Animation in the games industry is the process where the movement and behaviour are portrayed.
Most often this is applied to give life to game characters and creatures, but sometimes animations are also applied to other elements such as objects, scenery, vegetation and environmental effects.
Special software packages are used to create the animations, which are used for both automated or in game behaviours and predefined sequences or cut scenes.
Animators must portray movement and behaviour in an efficient and effective way which makes best use of the game engine’s technology, within the platform’s limitations. It is often necessary to restrict the number of key frames used or the number of characters that can appear on the screen at a time. Animators work closely with Programmers and Artists to create the best balance between smooth seamless movement and optimized performance on the target platform.
Game production is collaborative and Animators work as part of the art department team. Using the objects, models, and most importantly, characters created by 3D Artists, Animators define their movements and behaviours and apply them using the animation tools and techniques provided by the selected 3D animation software package.
Game animation can be a complex combination of many different types of movements, so the Animators must make extensive libraries of reusable animations for each character.
They are also usually responsible for the technical processes of rigging and skinning of the characters, which involves creating an underlying structure rather like the bones of a skeleton and attaching appropriate body parts to each bone. This makes the animation process itself a lot more efficient.