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Time needed for animating a character?

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Nevermind building the character model, I was hoping some graphic artists could give me a clue as to how long it takes someone (with experience, who does this regularly) to build a rig for a character and animate it. Assuming the actions you had to animate included having the character walk/run (forwards, backwards, strafing left and right), crouching, jumping, and some vaious actions like attacking.

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Original post by Stukkm
Nevermind building the character model, I was hoping some graphic artists could give me a clue as to how long it takes someone (with experience, who does this regularly) to build a rig for a character and animate it. Assuming the actions you had to animate included having the character walk/run (forwards, backwards, strafing left and right), crouching, jumping, and some vaious actions like attacking.

do you mean animate by ahnd or with motion capture? or both? motion capture equipment and software can be rented fro not too bad of a price now a days.

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Oh. Actually, I did mean by hand... in fact, I'm really talking about hobbyist stuff.
I'm not in the games industry, and quite possibly never will be, but I'm interested in making games. And for now that means I need to make the artwork too. Is it common for hobby game developers to use motion capture?

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Hand animating is the single most time consuming part of the production, AFAIK. If you can get away with it, use motion capture libraries you can purchase for a few hundred dollars, and suppliment with hand animation for some actions.
A simple character, with only a very basic skeleton (no fingers, no hair/cape bones) can take maybe a man hour per second of character animation (this can really depend and is a ballpark figure... I wouldn't expect a much faster rate than this at any time). But for harder/impossible animations (ie, Raiden at the end of the MGS4 trailer), it can take longer. Also, the slower the movement, the harder the animation is to do, in both 2D and 3D.
Rigging is alot simpler, because the requirements are ALOT less than a film. There doesn't need to be squash and stretch, body replacement, and a ton of other things that make film rigging so time consuming (and why each important character has its own technical director).

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Firstly, [shock].

Next, just so we're all on the same page here, is everyone talking about animating a character for a game? Like I said, this is a hobby for me; I'm not planning on making Pixar: The Game. To clarify my own purposes, the skeleton in question consists of a spine, neck, and head bone, two bones for each arm (plus one each for a hand), two bones for each leg (plus one each for the foot). I *might* put in an extra set of bones to allow for the possibility of a cape.

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For games a typical biped character can still take a significant amount of time to produce animation for manually. Not all sequences will require an hour to produce a second of animation, but there are certainly unique animations that can consume that much time from the animator. Simple animations such as idle sequences can be done much quicker than say a jump or attack sequence for example and may only require 15-30 minutes to produce a second of animation, assuming that the animator has a decent rig to work with. Depending on the technology being utilized by the game that is being developed, facial animation may also be a factor. Facial animation in many cases can be extremely time consuming, but fortunately it's much simpler in games than in film and feature animation.

I know this all sounds daunting, but it's not always this difficult to animate. Two of my former coworkers who were excellent technical artists and riggers were able to create character rigs for the animation projects we were doing that were extremely flexible and fairly easy to use. Even complex walk, crawl, and jump sequences with facial expressions included could be done fairly quickly, or at least at a better ratio than 1 hour work / second of animation. However, these characters were for a prerendered animation sequence and not for a game. With upcoming technology though, I expect that creating similar custom rigs for games won't be too far off.

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Original post by Stukkm
Firstly, [shock].

Next, just so we're all on the same page here, is everyone talking about animating a character for a game? Like I said, this is a hobby for me; I'm not planning on making Pixar: The Game. To clarify my own purposes, the skeleton in question consists of a spine, neck, and head bone, two bones for each arm (plus one each for a hand), two bones for each leg (plus one each for the foot). I *might* put in an extra set of bones to allow for the possibility of a cape.
The first animations I did did *not* take an hour per second. It takes that long to do a fully professional job, I imagine, but that's not what either of us are looking for. For Elementum, I used MilkShape 3D, and it probably took me an hour and a half to do the entire _set_ of animations for a character, including idle, walking, fighting x2, being hit x2 and dying x2. You're looking for a few additional animations, so I'd expect two hours per character or less on average. I really just depends how well you pick up on it.

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Thanks for the reassuring words :)

Luckily for me (maybe) my game only calls for one actual character. Of course there's still the whole matter of craploads of enemies... though they should involve fewer animations.

Avatar God, when you were learning to animate was your focus on game art or programming?

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Quote:
Original post by Stukkm
Thanks for the reassuring words :)

Luckily for me (maybe) my game only calls for one actual character. Of course there's still the whole matter of craploads of enemies... though they should involve fewer animations.

Avatar God, when you were learning to animate was your focus on game art or programming?
Haha [grin]. I'm decidedly not a programmer. Game art ftw.

I think that project involved eight enemies (really just four - the others were just minor variations), the PC, a NPC, and the evil dude.

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Hi Stukkm,

I know that animating characters of any kind for any medium is very hard work.

Esspecially if you want the motions to look realistic, I would suggest motion capture of some kind. Now if just eggagerated cartoony motions are what you need, you may be able to do that yourself.

There are some other products out there that provide the motions you are looking for. for example check out http://www.truebones.com for some great motion, I think this is your best route for now. This way you could even use the motion as a reference for making your own custome motions.

Thanks again and Cheers

Joe

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I don't know where an hour per second came from, but it certainly doesn't apply to a small indie game. In my experience, animation is the LEAST painful part of character development. Perhaps it's just because I enjoy it so much.

If your a noob then there is a steep learning curve, and you'll probably end up doing stuff a few times though, so don't go mental if that happens [smile].

EDIT 1: To answer your original question... If you are talking about a standard human with no fancy pants stuff, that's about 4 hours to build to a decent level (although it can take many multiples of this if you want a particularly perfect model). Rigging with a default max biped takes perhaps an hour or two. The animations you talk about would maybe take another hour or two. These time's can change considerably if your model is anything other than a normally proportioned human though.

EDIT 2: If it's just rigging and animation you want then pm me and I'll give you a quote, should be considerably cheaper than buying motion captures and in many cases is far superior.

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Another option for a hobbyist title is to use a program like Poser. Poser has a number of options to simplify the task of generating animations -- for instance, their walk designer allows you to 'mix-in' different movement styles (e.g. sneak, aggressive, etc). You could then write a python script to export these animations to your game format. There is also a large community of content creators for Poser, so you could purchase cheap animation sets, poses, or even models from sites like Daz3D (www.daz3d.com).

This is probably not the route you want to go if you have a talented 3D artist and animator on board, but it's not a bad avenue of approach if you're a programmer. :)

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