Department of Media and Communication
Year 1 – Digital Design and Animation
Unit 8 – Extended Project
Extended PROJECT PORTFOLIO
Academic Year 2016/2017
|Matthew James Sait
|Digital Design and Animation|
|Project Title||Character Animation Using the “12 Principles of Animation”
|Section 1: Rationale (approx. 100 words)|
|The field I am interested to explore is 2D animation so I can build my knowledge and experience of the software and how to navigate myself around solving problems and tasks. Through familiarising myself with how to create 2D animations I’ll be able to learn how to interpret my own style and ideas into my work.
I can include practicing the advanced capabilities of software to learn techniques that can aid creating original solutions to problems.
By exploring different creative processes, I can decide the appropriate techniques to use to meet time constraints while still maintaining a sense of quality.
|Section 2: Project Concept (approx. 200 words)|
|For my final major project, I will be researching, designing and creating short animations whilst explaining the process throughout my blog posts. Using techniques acquired from the two previous terms, I plan to achieve a strong comparison between using vector graphics and pixel art in animated sequences to learn and explore the best methods for each style. I am interested in this because I wish to learn how to portray characters, movement and backgrounds in effective ways.
I will conduct my research into animation to learn the basic requirements that an animation must have, specifically “Disney’s 12 Rules of Animation”. I can then use the design processes that I have learned prior to improve my general ideas and visuals.
I shall be using Adobe Creative Cloud as it allows files to be transferrable to the other Adobe software which I hope to use to my advantage. I will also incorporate audio into my work to build on my ability to work with sound.
I will also be working on my time management skills to ensure I can prioritise tasks in addition to spending appropriate amounts of time on them by planning in advance.
|Section 3: Evaluation (approx. 50 words)|
|I plan to record any research, design and create assets to evaluate my work weekly to reflect on what works well and what doesn’t, along with any problems faced.
I will make the blog posts so they are easily to refer to, enabling me to use them in the future as a documentation of what I have learnt.
|Proposed Research Sources and Bibliography (Harvard Format)|
|History-of-animation.webflow.io. (2017). history of animation. [online] Available at: http://history-of-animation.webflow.io/
Bishop, F. (2006). the cartoonist’s bible. 1st ed. Tunbridge Wells: Search Press.
This is a project portfolio for my Extended Project for my first year of Digital Design and Animation. My project is designing and creating short character animations that can be used in a platforming game using both pixel and vector art styles.
This chapter of the portfolio is about the skills I have along with the importance of this project on a personal level.
The Background of my Project
I am passionate about cartoons and playing video games so I am interested in learning how the animation is conceived and created. Existing works that have influenced me are Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s “South Park”, Seth McFarlane’s “Family Guy”, Matt Groening’s “The Simpsons” & “Futurama”, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s “Rick and Morty”, SEGA’s “Sonic The Hedgehog”, Nintendo’s “Pokémon” & “Super Mario Bros.” and many others. These have inspired me to want to tell storied through animation as well as developing interesting character, something that I believe all of these do to a professional level.
Prior to this course, I have studied and shown interest in Art, Photography, iMedia, Graphics and Animation. Skills from each of these courses are transferable through skills such as styles, composure, networking, creating digital media elements, etc.
My experience in art involved looking at different artists, such as Banksy and Damien Hirst, to analyse and recreate their works/styles on paper. I also acquired hand precision through drawing on paper to attempt fine details.
Photography involved taking photos, using “rule of thirds” to improve composition. This also familiarised me with Adobe’s “Photoshop” and using tools to manipulate the images.
iMedia was the first experience of animation that I had as I created a short stop-frame “claymation” to advertise an “adventure holiday”. This involved using a camera to take pictures of a plasticine model while moving it between frames, placing them in sequence using Window’s “Movie Maker”.
The first digital animations I created as I was studying Graphics and Animation. These were a Kinetic typography of Madness’ song “Embarrassment” using Adobe’s “After Effects” and a 3D animation of a car, town and chameleon, advertising a car that can turn invisible, using Autodesk’s “Maya”.
“Invisible Car Advertisement”:
After working with pixel-art styles and vector-graphics this year, I became interested in using these styles to create animations. Since both styles are capable of being implemented into games, I found that I can take on the role of “character animator” as well as those who work to design animation.
The premise of this project is to convey character through movement and animation techniques, such as the “12 Principles of Animation”. This can involve looking at secondary sources of already existing work that uses the same components that I am to include.
I hope to achieve character animations for a 2D side-scrolling platforming game that, in game, would depend on the player’s input. The animation needs to be visually readable and appeal to the target demographic.
What did I learn on my course?
As seen in this timeline above, I am now familiar with using software such as the cross-compatible Adobe software to work on graphics along with other interactive elements, 3D modelling software Autodesk’s “3DS Max” including using its timeline features and “Game Maker” to create a game using pixel-art styled graphics.
I can use these skills to create character animations as I am now aware of the process of designing characters, building ideas and using the tools I have available to me to do so. In addition to this, I am now capable of collecting primary and secondary resources to better my knowledge regarding the industry, equipment and legalities involved in the process.
Many game developers these days use different graphical art styles to design, render and animate characters. Games that seem to focus mainly on the animation of the player character are, though not limited to, 2D side scrolling games with the character seemingly looking at the player to pull them into the game’s setting/world. The player characters are relatable as they do exactly as intended to, but as they may have different attitudes toward the action or interaction they have experienced. For my extended project, I have created short animations to convey a character’s emotion to preforming tasks, through movement, using both pixel-art and vector-art styles.
Why my project is important?
This project is important to me as it allows me to explore two industries (animating and gaming) that interest me. I want to do this because I wish to entertain others using media based arts and develop my understanding of what it takes to work successfully in an industry. I can also expand on previous skills I have acquired along with improving my knowledge of animation in general.
