Ember Lab looks back at the character design of Kena: Bridge of Spirits

The game is expected to be released next week

After a long radio silence d’Ember Lab which was seriously starting to worry players eager to get their hands on Kena: Bridge of Spirits, a post on the PlayStation Blog signed by the Animation Director Hunter Schmidt reassure a little. The developer is happy to come back to research and work carried out around the main character of the game who should go out next week : Kena.

For those who don’t know, this is the first time qu’Ember Lab developed a video game, since the company is an animation studio originally, best known for a Zelda tribute short film: Majora’s Mask. This is why Kena: Bridge of Spirits intrigue, because its plastic has nothing to envy a 3D animated film.

Initially, there is the outline of the main character, who should have been much younger:

The first visuals for the character of Kena were created by Wanchana “Vic” Intrasombat. We had worked together on previous commercial projects before, but this time he had carte blanche, and you can see how his unique and moving take on the world shines through in his character concepts. His first drafts represented a very small girl. With the evolution of the mechanics and the history of the game, we realized that our heroine would need to be very competent, and that she would need to draw on a substantial life experience to help the other characters as a guide. spiritual. Gradually, she got older and accumulated knowledge.

Then, 3d modeling intervened, with many iterations of details that seem insignificant at first, like the style and geometric shape of the eyelashes. But it is indeed attention to animation who should make all the Kena salt, expression of the heroine’s personality, emotions and abilities.

We had to create expressions with a richer and deeper emotional palette, with the warmth and compassion that suited our heroine, and that was a real challenge for us. With the game’s many animations, we’ve created a library of expressions and other details, like hand and hair poses. This allowed us to refine and unify the animations faster and make sure that Kena always seemed to be animated by the same soul from start to finish.

Not all AAA studios have the knowledge and experience to give a graphic touch close to an animated feature film, and Ember Lab clearly seems take advantage of this advantage, knowing that Kena: Bridge of Spirits well and of course Unreal Engine 4.

In order to ensure an end-to-end mastery of artistic direction, Hunter Schmidt ensures that all of Kena’s animations were made by hand :

It was crucial for us to bring all of the wonderful pieces of her character concept to life, and we paid a lot of attention to the movements of her clothes and hair. Over the course of the game, the wind blowing through her hair has become an integral part of the atmosphere, further reinforcing the feeling that the village or the mountain where the player is located is inhabited by spirits. While we used a physics engine for the other characters in the game, every aspect of our main character was hand-animated.

Despite a fairly sparse communication (which can be explained by the youth of the studio), the beginning of the post confirms that Kena: Bridge of Spirits will indeed be available on PS4, PS5 and l’Epic Games Store from September 21or next week.

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