Character Animation Technology (Day #3)

Join experts from Ubisoft, Riot Games and Pixar for a day-long course on state-of-the-art techniques from runtime IK rigs to gameplay integration, and forward looking technology to break down the finite-state machine.

Now in its 7th edition, nucl.ai brings together hundreds of developers from creative industries and interactive media to resolve the biggest technical and design problems with Artificial Intelligence. One of the event's tracks focuses specifically on “Character Animation Technology” for an entire day. (Day #3: Wednesday, July 22nd)

18 Day Tickets Left! Attending Companies & Studios

  • Riot Games
  • Ubisoft Studios
  • Moving Picture Company
  • Microsoft Game Studios
  • Bohemia Interactive
  • Epic Games
  • INRIA Research Lab
  • MASA Group
  • Pixar Animation Studios
  • Square Enix
  • CD Projekt Red
  • Creative Assembly
  • Unity Technologies
  • Lionhead Studios
  • Iron Galaxy Studios
  • CCP Games
  • ...

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Mediadesign Hochschule, GERMANY

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Wooga, GERMANY

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Independent game designer / programmer

Awesome conferences, where professionals are sharing their knowledge, and their passion. It's quickly going to be the reference in the AI community.

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Lead AI Programmer

Ubisoft, FRANCE

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Ubisoft, PARIS

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Ninja Theory, CAMBRIDGE

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Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

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Blitz Games Studios, ENGLAND

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Guerrilla Games, AMSTERDAM



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Notes

  • The main amphitheatre (including some talks in this track) are accessible with regular Conference tickets, starting at €119.
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Portraying characters is one of the most challenging aspects of building an engaging 3D world. While many low-level aspects of character animation technology have been resolved, there are many questions that remain open as the industry pushes towards more procedural blend trees. How should gestures be controlled by AI? What's a way to maintain believable yet flexible locomotion? For developers building simulations or games that rely heavily on characters, this track is intended for you!

Keywords

  • physics-based controllers
  • procedural animation
  • modern blend trees
  • animation pipelines

Format

  • Keynote
  • Presentations
  • Panel Discussion
  • Expert Q&A

Track Schedule (Day #3: Wednesday, July 22nd)

Download Character Animation Technology schedule in .ics format.

Track Schedule (Day #3: Wednesday, July 22nd)

Day #3: Wednesday, July 22nd

Systemic Design, AI Directors

Character Animation Technology

Cognitive Bots & Language

Michael Büttner, Ubisoft Toronto

14:30 MotionFields: The Road to Next-Gen Animation (Amphitheatre)

Christopher Laubach, Riot Games

11:45 Exploring the Relationship Between Gameplay and Animation (Amphitheatre)

Alexander Bereznyak, Ubisoft Toronto

09:45 IK Rig: Procedural Pose Animation (Amphitheatre)

Michael Büttner, Simon Clavet, Mika Vehkala

11:00 Best Practices in Animation Runtimes (Masterclass)

Paul Kanyuk, Pixar Animation Studios

13:45 Animation in Visual Effects Masterclass (Masterclass)

Alexander Bereznyak, Michael Büttner, Simon Clavet, Paul McComas

16:45 Breaking Out of the Finite-State-Machine and Beyond (Expert Panel) (Laboratories)

Download Character Animation Technology schedule in .ics format.

Keynotes and Presentations

MotionFields: The Road to Next-Gen Animation

In order to create a high-quality character animation conventional animation systems require a large amount of individual animation clips to get organized into hand-crafted blend-trees and state-machines. Technical Animators need to work together with Programmers to carefully design a blend-structure for certain types of movement and Animators need to follow precise rules when they create the assets. It usually takes a large amount of time to produce the assets and the blend-structure to achieve high-quality results. Once such a structure is created it is rather difficult to organize it differently due to the dependency on the assets.

This presentation will introduce a novel approach for creating character animation that does not rely on any superimposed structure but uses raw motion capture data instead. It does not require any pre-processing steps and produces a level of visual fidelity that equals the quality of the provided input animations. It is just a matter of creating the required animation to produce movements that would be either extremely difficult or impossible to produce with traditional animation systems.

Our system can consume new animation data on-the-fly. A motion capture actor could feed the system in real time until the simulated character achieves the desired level of responsiveness and quality. Animators are free to focus on movements and style instead of being forced to produce cycles and transitions.

At every step of the simulation, our method uses the current pose of the character and a number of desired goals to find the best pose to transition into. For example, goals can be desired direction and velocity based on stick input for player-controller characters or desired position and facing for AI-controlled characters. Goals are transformed into a prediction model that is matched against available animation poses in the motion library. We use a novel rating scheme to balance quality against responsiveness of the system.

Michael Büttner, Ubisoft Toronto

Michael has been programming games for nearly 30 years, including lead and senior roles at Ocean Software, Infogrames Entertainment, IO Interactive, Square Enix Montreal and Ubisoft. Michael joined the Ubisoft Toronto studio in 2013 as the Tech Lead for Animation & Physics. He brought with him his passion for animation...

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Michael Büttner, Ubisoft Toronto

Michael has been programming games for nearly 30 years, including lead and senior roles at Ocean Software, Infogrames Entertainment, IO Interactive, Square Enix Montreal and Ubisoft. Michael joined the Ubisoft Toronto studio in 2013 as the Tech Lead for Animation & Physics. He brought with him his passion for animation...

