The Animation of Sonic Games - YouTube video by New Frame Plus

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Level Zone Act, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. Boxer Hockey

    Boxer Hockey

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    The hands should still be large of course, but yes, more around Adventure sized. And also yes, Modern!Knuckles proportions are comically ridiculous. You aren't going to get a full range of acting when he can't do anything with the hands other than hang at the side or do the grapefruit.
    Also, to echo everyone else sentiments, yes the problem with the stiff facial acting isn't the designs. Most Sonic characters have a baked-in default expression but that doesn't mean you can't break them out of it. Currently they just choose not to for some reason or another.
     

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  2. Dek Rollins

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    Yeah, it's definitely weird to me that he thought Colors' cinematic animations were an improvement over the previous use of mocap. Just compare the average Colors dialogue scene to, say, the scene where Amy lets Sonic out of jail (which he referenced in the video). In the SA2 scene, the characters' physical acting is natural and expressive. The way Sonic runs in place looks great. In Colors' dialogue scenes, the characters just stand in place and seem to switch between four or five generic poses with swift, robotic motions. It looks awful. I don't feel like I'm watching people interact with each other, but in SA2 I do, more or less.

    They really should make new models based on the shape and proportion of the SA2 models. I've said on here before that the high poly promotional renders from SA1 with smaller hands/feet to be proportional with the in game model would be the best direction to go in for new models. I don't think any Sonic model since after SA2 has looked very good. A big thing that's missing from basically every post-SA2 model that I think people overlook is the size and shape of Sonic's body. The recent models make Sonic's body proportionally small and very flat/square. It just looks weird. Where's that rounded body with a big chest that he can stick out with confidence? It's just gone.

    EDIT: And the stupid looking butt brow needs to go if they can't be bothered to make it not look like crap on the models. Another thing the Adventure models got right.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2021
  3. CaseyAH_

    CaseyAH_

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    I do feel like the SA2 models have been the best so far in terms of shape, proportion and aesthetic. Something I really miss from that game specifically is the different skin tones everyone had (i.e. knuckles & rouge having darker skin, amy being kinda pale, etc). I think they still kinda do it for some characters now but its very downplayed in comparison to that game.
     
  4. nesboy43

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    Sonic Jam Gamecom and Sonic Blast need to be in the bottom 5.
     
  5. Linkabel

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    I can see why he prefers the animation in cutscenes from Unleashed to Forces than the previous games.

    Like he said, those games are faaaar from perfect, but they do feel like they're a bit closer to getting on the right track on feeling natural.

    For example, let's go to that Sonic and Amy scene in SA2 that everyone keeps mentioning.

    Their movements just feel soooo unnatural starting with the "Amy Rose is here" spin.

    Even imagining a stylized human character like Princess Peach or something more "real" like Ellie from TLoU doing that still feels off somehow.

    That little spin she does somehow manages to feel stiff for both a real person and a cartoon character.

    Sonic randomly moving his arms in the air and walking off throughout the whole scene multiple times when talking to her. His little weird jump when he's walking out of the jail cell. His little jog, or the weird pose he does when Amy enters the scene etc etc etc.

    Again, you wouldn't expect characters to move like that in any medium.

    Don't get me wrong, I love SA2 but the game did feel off in that department even when I was a kid. It reminded me of the way the characters moved in the Donkey Kong Country cartoon, and I don't mean this as an insult.

    Sonic Team is not the only that does this either.

    Off the top of my head Platinum Games does tend to have some of the same issues. They're great at animation during action scenes/gameplay but when it comes to slower cutscenes they resort to those same unnatural movements.

    He brings a good point though, if you want better anything then workers need more time and resources.

    If you see the development history of games like SA2 or Heroes for example then you can start to understand why some stuff is the way it is.
     
  6. Shaddy the guy

    Shaddy the guy

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    Yeah no, there's nothing about the animation of Sonic games post-06 that isn't better than pre-06. Those cutscenes aren't great, but they're far more polished. The problem is that nothing interesting happens in them.
     
  7. Beamer the Meep

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    While it could use some more polishing, I think Amy's little twirl adds character. She's supposed to be acting smug because she has Sonic exactly where she wants him and he knows it.

    His hand motions definitely feel like overacting or acting to recorded dialogue played back though. NFP certainly nails it when he compares it to the acting in Disney Costumes from the theme parks. The difference is that for Disneyland it's exaggerating so the audience can see from the stage, here you have medium shots. It probably doesn't help either that the mocap actor was probably going off Japanese dialogue which this works better with as opposed to Ryan's lines after the fact.

    I didn't notice until he said something in his video, but Unleashed does mocap much better for sure. Between the advancements made in the technology and an obvious attempt to polish and add exaggeration (particularly in the face) it pulls this off much better. There's a reason Mocap is often considered CG animation's equivalent to rotoscoping, both only get you good results if you don't directly copy and embellish with it as a base.
     
  8. Linkabel

    Linkabel

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    I'm not really criticizing the intention of the scene. Like you said, that little twirl does add character to Amy. Is just how she and Sonic move that's the problem.

    And again, me and him are not saying that the newer games have these godly animations over the old games. But while there was a lot of stuff going on in the pre-06 games as opposed to the new ones, a majority of that was just noise and unnecessary.
     
  9. Metalwario64

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    The latter is my sentiment exactly. I realized that when I saw a test cutscene ChaosX posted for P-06 where he's attempting to reanimate the faces to add more expression. That's really the problem with the early Sonic games with motion capture; they didn't do enough to clean up and add to it. I'd love to see it revisited properly with animators properly animating their faces, similar to Unleashed.
     
