Planning/Researching Animations

I decided to do some more research into some animation cycles to help me decide and plan out my own animations. I knew that due to me being a beginner I wouldn’t be able to create anything too elaborate and complicated, so I decided to focus on researching some more simplistic style animations. 

I plan on creating a walk cycle for one of my animations, as I have already made one earlier on in the module and knew the basics. I feel like creating a walk cycle will be a good place to start and to help me get used to my characters rig as ‘a “walk cycle” is the part of video game animation that covers the most basic, default movement of your character’ (Plunkett, 2020). I decided to research into some existing walk cycles to help gain inspiration for my own. I found an interesting Tumblr blog called Walk Cycles by an artist, Louis Brooks ‘where he isolates and pays tribute to some classic walk cycles by rotoscoping them, drawing them out of their environment and letting us focus on nothing but the shuffling of shoulders and the placement of one foot after the other’ (Plunkett, 2020). This is an interesting way of really focusing on the small movements within walk cycles. I realised after looking at the different walk cycle animations, just how much variety there are of different ways characters can walk. They are also great at showing a characters personality or reflecting the environment/situation they are in. 

fig 1  – An examples of a walk cycle of Aerith from Final Fantasy VII Remake rotoscoped by Louis Brookes

Next, I researched into some idle cycles – these are mostly found within video games and will happen when a character ‘is just standing around and the player isn’t pressing any buttons. A few games may do it when you pause instead. This is done because it avoids having the character stand completely still, which feels odd and creepy because it is unnatural’ (TV Tropes, n.d.). I have included a video below that I recorded of my main character in Animal Crossing doing her idle animation, you can see how when she is stood still doing nothing, her body is still moving – she sways slightly, and her head, arms and legs move too. She also blinks, which helps to make it seem much more natural. Some other examples of a characters movement during an idle animation could be having them simply looking around or holding and moving an object.  

I personally really like idle animations, as I feel that despite the fact that the characters aren’t really moving that much in them and they may sometimes be overlooked aspects within games, they are actually really good at expressing a characters personality – they are ‘key to conveying subtle (or not-so-subtle) aspects of your game’s characters and atmosphere’ (Couture, 2018). They really help to add life to the still character, and I think that doing an idle animation would definitely be a good option for me. I also like the idea of incorporating an idle cycle with an object to make it have more action, so this is another option.  

fig 2 – A video I recorded showing an example of an idle animation in Animal Crossing

References: 

Plunkett, L (2020) Video game “walk cycles” are just the best. Available online: https://kotaku.com/video-game-walk-cycles-are-just-the-best-1844935924 [Accessed 15/04/21].

Brooks, L (2020) Aerith [GIF]. Available online: https://walkcycles.tumblr.com/post/618996978159894529/if-you-havent-already-fallen-for-aerith-at-this [Accessed 19/04/21].

TV Tropes (n.d.) Idle Animations. Available online: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IdleAnimation [Accessed 14/04/21].

Couture, J (2018) What makes a great idle animation? Devs share their favourites. Available online: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/318163/What_makes_a_great_idle_animation_Devs_share_their_favorites.php [Accessed 14/04/21].

Animal Crossing (2020) Animal Crossing New Horizons [Game] Nintendo [Accessed 14/04/21].