive movement with realistic animation, has changed the way I will develop my own animation, taking inspiration from this great method of design.
Procedural and physics systems.
AC3 was one of the games on the forefront of in engine IK systems, and the techniques that they used with the physics system to compliment animation, have now been adapted into some of the available game engine software.
How I can use this.
Being these systems and techniques are now available I can utilize them in my own work to create more realistic and responsive animation, while cutting down additional work previously required to gain the fidelity now available through using these systems and techniques.
Motion capture implementation
AC3 Used motion capture extensively as a base for the animation work, to ad in stubblety and weight to the character animation, Standard keyed animation was still used for the anticipation and exaggeration in the animations. In the GDC (2016) talk animation director Jonathan Cooper details how It is important to never be in the suit, as there are talented actors whose whole career is based around taking direction and turning that into action, you should be directing them, and utilizing the skills that they possess, to get the best result.
How I benefit from knowing this.
Being that motion capture technology is becoming more widely used and available, knowing how an animation team with as much experience as the team who created AC3, utilized these new tools is going to accelerate my learning process and hopefully increase the quality of my own motion capture sessions.
Action: The Animator’s Process, Saturday, May 30th at Gnomon. (2016). Gnomon — School of Visual Effects, Games & Animation. Retrieved 13 May 2016, from https://www.gnomon.edu/community/events/action-the-animator-s-process
Character Animation for Games | The Gnomon Workshop. (2016). Thegnomonworkshop.com. Retrieved 13 May 2016, from https://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/tutorials/character-animation-for-games
GDC Vault – Animation Bootcamp: Animating The 3rd Assassin. (2016). Gdcvault.com. Retrieved 13 May 2016, from http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1017635/Animation-Bootcamp-Animating-The-3rd
Pipelines for Video Game Animation | The Gnomon Workshop. (2016). Thegnomonworkshop.com. Retrieved 13 May 2016, from https://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/tutorials/pipelines-for-video-game-animation
Staff, G. (2016). Video: Improving AI in Assassin’s Creed III, XCOM, Warframe. Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 13 May 2016, from http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/193015/Video_Improving_AI_in_Assassins_Creed_III_XCOM_Warframe.php