2014 GDC Animation Bootcamp

January 9, 2014 | Filed Under Places We Pop Up | 1 Comment

After the resounding success of last year, I proudly present the return of GDC Animation Bootcamp on March 17th!

Taking what we learned from last year and listening to the feedback, I believe we have packed this one day event full of the practical, animation focused talks everyone loves, delivered by some of the most inspiring animators in the industry. But the animation fun won’t stop at the Bootcamp, as this year sees the return of Tim Borrelli’s Character Performance Roundtable during each day of the main conference, as well as an array of animation specific talks at the main conference throughout the week.

This is an opportunity to grow both our craft and our involvement with all things game dev, and you are not going to want to miss GDC this year!

Spread the word. Animation at GDC is becoming a big thing.

GDC 2014 Animation Bootcamp
SanFrancisco, CA
March 17th

Description
Game animation has had a bigger and brighter spotlight placed upon it as both technology and narrative in games have allowed more fully realized characters. However, that spotlight has also revealed an industry wide gap in the sharing of game animation knowledge, the application of the craft, and its involvement in the industry at large. Bringing together a group of experienced and specialized animators, across AAA and Indie, this bootcamp will be a daylong gathering to rally animators from all over the industry, with a focus on deeper discussions into the needs of game animation. The day will start with a traditional look at the craft by focusing on establishing and conveying a character’s performance. Then throughout the day we will transition into how to best apply that knowledge to game development, through different tools and disciplines, showing how the unique constraints and demands of games are creating the need for a new breed of animator.

Intended Audience
Animators and other disciplines specifically interested in what animation has to offer in regards to character performance, emotion, action and gameplay.

Takeaway
Attendees will leave with all manner of new ideas on what game animation is capable of. Be it tips about leveling up their animation fundamentals or how best to work with and use game design, anything that animation comes in contact with during game development will be shown in a new light.

Speakers & Topics

Welcome & Introduction
Mike Jungbluth, Senior Animator, Zenimax Online
Tim Borrelli, Lead Animator, 5th Cell
15 Mins

Achieving A Believable Performance
Jalil Sadool, Senior Animator, Dreamworks
60 Mins
The Animation Industry is moving and changing faster than we ever expected. The number of good animators is increasing every year and finding a stable job in this competitive field is much harder compared to just a decade ago. What therefore gives an animator this extra edge? We often misunderstand good animation for simply good motion and forget that our main focus as an animator is to fool an audience into believing. During the next 45 mins to an hour, we will talk about ‘the believable performance’ and the little things that we tend to forget but that is incredibly essential for a character to come to life.

Establishing An Ecology For NPCs
Mike Jungbluth, Senior Animator, Zenimax Online
30 Mins
A common issue encountered across many studios is how to define and convey the personality and purpose of NPCS. Unlike the main characters, often times NPCs are just a name on a page with some random abilities assigned to them. One of many. With so many characters and production time always limited, creating a sufficient yet streamlined process for finding, defining and communicating what makes a character tick can keep them from falling through the cracks. This talk will cover some of the approaches I have been a part of on different games to try and combat the problem.

Fluid and Powerful Animation Within Frame Restrictions
Mariel Cartwright, Lead Animator, Lab Zero Games
30 Mins
How do you get the clearest, most fluid animation in a 2D game and make it work with responsive gameplay? This talk will explore how Skullgirls was animated and cover the importance of strong keyframes, anticipation, and timing and how you can effectively get these principles across when your designer tells you you only have six frames to deliver a punch. The talk will also use examples from Skullgirls as well as other 2D fighting games, such as Darkstalkers and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, to show various ways of making an animation work. Lastly, the talk will cover what did and didn’t work in Skullgirls and how far the animation has come in the years the game has been in development.

Animating the Spy Fantasy In Splinter Cell Blacklist
Kristjan Zadziuk, Animation Director, Ubisoft Toronto
60 Mins

This presentation focuses on what defined Splinter Cell Blacklist animation pillars, the technical challenges faced by the animation team throughout the development and how we have overcome them.  As we move toward the transition between generations, it is tempting to search for the magic bullet solution of more data, better compression, and improved tech.  Even if this is partly true, it is important to still make smart choices. These are the choices we made.

Animation Prototyping For Games
Jay Hosfelt, Lead Animator, Epic Games
60 Mins
So you have an original game in mind, a new team, or a completely new IP.  You don’t have many art assets yet, and the game designers can’t wait for final art before finding the fun in the gameplay.  So how can animators be effective in this prototype “gray box” phase of design?   Prototyping will not only make animators more effective, but instrumental in the prototype phase. I will be discussing tools and techniques for creating quick “gray box” animation assets for the designers that allow for quick iteration cycles. I will also be breaking down what prototyping is and what a game is, which will help give clarity to what any team should be prototyping.

