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3D Animation: Should I NOT learn animation, but rather learn how to use translation/rotation/scaling in order to fake animation?

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Most free online tutorials on 3D animations in games teach how to move still objects around in the world. In Minecraft, almost all animations are still objects with transformations applied to them to get them to look as if they are moving.

 

Not considering AAA titles you normally would see on game consoles and PC, I realized that only complex models have animation, and if they were to be allowed for it, it's usually done with hi-poly meshes. However, simple models, or low-poly meshes tend to be animated by relying on transformations alone.

 

This gets me thinking. As a beginner who had just started my baby steps toward 3D animation, I have to force myself to overcome my irrational mental denial of not being able to make 3D animations like the ones you see on game consoles. I'm still in the denial stages.

 

Am I supposed to learn 3D animations from transformations alone, and learn how to use libraries for complex 3D animations some time in the future, when I get more experiences in the field?

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Are you talking about creating animations in a 3D program or programming an animation system in your game? Are you talking about skeletal animations (like characters walking and jumping) or "simple transforms" animations (like balls bouncing... erm, I mean cars driving, mechanical devices working and the such)?

 

If you hope to become an animator, then there is no way around learning how to do skeletal animations and skinning. You can of course start by "manually" transforming the bones and creating keys without the aid of seemingly complex systems like full-body IK systems and the less complex traditional character rigs, but soon you will realize how useful and convenient these are in making the job of animating a character easier.

Edited by Amr0

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You should start by learning how to do basic transformations using translation, rotation and scaling.  This is basic stuff that every programmer should understand in the gaming world.  Then, you'll be able to make simple animations like what I think you are referring to as "fake" (but I don't agree, an animation is just an animated object, whatever method is used to do it).

 

Later, if you want to do skeletal animations like those in console games, you should be able to do it.  These animations are using the same kind of transforms (translation, rotation, scaling) but applied on bones instead of directly on the meshes.  Then, the vertex positions of the meshes are computed in function of the bone transforms.  So, if you want to do this kind of animations, you have to first learn how to do basic animations anyway.

Edited by Faelenor

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Bear in mind, the AAA titles have people who have been honing their craft for years. My advice: There is no harm in learning both techniques. Facial animations in games like Uncharted 2 are actually done by hand which would involve good analytical skills and attention to detail. The only way to improve is to train your mind and hand to be good at it.

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