Nunchaku Reveal Cinematic

Originally created for the release of Warframe in China, this cinematic sequence was cut into a trailer and as far as I know it has never been shown in its complete, standalone form until now!

As the animator responsible for creating the nunchaku (AKA "Ninkondi") melee combo animations in game I was most familiar with their rather technical animation requirements and was therefore tasked with creating "a 30 second reveal cinematic" for them. That was quickly shortened to half that length. Other than duration I was given complete freedom to do whatever I wanted so long as I could handle it on my own in the time allotted. I was responsible for everything from concept, to layout and cameras, to final animation. I leveraged existing mocap as much as possible for the background characters and keyframed the hero characters.

Unfortunately, as it was only used as footage cut into a trailer it never received it's own dedicated audio pass. Fortunately, I was able to take some audio from a different part of that same trailer and overlay it so that it fits reasonably well.


Nunchaku Branch Combo A




In Maya (with helpers to keep track of handles)


20% Speed

Reference: Stéphane Oberle


Nunchaku Figure-Eight Wrist Rolls


Full Speed

20% Speed


(Thanks to Ken Hill for the amazing flow tricks instructional videos)

Nunchaku Jump Attack


Warframe is a fast game so I’ve shown this at full speed as well as 33% speed.

Nunchaku Blocking


  1. Blocking Idle
  2. Blocking Hit
  3. Blocking Beam
  4. Blocking Movement (Modified version of JogBack anim created by someone else)


“Ninkondi” Nunchaku

Five years ago I was given possibly the coolest assignment ever: frickin’ nunchucks!

As a prop, these things were a technical nightmare, constantly switching grips and hands. (All hail the power of bespoke locator rigs!) I was determined to cheat as little as possible. First, I actually bought some foam nunchaku and, using motion capture, was able to very accurately capture my ineptitude. Then, I found amazing reference from talented “nunchakukasStéphane Oberle, Ken Hill, and Arirang instead and used that for all but the impossible moves. It was a blast to work on! I was responsible for all the combat anims shown in the official weapon release trailer above. The only nunchaku animation that wasn’t mine is the very cool flourish at the end of the trailer, done by DE’s resident Pixar alum, and expert at making cheating look good, Chiwook Han.


"Bravura" Reload Fix

Another case of Weapon-Wobbles due to animating a child joint (right weapon bone) too out of sync with its parent (the right hand). Worked together with a programmer to fix by using anim events to attach the weapon to the left weapon bone, and then back to the right weapon bone at the end, with fail-safes in case of the animation being interrupted.


"Quatz" Reload Fix

(Credit for footage of bugs: Blitxkriegz and CatDeeleysLeftNipple on reddit)

Sorry I was rushed and these visual bugs had to wait for a hotfix. Now I DEMAND all content creators re-make their awesome videos and gifs, stat! ;)

The floating clip bug is due to the magazine simply being animated as a part of the gun rig, which is then attached to a bone under the right hand's hierarchy. In Maya everything looks fine with constraints and whole frames, but in engine at 60fps and with no constraints stuff drifts.

The fix required setting up events in the animation to attach the gun and the magazine to different joints on different frames (like swapping constraints in Maya) and actually required a bit of new scripting from a programmer to get working properly.

ALSO took me a while to solve a bug where interrupting the anim with a roll or melee attack would leave you with the magazine or gun still stuck in the left hand.

Now... Now, I wanna go back and fix all the old jittery reloads. But I don't know when I'll have time to, so hopefully you can bear with me. I've got my sights on you for a rainy day, Boltor Bravura Skin...

"Quatz" Reload Reference and Anim

Had a blast animating this weapon for Warframe!

I confess, the initial Quatz anim that shipped was a bit of a rush job: video reference on Thursday, one reload on Friday, one reload Monday, changed both reloads to actually eject/replace magazine on Tuesday (was originally just a plunger), then hands off for release Wednesday. The animation looked fine in Maya, but there were some in-engine bugs that had to be hotfixed shortly after.


New Loka Couple Ritual (Rough)

Rough anim (not used in game) exploring the (non-canon / only in my head!) idea of a pair of devotees seeking some kind of favour – cooperatively making the “seed” gesture with their hands. Seeking a blessing for their child, perhaps, or maybe permission to have one at all?


New Loka Water Scoop Ritual (Rough)

Rough anim exploring the [non-canon / only in my head!] idea of some sort of self-cleansing ritual, maybe?



New Loka Balancing Worshipper Idles and Transitions

The transitions are still rough which I’m going to say is because I learned they wouldn’t be used and not because I did a bad job on them. XD

I even lost an original Maya file for one of them, apparently, hence the one playblast that doesn’t match :`(

NewLoka BalanceSEQUENCE.gif


New Loka Kneeling Worshipper Idles


Some of these poses came from a nature song with actions that my kids learned.

I had my own internal [NON-CANON!] ideas about New Loka’s lore.

Nature cult; circle of life; spectrum of sacredness; ladder of follower/clergy rankings.

Basically all of it revolved around this cyclical progression so that some are holier than others and yet they’re all equal brother and sisters in a certain way, but not really, etc.