  10. Dek Rollins

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    I don't understand this criticism. The characters are moving naturally in that scene. The only part that doesn't really look quite right is the step Amy takes immediately after her twirl (it always gave me Rankin/Bass vibes, honestly, which isn't a bad thing :V). Obviously they aren't perfect, and they need polish, but give me SA2 cinematics over Colors' any day.
     
  11. Linkabel

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    It's kind of hard to explain on mobile because ideally I would post screenshots and the small vid.

    But on that same scene where Amy mentions she saw Shadow, Sonic starts walking towards her and while he's doing that he moves his right hand up, moves it forward, moves both his arm up, lowers them, raises his left arm, moves it to the side, and then moves his right hand toward Amy.

    I am looking at the cutscene right now and he does all of this movement in two seconds.

    To me that does not look natural, even coming from a cartoon character. It looks like he just randomly moving his arms while he's talking for no purpose.

    Not saying he can't move them, but I think there was a better way of showing Sonic is tilted and impatient because of Shadow then doing whatever that was.

    To you it looks natural but to me it's the opposite.
     
  12. DefinitiveDubs

    DefinitiveDubs

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    For my money, if I had to choose between unnatural and stiff movements, over the same boring, lifeless poses everyone does over and over in Colors onward, I'll gladly take the former. At least with SA2, they're clearly trying. You can appreciate the effort. It's genuine camp: a performance that's technically unskilled, but with a heart of gold underneath. Now it seems like they ask the guys in mocap suits to do generic motions that they remix for any cutscene they want to do. It's so boring. There are SFMs made by amateurs with more life than any cutscene in Forces.

    Speaking of Forces, I also hate the radio chatter where characters' mugshots flap their gums in generic 3-second loops for every line. I don't know if that's actually a rendered model, or an animated gif of one, but surely it can't be that hard for a game released in 2017 to have semi-accurate lip flaps for dialogue during gameplay. Yakuza does it. TF2 does it. Even Sly Cooper did it back in 2002.
     
  13. Linkabel

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    I don't think it has to be either this or that though.

    Saying that, it's hard to say what they have to do without knowing what the reason is they have for what they're doing or not doing behind the scenes.

    (Though I've always been hopeful of them bringing back the cutscene style of Secret Rings or Black Knight but dropping the storybook styling)
     
  14. Gestalt

    Gestalt

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    SA2 was not as cartoony as Colours, but more of its own thing, which made it interesting to look at. There's something raw about it. In the end I think the events in SA2 benefited from that rawness, but other games from that time were going for something much more cinematic (because that was what's considered to be impressive graphics) and that didn't paint a good picture of SA2s cutscene direction. I think Colours got that right for the first time, even though it didn't had an awful lot of action scenes.
     
  15. Sid Starkiller

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    I'm willing to bet they did that to give it an anime-esque look. While Western cartoons record the voices first and have the animators match the lip flaps to it, the anime industry does the animation first and approximates lip flaps (with rare exceptions like AKIRA). It's one of those things that once you notice you can't unnotice.
     
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  16. You know, its amazing what time and perspective does; because the "mascot suit effect" is in full effect for Balan's Wonderworld if you look at the animations of that game, and it feels just as jarring as was described. But I don't get that same jarringness when I look at SA2's animations. Like sure, its definitely there, but I felt it worked there?

    I do agree that, being cartoon characters, Sonic characters shouldn't be bound by the limitations of human anatomy and their appendages are a little too huge for fluid animation.

    Its present in all of the characters, but yea, the constant use of the buttbrow and Knuckles` large ass fists just look awkward and doofy. I think the games from the last couple of years have done a great job at translating Uekawa's art into a 3D space, but its plain as day that these character designs cannot transition 1:1 without some level of awkwardness.

    I don't think Sonic characters need a total redesign, but they should be modified to better suit the animation. Less buttbrow and smaller appendages please.
     
  17. Boxer Hockey

    Boxer Hockey

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    fwiw, even though I love SA2 and I think the mocap brought a certain humanity to the acting, even as a teenager I thought it looked silly. Mocap acting in Japanese games always feels a little like watching Power Rangers/Sentai. Everyone acts as if they have a mask on so they exaggerate the body language to make up for the loss in facial expressions. Like someone said above, it's all camp and no subtlety. And yes, I'll take camp over cardboard but I'd prefer neither for Sonic.
     
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  18. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

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    With the advances in modding recently, I would love to see some animation mods that try to smooth out the rough edges. I know that while working on the Cutscene Revamp mod for SA2, Speeps experimented with reanimating the lip flaps to match the English dialogue though it was apparently a very time-intensive process. I think between the fix for lip flaps and smoothing out some of the mocap with some exaggeration, we'd have a much more polished result.
     
  19. SystemsReady

    SystemsReady

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    re:hands, I first noticed in Riders...

    [​IMG]

    that is not a perspective thing, they really are that big in game and make the characters' noodly arms become cones at the wrist before the gloves. I've always hated it.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Nova

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    I started watching this a few days ago and am just going to put a cap on it now that I've got some free time, but I wanted to jump in and say how much I appreciate the way he holds Unleashed up as a step forward. I've been saying this since the game was unveiled, love it or loathe it, Unleashed really did mark the point for me where Sega started treating 3D Sonic right. Ignore gameplay because you all know how much I love boost and how much I'll argue for it as the dominant gameplay style going forward but I don't want to open that can of worms again.

    In terms of animation, style, sound, presentation, Unleashed just nails it I feel and it's nice to have that feeling confirmed on at least one of those aspects by someone with a lot more knowledge about animation than myself. No more janky cutscenes or weird run cycles here, just pure quality.