Muscles: The secret to better animated game characters

It's no news that better animated characters start with the subtle details; facial expressions, glaring eyes, and muscle movement. While animators still have a ways to go, researchers from the Bournemouth University in the UK have developed an easy-to-use algorithm that makes skin and muscles move more realistically compared to traditional skin-based design. Technology Review reports: "Skin-based [design] isn't the most accurate way to capture the nuanced movement of skin as muscles contract below: that requires information about the shape of the muscles themselves. And ill-fitting skin can make an animated character look fake."

So lead researcher Jian Zhang believes that animating from the muscles up creates better results. In regards to building better animation, Autodesk's (they make design software) Michel Besner said: "When we ask an artist to do more quality [animations] it forces them to become doctors."

The approach does have its critics, however, with some calling the technique in question merely "an incremental contribution on what exists." But hey, if virtual HGH gives gaming an edge, we say bring on the needles. Right, baseball?

[Thanks, Jason]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.