L4D - Valve Software

Notice: Mature 17+ content. Here is another game cinematic. This one for the game Left4Dead. This post stems from a comment by 2nd year animator Mitch in the "Meet the Spy" post, which has generated a lot of discussion.

There is quite a discussion about motion capture and what is animation in the comments.

Mitch: "Not sure how this was animated, but the introduction to the game Left 4 Dead ... was very entertaining for me. Now it is owned by the same company that own TF2 so it might quite possibly be the same animation team... For those who don't like zombies and the such don't go to this link."


frank said...

Good find Mitch. I am terrified of zombies and that looked like it had like mutant superpowered Hulk~Zombie crossbreeds in it.

You should look at a book called "World War Z" when you are taking a few minutes off from animating in a regular Occupational Health and Safety stretching break.

Maybe some animators can answer Mitch's questions about how it was animated and whether it is the same team?

If you do a bit more research Mitch (and Nathan), you will see that they are hiring... your interest may produce the sniff of practicing applying for a job...

Ian said...

Looks like there is a lot of mo cap in there. Its still impressive though.

Mitch said...

yeah I was afraid alot of it would have been motion capture *sad face* never the less it stands above most of the other cut scenes you see these days in games.

Mo capped or not the faces seem more animated in this than any final fantasy movie to date :P and I'll stand by that.

Ian said...

Mo Cap shouldn't be a dirty word (or two?). There is a good chance it will be connected to the work you do at some point so don't just shun it out of hand. Understanding it, and more importantly how to improve on it, should be your goal :)

Frank said...

I feel like going on a bit of an animation ramble. Come, join me.

I was working with the first years this week on timing an animation sequence that they are producing for Jane's and Terry's 2D classes.

We took video reference of the students acting out their sequences to: work out some basic timing and to study and improve poses.

I'm well aware that some animators who have their successful animation process (do I include James Baxter and Jason Ryan here?) do not use live action reference. I agree that animators eventually have to become less dependent on using it as they grow. Only because it will become a hindrance as animation skills and an inbuilt sense of timing develops. The same probably goes for using mo cap.

Mo-cap in a commercial animation production may give some financial benefit as a time saving technique?

Back to my class, some of the first year animators couldn't resist rotoscoping themselves. Rotoscoping = motion capture ~ "mo cap" without the ball suit (see that Fjorg clip where the character comes out in the suit. Now that's the mo-cap debate put into something useful; as a gag in an animation :) ).

My first years were animating. Just in another way. They weren't gas bagging or being entertained by something on YouTube. They were animating. So I see that it is fine to go off down paths of exploration, as long as I, as a teacher, can guide them back to the task and the process, pose-to-pose animation, they have to work on after a while exploring.

In the wonderment of watching students learn animation, and discover pose improvements by drawing over live action frames and pushing their poses, studying arcs frame-by-frame, recognising key moments in their live action and creating key drawings over those frames and learning about key frames, they've got up and acted out their sequence (woo hoo!), and had an explore where some went off into rotoscoping. I thought it was fantastic that they were unsullied by prejudices toward any animation techniques that float around the discussion areas of the craft or the arts media like stinging jellyfish at a serene summer beach.

It was/is all new and exciting for these new animators and off they toddle down exploration paths with wide eyes and a hunger for knowledge filling themselves with the passion and excitement for animation.

It's all animation and, I think, we should get stuck into producing the best animation we can using all the techniques, tips and tricks that we have to hand.

I think any animators who vent negatively in debate or fuel prejudices (I'm thinking about the furore that erupted in the arts press when "Happy Feet" won the Oscar using mo cap for its dancing penguins) in animation technique could better spend that time animating, or discovering the next technique for everyone to benefit from and evolve the craft.

If parts of this LD4 animation is made better by motion capture techniques, then that's what added to its appeal.

And I think as animators we should be all about applying animation principles to the best of our ability (within the parameters set by our money and time production budgets).

Hey Ian and Mitch some
interesting comments up there (before I bored everyone).

Oh, for the second years struggling to write essays, this right here is 560 words in half an hour.

Ian said...

Ha ha Fantastic Frank, and I couldn't agree more!

Animation is the creation and manipulation of movement, in all cases and techniques is can be done well or poorly. Its funny when people jump up and down about how bad Mocap is, they seem to forget just how much really bad pose to pose animation is out there in the world. You could say that most of it is bad, even if usually made by artist honestly trying to do their best under the circumstances (hell I'm responsible for my fair share).

I find it the same when people say traditional is better than 3D. Any of these kinds of animation can be done well or bad. In the case of this clip Mitch found I would say it is done well, so well that I can't even say with 100% confidence that it is Mocap. What I know is I think it looks good.

I loved happy feet, I definitely feel it deserved more credit than any of the try hard Pixar films around at the time. You could say that Director George Miller is one of very few (maybe the only) to really stike away in a new direction and come up with a new feel in an animated feature film since Pixar burst onto the scene. It should also be noted that only parts of it were Mocap, the chase with sea leopard was absolutely awesome, key frame animation, and animated by a Brisbane boy who also worked on other Mocap parts of the film. He was just doing his best at the work set before him, and at all times it was his honest work at applying his craft (using movement to create the illusion of life and effect the audience emotionally)..... mmmmmmm animation.....


What was I typing about?

I don't have half an hour to spend on this!

I'm hungry.

We called em bee's in my day.

Frank said...

Yes, yes, yes, the leopard seal chase, it was fantastic. All pose-to-pose, wow!

Mitch has presented us with a good animation clip to discuss. Thanks Mitch!

Somewhere along the way it seems, just like happened to me when I was an official, fee-paying animation student, someone whispered "mo-cap is not animation" or "mo-cap is bad" and it stuck in my learning brain. That's why I felt compelled to ramble (above).

It's those evil little sibilant whispers, that in themselves, are bad, not the process of discovery or exploration of an animation technique.

Oh, and Oooo Yeh! I remember the days of my student resistance to 3D. That's very funny now that I'm teaching it. Stemming from the natural resistance all humans have to something new or foreign, just in case it bites.

Luckily the curiosity of the bulk of animation students is cat like (without the lethal end) and once they get the hang of a technique they might be initially suspicious of, they either find it works for them or it doesn't.

But at least they found out for themselves by experimentation not by listening to cruel sweet sounding whispers dripped into an ear like warm poisoned honey.

It sure doesn't pay to choose to be a [insert childhood favourite animation style] animator at the start of an animation career and then cling to it like a barnacle on a rock. Definitely use an animation style as inspiration for getting you into the craft. But once you're through that portal into animation (that took a bit of finding at the back of the wardrobe) there is a whole unexplored world to discover.

As a student try and experience as much as you can before 'life' and a job locks you into an animation style and takes away your choice.

When that happens at least an animation graduate has the knowledge that it is all animation and that fundamental principles can be applied to every corner and niche... until you batter your way into your dream job.

:) "Keep on ramblin'". "I'm just a ramblin' man..." (that's a lyric for all you Generation Y'ers.. As if, like, whatever.)