How do you idiomatically say that a character is doing an animation? I can't think of a good way to say this. Sometimes, when you make a game you must animate characters in the editor you've been given. So how do you say that a character is made to move using a set animation? I think you can say "perform an animation" but that's the active form, what's the passive form? "Underwent an animation"?

For example:

The virtual character performed an animation after the AI decided to pick an object.

The virtual character underwent an animation after the player ordered it to perform an action.

  • What's the context? Are you talking to game programmers, or to the general community?
    – Andrew
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 0:49
  • general community
    – Sayaman
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 0:58
  • I would just say the character "performs some action", or "moves" in response to some event. No need to get into too much detail. We know they're not real people, but we nevertheless act and talk as if they are, e.g. "my guy died".
    – Andrew
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 1:22
  • Characters don't perform an animation nor do they undergo an animation. At least not in any normal sense. Characters are animated. They perform actions and they undergo changes (in posture). Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 4:04

3 Answers 3


I'm assuming you are talking about a computer game where the Avatar visually carries out a specific action when you press a button (e.g. a move in a fighting game), rather than an animated character in a cartoon/film.

The virtual character performs an animation [sequence] after the player orders it to carry out an action [by pressing a button]

As a native speaker who has played a lot of computer games over the last 30 years, I think you could probably drop sequence and most gamers would know what you mean. They would perform the action, rather than undergo it - in the same sense as an Actor performing to the direction of a script.


Although I think this fits as a question in this SE, you might find a better answer in the Game Development SE, as they should be more familiar with the terms used in game character animation.


I would suggest using the verb animate here:

  1. to render or produce (a story, character, movie, etc.) by using animation:

to animate a children's story;
to animate the characters in a video game;
an animated film.

Although the dictionary says that this verb is transitive, with the person creating the animation as the subject (i.e. "The animator animated the character."), I have heard it used intransitively, with the animated object as the subject (i.e. "The character animated."), but I cannot find a dictionary entry which supports this usage. It might be considered informal or regional, or the lexicographers might not have encountered it yet. Still, I think it is likely to be understood by most native speakers who are familiar with animation.

Google Ngrams does show that the verb "animate" often appears in constructions that are likely to be intransitive (only about 40-50% of usages are immediately followed by a noun), so I think this usage, or a similar usage, is probably more common than the dictionary would suggest.


You were spot on in the title: do is a perfectly good verb here and since it's the most succinct it gets used a lot in this context. For example, from a Risk of Rain 2 discussion:

I was thinking it'd be cool if you were able to taunt, or if the character did an idle animation after 5-7 seconds of standing perfectly still.

It's also possible to say something like "the character is idle" (or another verb relevant to the context: attacking, jumping, swimming) but that doesn't necessarily mean they're doing a special animation.

This, of course, isn't the passive voice, which is any of these phrasings:

  • The animation was done by the character
  • The animation was performed by the character
  • and so on.

Because the passive voice is more verbose in this context, there's no reason to use it.

Note that "the character is idle" has no passive form.

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