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Ragdoll physics is a type of procedural animation used by physics engines, which is often used as a replacement for traditional static death animations in video games and animated films. As computers increased in power, it became possible to do limited real-time physical simulations, which made death animations more realistic.
Early video games used manually created animations for a character’s death sequences. This had the advantage of low CPU utilization, as the data needed to animate a "dying" character was chosen from a set number of pre-drawn frames. In contrast, a ragdoll is a collection of multiple rigid bodies (each of which is ordinarily tied to a bone in the graphics engine's skeletal animation system) tied together by a system of constraints that restrict how the bones may move relative to each other. When the character dies, their body begins to collapse to the ground, honouring these restrictions on each of the joints' motion, which often looks more realistic.
The term ragdoll comes from the problem that the articulated systems, due to the limits of the solvers used, tend to have little or zero joint/skeletal muscle stiffness, leading to a character collapsing much like a toy rag doll, often into comically improbable or compromising positions. Modern use of ragdoll physics goes beyond death sequences.
The Jurassic Park licensed game Jurassic Park: Trespasser exhibited ragdoll physics in 1998 but received very polarised opinions; most were negative, as the game had a large number of bugs. It was remembered, however, for being a pioneer in video game physics. 
There are fighting games where the player controls one part of the body of the fighter and the rest follows along, such as Rag Doll Kung Fu , as well as racing games such as the FlatOut series.
Recent procedural animation technologies, such as those found in NaturalMotion's Euphoria software, have allowed the development of games that rely heavily on the suspension of disbelief facilitated by realistic whole-body muscle/nervous ragdoll physics as an integral part of the immersive gaming experience, as opposed to the antiquated use of canned-animation techniques. This is seen in Grand Theft Auto IV , Grand Theft Auto V , Red Dead Redemption , Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption 2 as well as titles such as LucasArts' Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Puppet Army Faction's Kontrol, which feature 2D powered ragdoll locomotion on uneven or moving surfaces.
Ragdolls have been implemented using Featherstone's algorithm and spring-damper contacts.  An alternative approach uses constraint solvers and idealized contacts.  While the constrained-rigid-body approach to ragdolls is the most common, other "pseudo-ragdoll" techniques have been used:
Autodesk 3ds Max, formerly 3D Studio and 3D Studio Max, is a professional 3D computer graphics program for making 3D animations, models, games and images. It is developed and produced by Autodesk Media and Entertainment. It has modeling capabilities and a flexible plugin architecture and must be used on the Microsoft Windows platform. It is frequently used by video game developers, many TV commercial studios, and architectural visualization studios. It is also used for movie effects and movie pre-visualization. For its modeling and animation tools, the latest version of 3ds Max also features shaders, dynamic simulation, particle systems, radiosity, normal map creation and rendering, global illumination, a customizable user interface, new icons, and its own scripting language.
In computer animation and robotics, inverse kinematics is the mathematical process of calculating the variable joint parameters needed to place the end of a kinematic chain, such as a robot manipulator or animation character's skeleton, in a given position and orientation relative to the start of the chain. Given joint parameters, the position and orientation of the chain's end, e.g. the hand of the character or robot, can typically be calculated directly using multiple applications of trigonometric formulas, a process known as forward kinematics. However, the reverse operation is, in general, much more challenging.
Havok is a middleware software suite developed by the Irish company Havok. Havok provides a physics engine component and related functions to video games.
Skeletal animation or rigging is a technique in computer animation in which a character is represented in two parts: a surface representation used to draw the character and a hierarchical set of interconnected parts, a virtual armature used to animate the mesh. While this technique is often used to animate humans and other organic figures, it only serves to make the animation process more intuitive, and the same technique can be used to control the deformation of any object—such as a door, a spoon, a building, or a galaxy. When the animated object is more general than, for example, a humanoid character, the set of "bones" may not be hierarchical or interconnected, but simply represent a higher-level description of the motion of the part of mesh it is influencing.
A physics engine is computer software that provides an approximate simulation of certain physical systems, such as rigid body dynamics, soft body dynamics, and fluid dynamics, of use in the domains of computer graphics, video games and film (CGI). Their main uses are in video games, in which case the simulations are in real-time. The term is sometimes used more generally to describe any software system for simulating physical phenomena, such as high-performance scientific simulation.
Computer animation physics or game physics are laws of physics as they are defined within a simulation or video game, and the programming logic used to implement these laws. Game physics vary greatly in their degree of similarity to real-world physics. Sometimes, the physics of a game may be designed to mimic the physics of the real world as accurately as is feasible, in order to appear realistic to the player or observer. In other cases, games may intentionally deviate from actual physics for gameplay purposes. Common examples in platform games include the ability to start moving horizontally or change direction in mid-air and the double jump ability found in some games. Setting the values of physical parameters, such as the amount of gravity present, is also a part of defining the game physics of a particular game.
Computer facial animation is primarily an area of computer graphics that encapsulates methods and techniques for generating and animating images or models of a character face. The character can be a human, a humanoid, an animal, a legendary creature or character, etc. Due to its subject and output type, it is also related to many other scientific and artistic fields from psychology to traditional animation. The importance of human faces in verbal and non-verbal communication and advances in computer graphics hardware and software have caused considerable scientific, technological, and artistic interests in computer facial animation.
