Nanoflix.net Blog

by Peter Rasmussen

Dynamic Motion Synthesis

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 14, 2007

SMS

DMS promises to be the next big thing in animation. This is particularly the case for video games.

Keyframe animation is a very powerful system but it’s so much work to get a simple scene. Dynamic motion synthesis is a way of animating a human character in real time. The software uses physics and artificial intelligence to make a character react to events in a scene automatically as they happen rather than it having to be previously keyframed. This means in a game the same scene always plays out differently.

The job of the animator becomes tuning the reactions and style of movement of the character. This appeals to me greatly. I can’t draw but I can get some very good results with Photoshop. I’d much rather experiment with animation this way. It becomes a style of it’s own.

One of the hurdles with new developments is that investors want to see bang for their buck. They want to see the new gadget doing what they’ve been told it will do all the time, even when what the scene calls for is something subliminal. Sometimes having a character perfectly still is more realistic than noticeable breathing and noticeable blinking and noticeable swaying that makes them look like they have a motor neuron problem.

Like any new technology Dynamic Motion Synthesis does have its detractors. It’s disappointing how quick some people can be to damn something new and adventurous. Old school animators call motion capture “the devil’s rotascope”. I don’t know if cell animators have a name for keyframing. People are right to admire skill but something being harder does not automatically make it better. It’s just another tool. In the early days of analogue video it was hard pressed to look as good as film but digital video is fast closing the gap. These things take time.

Some development and experimenting and beta testing needs to happen. The artists need experience with the new medium to learn how to nuance it. A model aircraft can move beautifully in the hands of an experienced pilot, but not so good at the mercy of a first-timer. The new technologies make space for artists who may not have particular practical skills but do have the skills to put fleshed out elements together to make something great. This is obviously the way to go but it’s not perfect yet.

You can download demo movies of Dynamic Motion Synthesis at:
NaturalMotion Ltd. Movie downloads:
http://www.naturalmotion.com/downloads.htm

There is an academic White paper at:
http://www.naturalmotion.com/files/dms_wp2005.pdf

And a down to earth forum at:
http://www.igda.org/Forums/showthread.php?threadid=19471

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2 Responses to “Dynamic Motion Synthesis”

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