The Matrix Resurrections is not shy about its video game influences. At the beginning, Thomas Anderson is being forced to work on a sequel to his groundbreaking game The Matrix, a straightforward and meta parallel to Lana Wachowski’s involvement in the movie. But amidst all the corporate speak and the Christina Ricci cameo, there’s a more subtle reference to games.
It’s snuck into a montage of Neo’s monotonous, time-loop-esque waking life; it’s the treadmill. It’s even referenced in the dialogue a few times, a symbol representing the illusion of progress. It’s about the futility of nostalgia, and the crushing cycle of capitalism, and learning to see when you’re not actually going anywhere.
It also represents the first, most basic animation that gets made for many video games; the walking cycle. Most video game characters start their life strolling endlessly on a game developer’s screen. It’s the most common animation you’re going to see in a game, so it’s got to look good.
But humans have a strong sense of what a real human walk looks like, and there are a lot of pitfalls animations fall into, from over- or under-animating, to foot sliding, and more. Walking animations go wrong in a lot of ways, but at their peak, they can help define who a character is supposed to be.
Watch the video above to learn more about how a walk gets off track, and what game developers do to make sure they look good.