Dark Void interview on CHUD

Cinematic Happenings Under Development (CHUD.com) has a cool interview with the Dark Void developers. There are some great shout-outs to the animation team, but alas non of the work attributed to me in the article was actually done by me and I kind of just wanted to be clear that I’m not claiming anyone else’s work as my own. The quote in question is: “The UFO hijack sequence, where you’re pulling up panels? That’s animated by this guy Tim, who animated on 300 and did the rhino sequences.” It’s a combination of mis-spoken and mis-quoted information. I didn’t work on 300 at all. Jose was just thinking of another guy. As for the sky-jacking animation, including the part when your pulling up panels: It was mostly done by the talented (and patient) Anthony who spent ages collaborating with programmers and designers working and re-working the gameplay, tech, and animation. I just animated the part where Will is trying to steal the pilot’s gun and then either wins or loses.

The compliment from Ed Fries is awesome. He says “As far as animation goes this team has some of the best animators in the game business. They hand animate everything.” A lot of games make extensive use of mo-cap. I think it can be good, especially for cut-scenes, but 9 times out of 10 it’s better to have more exaggeration or just physically impossible moves that can’t be mo-capped. I mean, check out the stuff that TJ and Cameron animated and then try to tell me you think mo-cap looks better than by-hand animation. In our case we couldn’t mo-cap a rocket-packing, ledge-jumping hero anyways.

In fact, it seems most of the articles praise the animation, with one exception: Gamespot said that “…the animation still needs some polishing…” and frankly they’re right. Thank you, Gamespot. A lot of the stuff in the demo is still in progress and I was starting to worry that people thought that its current state was good enough. Who wants to make animation that’s “good enough?”

Dark Void demo revealed at Captivate ’08

Capcom had a press event in Vegas last week called “Captivate ’08” and the Dark Void demo we’ve been slaving on for the past few months made its debut. Okay, so the demo wasn’t “playable” as far as letting members of the press play it, but it was a functioning demo mission that our lead designer could play and demonstrate in front of them. It turned out pretty well and the press coverage seems to be positive all around. There are some commenters complaining about things like the lack of multiplayer and the overall brownish look of the demo. The former is in the interest of a better single player experience and it works out for the animation team because we can make better, more varied animations if they don’t have to be for multiplayer. The latter is a valid complaint, but keep in mind that this is only one small environment in the game and there will be more variety when we’re done. I’m hoping for less brown myself. The only other complaint I saw a couple of times is that the helmet hides the hero’s face and makes him hard to relate to. I think only one of the articles mentioned that he won’t be wearing the helmet all of the time. It’s an upgrade that you get at some point, but you start with Will’s face visible. He’s not some faceless military cyber grunt and he won’t be one of those boring, mute (or nearly mute) characters either. Don’t forget that there are cut-scenes, too.

Three new videos
Interview, Flying Gameplay, Vert. Cover/Grip Gameplay

Some articles from the event:
Joystiq: Impressions, Still a Year Away, No MP in Dark Void
Eurogamer: Impressions, Why Capcom
IGN: Impressions
Kotaku: Impressions

Day two of 1up.com’s week-long Dark Void media coverage: Behind the Scenes at Airtight Games

Head over to the Dark Void minisite on 1up.com or just click on one of these two pictures to go directly to today’s article. (Just a note, however unimportant: DigiPen moved across the street) Based on what he says towards the end of the article it sounds like this reviewer enjoyed the animation we’ve done so far, but what’s more important is that I enjoyed his choice of concept art to include:

Suprise!
Happy Birthday, Human! Make a wish! LOL

(And yes, I did just make the title of this post super long so that I could force the title of the article onto a new line. Why? I don’t know.)

Dark Void in the media

Finally, real coverage of our game is beginning to surface in the media. Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) and its companion website, 1up.com, have been the first to start publishing previews of Dark Void.

There’s a three page spread in the June 2008 issue of EGM, and 1up.com is featuring our game on the front page of their site with a new article every day this week. Today’s article is “Eight things you need to know about Dark Void.” This is just beginning and there will certainly be much more coverage before too long. There was a previous “debut” trailer making the rounds, but as you can now see, much progress has been made since then. It’s exciting to know that people are seeing the work we’ve done. I hope people like it, but I know how hot/cold people can be when posting comments online. I think it’s going to be a fun game when it’s done, but for now I’m just having fun making it.

