Computer Graphics World

March/April 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 42 of 51

Animation•Career n n n n ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. teractions, such as those in the Mass Effect series or similarly with the recent release of Max Payne 3. This is less of a problem within the handheld and mobile sectors of the game market (at least for now), where gamers generally are not looking for the detailed play experience, but rather something to occupy a short time span, while more traditional games accommodate this very successfully. People, particularly students, often ask me which industry is harder to animate for. It's a valid question with game animation becoming richer over the last decade, but I don't think I've ever been able to give a reasonable argument either way. The general notion is that feature animation is harder because of the fidelity required, and it is true that the bar is set very high indeed. But on the flip side, that kind of animation is a lot more predictable and generally an easier medium in which to solve problems. You could say animation is like riding a bike: It takes a long time to figure it out, but eventually it becomes second nature, and you then have the bigger problem of figuring out where you should go. For feature animation, that gets reflected by how you decide on your acting choices, your understanding of the story, and how to better the movie with each shot you do – not to mention the persistent backand-forth iteration and change that is a key part of the animator/director relationship. On the other hand, game animation is a Feature-film animation is considered more difficult than game animation because of the fidelity required. Life of Pi contained memorable animated sequences, such as this one. right, particularly when you never know what angle people will see it from. When discussing the approaches to animation in games and film, it might be worth reminding ourselves that they are two very separate industries, both creating very different types of product. It has long been a goal of the game development business to create the true "interactive movie" that we all think we would love to play, yet it has never been achieved, and there have been many horrific failures. I think it would be an amazing experience to play a movie, but when I think about what that really means, I catch myself Animating characters for films can be difficult, but animating objects, such as this airplane for Flight, contains its own unique challenges. constant case of shifting goal posts. Every project is so dramatically different, and not just artistically, but technically too, and it takes considerable effort to figure out how to get an animation in the game to feel satisfying and rewarding to the player without the person really noticing that it's an "animation" and pulling them out of the experience. I also am a strong believer that a good cycle, be it a walk-run, laugh, teleport, or whatever, can be one of the most difficult things to get and realize that, as a matter of fact, the beauty of movies is that we don't actually have to do anything at all. The audience sits back and enjoys the ride. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be if you were watching Indiana Jones and every now and again you had to solve a puzzle or kill a bad guy just to see what happens next? Movies are all about experiencing the story through empathy with the characters. Games are almost the opposite of movies in that you are the protagonist, you make the choices, and so the criteria required to immerse the player in the story are very different. When it comes to making video games that have a need for story exposition, using cut-scenes is a risky way to do this, since you are not playing a game at that point but are instead watching a movie. Some of the most successful games of all time embrace the fact that they are not trying to deliver a movie experience. Look at Tetris or Portal to see a stripping back to basic game play and simplicity that is, in fact, what draws the player further in. I do think there is a valid ©Paramount Pictures. place for games with a cinematic tone to their delivery, but if more developers understood that they don't necessarily blend as well as we would like them to, we may make more progress in the kinds of good games that actually make it to the consumer. We are trying to make both games and movies the best they can be, not turn one into the other. n Cameron Fielding works at Valve Corporation, helping to nurture the next generation of interactive entertainment while spending his free time with his family. March/April 2013 CGW0313-GameVfilmpfin.indd 41 41 3/14/13 12:52 PM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Computer Graphics World - March/April 2013