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. DefinitiveDubs


    The Voice Maestro Member
    Cyber City
    Mega Man Zero: The Definitive Dub
    Well...I still hate Unleashed's humans, but that's a topic for another day.

    Sonic's hands are huge, and that limits performances, but I think part of the problem is since this is all mocapped, everyone's trying to do normal everyday human gestures and it doesn't work with those hands. Uekawa's art has Sonic and company doing very exaggerated, almost JoJo-like poses with their hands, and I think that's what he would expect them to move like.
  2. Dek Rollins

    Dek Rollins

    size of a tangerine Member
    Gonna be honest, Sonic's in game running animations in the boost games look really dumb. In SA1 the posing is much better, with the way he holds his arms back and tilts forward looking very stylish. The animations in the boost games feel like he's just running in a fairly upright position with his arms loosely flopping behind him. He is tilting forward, but it doesn't look like he's buckling down for a sonic speed run. It just looks so awkward. I think this might be partially caused by the proportional problems with the modern models though.
  3. I feel like SA1's max speed and Unleashed's are pretty comparable. Part of getting Sonic's charm down is that running is effortless for him, not something he has to exert himself for.

    I do think he made a great point about that.

    I think Sonic Team knew how great Unleashed was because they've barely changed the models in over a decade. It still looks great in 2021 mind you, but the lack of meaningful updates is noticeable.
  4. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    I think the primary reason I wanted HD Unleashed was mostly because of how incredibly beautiful it looked. As you said, it had presentation value off the charts and it's only now that we can run everything without lag the way it was intended to. So much passion went into the game and it's a stark contrast to the games that came after it.

    It's probably overstated at this point, but they dove headfirst into the Pixar aesthetic and it paid off in droves. It's not one for one, but the aesthetic lends itself well to exaggeration, squash and stretch (just not to the insane and ludicrous levels NFP would prefer), and pose to pose. It also helps that Marza knew exactly what they were doing with the pre-rendered cinematics and I'm very upset they haven't been allowed to go full force as they did in this game.
  5. Josh


    I think Sonic Team's gameplay animations have looked fantastic ever since Unleashed, and it's a big reason that game still holds up so well visually. Sliding, running, all the flourishes on trick ramps/rings and homing attacks... I'd never noticed that Sonic's hands turn into fists when he boosts before, but that's a fantastic little touch. And the newer stuff like the Avatar's grapple hook shenanigans, the squash & stretch on the jump ball, and the in-level QTEs in Forces tend to look really stylish.


    Genuinely, nice to know I'm not alone. There are d̶o̶z̶e̶n̶s maybe about four of us!
  6. Nova


    On the contrary, I think it's in stark contrast to the games before it mostly. The ones following it have all still been fantastic as far as animation goes, at the very least.
  7. ChaddyFantome


    I can't really agree with his criticisms of SA2's run animation, or the animation in general. It gave his run this sense of adrenaline and energy, like he is overclocking his run. Gave it a nice sense of weight and intensity. I guess you could call it more grounded to give it some kind of description, like Sonic's speed is truly a super power and he is reacting to the pressures around him. Along with the bouncing of his quills, you really felt each foot hit the ground as he ran. He often talks about how the run in other games makes him feel like he is gliding, and i actually find that to be something of a flaw.
    The speed is less felt without the feedback imo and sonic just kind of becomes a car as opposed to a guy running super fast.
    That's my take anyway.
    Also, he was kind of insidious about the timeframe regarding SA2s time frame when it comes to animations. Most all the games he listed came out after SA2, and/or most of them were considered exceptions to the rule and standouts in terms of animation as opposed to reflective of the industry standard.
    He also very clearly has a huge distaste for mocap on principle, which i can't really agree with his criticisms that it made the characters look like people in costumes. Certainly something of a ragdoll effect sometimes, but definitely not people in costumes, especially given Sonic characters are generally very human in mannerism and behavior anyway.
    He makes it pretty clear he has a bias in favor of overstylised and cartoony aesthetic and animation, but Sonic especially for the modern games has always been pretty grounded despite its fantastical elements and I believe that plays into their choices in that respect with the animation.
    I do think their proportions could serve to be toned down though. That's something even i've noticed over the years.
    Knuckles should have large fists but cmon.
    I am shocked that he praised the animation in games like Colors. For years people complained about them for being boring, stiff and lifeless compared to past games. I think this is where things like their personal distated for mocap on principle are showing.

