Thinking About Machinima

  • Hello folks,

    I've been working on an animation project for quite a few years now. It is a motorsport-themed animation and I hope it will be around twenty minutes to half an hour in length.

    I have a few of my characters done, as well as some of the cars and, most importantly of all, the venue is at around 80% complete.

    The main features I'm going to need for this animation are:

    Vehicle physics
    Particle physics (dust, smoke, water, mud and grass)
    Soft body physics for vehicles and barriers (think Beam NG, YouTube it)
    Character animation with facial expressions

    Ideally, I would be able to render with things like lens flares, bloom and so on, as the event is a 24hr endurance race, with a large portion of it going on at night with headlights, floodlights etc.

    If I get myself Game Dev, what would be a good workflow?
    What game engines are there which I could use for this?
    Can I mix engines together, say, using one for lighting, one for physics and so on?

    Any other advice which would be helpful for a total novice at this would be appreciated.



    P.S. The characters are based on V4 and M4 and cover all ages. Getting clothing to fit can be problematic, so I wonder if exporting these awkward characters to an engine would be an issue.

  • Both 3D world and 3D Artist magazines have covered this subject recently. If you don't get any joy here, I can go check my back issues and give you some issue numbers to look up.

  • Thanks. Yes, that doesn't surprise me; as game engines get more and more comprehensive, the interest in machinima grows.

    Ideally, I would actually create a 'game' with everything within it and 'play' it myself, using 'replays' spliced together to form the animation. I think that would probably be the easiest (and likely best) way to do it, especially with the competing cars, as there is a lot to take into consideration with this kind of thing (in terms of chain-reactions, drivers behaving differently in different circumstances etc), which is what makes motorsport so entertaining.

  • @Glen85 A colleague of mine uses Unreal Engine for architectural walk throughs on multimillion pound property presentations so it's certainly come a long way. I'm not sure how you would play multiple vehicles. I guess you could record the movements of each, one at a time, laying down paths, so that they essentially become actors in your "game".

    In my experience, exporting STATIC figures with fitted clothing is problematic, let alone anything animated. Frankly, I've never seen anythng animated that looked good that wasn't using the Poser engine to drive the animation (due to the ability to key frame clothing tweaks). But you could use one of the plugins that let you animate poser inside Vue or 3DS Max for instance.

  • Hi. Thanks for the info there. Well, with the other cars, I would probably prefer to use a game engine with a good AI and have the AI control most of the cars on-track, perhaps with a little input from me through more technical moments with, as you say, 'paths' being created.

    It's all very much up in the air at the moment, as I haven't even finished the environment, which is going to be ridiculously highly detailed. I may have to animate it the old fashioned way and use sections of the environment to save system resources, or maybe I'll have to use sections of much less detailed environment when that area isn't in close proximity to the camera.

    No idea what I'm going to do yet.

  • @Glen85

    You are the A.I. for the most part... :) However...

    Unreal might be the way to go for you. Unity is good for multiplatform, but it doesn't sound like you need that. Cryengine is really nice, but difficult to use and, AFAIK, documentation is scarce. (Last time I checked, last year sometime.)

    Unreal also has a very innovative modular logic system (with a visual GUI, for easy work) for you to construct events, behaviors, etc.. And, it's got an active community and some pretty nice tutes out there. If you can understand an "IF > THEN" statement, you can get as close to plug-and-play event/behavior design as possible without having to learn code.

    But, none of these game engines are "plug and play." In other words, you're not going to have the relative simplicity of Poser's tools. You can, of course, do animations and such with Poser and get those out to various engines, with various necessities of tweaking and such.

    If you're set on a game engine, I'd say go with Unreal. If you want cross-platform compatibility (web/phone/pc/etc) go with Unity. Cryengine has some really nice graphics features, but nothing, IMO, that puts it above Unreal if one has to consider starting out "green" with Cryengine.

    Note: Stop working on anything that's really detailed/difficult to model/technical. Stop right now and choose your engine. Then, take a look at its requirements, idiosyncrasies and demands. With something like this, "creating for the application" will get you the best results. You don't want to put in a hundred hours on level modeling only to find out you have to backtrack and remap everything because of some little game-engine quirk.