The focus of my research is to understand how different styles of character animations in platforming games (specifically pixel-style sprite, frame-by-frame and vector-style “tween” animations) can affect the audience using the twelve principles of animation and explore other techniques/skills by learning about similar existing products that have applied them.
I will be researching the character design process of multiple game developers to learn how this can affect the final product alongside the people involved. I will do this by researching online and using books/magazines that are available to me. This will aid me to produce work that will convey character to an audience of my choice.
From previous experience, I am familiar with working with frames, the images that sequence an animation, through completing stop frame, tweening and frame-by-frame tasks previously. These are important in animation as they are what make up the motions being portrayed and if one is out of place it can affect the visuals in a negative manor.
There are multiple types of animation that can be used, not limited to game development, by media studios. They use animation to convey visual messages, character and motion to the audience.
2-dimensional animation includes cel animation which uses transparent sheets to place and animate the characters in a scene, frame-by-frame which involves creating movement by adjusting an image from frame to frame and “tweening” which has the used software to generate the frames between two key-frames. These are the types of animation I will be using for my character animation as they fit the criteria of the style I have chosen.
A basic form of tweening is called “linear interpolation (lerp)” which makes up the movement when the object is placed in two different places for two different frames. This can produce lower quality animation as it is automatic (moving linear which isn’t lifelike) but once the frames and desired movement are in place, the animator can go back and adjust the movement and even remove some of the frames.
Alternative animation types available are 3-dimentional, which can be achieved using 3D modelling software (most include the ability to create frames and movement such as Autodesk’s “Maya”) and stop frame (although also a 2D option) which can include models made by hand, such as “Claymation”.
Vector-style animation is usually 2D and involves using vector graphics to create key frames then requires tweening to complete the animation using relevant software.
Another animation style I have come across is called “skeletal” or “bone” animation which involved using lines (“bones”) to associate with body parts (or other parts of whatever is being animated) to map out the movement and add textures to them. A software that supports this is called “Spine” and allows for many features such as using code to manipulate the animations. Ubisoft use bone animation for a portion of their vector-style animations. Some 3D software use bones to allow for the same sort of movement.
Pixel-style animation is always done with frame-by-frame animation as the pixels become unreadable when tweened. This can be completed using Adobe Photoshop or Game Maker. It is advised to separate the body parts on different layers to allow for more flexibility with the movement. It is also necessary to shade for depth, using as little colour as possible to prevent visual noise and use outlines to show the differing body parts, especially once animated.
Flipbooks are another choice of animation but can also be used to map one as they are quick to make. Doing so involves “flipping” multiple images that make up a sequence to create movement within the images when perceived. This means that the animator can be used to design the very early stages of an animation so the designer can have a visual, early look at what they plan to achieve by animating. They can also work out how to interpret the 12 principles into their late animations by implementing it in this first. Below is a video listing and exampling the twelve principles in the form of a flip book:
12 Principles flip book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcnj6IDBUDw
In 1930, Frank Thompson and Ollie Johnson, who worked for “The Walt Disney Company”, published a book called “The Illustration of Life” which publicly introduced “The Twelve Principles of Animation”. These became the company’s guidelines while animating ever since along with being used by many other company’s including in advertisements and video/arcade games. These are used to convey emotion, movement, character, physics and other visual tropes more evidently for the audience to see. The twelve principles are as follows:
- Squash and Stretch
This involves manipulating the shape of an object or character to put emphasis on acceleration or deceleration of the movement. An example would be the landing animation of a game character who has fallen from a high platform, they will often squash, or get smaller and wider, to imply they are hitting the ground and it has had an impact on their body. In contrast, a character may stretch as they jump to imply they are swiftly moving upward.
This is the build up to a major action by heavily implying something is about to happen to the audience. An example of this would be a charge up of a gun before a projectile being launched.
This involves setting the scene so the action is evident without effecting it without too much visual noise. An example of this would be having a game character a contrasting colour from the background so that they stand out and are visible to the player. In contrast, a stealth based enemy could be a similar colour or object as background to hide them from the player until they attack.
- Straight Ahead and Pose-To-Pose
Straight ahead is the technique for continuously creating frames to create a scene which can build the animation if done correctly. If not, this can lead to the animation having rushed frames causing it to come across as unnatural.
Pose-to-pose a technique that allows the key frames to be drawn before the animation and then manually create the in between frames (as opposed to drawing the whole thing at once and causing the object/character to spontaneously drift). This can cause the scene to become static or staged as the character can evidently be seen following a path.
A combination of the two allows for planning and adjusting the animation appropriately as you can plan the frames while still being flexible with the movement.
- Follow Through and Overlapping Action
This improves the flow of an animation by having body parts (such as legs, arms and tails) or objects continue moving after the action that has been performed. This is more natural, unless met with an unmoveable object, body parts/objects (like hair, clothes, held items) will still be under the effects of the initial momentum (such as a swing or kick), gravity (or lack of gravity) and atmosphere (such as under water or in the air). Overlapping is used to give a sense of weight to an object, for example if a character uses a flimsy type of sword, the animation can have the sword bend in accordance to where it is held and the place of impact. Another example would be a character’s fishing pole bending due to the weight of the lure.
- Slow In and/or Slow Out
This involves adding frames to increase the build-up and/or ending of a motion to adhere to the preparation and post movement. This gives a sense of realism as, while motion requires a start and finish, these are not always done in quick succession. An example of this in the gaming industry would involve characters requiring periods of time to initiate a movement (such as a jump, punch or run) and to “cool off” meaning they cannot use a motion straight after (such as a landing, colliding with an object or getting injured).
This gives the flow of movement a specific path to follow so that the audience is given a sense of range towards the motion. For example, a character that swings uses an arch-like motion because that is the way that an arm pivots in this kind of scenario. On a 2D plan, this can be more difficult as the depth of the animation is not as detectable as a 3D workspace, but it can be shown through means such as characters jumping in an arc and through overhead swings.
