Course Outline

Course Code: GAD404 Animation for Games

Prerequisites: [Successful completion of GAD402 Character Rigging]

Semester Credit Units: [4.0]

Class Contact Hours: [36]  Lab Contact Hours: [48]
Instructor: David Latour
Phone: (415) 302-9608
Class Meets: m/w/f 8am-4pm
Course Length: 5 weeks

Course Description
This class focuses on animation sequences typically needed for games – Idle cycles, walk cycles, run cycles, bridging/transitional animations, and attack animations.  Students will create the animation assets for the game they design in Advanced Game Production. Students will be taught advanced skills and techniques used within Maya for character animation.

Goals and Objectives
The goal for this class is to understand the set up and animation process for games. Students will apply the 12 principles of animation in complex animation applications. They will learn how to create Character Sets, Use the Graph Editor, and create cycles and build transitional animations. They will also learn how to convey specific character qualities and traits through timing and movement. The course will also cover advanced Maya animation techniques using constraints and snapping. At the end of the course students should have a complete understanding of the different components needed to build a character animation set. They should have 5 pieces of animation, completed to a high level of quality.

Course Requirement & Policies
Students are expected to do all assigned work, which means creating a personal level that is playable in the game engine, participating in the group assignment which is a level that is playable in the game engine, a midterm that shows fundamentals of all the lectured classes and finally Group Participation.
Each student is responsible for communication with the instructor and the other members of the team. Any demonstrations that were missed due to absence is still required to be completed. Students are highly encouraged not to miss classes as this can affect your group participation grade.

Course Topics

Class 1

Intro to Animation for Games and the 12 Principles
Class 2

Extended Character Idle and Animation Planning
Class 3

Walk Cycle -  In class
Class 4

Basic Run Mechanics
Class 5

Advanced Character Run
Class 6

Transitional Animations, Idle2Run, zooXferAnim
Class 7

3 Strike Attack,  Planning
Class 8

3 Strike Attack , Advanced Animation Techniques
Class 9

3 Strike Attack , Advanced Maya Techniques
Class 10

3 Strike Attack,  Polishing
Class 11

Connecting all the pieces
Class 12

Final Critique

Text & Bibliography
"How to Cheat in Maya" by Eric Luhta
"Stop Staring" by Jason Osipa
"Simplified Drawing for Planning Animation" by Wayne Gilbert

Obtaining Books & Library Resources
The Wintzen Library is open Monday through Friday, 9AM – 12 midnight, and noon to 5 PM on Saturday and Sunday. Aside from being a great resource the library also distributes all text books.

All GE students must have library barcodes on their ID badges in order to obtain their GE books.

Course Grades
The primary grades for the course is based on the assigned individual pieces of animation used create a basic character movement set. Class Participation and Peer Evaluation make up the balance of the grade.

This breaks down to these:

Character Idle                                                          20%
Walk Cycle                                                               10%
Run Cycle                                                                20%
Idle2Run                                                                  10%
3 Strike Attack                                                         20%
Class Participation/Evaluation                                      20%

Course Schedule

Class 1 - [Intro to Animation for Games]

Class 1 Objective:
The objective of this class is to have students doing animations that would be found in games and introduce animation character sets. We will discuss all of the things we will be doing for the month. Introduce The 12 Principles of Animation and how to apply them.

Class Outline:
Introductions, examples, prepping character rig for animation, common pitfalls in Maya, character referencing and scene setup.

Due Today: [EOD]
Students will create a character description, due at end of class. All future animations will be based on this character description.

Lab 1 Objective:
Students create a character description, and a basic character Idle animation.

Lab Outline:
Create a character description, favoring clear action oriented adjectives. Discuss principles of good posing. Use those principles to make a Character Idle Pose, and then add natural breathing and milling behavior around 3-5 sec long.

Class 2 - [Extended Idle]

Class 2 Objective:
Create extended idle animation and learn about proper animation planning.

Class Outline:
Examples, discussion, Inventing actions, Finding reference.

Due Today: NA

Lab 2 Objective:
Continue work on Extended Idle

Lab Outline:
Continue work on Extended Idle

Class 3 - [Walk Cycle, build in class]

Class 3 Objective:
Based on the character descriptions, Students will build a walk-cycle in class. They will follow along as the instructor demonstrates.

Class Outline:
Good animation planning, Gathering and analyzing reference.

Due Today:
Extended Character Idle

Lab 3 Objective:
Play-Along Demo: building a basic walking cycle based on a character description collaboratively created by the students.

Lab Outline:
In class Walk Cycle creation to hand in for next class

Class 4 - [Basic Run Mechanics]

Class 4 Objective:
Using lessons from the walk cycle, Students will build a character Run cycle

Class Outline:
Show reference, analyze and execute. Instructor will demonstrate building a basic run cycle based on character description from class 3.

