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Fusion for game animation

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 5:29 pm
by Justin Jackson
Hey all,

My kid is thinking of going in to video game animation.. though he would consider movie/tv animation as well. Still trying to figure out what colleges (in US) might be best for this career path (if you have some ideas, please share).

He loves anime, etc.. but has next to no knowledge at this time of software to use/learn. The go to is Blender. Free, supported, etc. Maya is the other product he was thinking of, but it is way too expensive.

So my question is.. can Fusion be used along the same lines for gaming/movie animation? Or is it more visual FX and not animation? I dont truly know the difference I guess. In the past I played around with Lightwave 3D, and there you could use tools to build 3D models AND animate them, but I also used it for text titles that did the 3D stuff, animated, etc. I see Fusion can do that easily so it made me think it might be possible to use it for animation and could be good for him to learn.

If fusion isnt ideal, is blender the way to go for free/cheap learning before he heads to college so that he has some idea of the tools and ensure it is the path he wants to go down?

Slightly off topic but related.. is this still a career path that pays well and has lots of opportunities? I pose this question regarding animation (be it Blender/maya) and Fusion?

Thank you.

Re: Fusion for game animation

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:17 pm
by Jeff Ha
You can download the edu version of Maya for free, no strings attached. Blender still isn't widely used, either at colleges or in the commercial sector. Not to say you can't learn it, it's easier to find jobs for Maya, C4D and Houdini.

Creative Cloud is a better fit for animation, with tools like Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects, Fuse and Character Animator. CC is probably what would be integrated into curriculum too, versus something like Fusion.

Also take a look at game engines like Unreal and Unity, which have free personal versions as well. Both can take in models from most 3D packages like Maya or Blender.

Re: Fusion for game animation

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:01 pm
by Marin Goleminov
It is probably best he had a very solid artistic foundation first. I am talking about drawing and design skills, as well as animation principles. Hopefully he is going to learn those in college anyway :)

Maya, Lightwave and Blender have basically toolsets that are mainly geared towards the creation and manipulation of 3D geometry, as well as rendering the results to 2D images. Think animated 3D puppets, vehicles, demolition simulations.

Fusion is what comes after that. Think green screen, where the animated 3D puppet is combined with real actors, the vehicle has some smoke added to it's screeching tyres and the demolition simulation is further refined with small debris and set inside a real city.

In a nutshell, Fusion is not a primary tool for game animation, even if it could be used for that to some extent.

But again, artistic skills should always go first.

Re: Fusion for game animation

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:21 pm
by Andy Witkowski
Justin Jackson wrote:Still trying to figure out what colleges (in US) might be best for this career path (if you have some ideas, please share).

SCAD & Gnomon LA come to mind.

Re: Fusion for game animation

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:54 pm
by Bryan Ray
Solid liberal arts AA from a state University first. You don't want to pay SCAD prices for English Composition and Algebra. Also, the art trade schools are weak on the math and coding side of things, which are very useful skills to have, especially in a game career. People who can animate are everywhere. People who can animate and code are rare.

Re: Fusion for game animation

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:13 pm
by Justin Jackson
Now that is an interesting perspective. What does coding do to help with animation? I would assume if you learn Maya and do it well, and maybe understand how the results of that fit in with video editors/vfx like resolve/fusion, you would have what you need. When would coding play a role in that career path? I am a coder myself, and am really interested in how LUA/Python scripts will play a role in resolve/fusion when it is added to v15. Do animation suites like Maya have ways you can write code that applies to animations? The only way I see it really helpful is with adding plugins for custom features that may not be available.

Re: Fusion for game animation

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:20 am
by Bryan Ray
Hmm… Well, there are a lot of ways that scripting can help. You don't have to write a full-blown plug-in for coding skills to be useful. I have a couple of books at home, in fact, that deal with MEL (Maya Embedded Language—Maya's native coding language) and Python in Maya. Procedural animation can be done with expressions and scripts. And any kind of repetitive task (there are many in visual effects) can be automated.

For instance, we have a process we perform on every shot that comes through our facility: We denoise, convert to linear color space from whatever the original was in, and export to EXR along with two jpeg proxy versions. We had been doing all of that on an ad hoc basis—making elements as they were called for and having quite variable results, as everyone used different methods for the denoise and put their renders in different places. I templated the process and created a script that creates Savers for the elements so that they'd always be in the same place and be named the same way relative to the comp file, which was itself created by a script so that it has a standardized name and location.

That structure allowed us in turn to automate adding those assets to the main composite and viewport backgrounds in our 3d software. I did the same thing for our camera tracker so that the output would be in an expected place, allowing a script in 3DS Max to quickly find it, import it, organize it into layers, and lock it so that artists couldn't accidentally bump the camera out of alignment (a very common problem in Max).

That's just one example of pipeline support coding. It's not my main job, but by knowing how to do it I am more valuable to my employer and therefore make more money and am less likely to be furloughed in slow times because I can continue to be productive even when there's no compositing to be done. I also develop new tools—less than a full plug-in, but more than a template—and apply some of my scripting skills to my actual compositing work. I imagine there are similar opportunities available to the animators.

I find myself regretting that I dropped out of my computer science and mathematics courses the first time I went to college. Who would have expected I'd be missing that knowledge in an art career? :D