Not so idle animations

Idle animations for video game characters are – to my way of thinking – generally very poorly done.

The characters shift and jitter like hyperactive prize-fighters in the ring that are deeply hyperventilating and who need to pee really badly.

Yes, it’s nice to see a 3D human model breathing, maybe shifting weight slightly to another foot, shuffling, stretching, scratching a nose.

The problem is that all of this tends to be done in a very exaggerated way and maybe 30 times more frequently than you’d see any ordinary person doing it.

Never mind inappropriate gestures or completely erroneous mouth-movements or expressions during a conversation. Those I can live with.

What gets my aging goat is that having my character (or indeed a roomful of characters) essentially acting like a two-year-old that’s desperate for a potty-break after too much red-cordial each and every single time I let go of the controls.

The quality of animation is not (perhaps surprisingly) measured in buttscratches per minute.

10 thoughts on “Not so idle animations”

  1. Ha! I thoroughly agree! About time someone said this. It irritates me to no end. With Second Life this is one of those things that really detracts from the experience of having a nice chat with friends. Even worse, when the avatars synchronize the movement.

  2. Playing a kid, I looked for fidgety AOs, but ended up carefully building my own animation collection as most advertised ‘fidgety’ stand AOs end up looking like your avatar’s doing some kind of intensive exercise regime…

  3. Yes, anims make us fidget too much. Even the default ones, where a standing avatar looks down, around, and up like some lost tourist, are overactive.

    I’m sticking with my silly AO that has all these quasi-gangsta standing poses. It was actually the least over-the-top AO available back then.

    Of more concern to many colleagues are the “hyper girly” anims that have every other female in SL preening like some bored supermodel, constantly doing coy things with feet and hands, etc. As with female fashion, I reckon things have to be greatly exaggerated in virtual worlds in order to convey a sense of sexiness where only a few of our senses can be involved.

    Anyone got a good suggestion for professional male and female AOs? Educators have asked me from time to time.

  4. I haven’t bought many animations recently for this reason, though i have found ‘Sweet Lovely Cute’ to provide the most natural of animations and use their stands most in my current AO.

    I think animating for SL makes subtle movement a bit more difficult. Along with the fact that we don’t get access to affect how the face looks, we can’t access then hands either. On top of that, avatars come in all shapes and sizes; something that looks great on your typical 7′ tall t-rex of a guy isn’t going to look good on another man whose shape is more proportionate and normal. Something made for a stick-thin model isn’t going to work very well for a curvy lady.

    As a result of these limitations, many animators tend to make it so the arms and legs flail about far more often than they should in order to capture the greatest audience, while ignoring the need for something subtle and refined.

  5. Good point Aki, most stand animations when applied to short avatars end up with the avatar idly poking their hand deep into their forehead, presumably to scratch an itchy brain…

  6. [Solo Mornington rezzes into a public place.]

    someone: Hi, Solo.

    Solo Mornington: Hi.

    someone else: Hey, your AO isn’t working.

    Solo Mornington: Why do you say that?

    someone else: Because you’re doing the default stands. LOL

    Solo Mornington: I don’t have an AO.

    someone else: lol. why not?

    Solo Mornington: Because the default stands are fine.
    Solo Mornington: And did you know that AOs work by sorting through a list of animations once every tenth of a second? So if there are 10 avatars in a sim and they all have AOs, then just by standing around they’re sorting through 100 lists every second, just so they can override a perfectly adequate standing animation. That’s 36,000 list sorts in an hour.

    someone else: lol

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