Due Today: [at start of class]
Walk Cycle

Lab 4 Objective:
Work on Run Cycle, individual review of class work

Lab Outline:
Work on Run Cycle and give individual feedback on work in progress.

Class 5 - [Advanced Character Run]

Class 5 Objective:
Using the graph editor, motion paths, as well as other techniques, students will polish their character run animations to completion.

Class Outline:
Individual review, identify common issues

Due Today: NA

Lab 5 Objective:
Finish Run animation

Lab Outline:
Finish Run animation with individual feedback and guidance

Class 6 - [Transitional Animations and Idle2Run, Copy and Paste Animation]

Class 6 Objective:
Students go over reactionary and non typical cycle animations such as falls, hits, as well as transitional animations. Students also learn about copying and pasting animation.

Class Outline:
Examples, Match poses and Pose2shelf, Discuss ground speed and acceleration. Copy and Pasting animation with "zooXferAnim" will also be covered.

Due Today:
Run Cycle

Lab 6 Objective:
Build Idle2Run transitional animation.

Lab Outline:
In class play-along demo of how to build an Idle2Run animation. Students will build an animation that moves though space and then convert it to a treadmill. We'll also talk about copying and pasting animation from one file to another in Maya.

Class 7 - [3 Strike Attack, Planning]

Class 7 Objective:
Students will plan an attack animation

Class Outline:
Example, Parameters, Gathering good reference, Building Basic Constraints in Maya

Due Today:

Lab 7 Objective:
Plan and lay out the attack animation

Lab Outline:
Using primitive objects and other techniques, students will plan out and choreograph their attack animation. They will then use simple guides to build their key poses.

Class 8 - [3 Strike Attack, Advanced Animation Techniques]

Class 8 Objective:
Work continues on the 3 Strike Attack,

Class Outline:
Check work in progress, identify common issues

Due Today: NA

Lab 8 Objective:
Work continues on the 3 Strike Attack, introduce additional advanced animation techniques; path of action and arcs

Lab Outline:
Work continues on the 3 Strike Attack using common issues as a way to demonstrate some advanced techniques used in animation

Class 9 - [3 Strike Attack, Advanced Maya Techniques]

Class 9 Objective:
Introduce students some of the less common tools in Maya to improve animation work-flow

Class Outline:
Examples, simple mel scripting, animation utilities, other tips.

Due Today:
Progress Check

Lab 9 Objective:
Students work on bringing all assignments to completion

Lab Outline:
Individual feedback on all work to date and final notes

Class 10
- [3 Strike Attack, Polishing]

Class 10 Objective:
Students continue refining all of their work

Class Outline:
one on one with students and group

Due Today:
[Progress Check]

Lab 10 Objective:
[Continue working on group and personal projects, Test Levels]

Lab Outline:
[Continue working on group and personal projects]

Class 11 - [Connecting all the Pieces]

Class 11 Objective:
Teach students how to match all of the parts of the animation set into continuous behavior.

Class Outline:
Pose2Shelf and match poses. Copy and paste in Maya

Due Today:
Progress Check

Lab 11 Objective:
String together all animation to test match pose integrity

Lab Outline:
Provide individual feedback on all work.

Class 12 - [Final Critique]

Class 12 Objective:
Final critique of individual animation

Class Outline:
Final critique of individual animation

Due Today:
All final animation

Campus Policies & Procedures

Student Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of every student to maintain academic integrity, respect the rights and differences of others, and assume responsibility for reading, understanding and adhering to all college policies as stated in the college catalog and/or addenda, and the student handbook. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of every student to abide by local, state, and federal laws, as well.

Student Standards of Conduct
As a member of the Ex’pression community students are expected to abide by the Standards of Conduct while on the main campus or any offsite classroom, during any Ex’pression sponsored field trip, special event, or convention. The College will enforce any and all of the Standards of Conduct at any of the aforementioned sites at any time.

A violation of the Standards of Conduct will result in disciplinary action which may include, but is not limited to, suspension, probation, or dismissal from the College.

The Standards of Conduct include the following topics:

  • Academic Integrity
  • Cheating
  • Plagiarism
  • Content of Assignments
  • Use of Electronic Devices in Classrooms
  • Copyright Infringement & Software Piracy
  • Falsification of Student Records
  • Harassment
  • Hazing
  • Physical Assault
  • Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault
  • Lewd, Indecent, or Disorderly Conduct
  • Unauthorized Entry
  • Theft
  • Dangerous/Deadly Weapons or Devices
  • Destruction/Damage of Property
  • Use of Drugs/Alcohol
  • Official Orders of College Administrators
  • ID Badges
  • Smoking
  • Food and Drink
  • Dress Code
  • Hygiene
Academic Integrity
Ex’pression strives to support the development of academic achievement. Such achievement can only be obtained through academic integrity. Grades earned in courses are a part of a student’s permanent academic record and therefore must be achieved based on the student’s own knowledge. Academic dishonesty such as cheating, plagiarism, fabrication of information, or facilitating any academic dishonesty is unacceptable and will result in disciplinary action.