An Indie Approach to Procedural Animation
David Rosen, Founder, Wolfire Games
30 Mins

Find out how to use simple procedural techniques to achieve interactive and fluid animations using very few keyframes, with examples from indie games like Overgrowth, Receiver and Black Shades. What exactly is the difference between a playable character and a vehicle?

Using the Power of Layered Animation to Expand Premium Content in Battlefield 4
Ryan Duffin, Senior Animator, EA DICE
30 Mins
Complex stateflows and animation layers are changing the face of games animation, allowing for a quantity and variety that would’ve been difficult or even impossible to fit into production schedules and memory not long ago. This talk will follow along with a specific example that uses the power of stateflows and layers to expand the animation features of Battlefield 4 Premium.

Animating Cameras for Games
Simon Unger, Lead Animator, Robotoki
30 Mins

The bar for quality in games is constantly being pushed higher every year, and yet there are still areas that tend to remain afterthoughts during the production cycle. Cameras are one such area. Most game teams don’t have the luxury of a dedicated “camera guy” and as such, the ownership typically gets split up to various people on the team and rarely to anyone with any real-world camera experience. The goal of this talk is to give the audience a primer in cameras and composition, with a focus on how to apply physical camera features and limitations to both gameplay and cinematics to create more believable, appealing, and entertaining experiences.

An Animators Approach to Directing an Idea
Tasha Harris, Lead Franchise Artist, Pixar
30 Mins

In this talk I will use my experiences as Project Lead on Costume Quest to address some challenges an animator might run into when directing a project, and how these challenges might be overcome.

Open Call for GDC Animation Bootcamp Submissions

July 31, 2013 | Filed Under Places We Pop Up | No Comments

We are starting to plan the next GDC Animation Bootcamp and we want to open up submissions to anyone that has something to say!

In our second year, and to build off of the success of the last, we plan to make the presence of animation at GDC bigger than ever. The desire to balance deeper, animation specific talks with more cross-discipline buy-in is what we believe to be the ultimate goal, and to do that we hope to make it a two day affair.

The first day would be very similar to last year (which you can watch on the GDC vault), with a focus purely on the craft of animation, digging into topics like believability, body mechanics, facial animation, and acting.

Then on day two, we dive directly into the game abyss, armed with the creative knowledge from the day before. We bring in AI programmers, designers, writers and indie devs to show the theories and solutions people are applying the illusion of life to, either in conjunction with or in ways other than animation.

All of this is contingent on the bootcamp being accepted by the advisory board again, but based on our numbers and feedback we feel quite confident in our plan.

So what type of talks are we looking for? Well…

What is your process? What is something you do in your games that you are surprised isn’t more common? What is something that you wish you COULD do? What is a tool or tech that you couldn’t live without? What motivates you? What are your best practices when it comes to working with and influencing other disciplines?

The guidelines and schedule for talk submissions are as follows:

- Talks can be 30 minutes or 1 hour long. It should be a talk that will be unique to the bootcamp.
- AUGUST 23rd – Proposed submissions due date. Email a short description and takeaway to gdcanimationbootcamp at gmail
- AUGUST 29th – Submission due date for the Animation Bootcamp. By this date we hope to have the bulk of the presenters already lined up to show the overall tone of what we have planned.
- NOVEMBER – If the bootcamp is accepted, we need all specific talks along with an outline submitted around this time
- If the specific talks are accepted, finished talks will need to be prepared sometime shortly after. (The ability to make slight revisions should persist until the conference)

We are expecting the Bootcamp to be on March 17th & 18th in San Francisco but that is just the beginning of GDC’s focus on animation. In the following days during the Main Conference there will be a daily Animation and Character Roundtable, hosted by Tim, to carry on the conversations across all game dev disciplines. Our goal is that by the end of GDC 2014, animation will continue to grow as a necessary part of the discussions at the conference and the industry as a whole.

We look forward to you not only being part of the conversation, but helping to drive it.

Mike Jungbluth
Tim Borrelli

Episode 42 – An Indie Approach to Animation

May 31, 2013 | Filed Under Episodes | 1 Comment

TOPIC: Indie Games & Animation
GUEST: David Rosen, Founder of Wolfire Games

A New Episode! I could type something or you could just go listen. You should do that.

You should also check out David’s games, which include Overgrowth, Receiver and Lugaru. You should also check out all the games in the show notes.

