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Technical Paper:
Zixx Level One

Zixx Level One was created using a unique method created at Elliott Animation to try and speed up the animation process. The TV series sees the main characters doing battle with alians in a game like environment. For this reason it was decided that a game engin might be used to do all the animation and rendering instead of using a 3D animation package. reuse would become very easy because this is exactly what game engins do best. Lithtech was the engin of choice because it had the most of the features that were needed and the price was right for a project like this.

Below are some of the scripted tools that were created to allow the animation team to choreograph the animation from inside 3DS Max and export the required scripts to the game engin for it to play them back.

View the Movie: 13.4meg WMV

The above Choreographer was the heart of the animation tools for Zixx Level One. Once all the animation cycles were created on the characters and expoted to the game engin the animators would open a stand in scene in 3DS Max and choreograph the animation for eash scene using the Choreographer tool.

Choreographer would read the data set that was available to the game engin and allow for any of the assets to be added to the stand in scene. Representations of characters and props were used so the animators could more them in the scene to where they were needed and animate the over all position and rotation.

Once the assets where in the stand in scene Choreographer would read the data set for each of the characters and display them in drop down menus for the animators to choose from. These were then used to create a spread sheet of what the character would be doing in the scene and when. What weapons were being used, when they were being shot and what they were aiming at.

Heads and bodys could also be targeted to other objects in the scene so that they characters faced other assets correctly instead of just doing what the cycles were allowing. Upper and lower body animations could also be mixed to help with the performances.

Once the requred cycles were added and the stand in characters were animated moving where needed then the animator would export the Choreographers data back to the game engin and the game would automaticly play back in real time the animation that was created.

Camera Manager was used to create and animate cameras and manage which ones were active at which times. This ment that you could create several cuts in one scene to speed up the work flow.

Once again the data for the cameras was exported with the rest of the scene data to the game engin and played back to the animator or rendered to a sequence of TGA's or an AVI.

Export Manager was the final step to the process. From here the animators could choose what file type to use or to just play it back with you writting files. If the choice was to write a file the game would not play back in real time. This is because just the writting of each file would slow every thing down.

The animator would also select which scene was to be used from the assets in the game and what level of motion blur was to be used.

Batch exporting could be done as well so animators didn't have to wait for renders to take place before starting the next scene. They could just wait for the end of the day and then send all the files that they had worked on all at once.

Deeth and his Gokk hench men