For the animation, the scenes where spit up evenly time wise as close as you can with all the scenes in the film. I was given the job off animating scenes 7 to 13, I also then had to animate an additional scene which will be placed after scene 6 and before scene 7. This extra scene was added to the animation so the film could flow better from one scene to the next. Each scene of the film was already planned out, with all the camera movements, time frames and character models in place ready to go straight into animating.
We were animating all the scenes in Blender, the program we used mostly throughout the process of making this film. I find it easier to animate in Blender as I went along, using the F-curves, hot keys and key frames to create the movement of the characters. For my scenes I had to animate both the characters, the creature and the buffalo. I spend some time getting use to all the rigs, to understand their limitations and what’s best to get out off them. With my character I already knew all the limitations and how the rig works, so I spend most of the time on getting used to how other people set up their rigs.
In some of my scenes the characters would need to run and walk within the frame. I research how to create a good run and walk cycle, this is something that used to create a smooth walking steps and a quicker way of animating the character walking.
Animating video I looked at;
To compete a walk cycle you need to animate the first few steps, then copying them other at the end off the first full cycle. I also researched how to use path splines in Blender, this involves creating a spline line with the direction off where I want the path to go in. I could then parent the characters main control with the completed walk cycle, to the path spline and the character would move along this path with the walk cycle automatically. You could then adjust the speed of the character moving along the path spline.
For reference on actions and movements in the scenes I would animate. I try to find footage on the internet on sites like YouTube off actions that I couldn’t act out myself. Acting out these actions and finding reference footage helps to create a more dramatic and believable animation.
The scene that was added to fit in between scene 6 and 7. Was added as a way off introducing the two characters together to the viewer. This scene involved one-off the characters walking into the frame, with both characters looking at each other.
In scene 7, where the creature digs away to escape, I needed to try to create the feeling of weight in the arms. I started to look into different animals digging, like beavers, dogs, etc. It was hard to find reference video that best emulated the creature in the film, he has large spikes on his hands. With the characters in the scene I wanted them to feel like they had some life by animating movements but I needed to stop myself from over animating reactions. The characters would be in shock at what they are seeing, so they would stand there looking on.
With scene 8, the scene with the characters preparing and walking to the positions and ready to take action. This is the scene where I used the walk cycles for both characters and a path spline on one of them. The problem with using path splines is some times the character can look like they are sliding along with no weight to their steps. So for one-off the characters I animated the main control to more him forward.
Scene 9, the scene where the pillar starts to fall, I animated a small shift in the pillar as it starts to become unbalance. With the character in this scene I original had him move his head to follow the pillar movements. But I needed to lessen the amount of animation of the character so he looks more natural and be more shocked.
In scene 10, where the pillar falls to the ground, I found it really hard to get the motions to seem natural when falling and hitting the ground. Its structure is very top-heavy and found it hard to find good reference footage. I looked at top spins, pillars and buildings but nothing seem to resemble the pillar in the film. So I animated it swinging from side to side, before crashing down straight then falling over. The camera in this scene I was given zoom in a bit from scene 9, and from feedback we were told this zoom was unnecessary. So before someone else in the group rendered the scene, he change the camera angle, now with the pillar crashing into the camera.
With scene 11, the scene where the character whistles for his buffalo to come and help him. I extended the time frame of this scene to fit in a reaction from the character off the pillar falling. The original time frame for the scene had the character whistles directly towards the camera, which I animated to how the scene was in the storyboard. With some feedback the scene needed some changes, which I animated, like the reaction off shock and surprise from what the character is seeing and then turning to the side of the direction where the buffalo would be to whistle for him.
Scene 12, is the scene I had the most trouble with, it’s the scene where the buffalo first appears then the character mounts him and rides out off frame. Again using a run cycle for the buffalo and a path spline, it was very hard to find any good reference videos off buffalo’s that I could use. There was one I used but the cycle still didn’t seem to have much weight to it. I also looked at horse run cycles but they didn’t help much, their structure is different and have the same weight in their steps. This was also my first time animating a quarter leg. With the character mounting the buffalo I had him hold while laying on the buffalo’s back before getting on, to emulate that feeling off weight.
With the last one, scene 13 where the character rides to the pillars location on his buffalo’s back. For this scene I had some off the same problems as I had in scene 12, with the buffalo run cycle. The scene also has the buffalo run up steps on a hill. This means the run cycle would be different on the hill, he would need to generate more power from his back legs. Unlike scene 12, this scene only every showed the back of the buffalo as he moves away from the camera. So you could get away with some off the smaller animation details.
Once I had all my scenes animated to a finished standard and with the director approving the scenes. I sent these Blender files to someone else in the group with a more powerful PC to render the scenes quicker. After they made a few tweaks to the scenes like pillar falling, moving the camera angle and adding frames to the buffalo run cycle.