- Secondary Action
These are important to make the motions that are hoping to be shown more evident by including actions that may not be as important as the initial movement but show other implications towards it. An example in a game character animation would be an “idol animation” as the primary action is standing still but the secondary actions are often the character becoming restless or tired. A very important secondary action that must be included is blinking of the eyes as it is a natural trait that can look unnatural and helps bring life to the character’s face.
This is required to make the movement believable as if the timing isn’t considered, animations can lack character, mood, practicality, swiftness/slowness, audio synchronicity and even recognisability. This is because character and object motion are designed to be what the audience expect them to be and when not realistic, can cause less interest making it unbelievable. An example of this in games would be if a character was to take too long performing an action, it could put them in turmoil with a stage hazard or enemy/projectile.
Considered to be possibly the most important of these principles, exaggeration allows for very evident movement when it comes to recognising the behaviour being portrayed. An example of this would be if a character was to react to something they have encountered, the emotion of the character would be enhanced so that the player has a clear sense of understand to why the character would respond this way. Different characters would obviously have different reactions to different things so if the character has a certain attitude, this can be shown in the exaggerated movements, such as a reckless character moving happily despite being in an anarchic, destroyed environment (implying that they don’t care or are enjoying it regardless).
- Solid Drawing
In 2D animation, it is important to know what the character being designed or animated looks like from multiple angles. This ensures that when necessary, a character can rotate and believably change the dimensions to build a believable world around the character. An example of this being used in a 2D game would be if a character spends a lot of time facing the audience, they can turn around in certain animations to show they are capable of it. Another example would be if the character had different stages from side-scrolling to add a 3rd dimension to the game.
This refers to what interests the audience about what is happening and why. This can be a certain trait of a character (like wrinkles or specific behaviours) such as a clumsy person making many attempts at performing a task before succeeding. An example of this is if a character is fast then the running animation should be interesting as it is what that character is going to be spending most of their time doing.
Ubisoft Montpellier’s 2D side-scrolling game “Rayman Origins” uses animation alongside other aspects of the game for semiology to know what an onscreen character or object clearly does. Playable character’s animations are used to inform the player that their input into the engine was registered and to show different mechanics.
Using vector-styled animation, Rayman Origins’ animation runs at 60 frames per second (fps) and is in high definition (HD) at 1080p, but outside of this has very similar gameplay (with obvious developments in technology) as a 16-bit game. The style of animation conveys humour to the audience by having the characters move in comical ways as shown below:
Figure 1 Rayman Origins
Here I have included a video that highlights the use of the principles in Ubisoft Montpelier’s game “Rayman Origins”:
12 Principles in Rayman Origins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3LJRPhf-64
Other 2D side-scrolling platformers include Yacht Club Games’ 8-bit “Shovel Knight”, Capy Games’ 16-bit “Super Time Force” and SEGA’s 8-bit “Sonic the Hedgehog” which all use pixel art-style graphics (the first two as a creative choice and the latter due to technical limitations). These games convey the emotions and behaviours of both playable and non-playable characters through a variety of character animations. This art-style is effective for portraying scenes that are not of serious nature, creating more comical looking characters and surroundings, but games like Capcom’s “Dark Souls” show it is possible to create more visually serious graphics. Here are some examples of animated sprites:
Sonic running GIF:
Shovel Knight walking GIF:
The major difference between the two types of games, besides the art direction, is the capabilities of the games themselves and this is reflected by the amount of different animations in each game. For example, Rayman Origins has many power ups that can help the player transverse the stages such as flying and running on walls, so there are many frames included as well as different, interchangeable body parts.
Figure 2 Rayman’s Body Parts
Sprite based games however, have the pixels of them manipulated to imply the movement, instead of swapping out body parts (although this can also be done). There are less frames as the movement is usually minimal as the sprites are usually smaller. This can be seen in Shovel Knight as although the player gets items to progress in the game, the animations are reused with the different objects.
Rayman Origins was created using a software create by Ubisoft themselves called “UbiArt Framework” which was developed with “the artist in mind” as the main focus of the software was to create 2D games using vector-styled graphics and animation, also allowing for less people to be required to work on the game. Other titles created using this software includes “Rayman Legends”, “Valiant Hearts” and “Child of Light”. Everything included in the game could be created using UbiArt Framework without having to use multiple other software.
One of the features for this software is called “GenAnim” which fuses hand-drawn key frames with bone animation to make free moving vector models with interchangeable body parts. This is used in Rayman Origins to edit the sequences of the animations which helped build the game and create cut scenes for the boss fights.
Requirements for my creative media production project
The rapidly growing animation industry is structured by accounting to the skills of different people, such as having an animator who is familiar with software that can be used to design an animation instead of having a cartoonist, for example, who may instead draw. The animation industry includes both 2D and 3D animators along with other roles such as art directors, graphic designers, storyboard artists, character animators, “Inbetweeners” and other media designers to assist in the creation process. The projects are usually funded by money from previous productions or after being proposed to industries that specialise in digital media.
Film production has a team at the top of the hierarchy, for instance “DreamWorks” is an animated film label from America and has a management team consisting of chief; accounting, marketing, financial, operating and global brand officers that control the budget, distribution and awareness of the products. In addition, they also have a chief executive producer who is responsible for hiring the right people such as directors and animators to suit the needs of their target audiences.
Under the ownership of the animation industry, and each of the leading bodies, the following are important in the development of the produce:
Technical Director who organises and maintains the equipment that is required along with programming and supplying the ability for files to be transferred across the different areas.
Director of Photography who organises photographers to get real life equivalents of story boards and concepts by digitally photographing images that the animators or designers can reference.
Editorial Cartoonist who directs artists to draw and create the cartoons/animations, using their acquired techniques.
Story Artist who creates the storyboards for the contents of the animation, like movement, backgrounds and annotations to share ideas with later developers.
Layout/Background Artist who directs the production and creation of the backgrounds/backdrops that can be put in the frames of an animation.
