The stop-motion animation of Droidscape: Basilica
Let’s be reasonable and assume for a moment that you haven’t noticed the fact that the protagonist (Bishop 7) of Droidscape: Basilica will be a fully posable, hand-sculpted model. Let us also assume that you don’t know that every character in the game will be stop-motion animated and let us even consider the very real possibility that you are not quite sure as to what stop-motion animation is all about. Now, let us take things from the beginning:
Yes, Bishop 7 and every other character in the game has been given physical form. Yes, the game will be stop-motion animated in its entirety, and that does indeed mean that the physical version of each character is photographed in all the necessary poses and then assembled into animation frames to be used in-game. Think (within reason) of something along the lines of Nightmare Before Christmas or, to use a gaming reference, The Neverhood. Sounds ambitious, doesn’t it? Well, it was. Ambitious and time-consuming, but it seems that it was worth the effort.
Better though to take a look at what Kyttaro Games and artist Hariton Bekiaris did in order to create the animations of Droidscape: Basilica.
First we created concept sculpts for Bishop 7 and the enemies it will be facing. Namely, these:
After rather quickly photographing them we inserted them in the game for a first aesthetic test. It worked (in all but one cases) and we moved on to the final, painted, posable models. Here are some of these in a variety of stages of completion:
The next step was to plan out all the necessary frames we would need for each character and each character’s movement, and then start photographing each individual frame. We created a rotate-able basis on which to set up each model in the appropriate pose, photograph it in 16 directions, change the pose, photograph it again and so on and so forth, until all our frames were ready for processing. The set-up looked a bit like this:
The final series of steps included touching-up and cleaning the photos, assembling them into working animations, refining, re-shooting, re-editing and, finally, inserting the finished graphics into the game.