And finally, you should smile, because it looks so darn good on you.

Show Notes:
David’s Animation Bootcamp Summaries
Deadly Premonition & Troll 2
Gish by Alex Austin
A New Zero by Alex Austin
Intrusion 2
HammerFight
Spy Party by Chris Hecker

Episode 41 – Meet the GDC Bootcampers

January 22, 2013 | Filed Under Episodes | 4 Comments

TOPIC: GDC 2013 Animation Bootcamp
GUESTS: Animation Bootcamp Presenters

The GDC 2013 Animation Bootcamp hype train barrels forward! But instead of just listening to the conductor, we have all the on board entertainers getting into the specifics of their talks.

With this episode you will get to know what each presenter and their talk is all about in preparation for the bootcamp in March.

So join the conversation and spread the word!

GDC 2013 Animation Bootcamp
SanFrancisco, CA
Monday, March 25

Speakers & Topics

Welcome & Introduction
Mike Jungbluth, Senior Animator, Zenimax Online
Tim Borrelli, Lead Animator, 5th Cell
Nate Walpole, Senior Animator, Halo Series and Elder Scrolls Online

Making an Audience Believe
Jalil Sadool, Senior Animator, Dreamworks

The Animation Industry is moving and changing faster than we ever expected. The number of
good animators is increasing every year and finding a stable job in this competitive field is much
harder compared to just a decade ago. What therefore gives an animator this extra edge? We often misunderstand good animation for simply good motion and forget that our main focus as an animator is to fool an audience into believing. Over the course of this talk we will discuss the “Thinking Character” and the little things that we tend to forget but that is incredibly essential for a character to come to life.

It’s Alive! Developing Animal/Creature Movement, Personality and Presentation
Amy Drobeck, Senior Animator, WB Seattle

The purpose of this session is to outline the process of bringing a creature/animal to life from the skeleton up. It will begin with an overview of anatomy, continue with a breakdown of movement that includes character/personality development and end with the realization of these assets in cinematic and in-game formats.

From Stage to Screen: How to Get the Most Out of Your Mocap
Simon Unger, Animation Director, Hitman:Absolution

As commonplace in game development as overtime, motion capture is often one of the largest, most inefficient expenses on a production.The goal of this talk is to give attendees better tools and practices to squeeze more performance and value out of their mocap. We will cover all the stages; from initial planning and casting to final implementation in game. We’ll also have a look at some not-so-common uses of this often misunderstood tool.

Animating the 3rd Assassin
Jonathan Cooper, Animation Director, Ubisoft Montreal

Assassin’s Creed III’s new-world organic environments presented an opportunity to update the animation throughout the game with revised systems of navigation, combat and crowdlife, as well as new additions like animal wildlife, moving ships and tree-running. This presentation covers the decision-making behind these various improvements, making Assassin’s Creed III’s new protagonist Connor even more fluid in motion than previous entries while maintaining the series trademark sense of weight and connection to the environment.

Giving Purpose to 1st Person Animation
Ryan Duffin, Senior Animator, EA/Danger Close

First person games have been around for decades and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon! Arguably, no perspective is better to immerse a player in your world but how can you make your character feel like more than a camera on a stick , immersing them in their environment without sacrificing responsive player controls or making them vomit from motion sickness? This talk will focus on the particular animation needs of hands, bodies and weapons to better immerse your player in their avatar.

Designing a Performance
Ed Hooks, Acting for Animators
Mike Jungbluth, Senior Animator, Zenimax Online

Character animation in games can not rely solely on the methods used in film. Creating emotionally engaging and empathetic characters in a video game doesn’t stop when you finalize the animation. If you want to fully apply the principles of animation and acting into your game, you need to be aware of how and when your animations are being used by both the game and the player. This talk will show how you can approach your animations and game design in a more holistic way.

Q&A Roundtable
Tim Borrelli, Lead Animator, 5th Cell
A catch all for any questions attendees may have concerning all topics covered. Also a primer for the conversations that will continue at the Animation and Character Roundtable during the rest of GDC.

GDC 2013 Animation Bootcamp Announcement

January 7, 2013 | Filed Under Places We Pop Up | No Comments

Last spring a conversation sprung up on twitter about game animation not being as well represented as it could be at conferences world wide. From that discussion, a handful of us got together to do something about it. What we present here is the type of game animation conference I have always dreamed about attending, with an equal focus on both the craft of animation and it’s overlap with game design.

I proudly present the GDC 2013 Animation Bootcamp taking place March 25th! This is an opportunity to grow both our craft and our involvement with all things game dev and I hope to see you there!

And spread the word!