A procedural animation is a type of computer animation, used to automatically generate animation in real-time to allow for a more diverse series of actions than could otherwise be created using predefined animations.
Soft-body dynamics is a field of computer graphics that focuses on visually realistic physical simulations of the motion and properties of deformable objects. The applications are mostly in video games and films. Unlike in simulation of rigid bodies, the shape of soft bodies can change, meaning that the relative distance of two points on the object is not fixed. While the relative distances of points are not fixed, the body is expected to retain its shape to some degree. The scope of soft body dynamics is quite broad, including simulation of soft organic materials such as muscle, fat, hair and vegetation, as well as other deformable materials such as clothing and fabric. Generally, these methods only provide visually plausible emulations rather than accurate scientific/engineering simulations, though there is some crossover with scientific methods, particularly in the case of finite element simulations. Several physics engines currently provide software for soft-body simulation.
Interactive skeleton-driven simulation is a scientific computer simulation technique used to approximate realistic physical deformations of dynamic bodies in real-time. It involves using elastic dynamics and mathematical optimizations to decide the body-shapes during motion and interaction with forces. It has various applications within realistic simulations for medicine, 3D computer animation and virtual reality.
The Tokamak Game Physics SDK is an open-source physics engine.
Fluid animation refers to computer graphics techniques for generating realistic animations of fluids such as water and smoke. Fluid animations are typically focused on emulating the qualitative visual behavior of a fluid, with less emphasis placed on rigorously correct physical results, although they often still rely on approximate solutions to the Euler equations or Navier–Stokes equations that govern real fluid physics. Fluid animation can be performed with different levels of complexity, ranging from time-consuming, high-quality animations for films, or visual effects, to simple and fast animations for real-time animations like computer games.
Multibody system is the study of the dynamic behavior of interconnected rigid or flexible bodies, each of which may undergo large translational and rotational displacements.
Softimage|3D is a discontinued high-end 3D graphics application developed by Softimage, Co., which was used predominantly in the film, broadcasting, gaming, and advertising industries for the production of 3D animation. It was superseded by Softimage XSI in 2000.
MotionBuilder is a 3D character animation software produced by Autodesk. It is used for virtual cinematography, motion capture, and traditional keyframe animation. It was originally named Filmbox when it was first created by Canadian company Kaydara, later acquired by Alias and renamed to MotionBuilder. Alias in turn was acquired by Autodesk.
Computer graphics deals with generating images with the aid of computers. Today, computer graphics is a core technology in digital photography, film, video games, cell phone and computer displays, and many specialized applications. A great deal of specialized hardware and software has been developed, with the displays of most devices being driven by computer graphics hardware. It is a vast and recently developed area of computer science. The phrase was coined in 1960 by computer graphics researchers Verne Hudson and William Fetter of Boeing. It is often abbreviated as CG, or typically in the context of film as computer generated imagery (CGI). The non-artistic aspects of computer graphics are the subject of computer science research.
iClone is a real-time 3D animation and rendering software program. Real-time playback is enabled by using a 3D videogame engine for instant on-screen rendering.
An animation database is a database which stores fragments of animations or human movements and which can be accessed, analyzed and queried to develop and assemble new animations. Given that the manual generation of a large amount of animation can be time consuming and expensive, an animation database can assist users in building animations by using existing components, and sharing animation fragments.
Physically based animation is an area of interest within computer graphics concerned with the simulation of physically plausible behaviors at interactive rates. Advances in physically based animation are often motivated by the need to include complex, physically inspired behaviors in video games, interactive simulations, and movies. Although off-line simulation methods exist to solve most all of the problems studied in physically-based animation, these methods are intended for applications that necessitate physical accuracy and slow, detailed computations. In contrast to methods common in offline simulation, techniques in physically based animation are concerned with physical plausibility, numerical stability, and visual appeal over physical accuracy. Physically based animation is often limited to loose approximations of physical behaviors because of the strict time constraints imposed by interactive applications. The target frame rate for interactive applications such as games and simulations is often 25-60 hertz, with only a small fraction of the time allotted to an individual frame remaining for physical simulation. Simplified models of physical behaviors are generally preferred if they are more efficient, easier to accelerate, or satisfy desirable mathematical properties. Fine details are not important when the overriding goal of a visualization is aesthetic appeal or the maintenance of player immersion since these details are often difficult for humans to notice or are otherwise impossible to distinguish at human scales.
Virtual humans are simulations of human beings on computers. The research domain is concerned with their representation, movement and behavior. There is a wide range of applications: simulation, games, film and TV productions, human factors and ergonomic and usability studies in various industries, clothing industry, telecommunications (avatars), medicine, etc. These applications require different know-hows. A medical application might require an exact simulation of specific internal organs; film industry requires highest aesthetic standards, natural movements, and facial expressions; ergonomic studies require faithful body proportions for a particular population segment and realistic locomotion with constraints, etc. The merging