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Bringing Emotion into Action: A History of Animation at Ubisoft

Monteil, who is currently based at Ubisoft Montpellier, started working at Ubisoft in 1997. When I reached out to him recently to talk about his career at Ubisoft and how he had seen his field evolve over nearly 25 years, I got a sense of the deep knowledge that comes from having seen 3D animation evolve from low-poly characters like Rayman in the 1990s to the highly polished and complex facial and body animations we see in games today.

Monteil is also a rich source of anecdotes and tidbits about the history of Ubisoft and its many franchises.

“I Didn’t Have Much Going on That Week”

One day, he replied to an ad from the studio; he thought they were looking for actors to perform motion capture. “As it turned out, the team was actually looking for cartoon animators, which I knew nothing about!” Monteil says. But they needed people so badly that they actually offered to train me for a week on their animation software, and then see what I was capable of. I didn’t have much going on that week, so I said yes.

Shut That Door

At E3 2013, Ubisoft presented a gameplay trailer for The Division, which included a scene in which the playable character takes cover by the side of an abandoned police car during a firefight, then stretches out his hand to close the car door as he sidles along the vehicle. It may look like a simple enough animation – and certainly a realistic one – but it had never been seen in a game before, and players noticed. The car door became a meme: the development team celebrated the fact that players closed over 7 billion car doors during the game’s closed beta, and the action of closing a car door while in cover even became an in-game achievement or trophy called “Shut that Door.”

Animation sits at the heart of the player experience and the interactivity that defines videogames as a genre.

Movement Is the Raw Material

While realistic details like the car door in The Division can help create immersion for players, Monteil is not necessarily in search of realism in his work, and even balks at the technological search for a perfect recreation of physics in games.

Just like in cinema, games cannot recreate reality exactly as it is, because that would be boring. We use symbols, shortcuts, and dramatization. What I’m interested in today is using animation to create more drama, personalities, stories... Emotions!

Just Like Improv

As an animation veteran, a lot of his focus is still on helping build up Ubisoft’s expertise in this area, by providing tools and trainings to fellow animators around the world.

One of the projects Monteil is working on now is to incorporate more emotions into the non-playable characters (NPCs) with a new performance pipeline to animate these characters. Right now, NPCs are mostly designed and animated as a kind of backdrop in game worlds.

Original article

Dec 04, 2021 at 00:10


Video provided by Ubisoft.


Bringing Emotion into Action: 25 Years of Animation at Ubisoft With Gilles | Ubisoft [NA]


Dec 03, 2021 by Ubisoft North America


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Bringing Emotion into Action: 25 Years of Animation at Ubisoft With Gilles | Ubisoft [NA]