New Loka “Seed” Medallion Buyer



New Loka “Amaryn” Idles and Transitions

I believe we trimmed this to just the one idle so you’d never have to wait for her to turn around.141210_NewLokaFigurehead_Cycle.gif

Emote: “Follow Me!”

These were just roughed in to see which version they liked and wanted polished. If I remember correctly (and that’s probaby a big “if”) someone else did a less-over-animated version of the big arm wave one and so my anim isn’t actually the one in game.



Emote: “Enhance!”

Just finished my latest demo reel! Check it out:


(j/k: I totally made this for a joke and I’m pretty sure it was never added to the game.)

Infested Brood Mother Step Up



Claws Counter-Attack vs. Grineer


Grineer boi harmed.

Grineer boi harmed very much.

Claws Stealth Attack vs. Kubrow


(No doggos were harmed in the making of this animation. See? Good boi gets up again!)


Hopping Ball (3ds Max)

I'm learning to animate in 3ds Max for an upcoming freelance gig.

It's a little like that episode in every superhero TV show ever where the main character loses their powers and has to go back to doing everything the hard way. They have an existential crisis, but then they realize that it was never their powers that made them a hero, it was their character...

...or maybe it's just a matter of putting the right keys on the right frames. Could be that.

It's actually a pretty comfortable transition thanks to 2014's new "Maya Interaction" mode so I can use the Alt+Mouse viewport navigation that is so committed to muscle memory.

Simple Ball Rig courtesy of Cláudio Escobar.


"Child of Light" Announcement Trailer

This is the most gorgeous and exciting thing I've seen in a long while. The art and JRPG elements are exactly what I want in a game. I was so bummed at first because I thought it was a PS4 exclusive (and I'm not getting one any time soon) but then BAM! it's coming out for everything! Can't wait!


Freelance: Micro Wizard

Here's a little sample of the freelance I've been doing lately. This little guy was created by and animated for BitGem. I'm animating a bunch of these micro characters. They're sort of the second series of micro characters. The first series of micro characters were animated by my good buddy Justin Kupka.


iAnimate Games: Winter 2013 Student Showcase

I love the fact that iAnimate has a program specifically for game animation.


iAnimate Podcast with Robert "Darryl" Purdy (Far Cry 3)

The folks over at iAnimate have started podcasting every week or two for the past few months and I only recently noticed. While I was catching up I listened to their December 21st interview with Robert "Darryl" Purdy (Animation/Cinematics Director for Far Cry 3, now at Warner Games) and I just had to share it.

I've listened to a lot of animation podcasts over the years: The Animation PodcastSpeaking Of AnimationSpline Doctors10th Muse. I haven't listened to every single episode of these but those I have listened to are almost always about film animation or animation as a general art form or games as a general topic. This is the first time I've heard a podcast that was exactly about the things I deal with every day and I couldn't stop nodding my head "yes!" as I listened to it.

Don't ask me why the blurb description says he worked at Bungie and Lucas Arts in the past because as far as I can tell he didn't, but whatever. Give it a listen.


Blocking Technique by Kevin Jackson (Updated)

Kevin "KJax" Jackson shares this fantastic tip on a quick blocking workflow that is not only fast and simple, but keeps your blocking very easy to edit up until you commit to move on. The technique uses one of the many tools included in MGtools which comes in both free and paid versions. I already have a tool that my genius friend Anthony made that does the same thing so I haven't checked to see if you need the paid version of MGtools or not.
Kevin was a year behind me in school and whereas I only had a brief stint at Rhythm & Hues he's been there for about 5 years and has earned the role of supervising animator. His animation is not only imaginative and well polished, but he works quickly so it's worth listening to any advice he has to share.
Update: Kevin has uploaded Part 2 in which he shows how the technique works in an actual shot with more complexity. He also shows off a few more of the many fantastic functions of the MGtools suite of MEL scripts.
found via Animators Resource


Keith Lango "Retires" From Online Animation Instruction

The original online mentor for animation, Keith Lango, is going dark. Oh he's still animating and even teaching, but he's closing the book on his long-running online instruction and blogging.
Ten years ago, when I was in school, there wasn't the plethora of awesome online animation resources there are today. If you wanted to print out some classic animation notes there was (and still is) AnimationMeat.com; If you wanted a forum to meet people, get feedback on your WIP, be inspired or get some practice there was 10secondclub, CG-Char, Digital|Rendering and a few others; If you wanted really clear and practical tutorials about HOW to animate there was Keith Lango.
Over the years he added even more resources like videos that explained things even more clearly, or personally tailored 1-on-1 online animation mentorship.
Today, there's a lot of competing online animation instruction options available and Keith leads a pretty full life as it is so he won't be creating any new online material, but all of the old stuff will be kept online so if you haven't benefited from it yet, you still can.
The Classic Tutorials
The Video Tutorials :`(
Keith's YouTube Channel
So thanks a bunch, Keith. I never met you, but I learned a lot from you about animation, dealing with disappointment gracefully, and remembering that there are a lot of things in life that are far more important than animation.

For those of you who don't necessarily want to sign up for the much larger commitment of time and money that schools like Animation Mentor, iAnimate, or AnimShcool require but really want quality, on-going animation wisdom rejoice! KennyRoy has picked up the torch and is doing a fantastic job of carrying it forward.