Animation for computer games course

I’ve been developing this course over the last few years with Kajaani University’ Finland. It’s a series of intensive one day practical workshops in which animation principles are explored through observation and practice.

Students should have some experience of using a 3d package but prior use of 3dsMax is not required. The course cycles through different learning styles to help students stay focused. There is structured time during each lesson for me to give individual detailed feedback.

This is a specialised course directly tailored to meet the needs of the games industry. There is some 60 hours worth of material covered in two weeks of intensive workshops.

Workshop outline

This is the outline off the course. Each lesson is roughly one hour. There are some links to articles and videos on my site.

An Introduction To Biped Animation

Setup the 3dsMAX interface.
Biped basics: A brief introduction to Biped
Biped basics: “our kid A” Keyframing a rest pose.
Things to watch out for while animating.
Organised Keyframing: How to think about 3d animation.
Biped basics: Shooting
Animation principles 1: Disney’s 12 principles applied to 3d animation in games
TCB Keyframe properties: A bouncing ball

Biped basics: Punching and stabbing
Biped basics: Using the dope sheet with biped
Biped basics: Using the biped workbench.
Biped basics: Using the Curve Editor with bipeds COM

Understanding animation design for games

Games Animation Design: AI state engines
Games Animation Design: Building Animation Lists
Games Animation Design: Design a state engine for Sentry duty

Animating Ai Characters: Sentry duty, part 1
Animating Ai Characters: Sentry duty, Part 2

Developing Skills in Animation

Animation principles 2: Newton, martial arts, balance and performance.

Observing Life: Breaking down walks from observation

Animating Biped Walks: “Mr No arms” side (2d)
Animating Biped Walks: “Mr No arms” front. (3d)
Animating Biped Walks: “our Kid A” Creating a walk from reference

Biped Falls: Taking Hits.
Animating Biped Falls: “Block bot” fall.
Animating Biped Falls: Tricks to fix motion capture.

“our Kid A” death by ? : Using reference video.
“our Kid A” death by ? : Block out animation.
“our Kid A” death by ? : How to give good peer feedback.
“our Kid A” death by ? : Finishing and polish.

Looking at arcs in motion: Swinging a sword, Blocking out the motion.
Looking at arcs in motion: Swinging a sword, Finishing.

Biped walks: Adjusting “our Kid A” to give different a weight or character.

Biped Runs: Creating a run from reference.
Biped Runs: Creating a run loop from motion capture.
Biped Runs: Changing weapons: Adjusting animation using Layers.

Rigging for games in 3dsMax

Simple Biped Rigging: Create a biped an apply a skin modifier to a robot.
Simple Biped Rigging: Making it nice for animation.


1 Day Intermediate Animation Workshop

Warmup Exercise: Landing.
Observing Life: Drunken performance
Animation Exercise: Being drunk
Staging dialog: What are you saying?
Staging dialog: Block out the animation
Staging dialog: Peer review
Staging dialog: Finishing