Finance and Marketing Dept. who specialise in advertising products and making sure that the budget is not breached.
Knowing this, my project should allow me to take on the roles of a Story Artist, an Editorial Cartoonist and Technical Director, for me to ultimately perform the role of a Character Animator.
I will require storyboards that will be drawn to map out the frames for the animation to be able to acknowledge the context and concept behind each one before animating.
I will also need to create flipbooks to show the techniques of animation I hope to use (such as the 12 principles) before transferring the animation to a digital platform.
I will also need to be sure I have the correct equipment and software to perform the animations and include audio.
I can then animate the characters using the designs and equipment that I have prepared, to achieve a higher standard of animation.
Although I would consider the work I am doing to be independently developed, it could easily be worked into a mainstream production. This is because other media industries can require character animations, such as interactive media and game developers, to improve the visual effects of their work. Other industries such as film and TV would also be able to put the animations to use but not in the same way, as the animations would act more like scenes instead of the characters being animated separately from them but this is dependent on the requirements set by the producers and directors.
An example of an organisation that could publish my work could be the social media game developer “Zynga” who release games that contain animated, rendered images. They would be able to use the animations in their games as either sprites or graphics, as they already do. The animated products would be useful for this as the animations can be smaller and less detailed as they can be targeted toward phone platforms and this also means they can be loaded quickly by computers, unlike 3D animated models. This can be achieved through turning the animated graphics into GIF files (with any audio being MP3 formatted).
Zynga use Facebook as a platform for their games meaning that the animations would be required to be targeted toward the online social media’s audience.
If I had a concept for the game or worked with a game developer, I would be able to propose the animations in context to Zynga’s Board of directors to pitch the idea as well as present the animations. The board of directors at Zynga consists of Frank Gibeau (Chief Executive Officer) and Gerard Griffin (Chief Financial Officer) who have worked for Electronic Arts (EA) who are another mobile game developer, Matt Bromberg (Chief Operating Officer), Bernard Kim (President of Publishing) who has worked of EA and Disney mobile and Renee Jackson (Vice President of Human Resources, Associate General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer). They would determine whether the proposal would be within capabilities along with whether it is practical along with the standard being worth their time and money.
The target audience would be a mainstream audience because Facebook itself already has a wide audience of many demographics meaning that Zynga aim for anyone who uses it as their target audience. This can be seen in two of their most successful games, “Farmville” of which has 57.9% of the audience being female (and/or aged 26 to 45) as opposed to “Texas HoldEm” which has a percentage of 72.7 of the users being male.
In a professional context, my project could involve multiple roles of the animation industry, these can include:
An animator would perform an important role in my project as they would have the capabilities to bring characters, onscreen text and objects to life by manipulating multiple images to create frames which, when placed in a sequence, can portray moment or actions. Animators can then apply attitude, emotions and mood to characters and their behaviours while also knowing how to time the frames to make it believable while also synchronising audio.
Animators are familiar with software that can be used to create animations, as well as knowing the design processes such as storyboarding and paper planning. They are also familiar with scripting narratives and working on designing backgrounds while also keeping the production organised. Animators also work for gaming industries and must convey visuals, such as movement and character while also keeping the game engine’s technological limitations in mind. The ideal key skills required for being an animator include arts, computing, science and media experiences. The demand for animators has gravely increased due to advancements in technology meaning visual effects can be used in game, films and other media mediums that require skills ranging from simple button press animations to practically lifelike computer-generated imagery (CGI).
A character animator is the ideal job role for what I hope to achieve with this project as they use animating software that allows the creation of 2D and 3D models (as well as making puppets and clay models) to animate characters. After creating the characters, they then manipulate them to perform the actions desired while working with sound engineers to be sure that the movement is in time with the audio. Just like animators, character animators draw storyboards and design backgrounds for their characters. Employers of film, video, advertisements, games, etc. tend to use character animators to animate for them as their products can require it. For example, bellow is a “sprite sheet” of what a character animator in the gaming industry would produce to sequence together, creating animated sprites that depend on the players input:
Figure 3 Sprite Sheet of SEGA’s “Sonic the Hedgehog”
To complete my project, I will need to consider and include the technology and equipment that I will require to animate a character successfully. This is important as the quality of the animation, along with the time spent on it, can rely on the capabilities of the equipment and technology that I choose to use.
For designing the characters, I will need to use a pen/pencil along with paper (graph paper for the sprite art) to draw and annotate my designs. In doing so I will be able to have minimal limitations as to the visuals and can also work the posture, details and size of different concepts. I will also make storyboards and flipbooks that will require the drawing stationary along with other potential drawing apparatus such as rulers, stencils, colouring pens/pencils and erasers.
I will also require instruments to perform Foley sounds that may be used to imply or express the movement of the animation.
To record a reference of movement I will require a camera to act out the movement from story boards to use as a reference while animating. This means that I can record myself performing an action in hopes to slow it down to observe the specific movement that I undergo to make the movement. This means that the higher recording speed of the camera, the more frames of the animation that can be made using the movement. I can use the footage to understand the weight, forcer, acceleration, slow-in and out, direction, overlapping and secondary actions of the way that a person/character moves to convey a better understanding of emotion.
As for recording sound, a hyper cardioid or cardioid mic would be preferable as to ensure that I specifically only get the noise of what I hope to record, such as footsteps. A “pop shield” could also be used to prevent any sudden bursts of air from getting into the recording device and potentially decreasing the effectiveness and quality of the audio.
After collecting and designing the assets, I will be required to use a computer capable of running the appropriate software to create the animation along with editing it where necessary.
I will need two separate processes regarding the software I will use:
For the frame-by-frame animation, I will use Adobe Photoshop to create the pixel art character sprites as well as it’s “Timeline” to make the animation.
For the vector animation, I will need to use Adobe Illustrator to create the body parts of a character, along with the actual character, posing them in key frames. Then I will need to use Adobe After Effects to put the animation together to “tween” which involves working on the parts in-between the key frames.