    While the animation in the games prior to 06 could be hockey at times, I never found it was hockey in a way that betrayed the characters. Not outside of a few exceptions. Characters were still full of life and energy and had mannerisms that implied things about them as individuals, whereas newer games, while you could argue are technically more clean, simply don't.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2021
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  8. Metalwario64


    I feel like the SA2 cutscenes haven't aged very well, but for their time, and especailly compared to the first game, they were a massive step up and blew me away with how much more natural it looked. Today the roboticness of the dated motion capture is apparent, but I still like it more than the stiff and limited, "cartoony" animations of the post-Unleashed games. Again, Unleashed itself seems to look very good with its mocap and hand-made animation, but now everything is stiff and from what I've heard and seen, there hasn't been a cutscene to really capture the classic Sonic CD-esque high-speed action since Unleashed. That's something even 06 got right.

    It's really a shame that he only focused on the negatives, because even in that Amy scene, there are really good examples of character acting through the animation like Sonic refusing to stand still in the cell.

    Speaking of the SA2 run again, I'm using it for my SRB2 Sonic, and someone in the SRB2 Discord server recently told me I should get rid of the bounce to improve it. Wonder if they always thought that or if they watched the video. :P

    I think my sprites look pretty good:
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  9. ChaddyFantome


    I personally think it looks great.
    I certainly would hope that isn't the case in regards to what people have said to you about it. While some people insist that this fandom doesn't have an issue of simply taking what other popular figures on the internet say at face value without reflecting on it, its simply ignorant to suggest this isn't something that happens. Its not even unique to Sonic, yet people insist it doesn't happen here.
    In any case, in the video, he insists that it just looks like visual noise, and while it probs can at certain angles, Sonic's proportions are large enough that even with the bounce in his step, his features are never obscured or out of focus.
    It's not even necessarily my fave run in the series or anything. I still debate on whether I prefer his SA2 Run or his Heroes Run. At least as far as 3D games go.
    But certainly it isn't this mess he insists as far as I see. It's very comparable to things like The Flash.

    skip to 1:54 for an example of what I'm talking about
    Just seems to be hyperbolic to me. It just comes off as "it's different from what the prior game did therefore" which is rather unfortunate.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
  10. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    As far as animation goes I suppose I can agree, but the presentation in Unleash has yet to be matched in my opinion. Forces looks nice, but it's not as polished as Unleashed is if that makes sense. Bit off-topic for this thread I suppose, but that's how I see it.
  11. Azookara


    yup Member
    I think there's a time and place for both the "heavy" run and the "gliding" run.

    Think of it like shifting gears. Once Sonic gets from a walk to a good jog going his animation starts dramatically speeding up until he reaches a smooth running animation. Then as he pushes that threshold, that animation could start pushing forward heavy until he reaches his 'dash' state where it smoothens out again (this would be his maxed out speed animation).

    Both forms of motion look cool to me, its just that they should both be utilized instead of going one or the other. SA2 and Heroes feel too jittery and hard to read, but the boost games and LW feel too smooth and lack punchiness, and I think its because they go for one approach or the other instead of having both.

    Of course this would require like 6 different running animations, but there's like 10-12 different jumping animations for 3D Mario, and he does that about as much as Sonic runs, so why not put focus on that?
  12. Blastfrog


    See ya starside. Member
    I'm disappointed that he failed to mention the weird horizontal alignment of Sonic 1's walk cycle. The rest of the rotations stay in sync, but the main angle bizarrely shifts left and right with seemingly no rhyme or reason. The mobile version syncs them back up.

    Also, Sonic's face is all screwed up in Sonic 2's walk cycle on one frame, the entire body below the top 16 pixels is shifted right by one pixel. Irritatingly enough, this was not fixed in the mobile version.

    You're damn right they do. Excellent work!
  13. Level Zone Act

    Level Zone Act

    Sorry, I don't see what you mean by these two issues.

    Here's a comparison of the walking sprites in Sonic 1 and 2, laid out so that equivalent frames are approximately aligned. Could you point out what you mean about the angle changing in Sonic 1 - are you talking about the way the circle of peach skin on his body seems to face directly toward the camera in both the second and third frames?

    And which of the Sonic 2 frames has the pixels shifted to the right?

