Games VS Film: What’s the Difference?

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Animation has got to be the same for games and film right? Well think again.

Although the discipline generally uses the same set of tools and principles, creating them for film or games requires different rules and techniques; just like playing a game is not the same as watching a movie. So then, what is the difference? Let’s explore the realm of animation within this article and compare film animation with games animation.

gamesWhen creating games animations, the animator needs to consider the gameplay and the story. Their animation is limited to short clips of movement that is required when playing. The animator might also have to re-tweak their animations after it has been imported into the game engine as it can behave differently when exported from the 3D tool. However, an animator might only need to create a looping cycle of an attack, defence, walk, idle, death or run animation. Another varying factor (depending on the game type) is that the character can sometimes be required to be seen on all 360 degrees of rotation for the player camera and that they might need to consider specifications from the game designer. In a game, the player controls every movement, and it is very important for the animator to create animations that allows the player to feel the moments through a simple controller. Some characters look flatter and less detailed in a game and you may have noticed this when comparing a game to their movie. This is because games are also limited to the game engine and the console meaning a modeller can be limited to a certain number of polys in their creation in order for the game to function efficiently.

Film animation on the other hand, allows for more time, passes, and iterations for the animator to completely finalise their animations. The character animations are not dependent on a player but rather just for the audience to watch. The viewer is passively watching the animation and the animator has complete control over the direction of the story. As the animator has more control over what the audience is able to see, they also do not require to create a complete environment or landscape for their shots. The camera angle can mask out some sections that do not need to be in frame, allowing less modelling work. Film animation also allows more freedom in the movement of the character and the animator will receive far more feedback from his supervisors before the final animation is completed. All animations in film are rendered out into a final movie sequence which means that animators are not limited to a rendering engine. They have the freedom of using as many polys and detail into their models.

So then, from this article we can see the difference between working in games or film animation. Animators in the gaming industry are limited to short cycles of animation whilst film animators can be required to create a whole sequence. The gaming experience provides control to the player whilst film gives the animator more authority than the audience. Although both fields require the same set of tools and principles for creation, it definitely needs a different mindset and set of techniques in order for the animator to work efficiently. Games tend to place more specifications and limitation to an animator’s creativity in comparison to film.

Overview Between Game Animation and Feature Animation (2015). [Date accessed: 16.01.2015]

Sanders, A.L. (2015) Animating for Video Games vs. Animating for Movies. [Date accessed: 16.01.2015]