Friday, May 04, 2007

Communicating Emotion in 3-D graphics & Machinima

CartoonBrew posted the original Tootsie Roll Pop commercial from the early 70s (animated by the great Fred Crippen, who did many fine Sesame Street animated shorts over the years) alongside the newly updated CGI version. Check them out here.

I think it would be difficult to argue the new version is better. But why, precisely? What is the visually fancier version lacking that the first has? The answer is found in a blog entry from the Free-Pixel blog: Emotion.

The blogger fiezi attended a presentation by Gilles Monteil, an animation researcher at Ubisoft, called "We All Want Emotions in Games!" He describes how three audience members were given laser pointers to aim at the screen, and to do whatever they wanted. (I've seen this happen spontaneously while waiting for Dailies to start at Sony) The audience reacted to what they perceived as a chase going on, but in reality, there were only moving dots. No textures, no geometry, no perceivable characters in the traditional sense. All that was there was rhythm, a sense of space, and a sense of interaction between entities.

This is basically the core of all visual design, and of performing arts like mime and dance, and it turns out, in computer games as well. The extras, like how characters are dressed, how spectacular the sets look, are secondary to the audiences emotional involvement. Yet, in game engine design (used by Machinima), the focus is on texture, lighting, and making things look spectacular.

That's great, but make certain you can invoke an emotional response, with your character design, posing, and motion first, then your textures and lighting.

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posted by Brian at 5:20 PM

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