GDC 2013 Animation Bootcamp
SanFrancisco, CA
March 25-29

Description
Game animation is a tricky beast. Balancing the want of film style visuals against gameplay constraints is a daily occurrence. While these constraints are very real, as games grow in both technology and emotional resonance, animators must break free of the excuses and help drive this industry forward with the unique skill sets they posses.
Bringing together a group of experienced and specialized animators, this bootcamp will be a full day gathering to rally animators from all over the industry with a focus on deeper, more specific discussions into the needs of game animation than a conference with a more varied discipline set is capable of.

The day will start with a focus purely on the craft of animation, focusing on aspects like believability, body mechanics and facial animation. Then throughout the day we transition into how best to apply that knowledge to game development, from wrangling mocap to applying what is learned to understanding game design.

But the animation focus at GDC won’t stop after the bootcamp. Once the main conference begins, the Animation and Character Performance Roundtable run by Tim Borrelli will use the bootcamp as a jumping off point towards cross discipline discussions. This will allow animators as well as designers, programmers, writers and other artists to sync up and become active participants in the overarching topic of more believable characters and motions in games.

Intended Audience
Animators of all skill levels as well as other disciplines interested in what animation has to offer in regards to character performance, emotion, action and gameplay.

Takeaway
Attendees will leave with all manner of new ideas on what game animation is capable of. Be it tips about leveling up their animation fundamentals or how best to work with and use game design, anything that animation comes in contact with during game development will be shown in a new light.

Speakers & Topics

Welcome & Introduction
Mike Jungbluth, Senior Animator, Zenimax Online
Tim Borrelli, Lead Animator, 5th Cell
Nate Walpole, Senior Animator, Halo Series and Elder Scrolls Online

Making an Audience Believe
Jalil Sadool, Senior Animator, Dreamworks

The Animation Industry is moving and changing faster than we ever expected. The number of
good animators is increasing every year and finding a stable job in this competitive field is much
harder compared to just a decade ago. What therefore gives an animator this extra edge? We often misunderstand good animation for simply good motion and forget that our main focus as an animator is to fool an audience into believing. Over the course of this talk we will discuss the “Thinking Character” and the little things that we tend to forget but that is incredibly essential for a character to come to life.

It’s Alive! Developing Animal/Creature Movement, Personality and Presentation
Amy Drobeck, Senior Animator, WB Seattle

The purpose of this session is to outline the process of bringing a creature/animal to life from the skeleton up. It will begin with an overview of anatomy, continue with a breakdown of movement that includes character/personality development and end with the realization of these assets in cinematic and in-game formats.

From Stage to Screen: How to Get the Most Out of Your Mocap
Simon Unger, Animation Director, Hitman:Absolution

As commonplace in game development as overtime, motion capture is often one of the largest, most inefficient expenses on a production.The goal of this talk is to give attendees better tools and practices to squeeze more performance and value out of their mocap. We will cover all the stages; from initial planning and casting to final implementation in game. We’ll also have a look at some not-so-common uses of this often misunderstood tool.

Animating the 3rd Assassin
Jonathan Cooper, Animation Director, Ubisoft Montreal

Assassin’s Creed III’s new-world organic environments presented an opportunity to update the animation throughout the game with revised systems of navigation, combat and crowdlife, as well as new additions like animal wildlife, moving ships and tree-running. This presentation covers the decision-making behind these various improvements, making Assassin’s Creed III’s new protagonist Connor even more fluid in motion than previous entries while maintaining the series trademark sense of weight and connection to the environment.

Giving Purpose to 1st Person Animation
Ryan Duffin, Senior Animator, EA/Danger Close

First person games have been around for decades and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon! Arguably, no perspective is better to immerse a player in your world but how can you make your character feel like more than a camera on a stick , immersing them in their environment without sacrificing responsive player controls or making them vomit from motion sickness? This talk will focus on the particular animation needs of hands, bodies and weapons to better immerse your player in their avatar.

Designing a Performance
Ed Hooks, Acting for Animators
Mike Jungbluth, Senior Animator, Zenimax Online

Character animation in games can not rely solely on the methods used in film. Creating emotionally engaging and empathetic characters in a video game doesn’t stop when you finalize the animation. If you want to fully apply the principles of animation and acting into your game, you need to be aware of how and when your animations are being used by both the game and the player. This talk will show how you can approach your animations and game design in a more holistic way.

Q&A Roundtable
Tim Borrelli, Lead Animator, 5th Cell
A catch all for any questions attendees may have concerning all topics covered. Also a primer for the conversations that will continue at the Animation and Character Roundtable during the rest of GDC.

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