Anthropometric Data for Creating Physically Believable In-Game Character Motion

When creating lifelike, in-game character performances, especially in games featuring realistic human characters, unrealistic physical behavior can very quickly make your in-game animation look “game-y”, marring an otherwise believable performance.

While we can generally rely on animators to believably convey the character’s weight, momentum and inertia in the source animation assets, these factors are often neglected when implementing dynamic, animation systems in game, resulting in characters who lean too little, too much, or from the wrong center of rotation during steering behaviors; appear floaty or out of balance during transitions, or become “mass-less”, floppy ragdolls when they die. Incorporating a more accurate model of the distribution of mass in the human body into these systems can go a long way toward creating more believable character behavior in-game. 

I will be doing a complete post on designing and implementing convincing character-physics systems for humans and other creatures in the near future, but in the meantime, here are a couple of links you might find useful:

A pretty exhaustive anthropometric study published by the U.S. Military in 1969:

Weight, Volume and Center of Mass of Segments of the Human Body

…and a more easily digestible set of charts:

Body Segment Data – Weight, Length, Center of Gravity

Calculating Center of Gravity – Useful for debugging animation behavior