Cheating is defined as obtaining or attempting to obtain, or aiding another to obtain credit for work, or any improvement of evaluation performance, by any dishonest or deceptive means. Cheating includes, but is not limited to; lying; copying from another’s test (unless such discussion is specifically authorized by the instructor); taking or receiving copies of an exam without the permission of the instructor; using or displaying notes, cheat sheets, or other inappropriate devices; dependence on sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in carrying out the assignment; allowing someone other than the officially enrolled student to represent said student.

Plagiarism is defined as presenting someone else’s work as if it were your own, without giving credit to the source. In many cases it is acceptable to use someone else’s writing in a research paper, provided that you name the source of the writing. Failing to cite your sources however, is plagiarism.

Class Participation Policy
Students not participating for 15% to 24.99% of a class in a term will have the final grade for that class dropped one whole letter grade.

Students not participating for 25% or more of a class in a term will automatically receive a failing grade for that class.

There will be no excused absences.  Absences include a running total of all time missed including full lectures, full labs, late arrivals and early departures.  Absences may impact your funding and your qualifications for graduation.

Participation includes, but is not limited to:
o    arriving on time prepared for class
o    engaging in class oriented projects/tasks during class hours
o    completion of homework/assigned projects on time
o    actively engaging in the classroom process

Non-participation includes, but is not limited to:
o    arriving late, leaving early, or failing to attend class
o    computer gaming during class time
o    chatting, texting, or making phone calls during class time
o    failure to participate in class projects
o    failure to submit work in a timely manner

You are responsible for obtaining any information you missed during an absence.  The instructor will not repeat entire lectures for absenteeism.  If you know you are going to miss class for any reason let your instructor know and make arrangements to obtain anything you miss.

There will be no make-up quizzes or exams offered unless you have made PRIOR arrangements with the instructor.  If you are sick or unable to attend on a test/quiz day you must contact your instructor before the time of the test.  Missing a test/quiz with no contact = 0% for that test/quiz.  Preferred method of contact is via email so it is time-stamped.

Any student not in attendance for 14 consecutive calendar days (in any/all classes, including Sat/Sun) will be dropped from school for unsatisfactory attendance.

Financial aid disbursements and cost of living checks will be delayed or returned to the lender if we do not have attendance recorded for you on the date of the expected disbursement.

Disability Accommodations
Ex’pression is committed to providing qualified students with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and The Americans with Disabilities Act an equal opportunity to achieve success. Students who have been diagnosed with learning, emotional, and/or physical disabilities are entitled to certain accommodations in the classroom upon submission of the appropriate documentation. Students are not required to disclose their disabilities to the school, however disability accommodations will not be automatically provided unless the student (or his/her legal guardian) requests that such provisions be arranged.

Requests for disability accommodations must be made through the office of the Director of Student Services.

In order to qualify for disability accommodations you must provide documentation prepared by an appropriate professional, such as a medical doctor, psychologist or other qualified diagnostician. The required documentation may include one or more of the following: a diagnosis of your current disability; the date of the diagnosis; how the diagnosis was reached; the credentials of the professional; how your disability affects a major life activity; and how the disability affects your academic performance. The documentation should provide enough information for Ex’pression to decide what an appropriate academic adjustment may be.

Accommodations may include:
  • A separate testing area with minimal distractions
  • An extended exam period (1.5 times the normally allotted period)
  • Clarification on test items
  • The option of substituting a verbal exam for a written exam, or a written exam for a verbal exam
  • The option of having exam questions presented in written or oral form 
  • Supervised breaks
Additional or alternative provisions may be arranged if the requested accommodations are appropriate and reasonable for the documented disability, do not jeopardize the student’s learning experience, and do not provide the student with an unfair advantage over other students in the class.

In providing an academic adjustment, Ex’pression is not required to lower or effect substantial modifications to essential requirements. For example, although Ex’pression may be required to provide extended testing time, it is not required to change the substantive content of the test. In addition, Ex’pression does not have to make modifications that would fundamentally alter the nature of a service, program or activity or would result in undue financial or administrative burdens. Ex’pression is not required to provide personal attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature, such as tutoring and typing.

Additional Policy Information
Additional policy information and/or definitions are stated in the Student Handbook, which can be obtained from the Student Services department or on the student website