Other software that can be used to animate include; DigiCel’s “FlipBook” for 2D animation and could be used instead of pen and paper if required, Adobe’s “Flash” for Web animations, The Blender Foundation’s “Blender” for easily made 3D animations, Autodesk’s “3ds Max” for higher budget animation design and Autodesk’s Maya for higher budgeted animating. Adobe have also released a software called “Character Animator” which can be used to animate assets from Photoshop and Illustrator.
To be able to create an animation effectively, the computer must have the appropriate graphics card to be able to run more efficient software along with enough memory (RAM) to be able to store the assets and changes to them. The CPU of the computer is preferably a dual-core processor (or better) that is compatible with 64-bit operating systems.
Some of the file formats that support animation are; Dynamic HTML which can be used with Java Script to create less complicate animations (such as button presses), SWF files which are what Flash animations tend to use to be used online and GIF files which are compatible with web as well as most other software but can’t have audio included as it is read as an image file. For my project, I will use MP4 (after making the animation a GIF for the frame-by-frame) as to include sound but I will need to make it high quality to improve the visuals as pixel art and vector graphics have straight edges which could be lost using lower quality file formats.
Animators use the operating system UNIX to transfer files to each other across the industry. Not requiring this for my project, I will use a memory stick to transfer files between computers. I will also use the Internet for both the afore mentioned as well as for referencing and researching my project.
Health and Safety – risk assessment
Health and safety is a legal requirement and if an industry that uses computers has employees in an office environment, they will be required to meet these conditions:
- PC screens that are both adjustable for personal preference, easing the neck and have “anti-glare” screens so that refracting light does not cause as much strain on the eyes.
- Chairs that can be adjusted to keep the employee’s back upright and level with the screen.
- Appropriate room lighting to prevent straining of the eyes.
- An appropriate amount of space to work so employees can have a reasonable amount of room to move.
- Plan the amount of time spent using a computer, ensuring breaks, to not stress the eyes or brain as well as prevent repetitive strain injuries (from typing or clicking). This could also be to reduce the amount of time sat down during the day as it is advised by the “Nation Health Service (NHS)”.
- They must provide funding for optician appointments as they may have caused eye related problems.
- Ergonomically friendly supplies such as furniture and hardware so that their functions are easily used.
- Properly placed wires to prevent tripping hazards and abrupt unplugging of hardware.
- Disallowing consumables by the machines to reduce the chance of it interacting with hardware.
This is important as otherwise the employees can seek legal action due to physical problems that working for the industry has caused. Whereas if physical problems occur and the requirements are in effect, the employee has no right to seek legal action.
I will keep in mind the health and safety regulations of the work space while working to ensure I do not physically injure myself and prevent hazards.
Detailed Analysis of Target Audiences
In the animation and gaming industries, there are specific target audiences that industries aim their products. This means they can collect information from what certain people are interested in along with what they would look out for in brands.
For example, over exaggeration in animation easily recognised as just that to older or more experienced audiences, whereas to younger or less aware audiences it can create an illusion.
To find the target audience for my project, I need to consider both the demographics and psychometrics of the audiences that are interested in my industry, styles and techniques.
The demographics of the produce is dependent on the age, gender and role in their respective industries (including salary, job and how educated they are). This is important to as it would mean that the target audience can invest in what they are interested in, as well as it being conventional for them to do so. For example, if a game was made for somebody with a lower income, the industry would have to sell the product at a lower price which could lead to a loss of money. In contrast to this, a product aimed at an upper middle-class audience could receive more money when sold, but less people would invest as they are occupied with work.
The psychometrics regarding target audience involves theoretically categorising individual’s dependent on their mind-sets to understand how they will respond to the final products. For example, a more reformed person would see no benefit in games/animation therefore would not be as engaged toward the product as opposed to an aspiring personal as they can be drawn in by certain aspects that they are interested in.
Below, I have created two hypothetical target audience members that a game created using pixel-art and vector-art styles could be targeted at:
Figure 4 Mary, a vector-art style target audience member
Figure 5 Jenny, a pixel-art style target audience member
Legal and ethical requirements
The animation industry has legal requirements that they must abide to while creating and producing their work. This is so that the contents of the animation are used fairly without victimising others in the process.
Copyright and ownership exists as a legal requirement to ensure that content owned by people or studios is not used without permissions. This gives the person(s) and studios the opportunity to know where their created content will be used and in what way. Copyright also stops ideas and forms of media from being stolen by competing person/businesses in addition to stopping them from making a profit off of plagiarised content. The moment something is published, it is protected by law to the name of the producer (be it an individual or studio) and this can be shown by using the “©” symbol. If somebody breaches the copyright laws, evidence must be provided to show that the work belonged to the original producer.
If an individual (indie) developer creates an animation, they own the copyright to the animation, along with the ideas, characters, images and audio used. However, someone is producing the work for a studio then these assets belong to the studio under a mutually agreed and signed document. This would mean, if that person left the studio for any reason, they would no longer have the rights to use or publish the content under their name, regardless of if the content was attained by them. If not mutually documented however, the studio can lose the rights to the content if they are required to provide them in court.
The major problem with using copyrighted content is that despite it is obtained, by including it in produce with an audience, it is not only using somebody else’s ability to benefit one’s self, it may also make it possible for the audience to download (or get) the product for free themselves. In order to use content created by other creative minds, a license must be given by the publisher of the piece. An exception to this is if the content is in the “public domain”, which means that the content (more specifically, but not limited to anything from before 1923) is available to the public to use how and where they desire. Another way to use content is if it is “Royalty Free” which involves paying to use a library of the desired media which allows the usage of all content included.
