Cinematics for Johnny Whatever Gizmondo E3
As part of the design for Johnny Whatever on the Gizmondo, we had at one point designed "Song Battles." These were scripted battles that occurred on screen while the player played the song in a "rhythm game."
It started with storyboards by our concept artist Steve Garcia (a genius who previously worked as an animator on Iron Giant). Those storyboards were assembled into a movie with the timings worked out to the music.
Then, the animators took a Max representative of our level and created custom animations. They then cut together an animatic as animations came online, replacing the scenes with storyboards.
It took some doing to finally get the process, with a lot of me working out how best to get data from the animators. The system basically takes coordinates from Max on both the character and the camera for each scene. If there's a move, we take starting and ending coordinates and time-codes for each. Basically the script consisted of time codes in milliseconds and commands like "MoveCamera" which took new coordinates and a time to move. We could set objects and cameras relative to other things, which is how I began doing things. In the end, the system I developed with the animators involved dummy objects for the characters in the scene and for the camera (as well as dummy objects for their look points to set facing). A project manager from another team then helped us by writing an exporter to spit out Max coordinates and then convert them to game coordinates for the Excel exposure sheets. Working under E3 crunch was stressful, but the end result looked pretty cool for a small handheld game.
During the run up to E3, we were pushing out tons of custom animations and things for Johnny Whatever for the Gizmondo. When Johnny was on the Xbox, the design included a lengthy prerendered cinematic where Johnny plays with his band The Hooligans. The club is raided an his bandmates get captured. A figure pulls him out of the fray after he smashes his guitar against a Robo-bobby. Roland Clockworks wakes him up, explains the situation and gives him Nancy, the exceptional guitar weapon for the game. We didn't have the time or the budget for that (or the movie player at the time) so we generated a script that explained everything after the fact. The artists came up with custom animations for the elements in the script and I threw together the opening cinematic. I'm most proud of the "match cut" that happens when Johnny stands up.