Read full biography »

Motion Fields and Animation Warping for Pixel-Perfect Animation

This talk explains how to take the resulting animation stream of a Motion Field animation synthesizer, and procedurally warp it so that it perfectly fits the environment and the gameplay requirements.

Simon Clavet, Ubisoft Montreal

Simon has been programming animation systems at Ubisoft Montreal for the last 10 years. He is interested in responsive character control and realistic animation synthesis. He spends most of his time trying to come up with new ways to animate a character so that it 1) moves realistically and fluidly;...

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Simon Clavet, Ubisoft Montreal

Simon has been programming animation systems at Ubisoft Montreal for the last 10 years. He is interested in responsive character control and realistic animation synthesis. He spends most of his time trying to come up with new ways to animate a character so that it 1) moves realistically and fluidly;...

Read full biography »

Exploring the Relationship Between Gameplay and Animation

We examine the demands of animation and gameplay that can be at odds during game development, through the lens of working on League of Legends. We consider the tradeoffs and range of available prioritizations between the two, and what consequences result. Concrete examples from League are presented and discussed.

Christopher Laubach, Riot Games

Chris has been programming games for 8 years, and has maintained a focus on animation. His passion for animation has made games like Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Soul Calibur some of his favorites. On the Champion Team at Riot Games, he works with animators to push the...

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Christopher Laubach, Riot Games

Chris has been programming games for 8 years, and has maintained a focus on animation. His passion for animation has made games like Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Soul Calibur some of his favorites. On the Champion Team at Riot Games, he works with animators to push the...

Read full biography »

IK Rig: Procedural Pose Animation

IK Rig is the technology designed to transfer motion between rigs of varying sizes and skeleton hierarchies, plus amend the motion to represent the current rig’s size, weight etc.

The idea is that any character can be represented as a set of IK chains. If we can create a set of IK chains that is suitable for multiple characters, we can use this medium to share their animation data.

Also, the IK representation provides us with tools to intelligently modify the motion sets to produce deviations, such as different navigation states, object interaction, etc.

This technology can be applied offline or at runtime:

  • From a single set of walking motion capture, create alternative sets of same motion in crouch, limp, being hurt etc etc.
  • Interaction with level, props and other characters.
  • Use dog mocap to create same motions of cat, horse, or Star Wars tank.
  • IK Rig tech is perfect for uneven terrain navigation, since the change of terrain level and character velocity affects full body of the character, producing natural seamless motion.
  • Runtime application helps transition the character between IK states, allowing intelligent transition between navigation modes.

Alexander Bereznyak, Ubisoft Toronto

Alexander’s focus at Ubisoft is development of new technologies for the next generation of the video games – including animation tech and visual effect tech. He joined the industry some 12 years ago and worked in most of disciplines, including 3d modeling, texturing, rigging and animation, creation of particle FX,...

Read full biography »

Alexander Bereznyak, Ubisoft Toronto

Alexander’s focus at Ubisoft is development of new technologies for the next generation of the video games – including animation tech and visual effect tech. He joined the industry some 12 years ago and worked in most of disciplines, including 3d modeling, texturing, rigging and animation, creation of particle FX,...

Read full biography »

Best Practices in Animation Runtimes

This panel follows-up on the Runtime Rig talk with advanced issues of animation runtimes, with experiences from developers in the trenches. How can IK be optimized to run efficently enough by default on all characters at runtime? Which new opportunities does this open up? What are the major challenges in practice? How can runtimes and blend-trees be prepared for more advanced animation techniques like Motion Fields?

Michael Büttner , Tech Lead Animation & Physics at Ubisoft Toronto

Simon Clavet , Animation/Physics Programmer at Ubisoft Montreal

Mika Vehkala , Game Developer at Next Games

Animation in Visual Effects Masterclass

...

Paul Kanyuk, Pixar Animation Studios

Paul Kanyuk is a Lead Technical Director at Pixar Animation Studios with credits on Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, Cars 2, Brave, and Monster’s University. His specialty is crowd simulation, shading, and rendering, and he is responsible for the procedural animation and rendering of numerous crowd spectacles, including the hordes of...

Read full biography »

Paul Kanyuk, Pixar Animation Studios

Paul Kanyuk is a Lead Technical Director at Pixar Animation Studios with credits on Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, Cars 2, Brave, and Monster’s University. His specialty is crowd simulation, shading, and rendering, and he is responsible for the procedural animation and rendering of numerous crowd spectacles, including the hordes of...

Read full biography »

Breaking Out of the Finite-State-Machine and Beyond (Expert Panel)

...

Alexander Bereznyak , Technical Art Director at Ubisoft Toronto

Michael Büttner , Tech Lead Animation & Physics at Ubisoft Toronto

Simon Clavet , Animation/Physics Programmer at Ubisoft Montreal

Paul McComas , Senior Animation Engineer at Electronic Arts Canada

Speakers & Organizers

Michael Büttner

Simon Clavet

Christopher Laubach

Alexander Bereznyak

Mika Vehkala

Paul Kanyuk

Paul McComas

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Systemic Design, AI Directors

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