AnimVR – Animating in Virtual Reality

So I haven’t posted in awhile due to work but I’ve been messing around in VR and discovered something… well, pretty much mind blowing. This is mostly for animators but I recommend any artist with VR equipment give it a shot.

If you didn’t know already, there’s a few apps out for VR that let you express your inner artist. Right now the most popular ones (in my opinion) are Tilt Brush and Quill. There’s also Oculus Medium for 3D sculpting but that’s probably a more specialised field for either working professionals or 3D hobbyists. For awhile, I always asked myself, where’s something for the animators?

I’m aware Quill has animation features but wouldn’t it be great to have something worked from the ground up specifically for animation? So I did some random google browsing and my god. Turns out it actually is a thing and it’s called AnimVR. Unfortunately there wasn’t a download link anywhere so I applied for a beta key and was pretty happy when I got one.

Depending on how the VR platform does, this very well could be a game changer. Making an animation in Maya, importing it into Unity and seeing it in VR was one thing that blew my mind but this is a new level. You can now paint the space in front of you, press the trigger for a new frame and see the onion skin in 3D space. It’s really bizarre… but also satisfying. I almost feeling like I’m giving a performance of some sort as I animate.


This is what I ended up with after a lot of interface stumbling and re-painting. As for how long something like this took, about 4 2-hour sessions. Had to break it up since I can’t stay in VR for too long so I’d do a bit then do a bit more a different day.

For more on AnimVR:



Firefighter Animations

Side project work.
I take no credit for modelling or textures.



Dragonball FighterZ: More than Meets the Eye

So E3 wasn’t too bad but the focus of this post will be the newly announced Dragonball game. Why I decided to do this is because I wanted to bring to light the real magic at work and I feel it might go under appreciated. Yes, it looks good. Yes, the cell shading or whatever rendering technology Arc System Works is using looks pretty damn close to the anime. What I wanted to touch on though is the animation.

Everything below will mainly be for people who aren’t animators or game developers but your average video game consumer. You might look at games like Dragonball FigherZ, Guilty Gear Xrd and Blazblue Series and think “Wow, is it 2D? is it 3D? what’s going on?” so hopefully this gives you an idea.

The animation here is actually… well… genius. I’ll put some examples that I’ve done to clarify why.

This here is your average fighter idle animation. You may find this in games like Tekken and the newer Street Fighter games.

Here you have the same animation, but modified in various ways to make the 3D appear as 2D as possible. Using combination of material and engine rendering the 2D concept is pushed even further by animating it in such a way that supports that concept.

You may be thinking “it looks choppy, this wouldn’t work”. But it does. It works because there’s actually no impact on the gameplay itself. Gameplay in this case refers to position and user input which from what the trailer shows, is pretty smooth.

Example 1.

Example 2.

All animators are aware of the principles of animation. It’s most likely the first thing you would get taught when going down this career path. Even if it’s not right down to the exact principles, we have an idea of them. Game animation sacrifices some of those principles for the sake of gameplay such as cutting down on “anticipation” for faster input for the user. What’s happening here though is disposing of nearly every animation principle in the book except for a select few in order to achieve the desired aesthetic. Who on earth would do that?

Not only does this save some time, it allows flexibility while also matching the art style. Things like delicate footwork can be ignored to an extent and characters can now rotate their bodies in a single frame such as during combos. This method allows faster and more exaggerated poses since there’s less work on the inbetween frames thus achieving faster gameplay.

This is the animation graph editor for Example 1. You don’t have to make heads or tails of this but understand it’s curvy. The curvy-ness represents the smooth animation as that is Maya doing it’s own calculations to connect the frames together.

This is the graph for Example 2. The straight nature of this represents the held poses throughout the animation. The sharp shifts are poses darting to another pose within a single frame. In fact the whole animation process is essentially held poses non-stop.

The game industry as a whole is slowly blurring the lines between 2D and 3D. Games like the Naruto Ninja Storm and One Piece series are looking more and more like their anime counterparts. However, changing not only the art but also the animation itself to mimic some sort of sprite style even though it’s not sprites and also getting it to work? I consider that something pretty amazing. Something that a lot of people will overlook.

Rig is from Body Mechanics Rigs

Lightsaber practice

Been in a Star Wars mood lately due to Rogue One so I decided to do a little thing in Maya.



Things that need improving:
Awkward feet positioning due to speed
More hip movement

Inspired by Witcher 3 whirl move
Rig is from Body Mechanics Rigs

April 2016 Update

I’ve built up some work so I figured I should up date now before I forget later. Most of the standard exploration movements are done and that’s what this update is so this post isn’t too exciting. The coming month or so will be combat and dynamic movements which I specialise in so hopefully that turns out well.



Battle Idlecolton_idle_battle


There’s more but they’re transition animations so they don’t loop well. Special thanks to Hamza for being another perspective when limbs looked odd and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

Kindred Souls – Rigging

So recently picked up some rigging/animation for a group working on a project called Kindred Souls which is a Persona inspired RPG game.

Rigging hasn’t been too bad so far, haven’t run into any impossible troubles. Finally finished. Hoping issues won’t pop up during animation but some usually do.

I rarely do hair rigging and I wasn’t sure if using joints + hair curves would work in Unity so I did a manual FK rig. Ran a little test and it seems to work fine.



Isolated head is also working as it should. If you don’t understand the purpose of an isolated head, it’s utilizing the idea that humans generally try to keep their head straight as they move. This way you won’t always be trying to counter-animate every small movement the body makes, but when the body makes drastic movements you’ll be animating on a free head instead of animating while fighting rotations from the body.



And finally, good old IK/FK switch. Every animator/rigger knows what this is. “Inverse Kinematics” & “Forward Kinematics”.


The hardest thing in all of this was probably face rigging. I don’t do it enough and it’s really easy to break the face.

I take no credit for the modelling of this character. 3D modelling was done by Hamza Malik and Nebojsa Radunovic.

Dragon Rush Project

If you’ve ever played old-school Dragon Ball Z Budokai games on PS2, you might be familiar with Budokai 3’s Dragon Rush system. During my childhood I found this system fascinating that you could activate epic cinematic moves in a side scrolling fighter.

Instead of revisiting an old game, I figured I’d take a shot at animating Dragon Rush myself while using game footage as reference. I’ve only just started but it’s turning out pretty well.

Note, I only matched the frame count for the camera shots. Other than that, I pretty much eyeballed the reference.

Finished Project <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<



Update: 29/12/2015



Update: 6/01/2016



Rig is from Body Mechanics Rigs