Trademarks are used in the animation industry to protect the title they have given their studio/business or even themselves. These can be both registered (®) which allows for the name to be legally protected and unregistered (™) which is automatic (once published) but does not act as proof if the content is copied by a competing company. Registered trademarks must be renewed after a certain period to keep the content protected. Unregistered trademarks simply inform other companies that the specific content belongs to the producer, but the way it is presented or named can still be plagiarised. If a trademark already exists then it cannot be legally used again by another cooperation but this can be brought into question if it is a different industry, markets a completely different area or registered/created first.
Trademarks provide an identity of source that also distinguishes them from other, similar products. The content that is trademarked is text (such as phrases and slogans) as well as logos (such as designs and symbols).
Another legal requirement for the animation industry is the usage of defamation, which is referred to when someone produces work that threatens the reputation of an industry. There are two types of defamation, libel and slander.
Libel is the written form of defamation, usually found in newspapers and on the internet, whereas slander is verbal, found in speeches and song. Slander is quite often found in animation and has raised controversy in shows such as Matt Groening’s “The Simpsons”, Seth McFarlane’s “Family guy” and Matt Stone’s, and Trey Parker’s, “South Park” as all touch upon current events in the real world using comedy.
Defamation can be from malicious attacks on other trademarks to verbal abuse regarding the produce of others. A legal form of defamation can be produced if it fits the criteria of “fair comment” which allows the opinion of the producer to be shown in their work if they were genuine and can back up their allegations. This is not advisable as it can be interpreted as being slander by the audience, especially if they are in favour of the target.
If these legal requirements are not followed, the industries or individuals victimised have the right to seek justice (if not accidental) by collecting evidence supporting this, after making the infringer (person who has breached these laws) aware of this. If not resolved by a specified time limit, they have the right to contact a lawyer/solicitor to take the infringer to court.
Audience members can also be effected as they may believe that the infringement is genuine, causing them to become deluded/swayed about their opinions toward the victim.
In completing my character animations, I will be sure to create original characters to avoid copyright infringements and by doing so, I will have the copyright for those characters (given they don’t already exist). If I was to add my name, logo or an alias to my work, I can also have an unregistered trademark so future produced work can be recognised as my own.
Detail the Design/Style/Form/Genre/Aesthetics of your project
I will draw the initial concepts of characters to develop the style (outside of graphical choice) that I can use to establish character traits. The genre of the game is an adventure platformer similar to Rayman or Sonic the Hedgehog as the character animations would preferably view the character from an appropriate angle.
Detail the Skills/Techniques needed for your project
I will include the “12 Principles of Animation” in my work to make the movement believable and realistic. This will also ensure that the behaviours of the character can become a point of interest without creating visual noise.
The pixel-art style animation is frame-by-frame meaning that the specific frames can be established beforehand.
CONCLUSION – Who/what was my inspiration? /Contextualisation of my study
My work is related to character animations in games as the characters are designed to inform the play of the emotions and interactions of the character. This means that by observing other media products, I can see what works well to convey character and what doesn’t
I decided to animate using vector-style graphics after seeing how the animation flows along with the HD capabilities of Rayman Origins. The disadvantage of this however is that the software Ubisoft used is not available and I will have to use a software that I do have access to, such as Adobe’s “After Effects”.
I am also very familiar with pixel-art styled games such as Nintendo’s (Game Freak’s) “Pokémon” series which have multiple pixel sprites and, especially in later games, use a lot of animation. The way that the sprites in Pokémon are made heavily influenced the direction of my art style as the colours and shading used make it very easy to recognise the different elements or parts of the sprite.
From Rayman, I learned that the body parts of an animation can be easily switched out for different parts to get different expressions. I can use this in the vector-style animation to apply the twelve principles and portray different movements
I will use 16x16px sprites to allow myself to add minor detail without making the animations too complex to recognise.
The vector-style model will fit within a 500x500px canvas as it is an appropriate size for a computer screen although, vector-graphics can easily be resized without distortion.
Research Design and Strategies
In this chapter, I will explain the research design for my project by setting myself questions to answer. I will then be showing the research I have undergone as well as including further methods of research through tasks I have given myself.
In my project, I intend to compare the contrasting elements of pixel-art styled, frame-by-frame animation with vector-art styled, tween animation. In doing so, I can decide and collect quality assurance (QA) testing information for which animations are effective for a platforming game.
The aim of my project is to convey character, mood and emotion through different movement using the twelve principles of animation. I also hope to create multiple designs of characters to choose from and design my work appropriately to build upon concepts. I will also map out the movement using storyboards and flip books to ensure that I understand the sequences to greater detail. This will aid me with creating the animations as well as understanding how these processes shape the final products. I will also use colour theory to separate features of the character to prevent visual noise.
To decide on how I should make certain creative choices, I created the following questions to research:
- How will the character concepts be conceived and designed?
- What would the appropriate sizes to use be?
- What colours would should the character be?
- How will the 12 principles be included into the final product?
- What animations would be required for a game character?
- Which of the principles can be interpreted into the animations?
I would like to discover the best means of portraying both pixel-styled frame-by-frame and vector-styled tween animation by looking at existing products, looking at what I did in my previous work and researching how other developers managed to achieve similar goals.
Research Design Evolution
From conducting research, I have discovered that the average people who are interested in both pixel and vector styled games are older aged females. This means that by looking at the interests of them, I can discover what about each style they appreciate and even expand on it.
The type of audience that usually consumes these types of products are usually left supporters of politics and take on roles such as “transport and logistics” or “accounting”. This means, at least for “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Rayman Origins”, that the audience could enjoy the controlled sequences along with becoming attached to the characters in the games.
Using a website called “YouGov” I conducted research about the target demographics of games that I felt reflected my project. The website displays the average age, gender and political views (as well as interests and professions) of audiences regarding different types of media. This website is extremely useful as it can be used to find the sort of people that enjoy a very specific product.
