Take On Animations!
Bohemia Interactive General

Jay Crowe informed us about a new developers blog update on the animations work in Take On Helicotpers

    Quote :
    Throughout our development, we've talked about trying to deliver the 'experience' of helicopters; of course, that's a great disposable marketing statement, but it's also meant a lot for almost all aspects of our development - including animations.

    While Take On Helicopters is - at its heart - a game about flying, the more tightly focused nature of our project has enabled us to achieve some satisfying improvements in our character and vehicle animations, as compared to what we've done in the past.

    Seemingly simple activities - getting in and out of a vehicle; getting 'hands on' with the controls; changing the pitch of a rotor blade - have posed big problems for our projects, most often due to the nature and scale of our games. The new animations and new supporting systems implemented for Take On have helped to create a sense of 'physicality' that simply hasn't been apparent in our previous titles.

    The Long List
    For Take On's animations, we decided to create a long list, prioritised by the must have, should have, and the awesome-but-unlikely-to-have, given what happened to the horse last time (we're just kidding, the horse was actually very professional). Animations were also divided up into those taking place inside a helicopter (such as using a video camera) and those taking place outside (such as inspecting a tail rotor). Within each category we identified those which are very specific (such as a complicated 'get in' animation') and those which are more generic, like signalling to a helicopter in the air.

    The Balance
    Because our game takes place both within and outside of the cockpit, we need a decent range of moves to provide a good degree of interactivity and feeling of connection with our simulated world. It was important to do this basic analysis, because we consider it essential to get a good balance of animation work. There's also simply not enough time or resources to do absolutely everything that we'd like to, so we've focused upon expressing a variety of the things that you or others might physically do in and around helicopters (no sniggering at the back, there).

    The Capturing
    Bohemia Interactive utilises three optical motion capture systems, including high-end Raptor-4 cameras from Motion Analysis Corp. Most game animations were produced with these. Only animals are hand animated completely so far and are being re-animated for future projects. The process of capturing itself is handled by our veteran Lead Engineer, Štěpán Kment, who's been involved in almost all of our projects, and is the go-to guy for everything from animation work to setting up photoshoots. He actually performed all the specific moves himself to simplify the work in post production, as you can see in our behind the scenes photos.

    The Supporting Systems
    Although not strictly related to animation, the implementation of Inverse Kinematics is something that we've been really happy to introduce with Take On. The technology enables us to put a pilot in the cockpit, and reflect adjustments to control inputs (such as pedals or cyclic movement) in the movements by the character model. It's an obvious, yet technically challenging improvement, which has done a lot for the overall sense of immersion when flying the helicopter.

    We hope you'll enjoy the animations passengers of the light helicopter can perform – they can point to landmarks, videotape whales, scream in fear, be bored, jig about to the music in their headphones and more! Some are designed to be generic, triggering in any mission depending on how you fly; others are more specific - such as recording footage of whale activity - where the animation helps to visualise the direction in which you helicopter should point.

Read the complete developers blog here!

Leave your thoughts, ideas and feedback about Take On Helicopters on our forums here.

Written on 2011-09-20 21:00 by Foxhound  

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