Stumbling Toward 'Awesomeness'

A Technical Art Blog

Monday, June 23, 2008

Under the Hood: The Inner Workings of Animation on Assassin’s Creed

Under the Hood: The Inner Workings of Animation on Assassin’s Creed

Sylvain Bernard, Animation Director, Ubisoft


  • All animation was done in 3dsMax with Biped
    • ‘Our animators do not like MotionBuilder for creating animation’
    • Would have meant porting all their tools to MotionBuilder
  • MotionBuilder was only used to clean mocap
  • They decided to ignore foot sliding in order to concentrate on a better performance and gameplay experience
  • They stressed the importance of Technical Animators
  • Up to 15 animators worked on Assassin’s Creed
  • 40% of all animation was hand keyed
  • There is no procedural animation(not counting blending)
  • They showed the entire move tree
    • sprint, run, walk, jog, slow walk, banking, strafe, 4 idles
    • 168 ground animations for altair locomotion group
    • 122 anims in climbing group


  • 90% of work was integrating animation into the environment
  • The key was pairing animators with programmers
    • Sit them together
  • Before they started one main goal of the project was ‘to do as much animation as we could’
    • They saw Next Gen as an animation showcase
  • They prototype gameplay in max to show programmers how the game should look/feel
    • How AI should react
    • How a character should interact with the environment
  • ‘In the beginning designers were given free reign to make anything they wanted, in the end we had to make a 20 page document telling them how to create levels’
    • Too much freedom leads to chaos
  • Stressed the need to involve animators in animation system development


  • All characters share the same skeleton (male/female npc, altair)
    • ‘the art director wanted characters of different heights, we said ‘no”
    • made mocking things up easy
  • They call their movement locator the ‘magic bug’
    • Locators ‘joined together’ when two characters interacted
  • NPCs use simple hinge constraints for ponytails and things
  • They had ‘no working AI for almost the first two years‘ of the project
  • They do edge detection on the collision mesh
  • Auto nav mesh generation
  • Auto ‘animation object’ placement
posted by Chris at 12:34 PM  

1 Comment »

  1. Hey man, thanks for sharing this information, I especially found the the numbers on the animation tree interesting!

    Comment by Matt Ornstein — 2008/12/08 @ 9:24 PM

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress