Howdy, my names Michael Bryant and I’m an Animator and 3D Artist on Creature Battle Lab, a customisation and battle arena game for mobile. I worked on the animation for the outrageous Professor Helix! You’ve hopefully read the other blogs about how the professor was modelled and rigged, if not then I highly recommend having a read.
In this post however I’ll be discussing the process of animating the professor, bumps along the road and integration into unity from maya. The Professor is used more or less throughout the entire game, making cameo appearances in the lab, the tutorial and of course in the Creature Battle Lab trailer!
Upon receiving the rig from Alex, I like to give myself a few days to play with it and get to grips with the mechanics and controls; so when it comes to animating any character it can be done quickly and effectively. My process of animating is probably the same as any other animator, you reference your actions first on video (keep doing this till your happy with how you convey your animation), use that reference as guidance when blocking in the key poses. Keep blocking and filling till your satisfied with the characters movement, and then spline and clean the curves in the editor. I have never really differed from this process unless its something simple and doesn’t need reference.
The Professor has quite a lot of animation sequences, all of which are different in their own right; I started off with his lab animations, when a player leaves the lab and returns he’ll be somewhere new doing something. There are over 7 animations of which include sleeping at the desk, potion making, thinking and my personal favourite “trying to open the lab vault”, I had much fun referencing that one.
We weren’t originally planning on having the professor animated in the tutorial section (Just poses) however it would look much more appealing to the atmosphere of the tutorial if we did. So using the script that was written for the tutorial I decided it was best to take each section and animate based on that; I wouldn’t need to lip sync as he’s only going to be mumbling the words. It was difficult to think of a way to convey the sentence he says without repeating a similar action previously. Integrating the professor into unity with his animation keys baked was quite tricky, as being a mobile game the memory was extremely high when we first tested on our devices. I noticed that the model had imported across with unwanted keys which was the cause of out issue, so in Unity it was the case of deleting these keys.
The rigs simplicity (due to the memory required) has restricted the animation process in someway but I am very pleased with how Professor Helix has turned out from 2D to a full 3D animated character! I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and this series on the Professor. For more information on Creature Battle lab why not visit our site and twitter page. Till next time!