Alternative animation

A researcher at Surrey University has developed a new approach to computer animation that animates the whole body of any character or creature.

Dr Alexandre Pechev, a lecturer at the Surrey Space Centre, was working on ways to control space satellites when he saw a solution that could be extended to robotics, and from there also applied to the way avatars move in computer games.

His new IKinema software, which is now being marketed by the Guildford-based company of the same name, automatically takes into account gravity and balance to produce lifelike character movements, saving developers time and effort in generating natural animations in run time or offline.

It is claimed to be small in size and suitable for portable game consoles, downloadable games and smart-phones as well as high-spec game consoles.

IKinema said that the software can be licensed for PCs, the PlayStation3 and Microsoft’s XBox 360. Ports to iPhone and PSP are also on the way. IKinema will be also available as a plug-in for Maya, Motion Builder and 3dMax later in the year.

The software was demonstrated at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco earlier this month, where Dr Pechev was presented with an award from the Royal Academy of Engineering for his achievement.

The software has already been licensed to Ivent for its next generation of games and integrated into Trinigy’s Vision game engine.

The computer games industry employs more than 28,000 people and contributes £1bn to the UK economy.