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Task 60 [Deer]

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This task is going to stretch me some, I’ve only taken one 3d class and we haven’t covered biped animation yet. So this is all new territory to me. After some reading online I attached the biped and tried a test animation of the deer attacking.

Please give me some feedback, and any tips and tricks you have!

(this includes the other students in my class, you all have a leg up on me :) )

I was given permission to get into this 5'th level class so please don't get the impression the other students are as inexperienced at animating as me. :P I’m going to hit the books this weekend to catch up with the other students.

(and a late thanks for the tut’s on smoothing groups, ect)

edit: I cant upload an .avi so I changed it to a gif.


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That looks pretty good Steve! Excellent for a first time biped animation!

The gif plays kind of fast, so its hard to tell exactly - but one thing I noticed is that the animation for the game needs to start and stop with the same pose so that it can loop. For that reason, you might not want to have the deer actually step forward so much in attack, but perhaps simply lunge.

Feel free to upload .avi files to the SVN folder for the task and we can review them there :P

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I’ve been tinkering with the deer mesh and the biped. When I select one of the front feet and raise it up the first joint bends automatically and naturally. I’d like to add the same rotation, just in the opposite direction, to the second joint. I’m guessing its some type of joint parameter but I can’t find anything under the motion tab within the biped for it.

Pic’s of what I’m talking about attached. File available in my task folder: “deer_base”



Edited by ewu_swarrington
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Keep in mind that deers and most other animals walk on their "fingers". Perhaps that will help.

I attached another image, when the leg lifts up the hoof should retract inward and up. I don’t mind animating it, I just figured there is a way to set a parameter just like for the top joint where it rotates automatically. I just don’t know what that parameter is...

It also looks like I need to increase the mid leg section, what do you think?


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Quite the mystery, but I think I solved it :P (I hope)

What I ended up doing was to use the clavical for the upper shoulder region so now the deer walks on it's feet. I think Michael is right, horses and elephants walk on their toes. I'm not sure the deer do to the extent of the horse. See here: http://www.oricomtech.com/projects/leg-anat.htm

So, I reversed the direction of the arm movement, and made the hoof the hand rather than a finger.

Also I changed the biped to "classic", which in my opinion is easier to work with and modify perfectly to meet your needs for a non-human. Note that you can 'edit mesh or poly' on every one of the pieces of the skeleton to modify them how you want. Just be careful to keep the pivot between the joints where you want them, because it is easy to modify the meshes to an extreme and loose representation of the pivot.

Go ahead and modify the mesh and the skeleton to your needs for the length of the joints.

I froze the deer in transparent, in case you wonder what is going on there. I also left a copy of your deer skeleton there for reference.

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This is a bit of an oddity in CS, I don't know why they do this, but you have to specify exactly what kind of a movement you want when you move the Biped center of gravity (that ball thing in the pelvis). See this image:


Where that last arrow on the bottom is pointed.

You toggle between those 3 options:


I don't think it is very intuitive, but it must have been done for a reason... ask Brian :P

Note - don't have that biped character depressed like that first image has - that would modify your default biped structure which you don't want to do, that shouldn't be blue when you click those three options.

Edited by Wijitmaker
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Well, I looked at the videos briefly last night. It is a good start. One of the things I noticed was that the run wasn't really a deer running motion, it sort of looked like a horse. Deer/Gazelle/Antelope 'bound' rather than gallop. I'm trying to find some references for you. YouTube is a good place to start.

This is the best I can do on my lunch break


Edited by Wijitmaker
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Everything looks nice. I think the idle animation should be a bit more subtle. Perhaps instead of bending down to eat it looks from side to side as if it is scared or skiddish. The walking animation - I think the deer's front leggs should be straighter when the feet hit the ground. Also, I think his upper body dips too much when he walks.

All in all, it's looking splendid. I wouldn't worry too much about the clipping. But if there is an easy solution (a few more polies), then I say go for it. Wijit will have the last say though of course. :P

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Hmm, Michael has a good point, but it would be nice to have grazing be a part of the idle animation. I wonder if we might need 2 more animations... One animation of the deer stationary grazing (start and stop with head down), and another walking very slowly with head down grazing.

It might take some tricky AI to splice the animation sequences together correctly though. I'll see if I can get Matei's input.

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I don't see a problem as long as both animations start and stop with the same frame. :P

Also, when a deer bends down to eat grass, his legs really don't bend.


The deer model that was suppled doesn't have a long enough neck to reach down without some bending from the front legs. I will minimize the bend amount as much as possible.

Edited by ewu_swarrington
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Note in the picture though how the deers 'clavicles' are drawn back though, yet the legs remain straight. The back is slightly sloped downward. If you make those changes, the model just might work as is?

Sorry Steve, I haven't gotten a chance to give you a good complete review of the animations yet. I'm hoping to this weekend.

I'm glad the reference helped. I wish I had more. There must be books out there - that would have more sketches of this. If you find a good one on Amazon I think Brian could purchase it for the class? Or let me know what the book is, I'll buy it and scan the pages you want.

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Well, they all need to be reworked - except possibly the death.

Walk - the folder was empty except from some strange file extension I didn't recognize

Run - good in purpose but it overall isn't very smooth motion, the back is ridged and it looks very mechanical. I took a crude photo (camera phone) from a book I found at the bookstore.

Idle - Michael is right - this is way to much motion. Typically in an idle animation we only have subtile shifting of weight, maybe an every so slight movment of the head. If it was a horse I'd have it shift it's weight a touch, and make the tail swish back and forth. Deer are very very still when idle, so I wouldn't think you would do much of anything except maybe twitch an ear or blink. So since you can't do either, just give it an alert pose. We can randomly sequence it with other idle animations like it grazing with it's head down (start and stop with head down).

attack - pretty good, just watch out for your feet penetrating the ground, try to smooth the animaiton out and make it less jerky

death - it works for what it is, I'll be giving you a sample file that could possibly improve it a bit, but it happens so fast, and it doesn't loop... so it isn't a super critical animation.

I'm going to add a file to your folder that is some motions taken from another game (BFME). They should help you with some timing. You could pretty much copy them exactly by watching the angles between joints.

A few hints with animation:

* Once you have a good start pose, copy the pose and paste it at both ends of the animation (with key framing turned on)

* Start with animating the core of the body and move outward to the limbs. It is easier to do that than the other way around

* Less keyframes is more. Somtimes you find yourself fighting a jumpy animation and you relize it is a bad key from a few frames ago. CS has a great parabolic motion tool built into it that will smooth your animation for you. It also has good tools to create a point where the hands and feet are fixed, or they slide, or are free. Another favorite feature of CS is the copy and pasting of poses, animation, and joints - mirroring them is useful too. I'm not sure how much of this you learned in class, but it is useful. Ask Brian for some of the videos he probably already showed the other students about CS.

* The animation should play in 3dsmax at the same speed it would in real life

I honestly suck at animation... most of what I have done is copied from books, or from other game animations, or from motion capture files. The thing about animation is that when we see it we immediately compare it to real life experiences with what it should look like. Most of the time it doesn't measure up. Animal locomotion is very tricky too because we can't 'act it out' for ourselves in front of a mirror.

There has been many studies, and here is one that might help too:

Thankyou for Google!


Click on preview of the book and you can view the entire thing. I think the deer starts on page 142.


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