R: Procedural Animation

  1. Background
    1. Procedural animation started out in early animation software in the form of automatic tweening systems to speed up the development of digital animation. In the beginning it was mostly used to do with things like digital graphics used for title sequences and digital advertisements, but as digital animation started to become a sought after animation technique, interpolating between frames in the software greatly increased the speed that digital animators could produce artwork.
  2. Applications
    1. At the currant time procedural animation is most commonly used in real time game engines. It can be used for simple tasks like adjusting animations to stop issues like foot slide, or to tilt the feet of a character to the slope of a surface. Some less common uses are in place of a full animation cycle, using the same procedural interpolation that is used in 3d animation software like 3ds max or maya, but in engine at run time, drastically reducing the volume of animation data that must be kept in computer memory, reducing the overhead, resulting in an increase in efficiency.
  3. In practice
    1. Most commonly use is Inverse kinematics(IK) the direct opposite of forward kinematics(FK), to explain the two systems I will use an example: First we start with a hierarchy of objects or bones that have a parent/child relationship, the hand is the child of the forearm, witch in turn is the child of the upper arm. Forward kinematics is the procedure of moving the arm to a new position and to do this you will start at the top, the upper arm, working your way down the hierarchy until the arm is in the desired pose. Now Inverse kinematics is the procedure of moving the lowest object in the hierarchy, in this case the hand, and a computer algorithm will update the entire hierarchy using the forward kinematics system, usually so fast that it appears hand is moving and the arm is following. This is one form of procedural animation, and the Inverse kinematic system can be used in game engines to produce a variety of result, like the situations described in the previous paragraph.
    2. When taking a variety of procedural animation techniques and combining them, you can get amassing results of animation that are responsive and looks great, from a minimal amount of animation data, a great example of this is the wolfire game Overgrowth, that produces its entire animation set from 13 frames or poses This is the the gdc 14 talk where the developer explains his system.
  4. My Project
    1. For my project I plan to use on of the most basic of the concepts I described, A two bone IK system to improve the quality of foot placement, and to Aline the angle of the foot to the angle of the surface it is being placed on.
    2. This kind of in at run time procedural animation can produce amazing result, while allowing the animation to be adjusted at run time increasing the usability and functionality of the entire system

References

GDC 2014 Procedural Animation Video – Wolfire Games Blog. (2016). Blog.wolfire.com. Retrieved 9 May 2016, from http://blog.wolfire.com/2014/05/GDC-2014-Procedural-Animation-Video

GDC Vault – Animation Bootcamp: An Indie Approach to Procedural Animation. (2016). Gdcvault.com. Retrieved 9 May 2016, from http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1020583/Animation-Bootcamp-An-Indie-Approach

procedural animation. (2016). Utdallas.edu. Retrieved 9 May 2016, from http://www.utdallas.edu/atec/midori/Handouts/procedural_animation.htm

Procedural Characters and the Coming Animation Technology Revolution | AiGameDev.com. (2016).Aigamedev.com. Retrieved 9 May 2016, from http://aigamedev.com/open/editorial/animation-revolution/

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R: New Technology

In this blog I will be talking about some of the new technology that I have been researching and experimenting with.

VR

What is it?: The goal of VR is to remove the barrier between the virtual world, and the the user. To do this the system tries to stimulate as many of the user’s senses as possible. For a long time we have utilized audio to decrease the gap between the user and the virtual world utilizing things like 3d audio. Now using specialised lenses built in to a head worn device, combined with the amazing computing power now available to home computer systems, and advances in real time rendering, it is possible to immerse yourself in the virtual world with both visual and auditory senses.

Since the success of multiple VR headsets over the past years, additional sensory devices have been under development, to make the gap between the real and the virtual even smaller. These include haptic systems in the form of intuitive hand controls or entire electrostatic suits designed to recreate the feeling of temperature and pressure on the user’s skin, over their entire body.

 

Here is a picture of my World Builder project in VR on one of the Oculus devises(Oculus is one of the leading brands of VR headsets)

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Integration with Unreal: The company Epic, the developers of the Unreal Engine 4 and its predecessors, are working toward fully implemented VR features, with later versions of 4 coming with native VR support, and even more recently have been showing their experiments with including VR headsets within the development pipeline with a VR editor, allowing developers to utilize almost all of the editors features in a hands on VR work space.

Motion Capture

What is it?: Motion capture, as used in the creative industries, is the process of using one of many motion captures systems (that either include specialised cameras or suit based detection hardware coupled with specialised software) to produce an accurate recording or capture of a person or object from the real world into a digital format. Capture utilizing facial and voice capture is more commonly know as performance capture as it is taking every part of an actor’s performance and capturing it for use in a digital media platform. Some advancements, like those being used by teams like Official Ninja Theory and its collaborators, have recently showcased using performance capture to animate a digital character in engine and in real time, which is an amazing feat of technological progress.

Integration with animation: I have been integrating motion capture into my own personal animation. I have mainly been using motion capture to add subtlety to my animations that would have taken many, many hours to produce by hand. What would take me hours to complete is achieved in a fraction of recording time utilizing a motion capture system. Industry professionals, like Ubisoft Montreal’s animation director, Jonathan Cooper, and Dice LA’s animation director, Tobias Dahl, have both been known to refer to motion capture, or performance capture, as a reliable tool to accelerate the animation process, but not as a replacement. I myself have found that you still need to clean up the motion capture data, as it is only as good as the quality of the recording, and in many cases, if not all of them, pure motion capture data will not give you the desired result, but it is without a doubt a useful and time saving tool that I see becoming commonplace in many areas of animation.

 

References

(2016). Marxentlabs.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016, from http://www.marxentlabs.com/what-is-virtual-reality-definition-and-examples/

know, W. (2016). What is virtual reality? Everything you need to know. TrustedReviews. Retrieved 2 May 2016, from http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/what-is-virtual-reality

Motion Capture. (2016). Web.mit.edu. Retrieved 2 May 2016, from http://web.mit.edu/comm-forum/papers/furniss.html

Motion capture – Xsens 3D motion tracking. (2016). Xsens 3D motion tracking. Retrieved 2 May 2016, from https://www.xsens.com/tags/motion-capture/

Motion Capture Software and Mocap Tracking Info. (2016). Organicmotion.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016, from http://www.organicmotion.com/motion-capture/

O'Boyle, B. (2016). What is VR? Virtual reality explained – Pocket-lint. Pocket-lint.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016, from http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/136540-what-is-vr-virtual-reality-explained

What is Virtual Reality? – Virtual Reality. (2015). Virtual Reality. Retrieved 2 May 2016, from http://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/what-is-virtual-reality.html

What you need to know about 3D motion capture. (2016). Engadget. Retrieved 2 May 2016, from http://www.engadget.com/2014/07/14/motion-capture-explainer/