Character Animation Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

3D Animation Model: Parkour Performance

This paper describes a three dimensional (3D) animation movie of a parkour performer. Parkour training is defined as the art of the movement and needs a lot of skills to overcome obstacles within the range of one's path. The latter allows the animator to exhibit his/her skills demonstrating the rapid changes and randomly appearing obstacles. As the animation will last only 2 min, a simple design would be suitable to emphasize details of animation from different camera angles.

3D animations are modeled by manipulating polygon meshes, embedding them into objects, characters, and scenes and eventually moving them. Recently, 3D animations have become a part of daily life routine from the advertisements on the billboards to web pages, television, video games, simulations and medical technologies. The high demand for the 3D animation attracts a lot of young people's attention; however, the skills such as being patient, being detail oriented, being open to the critics and being able to work hard help separate the successful 3D animation artists from the others. In this aspect, an animated movie with rapidly moving objects and details along with intelligent camera planning would be the preference for an artist to exhibit the skill sets developed over time. Animating the spider man, skateboard performer or a new generation sports activity, parkour can be listed as the examples of rapid moving, real time animation.

Creating a real time environment requires long processes such as hours of rendering, different camera perspectives, and camera shots. The human visual perception is constructed by the shadows to provide depth, object, movement, and light [2, 6]. The fundamental principles of 3D animation were defined by Thomas and Johnston, two of Disney's animators. These six principles can be summarized as follows [5, 3].

(1) Squash and stretch define the rigidity and volume of an object by using distortion effects.

(2) Timing spaces actions to define the weight and size of objects and the personality of characters.

(3) Anticipation is the preparation for an action.

(4) Staging is preparation of the idea so that it is unmistakably clear.

(5) Follow through and overlapping action are the termination of an action and establishing its relationship to the next action.

(6) Straight ahead action and pose-to-pose action are the two contrasting approaches to the creation of movement.

In the traditional 3D animation shadows were drawn by hand. Fortunately, the rapid developments in digital image technologies allowed the animators to use computer tools and programs. Another important aspect of animation is the contact between moving characters and the animation environment or background. It does not matter how much weight animated into the characters' movements, the characters look like aimlessly wandering around, walking on air.

Taking all together, timing, preparation of the characters and background, objects chosen, contacts between characters and background and the color of characters, background and objects along with the camera angles define the credibility of an animation as well as the animator.

In this paper, parkour sport is chosen to highlight the contact between a young parkour performer and background objects along with his facial expressions during a particular movement and different camera perspectives of the same movement. The sport of parkour requires a set of skills that the performer acrobatically moves from a start point A to the finish point B. on/around the objects appearing in the urban environment. of Damian Walters illustrates his movements, particularly, acrobatically running thought a car, jumping on the car and being able to reach on the ground after tumbling on the car. It demonstrates the importance of distortions, timing as well as the contact between the performer and objects (Figure 1). The performer looks like he did not pay attention what he wears; however, the shoes and clothes are very important for making quick and acrobatic moves. In the living corner of Seattle Times Adam Tschorn, a Corner Writer of Los Angeles Times, explains the look of performer as sport of parkour is being very popular within young generation and candidate to be as big as skateboarding. Adam Dunlap, who started a parkour-inspired clothing line based in Beaverton, Ore., called Take Flight Apparel, is more nuanced: "Can this be as big as skateboarding? The simple answer is yes. But the people in the parkour community have been saying that this is going to be the next big action sport for years. But it's taking a lot longer than I thought." Parkour as a launchpad for soon-to-be popular lifestyle brands is far from a universal opinion, especially since no specialized equipment or clothing is actually needed. While many consider sturdy, lightweight running shoes a basic necessity (K-Swiss launched the first parkour-specific shoe in 2007), some think barefoot is best. Pants are usually loose fitting enough to allow unhindered movement and offer some protection from abrasion, although here personal choices include running shorts, baggy sweats modified to mid-calf and cargo pants (so maps and other gear can be stowed in the pockets). Tops are soft, lightweight T-shirts.

In this context, the recent animated movie by Disney presented "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time"[12]. The acrobatic fight scenes featured the cast careening off walls and leaping off roofs in parkour-style moves. The aesthetics and the connectivity between body and streets and the details of the obstacles required a long laboratory work; anticipation, staging and follow through and overlapping actions (Figure 2). The final animation was almost better than real time performance (7). The face expression, clothes and background were very aesthetic as well as their simplicity. This kind of animation is called performance animation since the movement of the animation characters derived from the movements of a live performer. For example, the movements of a parkour performer are captured using a camera or a set of cameras then applied to a 3D character (see figure 3 shows a performer jumping on a building and his 3D animated image). The challenging question is that whether the audience would give the same reaction to the animation as they react to the human performer. The technology allows animation artists to use the face expression, body distortion and gestures as it is real. Therefore, the audience would interact with the animation as they would interact with live performer with an awareness of virtual environment.

In this paper, a parkour performer will be animated by using the fundamental principles of animation. The movements of the animated performer will be highlighted by distortion effect as well as the obstacles appearing as the performer moves. The close-up shots will emphasize the facial expressions of the character.

Figure 1. A scene of Damien Walters parkour performance on an urban environment.

Figure 2. Some scenes from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The moves and face expressions were put together along with basic colors and color effects.

Figure 3. Animation of a parkour movement.


In this section, the elements of the proposed animation are going to be discussed and then an example scenario will be described.


The target audience will be game developers and animators.

Thesis Statement

The main challenge of this study is developing a 3D action animation. The sport of parkour is a fast growing, very popular acrobatic training. The fast pace of the movements along with the aesthetic of body, and movements allow the animator exhibits the skills by using different rendering and modeling techniques as well as the different camera angles.


Background will be simple and change in harmony to shape and locations to the obstacles (Figure 4).

Obstacles (i.e., Objects)

The objects will to be either cubes or spheres and the color will be simply white. The objects will appear as the performer moves around the virtual environment. Figure 4 illustrates three different urban environment obstacles for a parkour animation. The virtual environments on the upper left and lower of Figure 4 show the color of the proposed design; however, the obstacles of proposed design will be dynamically changing meaning randomly appearing as the performer moves.


The parkour performer will be a young adult wearing black shirt and a pair of black pants. The clothes will reflect the details of the movements and give the impression that it is very soft and light as in the real life. An animation of the character is shown in Figure 5.

Figure 4. Three examples for virtual parkour environment

Figure 5. The animation of parkour performer


The animation will be a short animation lasting around 2 minutes.

Design Parameters

Squash and Stretch: Lassater and Rafael suggested that when an object is moved, the movement emphasizes any rigidity in the object. For example, when the performer (Figure 1) moves his body, his clothes change stretch and squash. Moreover, in the gymnasium, the obstacles moves and changes the shapes. In the proposed method, only the animated performer will show the effect of posture changes. The animated character's face will show the emotions such as smiling, talking, content and bewildered. Hence, the lip, the eyes, and…

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Cite This Thesis:

"Character Animation" (2010, October 14) Retrieved August 19, 2017, from

"Character Animation" 14 October 2010. Web.19 August. 2017. <>

"Character Animation", 14 October 2010, Accessed.19 August. 2017,