Realtime Animation Pipeline in Unreal Engine
Animal logic the animation studio which has been making animation since 1991 has moved from the old rendering methods to the new Unreal Engine animation pipeline for its Realtime abilities. Advances in Unreal Engines control rig function enable endless opportunities for animators to work with skeletal rigs and with 4.22 its now possible to combine source skeleton rigs with custom bone scaling and tethering. As shown in the video below of how the team converted the standard skeletal rig for humans in the game fortnight for the tri-boned werewolf character.
Animal logic used Unreal Engines realtime animation features for there new HQ Trivia gameshow to promote the new Lego movie. They added a augmented version of Scott Rogowsky to the gameshow where he appeared as a lego figure.
They achieved this by using the Xsens motion capture suit and a head rig which used a basic mobile phone. The phone and capture suit data was fed into the unreal engine where the animation could be seen in realtime without the need of render farms, it was all there instantly.
The Xsens suit was programmed to only respond to certain movements to achieve a more lego like animation. The suit would only recognise the movement of arms and legs forwards and backwards. If the actor was to move their arms sideways the suit would be unresponsive. The facial expression was an issue for the team due to the basic facial expressions on a lego figure, the team wanted the change of expression to seem like a lego head change. They archived this effect through a mountain of blueprints which recognised brow and mouth movements.
Animal logic is one of the first to move from the traditional animation methods to the new realtime animation pipelines that the game engines can provide. Unreal and Unity are really leading the way of animation and it wont be long before the industry changes fully and long renders are a distant memory.