Animation Top Tips
Have you ever sat at home, comfy on your sofa, snuggled up under a blanket watching an episode of your favourite cartoon or playing a game, marvelling at the detailed animation on the screen? Well if you’ve ever wanted to make your own amazing animation, you can do it yourself in Dreams!
One of the cornerstones of the Dreams creation toolset is the versatile animation system, a powerful yet easy-to-use way to create your own high-quality animations. Ever wanted to make an emotional cutscene? You can do that. Need to give a character some additional polish with a dynamic movement? You can make that too. The animation toolset in Dreams is basically a fully-fledged animation software suite in-game, and has been used in all sorts of ways already.
Some of these include creating characters with a particularly exaggerated walk, creating smooth sword fights, and even making full-length animated movies completely in Dreams. If you want some more inspiration, check out the Excellence in Animation category of the Impy Awards to see what can be done with these powerful tools. Here’s some tips to get you started, and some things you might not realise can be achieved.
1. Embrace Your Inner Puppeteer
The animation system in Dreams was inspired by the concept of puppeteering. Characters, objects and contraptions move and react to your animation directions as if you’re pulling their strings. The best way to get started is to imagine you’re a child playing with toys, and directing the actions they’re doing in the stories you make up in your head.
2. Be Theatrical
Given that the animation style of Dreams is inspired by being exaggerated and over-the-top, another way to think about it is by imagining how actors perform on the stage. To ensure that people can see the actors from all the space in the auditorium, the actors need to amplify their movements so that it's visible from all sides. The Dreams toolset allows for characters to flail about and perform exaggerated movements easily and in an entertaining manner. Perhaps a good place to start looking at this is the Mm Original, Art’s Dream, where the characters exemplify this.
3. Put it to the Test
You can seamlessly jump between creating and playing in Dreams at any time by possessing the puppet you’re using, testing it and watching what you’ve created so far play out in front of you. This is really handy for checking whether the plan you had for the animation is coming along smoothly, and see if your characters react in a realistic way to the environment. Think of this like a rehearsal, as you can always keep iterating until you have the performance that you’re happy with.
4. Possession Session
Dreams gives you the option to create animations by possessing the puppet character, or anything at all, as long as it has a Controller Sensor on it. Say you want to animate a character walking through a door. Line up cameras in the scene to record what you want to capture, possess the puppet, then walk them over to the door (which, of course, you've added a Controller Sensor to), de-possess the character, possess the door, open it, and jump back into the puppet to walk them through the door. The cameras will record the bits that you have animated, so it will look like the character has seamlessly opened the door and walked through it. Of course you might want to do a few takes just to make sure you get it exactly how you want it to be.
5. Animate Different Parts of the Body Individually
One of the coolest aspect of Dreams’ animation toolset, and one that sets it apart from other animation tools, is that you can quickly and easily animate different parts of a puppet's body with the buttons. While animating you can easily swap between FK with L2 (where a hand and arm are influenced by the movement of the body) and IK with R2 (where the hand will influence the rest), allowing you to quickly swap the animation style and the parts of the body you want to focus on in a flash.
6. Time to Move
With the wireless controller or the motion controllers, you can get even more fine control over your animations, and manipulate limbs of the characters body with your own movements. By utilising the motion sensor function in the controllers, characters will follow the more subtle movements and gestures you create with your body, which allows for a greater and more natural level of control.
7. Add Your Own Voice to It
You can also add in your own voice at any time to be used in the animations. By recording your own voice, or someone else’s, you can add some extra character to your creations, and help to bring them to life. Another great coMmunity feature is that you can even have other members of the Dreams coMmunity record and send you their voice acting to us as well. An excellent example of this is in the coMmunity creation HeliTaxi (made by atheistsw, arepera, and Zodira), which uses a wide variety of coMmunity voices for the 60 different passengers you can pick up and transport across the futuristic city of Van Alder.
8. Animate Your Art
If you’re more of an artist than an animator, you still have the option to add a little animated flourish to your Dreams. By tweaking your digital paintings and playing with the Animation tools, you can bring them to life and give them some dynamic movement, like this painting below from SakkusMind. Not only is this a visually impressive way to bring your paintings to life, but it can be used to startling effect within scenes in games as well, for example having the eyes of portraits move creepily in a horror game.
9. Add Subtle Animation to Flecks
Using some of the tools in Effects Mode, you can make the flecks in your paintings come to life - appear to boil, evaporate or undulate like waves. You can use this to create a subtle shifting effect in the background, or adding an otherworldly feel to your creations. It's particularly good for particle effects.
10. Share Your Animations Beyond Dreams
Did you know you can export your animations outside of Dreams as well? Various coMmunity members have been sharing their animations outside of Dreams, inserting them into other software, or showing them off on social media. Dreams is also even being used to make a feature-length film by Sony Pictures - A Winter’s Tale. So really, the possibilities of what you do with your Dreams animations are endless!
11. Want Some Inspiration?
If you’re now sold on the idea of making your own animations in Dreams, or want to bring your artwork to life, here’s a great selection of dreamers to follow and check out to give you some inspiration for what can be achieved. Check out creations like Green Guy, witchy woods, Noguchi’s Bell, and the creators byvsen, Awesome_David, and Cyber_Sheep_Film.
Okay, so you're now up to speed with the basics of animation in Dreams. But there's so much more to the animation tools in Dreams, so keep an eye out on this section of the site as we expand our Create guides with more in-depth content. Happy keyframing!
The Dreams User Guide is a work-in-progress. Keep an eye out for updates as we add more learning resources and articles over time.