Below are a few screenshots of animations that I worked on, but don’t hold it against me. They’re still W.I.P

Chops Begins Airing Again

After a false start last year (probably due to the little fact that only a few episodes had been completed) Chop Socky Chooks has finally started airing regularly on Cartoon Network. Actually, it started last month so there have already been a handful of episodes shown. I know the show isn’t likely to win any awards, but if you’re curious you can either tune into CN on Fridays at 9:00pm or Saturday mornings at 8:30am. In fact, if you’re really interested you can catch a marathon of all of the episodes aired so far, this Friday from 7:00pm – 9:30pm. You can also watch full episodes after they’ve aired on the Cartoon Network video website. Just click on “Shows” to the right, and select Chop Socky Chooks from the list. As of this moment they have the first five episodes available for streaming.

The studio that I used to work at, Starz Animation, created roughly a third of the first season. I think it was (and don’t quote me on this) episodes 1-6, 9, 11, and 14 that we created before losing the contract for the show. Myself, I’m really curious to see the episodes that were created by the folks at C.O.R.E. Toons. Say what you will about the show (or, for those who worked on it, the production) but it was my very first professional animation credit so it holds a certain sentimental value for me.

Dr. Wasabi FTW!

Jason Ryan Animation Tutorials

Jason Ryan, a supervising animator from Disney, is ramping up for a collection of animation video tutorials. The final product won’t be free, but in the meantime he has posted a whole bunch of valuable “ramp up” mini-tutorials. Keith Lango had something similar going called VTS and I had subscribed for the first few of his videos until I needed to start cutting back on expenses. They were fantastic and I expect Jason’s will be worth the money too, if you have it. If you’re interested, click on the banner image above and sign up for his newsletter. That’s how I got the link to the ramp up tutorials.

Holy Hyperlinks, Batman!

New Iron Man Trailer
First of all, the new trailer for Iron Man looks seriously bad-ass. One of my best friends from school is working on it over at The Orphanage so it’s possible that I’d be biased, but the general consensus at work is that this looks frickin‘ amazing. I can’t wait to see this movie, and then re-watch all of Andy’s shots. I suspect they’ll be a tad better than my Chipmunk shots.

Next up is a link that came through my RSS feed today; I already forgot which one. It’s a cool experimental animation created by cutting out stencils and then filming them in layers to create a sort of practical onion skinning effect. Very cool.

Manipulation
In the vein of cool, “outside the box” animation I’m sure you have all seen the classic Duck Amuck (which is apparently being made into a DS game!). Well the idea of an artist fighting his cartoon has been revisited a couple of times since then. Most of you have probably seen Animator vs. Animation and Animator vs. Animation 2 done in Flash, but until recently I had never seen this Oscar winning take on the concept.

Cameron Fielding has posted a breakdown of his process while animating on the Turok video game. His work is fantastic and it’s always great to read about how another animator approaches the problem of bringing a character to life. It’s a must read.

Animation Buffet
Animator and teacher Jean Denis Haas has a great blog setup for his class at AAU and I subscribed to it so I can eavesdrop on the critiques. It’s a great way to learn. He has recently created a new resource for animators called Animation Buffet. It’s your one-stop-shop for all of your free rig needs – well, it’s only Maya rigs so far, but there will be more in the future. There are a whole ton of rigs there and many that I haven’t seen before. I’ve added it to the list of animation tools in the sidebar.

One last thing. Why didn’t this win the 11 Second Club competition last month!? Seriously people, open your eyes. It has translation AND rotation. It’s cutting edge! It’s Skater Matt!

Compass wins VFX Oscar


Congratulationss to to my friends back at R+H for winning the Best VFX Oscar* last night! Congrats especially to Kevin, Emil, and Sean for being the first Southern grads to win an Oscar – well, in a way.

*Congrats to the talented folks at Framestore CFC, DD and the other studios too, but… well… I don’t know any of you . Oh, and I can still see Raknison’s detached jaw when I close my eyes – thanks for that, Framestore.