Work In Progress / 20 October 2023

Project Chronovia WIP - Characters, Animations, and Final Render

This is my last production blog post for the final stages of my capstone portion for Project Chronovia. I will start with my process for creating the characters and animations, followed by working in Unreal Engine sequencer and the final render for this project, along with a brief reflection and the final render.  

Characters and animations

With less than two weeks left to complete the project, I didn't want to spend much time on the characters and animation apart from the main character, who is important to the overall narrative of the render. I went into this section of the project with the mindset of just getting the main character finished and implemented in the engine, with everything else being a bonus if I managed to have enough time left over, especially considering I still had to put together the sequence and do the render, which would be a process of trial and error.

For the main character, I began by using a character template I made during the prototyping stage for the colour palette and proportions matching the world's scale in-game. I then started in Aseprite by creating the sitting pose for the intro to the render and using it as a concept phase for how the character would look. Because the main character is escaping from a desolate wasteland, I wanted to reflect that in the design by giving the character tattered and old-looking clothes. After finalizing the character's look, I moved on to animation. Fortunately for me and my limited time, the character only needed one single-direction walk cycle as the character's path is linear by design.

To animate the cycle, I made several layers – starting with a basic frame/silhouette with each limb coloured differently. Once I was happy with the overall look of the cycle, I drew the character base over the frame layer and cleaned up any weird shapes in the pixel art before adding the character's clothing and accessories. This process became tedious and time-consuming, but once the animation was complete, I reviewed each frame for some polish and shading, generated the normal maps and imported the flipbook into Unreal Engine, ready to be implemented.

Character animation process

After completing the main character, I had half of the day left to attempt to push out some extras to make the world feel more populated in the final product. Because I animated the main character in multiple layers, my idea was to use the main character animation as a base for these extras. I figured I could add some new clothing and hair layers, add basic and plain coloured clothing and recolour them to make variations, and it wouldn't take me as much time as starting from scratch. Fortunately, this process was very straightforward, and I could make three variations of a generic NPC in next to no time, leaving me with more spare time to add a couple more characters.

I eventually added another generic NPC for the city area, an idle animation of them smoking a cigarette, and the Mortisorian Bulwark – a large turtle-like creature I had designed when sketching concepts for the Mortisoria Mire area.

Mortisorian Bulwark

I was extremely happy with the amount of extra animations I was able to complete, considering the time I had to make them and was increasingly excited when moving on to the render sequence.

Sequence and the final render

After the animations were complete and working inside Unreal Engine, I created a new sequence and began working on the camera placement and structure of the final sequence. Originally, I was going to draw up storyboards. However, I didn't really know how I wanted it to play out specifically, just that I wanted it to showcase my environments as the character walked through them; also, I felt the time wasn't on my time, and I just needed to get in and make it work. I needed the sequence to somewhat sync with the music, so I began by adding the music and then adding the cameras and working on an area-by-area basis, similar to how I created the world. I experimented with different camera angles, found the ones that worked best, created camera sequences timed by the music, and added the character wherever it seemed necessary. This process, while time-consuming, ended up being straightforward and went smoothly without any notable issues. Once I was happy with the sequence, I altered some settings in the Unreal Engines movie render queue and began the render process.

About 5 hours into the first render, I had an issue with the animations playing on a loop on each frame, resulting in the character looking like a long-exposure shot. I closed the render, tweaked the render warm up count values and started again, resolving the animation issue. The render output for this project was a PNG image sequence. I chose this option to add basic adjustments such as music fade and text elements in After Effects. Once I had finished polishing in After Effects, I exported it as a 4k mp4 and uploaded the final render to YouTube.


This part of the project was probably the most stressful out of the whole process purely because of the race against the clock, but I got there in the end, and I am incredibly pleased with the results I achieved in such a short time. However, If I had more time, I would have created a few more animated characters, including some front-face walk cycles for the city, as the side-facing walk looked slightly off in the first city shot. However, as I continue working on creating the world of Chronovia in the future, I will take these lessons and spend time polishing and refining the project based on my experiences working on my capstone portion of the project.

Although I am done with this portion of the project now, I have plans to continue to work on the project. As always, you can track my progress on Trello here as I continue to work on the project in the future. Additionally, you can follow me on Artstation where I will continue writing blogs for the project.

Thanks for reading!