Figure 6 Rayman Origins Demographics
Figure 7 Sonic The Hedgehog Demographics
Skills and techniques
To complete my project to near professional standards, I must research multiple design processes that both animators and character designers (or even character animators) go through to ensure that their work is as suited for their target audience as possible. I will research how to apply the 12 principles into my work by creating flip books to test how these skills can be transferred onto a digital platform. I can also research colour schemes to aid with visually reading the movement used as well as any semiology that can be applied to make what is going on evident and informative. After this research, I can learn about other techniques of character design such as mood boards, mind maps, character profiling, story boarding, etc.
I can perform workshops to gain an understanding of applying the skills to my work. I can also examine previous work to decipher what about the tasks I can bring forward to my project.
When creating an independent game, I experimented with character animations to created pixel-styled frame-by-frame animations on Adobe Photoshop.
For the jumping animation, I applied squash and anticipation to build up the jump, then stretch to indicate that there was upward momentum, like a real jump. I then added a secondary action to the animation in the form of hair being pushed upward to express the downward momentum with the landing being swifter and squashing again. I believe that these actions make the animation more characterised by showing flexibility in the character and if implemented into a platforming game, would suit the style of gameplay.
For the walking animation, I used a darker shade for the leg that’s visibly further from the audience to give a sense of depth as well as making the overlapping of the legs more visually evident. I applied squash to the upper parts of the character as they as half way through a step while stretching the leg to give a sense of movement upward. The hair of the character continues to move downward once the character has made contact with the ground again to show that they don’t appear static after completing the action.
The third animation is a punch animation which as 3 evident frames of being idol, then swiftly moving forward and having the fist expand to exaggerate the punch. This also has the character turn his head and push off with one foot.
From these tasks, I can see that applying squash and stretch techniques make the character appear less solid but as if they are being effected by the applied forces, such as gravity. In the punch animations, it can be used to emphasis parts that the force would be applied to make the hit look more exaggerated than it would without it.
Anticipation works to build up to the actions and slow-in/slow-out means that the character isn’t suddenly performing the action without the appropriate measures that normal people would go through to achieve the actions, giving a sense of realism.
Secondary actions show parts of the character that are stiff and allows continuous flow through these movements.
I started my pre-production process by creating a mind map to collect my thoughts, knowledge and possibilities that could be included in my project. By doing this, I knew what to include while also giving myself the creative flexibility to use back up ideas if I felt that one didn’t work.
After doing this, I could decide that the character could be a humanoid animal so that they are relatable to the audience regarding movement. I could also decide on the types of movement that a character in a game could have as well as mapping out the 12 principles to be included in my animations. I also mapped out the processes I could undergo to include audio to suit the styles of the animations as well as the sizes they could be.
I then designed some character concepts to decide on which character could be used for my animations. I created a cat labelled “Content Cat”, a bear labelled “Cranky Bear” and a bird labelled “Up-right Pigeon”. I also worked on clothing for them and created a “shape guide” to use when creating a character in Illustrator and Photoshop. I used annotations to help with personal thoughts on what looked right on the characters. I also kept the principles in mind to add features to characters that can be used to portray them, such as including a hat on the pigeon concept.
Working from this, I chose the “Content Cat” concept forward as I felt it was the best at conveying character through appearance, in addition to the premise being used in my indie game prototype previously. I also feel this character shares similarities to SEGA’s character Sonic and decided that the colours of the character could be similar, as the colour scheme of Sonic reflects the reckless character, which I hoped to recreate through my character. I also made the clothes of this character appear torn/tattered to create a dynamic feel and show that he’s been roughed up from adventuring.
After deciding on the character, I created a collection of storyboards to gain an understanding of the key frames of movement as well as annotating them to bring forward any ideas I had in the process. I used the mind map to decide on the principles and movements that can be used for them and eventually the animations.
By doing this, I was capable of finding creative ways to include the principles, such as having the body of the character arch forward in the jump. I could also tell myself where to position the sprite while it moves.
I then I produced short flip books to see how the principles might look in a sequence along with the character and ideas.
By completing this task, I could see the movement in action to recreate digitally. I could also decide how the other body parts could move to exaggerate their movements.
Using graph paper, I then designed the sprite for the character using coloured pens to decide on which colours should be used. By doing this, I can get a visual idea of how the pixel sprite would look in colour and be able to adjust it for when it comes to recreating it in Photoshop.
Using the concept sheet and colour guide, I then created the vector model in Adobe Illustrator. I used the Shape Builder tool on shapes that I had created and used 2 colours on each to make a noticeable outline to help the character stand out from a background (and other features). I made sure to organise the shapes so that they overlapped and shaded the body parts that were further from the audience to add depth to the character. For the outlines and shading, I lowered the saturation of the original colours to make them look like a shadow is being cast on the body. I gave the arms a thick outline to ensure they are visible when moving over the similarly coloured body. I added certain body parts to a layer so that I could import the Illustrator file into After Effects and keep the body parts separate.
I then took note of the colour codes used in the vector model and used them to recreate the design of the pixel sprite into Photoshop. I drew the body parts on different layers to build an adjustable sprite. This also meant that I could move the layers for each frame, depending on how that body parts should move. I also worked on a darker grey background so the coloured body parts would stand out against it.
To animate the pixel-style frame-by-frame animation, I started off by making the background dark grey, then dragging in the layers from the sprite I had made prior. I decided to make a slightly darker line to act as a shadow as well as a start and finish mark to be sure that the animations can loop successfully.
Using the Timeline feature under Window, I started to create frames to adjust the layers under. I then found that the trousers that I had included required adjusting because of the legs moving so I copied the layer with them on to adjust their movement with the legs. I also set the animations to have “no delay” between each frame so that the animations would flow visually.
I tried to incorporate exaggeration (of the 12 principles) through bring the legs up high enough for a knee to be visible as well as making the head move in sync with the steps. I added a secondary movement as the arms would be static otherwise, making the movement look less believable.
