As tools like Dragonbones, Spine lets you export animations as both sprite atlas and skeleton data (JSON/binary), I'm not sure which format to use when importing to Unity.

I have few concerns:

  • Will there be any differences between the quality of the animations, when imported as atlas vs skeleton data?

  • Any other pros and cons, using one over the other?

If I use a sprite atlas, I don't have to depend on a third party runtime though. It is for mobile, so performance is also a concern.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried both exports from a sample animation and profiled them / examined their visual results to determine whether each version meets your particular needs? In that process, did anything stand out to you as a concern? \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Dec 9 '18 at 9:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DMGregory I'm working along with an artist. She was doing skeletal animation for the character. She asked in which format the deliverables should be sent. I was thinking of going with sprites as it requires less workflow. But quality I think is what matters. I'd definitely test both once I received them. \$\endgroup\$ – Gayan Weerakutti Dec 9 '18 at 10:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why wait? Use sample animations available freely online - check tutorials for your animation tool for examples. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Dec 9 '18 at 10:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have the animation tool. But I'd try to find out some samples to compare. \$\endgroup\$ – Gayan Weerakutti Dec 9 '18 at 11:04

The difference would probably be that while skeletal animations takes a little more performance than sprite animations it has some advantages. One being that the skeletal animation can run at any frame rate while the sprite animation can only run at the frame rate in which it is rendered. Another reason, depending on your animation system, is that you may be able to blend skeletal animations to create for example transitions.
The thing that happens when you export an animation as sprites is that you loose some information but foremost you loose the ability to modify the animations run time. But if you don't need to either of that I would recommend using sprites.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it's valuable here to be a bit more precise about what we mean by "performance". There will be more transformation cost in preparing the right frame of the skeletal animation, but also much lower texture memory requirements. It's not immediately clear which of these two performance costs will be the more impactful limiting factor in OP's case/target hardware. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Dec 9 '18 at 13:52

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