Saturday, July 17, 2010

Inferno Animation

It's been too long...
Here's a few quick-n-dirty video captures of some of my contribution to Dante's Inferno.

For the Death boss fight, I was responsible for all of Death's game-play animation (download the demo to see more). In this clip, I didn't animate Dante, except for the Death grab mini-game where Death holds him up by the neck. In that specific sequence (which includes the kick-off), I was responsible for animating both Death and Dante, as well as the camera.

Dante's Inferno Animation: Death from TJ Phan on Vimeo.


In this next clip I animated both characters, as well as the camera. For the record though, there's extra in-game procedural camera movement on-top of my hand-keyed camera which, imo, might be giving it a little too much wobble during certain segments.

Dante's Inferno Animation: Death Finishers from TJ Phan on Vimeo.


Moving on to these enemy finishers, I animated both characters and the camera. The camera anims didn't come out exactly how I wanted since it was somewhat of a difficult process to get Maya cameras to transfer over to in-game cameras. We eventually got a TD to write a melscript, but this was before that. Basically I had to set some keys, move the camera blindly in Maya, export it into the game, go back into Maya to adjust, repeat...kinda wish I could redo them a bit. Due to technical constraints, we also couldn't move the camera during the "cross-to-the-face" button mash segment. That's why it feels a bit static during that moment. Also, the original intent of the first cross-absolve move was to blast off the head only, but we were told that wasn't going to pass certification in certain regions.

Dante's Inferno Animation: Guard Finishers from TJ Phan on Vimeo.


Next up is the Trails of St. Lucia. This was a DLC for the main game where you could create your own trials and upload for others to play. St. Lucia was the new playable character that came with the DLC. I got to animate roughly 80% of her move-set. As for the anims shown in this video, I animated all of them, except for when she gets knocked back by the horned enemy (around 00:32). I did not animate any of the enemies shown in the video.

Btw, I participated in a little Q and A session about St. Lucia a while back. Click here to read.

Dante's Inferno Animation: St. Lucia from TJ Phan on Vimeo.


For this next eye-stab sequence, I animated both characters and the camera.

Dante's Inferno Animation: King Minos from TJ Phan on Vimeo.


And again in this last sequence, I animated both characters and the camera. I didn't animate the little flying enemies in the beginning.

Dante's Inferno Animation: Phlegyas from TJ Phan on Vimeo.

There you have it...for better or worse, those were some of my work from the last game. Sorry for the low capture quality (just trying to hide my anim mistakes).

Also, I was thinking about maybe following up later with a little post-mortem for each clip--maybe talk about some of the challenges that came up for each or some of the tricks used to meet those challenges...I don't know...maybe...

Lastly, I figured the timing was right to post since earlier this week, we all bid fair well to Vince Napoli as he moves down to SoCal to start new adventures.

"A good friend and an even better captain..." he was our lead combat designer on Inferno, the guy who was responsible for a huge portion of the fun stuff that made it into the game. He's also the designer that managed to finally convince me that I could have more anticipation in my attack anims and still have it feel responsive. Hopefully I was able to convince him in the end that ninja's are cool!


- Tim - said...

Awesome work, TJ! Really inspiring as always.

I spent about 20 months animating on Dark Void and didn't get nearly the quality or quantity of work done that you did. How long were you animating on Inferno?

TJ Phan said...

Thanks, Tim! I'd have to give credit to vfx and audio--they always make my anims seem better than they are:)

I wasn't sure if anyone would want to come back here after my long absence, so I definitely appreciate your comment.

But to answer your question, I was on Inferno for about a year. When the main game was wrapping up, I spent the next 2-3 months animating St. Lucia. It was definitely a challenge. In fact, I think I'd have to say that Inferno was the most intense project I've been on. But to be fair, it was also the most gratifying in terms of what I got to animate.

The secret to getting it all done?...little sleep, lots of coffee...haha.

Seriously though, I'd still like to do a post-mortem at some point, just to share the experience.

D-ANIMATOR said...

SUPER COOL WORK TJ! im definitely inspired too! i hope i can do really cool stuff like yours one day...

how long does it take for you to finish each scenes?

please share your experience and workflow again. :) i like to know how you animate the camera movement. (i have to agree the wobble is be a bit too much!) hehe..

looking forward for the post morterm!

TJ Phan said...


Thanks!--and thanks for chiming in about the camera (I was starting to wonder if I was wrong about the wobble or if I just got used to it).

After reading your questions, I'm actually thinking about answering them in a separate post in case anyone else might be interested. In a nutshell, though, each mini-game usually takes 1-2 weeks, with more complicated ones (the last 2 clips) taking 3-4 weeks (with a few added days for technical "get-it-into-the-engine" stuff).

Anton said...

Quality animation as always TJ. I'm a huge of your work. Like D-ANIMATOR, I'd be very interested to learn how you animated the camera. (I think the wobble is great for a game of this style)

TJ Phan said...

Many thanks Anton! I'll try to post some camera notes soon...stay tuned:)

Chris Palmer said...

Geez, your animation is always so impressive. I still remember Dave Chai showing your reel in our 115 or 118 class a few years back. There were a few fight scenes with low poly models that had such great movement, but also emotion that you put in... extra touches of personality that really stood out beyond just the awesome fight choreography.

Thanks for posting these.

TJ Phan said...

Ah man, thanks Chris. That means a lot. I owe SJSU and the Shrunken Headmen for giving me a good foundation--I wouldn't trade my time there for anything.

myung said...

Great stuff as always TJ.

Looking forward to your work on your next project. Please be sure to post those too! :)

jehan said...

killing of Death! one of my top fav animations from the game!

TJ Phan said...

Sweet! Thanks Myung, Jehan.

Hey Jehan, I just checked your blog--didn't realize you concepted all of those other characters too! Love the stuff you were doing for us, esp. Lucia and that "other" project.