    Sonic 1+2 running sprites.png
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  14. Crappy Blue

    Crappy Blue

    mighty is my son. thanks Member

    Follow Sonic's head in this gif. He doesn't stay perfectly centered with the camera for all of his animation frames.


    You can compare these adjacent frames to see the issue. Circled in red, the topmost tiles of Sonic's head are shifted one pixel to the left relative to the rest of his sprite on the left frame; you can tell by the way the side of his muzzle has a diagonal corner instead of a smoother curve and how the front of his muzzle seems to jut out beneath his nose.
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  15. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

    Virginia, USA
    Paying off student loans
    Third from the left. Compare the muzzle to the ones next to it.
  16. Swifthom


    A Friend Remembers... Member
    Been out of the loop clearly - only saw this video last night. It's a brilliant summary of the series - and the particular look at SA2 is the only bit I can disagree with - but as he says it is kinda subjective at that point
  17. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    My name's Martin Member
    I've always seen this as a way to add motion to his walk, I've always thought it was great that way.
  18. Tiberious


    Yeah, I'm furry. Got a problem? Oldbie
    I get some of what he's saying, and I can certainly see why he says it.

    Mocap is a good start, but you have to do almost as much cleanup work as it does to just do it manually. In the end, what time are you really saving? Second, squash-and-stretch I see as more of a spice. It doesn't have to be a lot, and if it's subtle, it won't even really change his feel. Even if it's simple things like slightly lengthening a leg to position the feet better in a run cycle, or as a minor bit of overshoot for a punch motion. I'm not saying hive him Dhalsim level stretchiness or anything, but when it's subtle enough, you don't even notice it and it just feels better.

    As far as facial animation, I think they just need to actually put in the time to make sure he has a head model that supports a wide range of facial expressions. If that requires editing the model, so be it. If that requires redesigning the head a bit, go for it. The results when it's actually used will be worth it.
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  19. Gestalt


    Sphinx in Chains Member
    Not to confuse anyone here, but I'd like to add a little addendum to the thread. Sorry for the bump!

    As we all know, the controls for Classic Sonic in Generations and Forces aren't exactly what many of us would call good controls. Some say they feel too stiff, some say they're broken. While I agree with this sentiment, I kept thinking why it has to be like this. For one, the classic trilogy has always been popular, be it for its graphics, music or the way Sonic runs, jumps and rolls around all over the place, why not just copy that? And on the other hand there's also Sonic Advance, 2 and 3 which seamlessly translated said elements for a new generation of gaming handhelds, leaving fans boggling at how flawed of an experience Classic Sonic in GeneForces is when compared to his Mega Drive debut.

    I'm going to get straight to the point. What makes “good” controls? Isn't it a symbiosis of graphics/animations, sound effects and the feeling when you hit the jump button? Sonics animation and sound effects were designed to give a sense of speed but ultimately make no sense. When he jumps he just 'pops' into a ball with no transition whatsoever. The animation implies it's a somersault, but I don't think that's how somersaults work, right? So due to hardware limitations and the premise of having a speedy character the player simply accepts it as a kind of screw attack and has fun with it. Moving on to the next era. Sonic Adventure introduced us to more realistic environments and a bunch of new sound effects, but otherwise stuck very close to the way the classics played. You can tell they had to do a few adjustments here and there (Sonics jump has now something of a soap bubble feel to it), but it was still fun. Years later Sonic Unleashed came around and made everything even more “realistic”. Its controls might not be as intuitive as the old ones, but mastering them rewards you with high-speed simulator-type action, something many of us have dreamed about. If only the platforming was amazing as the rest of the game.

    I'd say not much has changed since then. Except for one thing. Sonic Team brought back Classic Sonic (old zones included) and updated everything with new graphics. Does this sound too good to be true? Yeah, because as it turned out, Sonic Generations' Classic stages were no match for the actual classics. What exactly could they have done better? Where to begin with? My easy conclusion is that Sonic doesn't 'pop' into a ball any more. Because realism and all that.

    Sonic used screw attack. It's very effective. Why don't we just drop all this talk about realism in Sonic games... at least for a bit!
  20. Nova


    See, this looks fantastic! I wouldn't remove the bounce here because you've capped how fast he bounces up and down. The problem with SA2 itself is that you can charge a spindash, uncurl and Sonic looks fucking demented. :eng101: