Game Animation Fundamentals
Learn game studio animation workflows in this 6-week workshop
Learn how to animate and import characters in the unreal engine
Experience the exciting world of games with the help of pro animators currently working at top game studios.
In Game Animation Fundamentals, you will use a foundation in body mechanics to learn the workflow from Maya to Unreal Engine 5. You’ll give life to an animated character that you’ll be able to move with your keyboard or game controller—just like a real playtest!
Pro Animators Mentor You to Be Successful
Our Game Animation course allows you to learn, practice, and get 1:1 feedback and reviews from our mentors. You will have the chance to learn from animators currently working at prominent game studios in live, weekly conversations. They’ll share insights about what studios are working on, the latest animation workflow techniques, and what they look for in an animator. Our mentors will work directly with you to grow and improve your skills.
Reid is a seasoned game industry veteran with over two decades of experience, including notable titles such as State of Decay 2, Digimon Rumble Arena 2, SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy Seals, and MAG. He was recently an Animation Director and Principal Animator at Microsoft’s Undead Labs known for the State of Decay franchise. Currently, Reid is a Principal Animator at Noodle Cat Games, a new game development studio founded by veterans from Epic Games.
Senior UX Motion Designer
Elliott worked at Industrial Light & Magic and Pixar Animation Studios on various productions including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Ratatouille. Elliott has over 7 years of experience working on video games and was nominated for Best Writing at the 2011 GDC Choice Awards as a co-writer and designer on Double Fine’s Costume Quest. Currently, Elliott is working at Amazon Astro as a Senior UX Motion Designer.
*All times are in Pacific Time. For all Monday classes, due to the New Year's Holiday, the first Q&A will be rescheduled to later in the week.
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Examples of Reid’s Work
1-on-1 Feedback from a Studio Pro
During this 6-week workshop you’ll have live Q&As with your mentor each week in addition to receiving a recorded training video from a professional game animator and an assignment designed to build your skills. Plus, your mentor will review and critique each of your assignments and provide you with a weekly video of their feedback so you can improve your work.
Make Your Game Character Come Alive
Ever wonder how your favorite game character was animated? Game animators create polished animation cycles so your character can move freely in 3D space no matter what camera angle you use. Plus your demo reel and develop a basic understanding of how game animation works with the Unreal Engine using our game-ready rig, Riley.
Game Animation Fundamentals Student Gallery
On-Going Rig Access
What You’ll Learn in Game Animation Fundamentals
Understanding Game Animation
Dive into game animation with an overview of the main animation workflow. Your first assignment will be understanding and animating idle and posed character positions.
Put Your Animated Characters in the Game
Get an overview of how the Unreal game engine works and animate within the context of the game.
Understanding Limitations and Constraints
Get insight into the limitations that animators face within game animation, including game-specific character rigs and low frame limits, and learn how to be creative even within those limitations. Begin to understand basic attack sequences for your assignment.
Understanding Transitional Animations
Stitch together the animation cycles you’ve created and integrate them into Unreal.
Polishing Your Animation
Once you see your animation in play, now it’s time to polish or add additional animation to make the game play smoother.
Breathing Life Through Variation – Bringing It All Together
Import all the animations you created into the Unreal Engine and control your character through a basic game level. Congratulations, you just created level one!
Course Requirements for Game Animation Fundamentals
LIVE Q&As |Weekly 1-Hour Q&As
LECTURES | 6 Pre-recorded Lectures
ASSIGNMENTS | 5 Animation Exercises
SOFTWARE | Our rigs and demonstrations use Autodesk Maya and Unreal Engine 5 (Free on Windows, MAC OS, Linux), but you are welcome to use any other 3D software or rigs that you choose.
- IMPORTANT: The Unreal Engine 5 game engine requires an OpenGL 4.1 compatible graphics card. Make sure your computer meets the necessary hardware requirements to use the Unreal Engine 5 software.
HARDWARE | Meet Minimum Requirements
AGE | 18 Years or Older
LANGUAGE | Taught in English
Skills You Need Before You Start
Game Animation Fundamentals requires you to have a working knowledge of, and experience with, Autodesk Maya.
- If you’re unfamiliar with Maya you can take our Maya Workshop.
- You’ll also need a working knowledge of Body Mechanics, since our workshop builds on the skills needed for animating people and other bipeds. If you don’t know anything about body mechanics you can take our Core Animation Courses which include a thorough grounding in body mechanics.
What You’ll Learn
After taking our workshop, you’ll have a thorough understanding of game animation including these crucial skills:
- Key workflows to migrate your animation from Maya to Unreal Engine 5—the standard workflow for game animation studios
- An understanding of how to combine individual walk, jump, and run animations into a single in-game performance
- Experience animating towards a character brief so that even your character’s walk cycle shows personality and tells a story
- Basic knowledge of how game engines work so that you can contribute confidently to the collaborative team environment
FAQ for Game Animation
How do games animate models?
In video games, every character has a skeleton with different points that can move and are connected to each other. Once the character starts moving, running or jumping, the game logic chains together different animations to imitate real-life movement.
How to get game design and animation experience without a degree?
Our Game Animation workshops and our Core Character Animation Courses are great places to start your animation journey. Our courses feature exercises that help you build experience. Another way to get experience is to visit your local game jam. These are events where game developers gather to develop games and exchange advice.
What file format do game programs use for animations?
The format of the animation file will largely depend on the software and game engine in which you are working. It is best to take a look at the documentation files or do a quick Google search.
How to use traditional animation in a video game?
Feature animation, whether 2D or 3D, is based on the 12 Principles of Animation. Video game animation is different from feature animation because it is constrained to the limitations of the game and the characters are designed to be moved around by the game engine. However, as a game animator you still need to know and use the same principles you would use in feature animation to make your character appealing. A great example of traditional 2D animation blended masterfully in a video game is Cuphead .
How do video game animations work?
Video game animation is usually based on logic and events. When the player decides to move the character the game will use it’s logic to trigger walking or running animation.
What is the entry-level pay for a game animation job?
According to Glassdoor, a video game animator makes an average of $70,000 USD per year.
Do I need any coding knowledge to be a game animator?
You generally don’t need coding knowledge to be a game animator. That being said, animations in video games are based on logic which is written in coding scripts, so a bit of coding knowledge can help you solve problems that would otherwise require help form a technical animator or rigger.
What Game Animation Students are Saying
Reid Went Above and Beyond
Reid Johnson was a great mentor who went above and beyond to familiarize and increase the ability and productivity of myself and the peers in the workshop. He truly has a passion for his work and inspires it in others.
Fall in Love with Animation
This is the first time I was able to animate without having to build the model and rig myself, and it made me fall in love with animation all over again. My professor’s lectures and critiques were helpful in improving my craft every week.
I Learnt So Much
Interest in Video Game Animation
A Game Changer
Best Workshop I Have Ever Taken
Game Animation Pipeline
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