After this, I worked on the jump animation which required the same process that I used on the trousers with the head to incorporate squash and stretch effects on the ears to imply the force of rising and falling. I also used squash on the body to show the anticipation of the build up to the jump as well as the force of the landing. The body of the character also arcs forward to give a sense of forward movement to the player.
The last animation I achieved was a punching animation that once again required moving the different body-parts/layers as well as creating new ones to make visible and not. I used exaggeration by making the fist of the character bigger around when the impact of the punch would take place. I also did this so that the punch leaves the characters other body parts to ensure that there would be enough distance between the player and an enemy to pull of the attack. Secondary movement can be seen when the character’s ears go backward to exaggerate the horizontal momentum as well as overlapping when the motion comes to a halt.
I could test the character animations by creating a simple game using “Game Maker Studio” to put the frames into when creating the sprites and actions. More animations could also be created for commands such as crouching, standing still, taking damage, etc.
In the file drop down menu, I selected “Export” then “Save for web (legacy)” which allows the animation timeline to be saved into a GIF file format. I could then ask for feedback in the form of QA testing.
MY EXTENDED PROJECT – FINAL PRODUCT
Here are three of the character animations that I designed and created:
Pixel-Art, Frame-By-Frame Animations:
For this extended project, I hoped to compare the process of using pixel-styled frame-by-frame animations with vector-styled tweening animations by applying Disney’s 12 Principles to character animations by using Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator, respectively. To produce my project, I independently designed and produced animations incorporating the 12 principles. I could do this by using what I have learnt previously, researching the requirements/similar existing products and using past work to reflect from.
The purpose of this was to attempt to apply previous skills and research to a self-directed practice to find which animation style is successful at conveying character to an audience. It was also to explore the 12 principles of animation and their presence in the animation (and by extension gaming) industries.
I hoped to apply the 12 Principles into an animation to make an animation look believable and be visually readable by an audience. I also hoped to discover why more game art styles use pixels over vectors when it comes to animating. I used magazines and books to research the 12 principles and design processes involved with of animation. Other research required searching online for existing products and comparing their qualities to what I had hoped to achieve.
My role in this project can be divided into multiple roles in the animation and gaming industries. The first part of my pre-production process involved creating storyboards which outline the key points in the movement, a role that is usually performed by a Storyboard Artist. I then took on the role of a Concept Artist as I created character concepts in detail to build up on creative ideas. Considering the choice of art style and the creation of the models, I have also taken on a similar role to a Graphic Designer. The last role I took on was as an Animator, or more specifically a character animator as I brought the character I designed to life my applying movement and actions to it.
Due to time constraints, I found that using After Effects to manipulate a vector graphic from Illustrator to be very difficult as the selection box remains the size of the original canvas which meant that when layered up, the body parts all interfered with each other. I could have overcome this problem by creating each body part as a separate file with a smaller work space.
I could have applied more time into researching how to easily create vector-styled animations while also considering alternate sprite animating processes.
I should also have used this time to gain knowledge about different sound effects in games and the effects they have on the audience to build the character’s audio qualities better.
Another problem that I would have faced is not knowing which file format to save the vector animations as considering that they would have not been capable of being placed in a games engine in any for the file formats that After Effects has.
I also found that my directional microphone was not compatible with my computer so I could not record any Foley for these animations.
In addition to what has been mentioned, due to the file formats I eventually chose to use for the pixel styled animations, audio could not be added but I would have used a website called “BFXR” to generate bit-tune styled sound effects.
I developed my ideas by researching existing products and techniques to influence my work. An example of this can be seen in the punch animation as the exaggerated fist was inspired by, the character animations used in Rayman Origins. By doing this, I could find where one of the principles was used to reflect upon and incorporate a similar concept into my animation.
I developed my ideas by researching existing products and techniques to influence my work. An example of this can be seen in the punch animation as the exaggerated fist was inspired by, the character animations used in Rayman Origins. By doing this, I could find where one of the principles was used to reflect upon and incorporate a similar concept into my animation.
The character I created is visually readable regarding motion as details such as the jacket and trouser/shorts do well at breaking up the different body parts. This can be seen in the punching animation as if his whole body was red then the arm would not be visible or would require shading.
By shading the sprite (using the colour codes from the vector model outline), I successfully created a sense of depth to my character in addition to preventing visual noise in the process.
Using colour theory, decided to use a triad of red, blue and yellow to colour my character as they are three colours that stand out well together and would even help make the character visible in front of a range of backgrounds. This works well to show the difference between the clothing and eyes.
This was a choice to create a cartoon-like character from a fictional world, as seen in many games that use vector-art and pixel-art styles.
I felt that the character would need to be comparable to both Sonic The Hedgehog (for pixel-art) and Rayman (for vector art) so I envisioned my character to “fit into” the worlds that these characters live in.
As my target audience is older, left-wing women, I decided to make the character an animal like many other video games. This is because this specific demographic appears to enjoy cartoon-like video games in addition to other types of animation.
This project could be adapted into creating a platforming game as the files I have created are capable of being implemented into game engines. This would mean that the animations would be in response to the player’s input and I would be able to QA test to gain the opinions of audience members as to develop on any negative qualities.
I feel that my project partly met the needs of my proposition as it outlines the different processes require for both Pixel-style frame-by-frame animation and vector-styled tween animation. The pixel animation demonstrates a content character through multiple processes. The vector animation however, was a more difficult task to achieve in the time I had but still have the required knowledge to do so successfully convey character through doing so in future.
I believe this shows the point of my project as pixel-style can be used for a concentrated amount of time while the vector-style should only be a creative choice if more time is available to do so.
In conclusion, I believe this project could have gone better if I had spent more time planning out my work in order to keep to a successful schedule. I also believe that with the appropriate software, such as “UbiArt” I could have achieved the vector-styled animation to an appropriate standard. I would also have liked to do more to build up designs more effectively to improve and justify creative choices.
The project as a whole could be improved by focusing research to a specific field/industry to ensure I can find specific, relevant information.
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