My animation workflow + question about "motion copyrights"

It might be an useful technique to share with others, and i also have a law-related question:
I’ve just started making animations for my game and so far (for hobby, not commercial projects) my workflow was like this:

  1. Let’s say i want to make a ‘sword attack’ animation. I search for a video with such motions (from movies, games, etc.) (Quite similar to gathering reference images for 3D sculpting & texturing)
  2. From this video, i make a few reference screenshots with ‘key’ poses, for example:
  3. I recreate these poses with my skeleton at proper keyframes
  4. I tweak whole animation to achieve good looking transitions between these poses + possibly add some variations.

I think this technique is named somehow, i thing that’s something similar to “rotoscoping”.

Now, i’m working on my game that i want to release on Steam in future, so i want to be on 100% safe legal side. Is it ok from law-related-point-of-view? From logical point of view, motions can’t be copyrighted (if so, some company could, for example, sue you for walking on streets and ‘using’ walk cycle from their game :slight_smile: ) So if i use animation that has very similar motion to other animation from other game/movie, (for example, character swings his sword in the same way) is it ok? I think it’s fine, because it would be just idiotic otherwise - but i want to make sure.

I am not a lawyer, but I can’t imagine that you’d run into trouble with this. You are simply using reference material as any artist does - the animation is being created by you, by hand. Again, I’m not a lawyer though.

Yeah, i think that it’s rather an obvious thing, but anyway thanks for getting me out from strange-uncertainty-state :slight_smile:
At least, maybe someone will find this thread (my workflow) useful.

I do not think you can copyright a motion. Even if it’s from an animation they created. You’re safe.

Echoing what others have said. If you laid trace paper over the Mona Lisa, then you’d be recreating the Mona Lisa. But there’s only one Mona. There’s a million billion “sword swings”. Good luck.

That is a good workflow. There are also other things to help you. There are libraries of motion references you can get.

Of course if you google this guy:

And if you search for things like “Animation Motion Refference” you will find things like this:

The general term is called “rotoscoping” which in the truest sense does men copying motion frame by frame from reference image sequences from film or video.But of course you can do it any way you choose.

But regarding the copyright issue. A word to the wise. No one here is a copyright lawyer. Do not go onto any forum and ask about copyright law (unless it is a forum of copyright lawyers). You will not be given good and credible information. Threads are usually filed with conflicting “facts” and general misinformation. Additionally copyright law varies drastically between the UK and say the US. So it can be region specific.

But this much is a true fact:

The term is copy - right.

What are you doing? You are copying something. Correct? So who to you talk to to find information about what is legal and what is not or advised or illadvised?

A copy - right Lawyer.

Some will be willing to give a certain amount of free advice. Another option is the government website or your local library.