When choosing to make a video, I’ve had to decide on many things, but once I start making one the question always pops into my head first of “Should I use players, ragdolls or NPC’s for my acting?”
Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. In this thread, I hope to discuss some of these.
In recent months, ragdoll acting has become a nice alternative to other methods of acting in videos thanks to Henry’s Animation Tool (HAT).
Before, players would have to set up complex rigs to animate ragdolls.
Such contraptions can be seen in Das Bo Schitt’s Gmod Idiot Box series
Now and days, players can just simply keyframe the positions of objects and have them move such as in this example.
-Thanks to HAT, the process of making complex scenes has been simplified for everyone
-Ragdoll acting is easily accessible. Simply spawn a ragdoll and your good to go!
-You can use whatever ragdolls you want without having to make out of game animations.
-Ragdolls are just that. Ragdolls. You can make them do whatever you want within their bone’s limits.
-Ragdoll acting can look very cheap and unprofessional if done badly.
-Much ragdoll acting is prone to the ever annoying “Random spazzing” that we see all to much in DJY wannabes.
-Ragdolls can be hard to work with, especially if your trying to be consistent with their poses between takes. They can easily be messed up and aren’t easy to restore to their normal positions.
Though playermodels are constrained by their model’s animations, they can still be a powerful tool for telling a story. Robert Stoneman of lit fuse films was one of the best at playermodel acting.
-Playermodels can be basically anything. Most ragdoll packs on gmod.org will also come with a playermodel.
-They are easy to control if you have ever played a first person shooter (which I hope you have).
-They will do exactly what you tell them to do allowing full control over the action
-With a good understanding of body language, they can be a powerful asset to a film
-They cant be animated without a TON of work
-Playermodels face’s are static. They cannot and will not move unless you lua script them to otherwise.
-They can look ugly and stiff if you dont use interesting camera angles.
NPCs are by far the hardest, but best looking form of gmod machinima acting out there, but only if they are done right. NPCs can depict emotion, interact with the environment and move around all in real time which allows for the most realistic form of acting. One of the best examples of the use of emotions with NPCs is in lit fuse films “Jill’s Song”
-Quality is superb
-Emotions are shown
-Body language is much easier to depict
-Voice synchronization looks very professional
-Requires knowledge of valves Source SDK Hammer world editor and faceposer tools
-With powerful tools comes a demand for a powerful knowledge of the human psyche to understand detailed facial expressions, body language and how they work together.
-Very time consuming for longer videos.