Research and Development

 LO1, LO2 R&D

Aim

  • Develop and create a piece of effective animal animation.
  • To challenge myself, to put character into my quadruped.

I am challenging myself by creating my first quadruped piece of animation, that being the Badger in my animation. I want to use my down time to take time to understand how a Badger moves and help me into putting character into my animation.

LO1: I used Lynda this term to create a playlist called FMP ( see below.) As well as using several book as aid in my research into effective quadruped I used this short course – Animal walk cycles with Dermot O’ Connor. What I really liked about this course is that it not only gives an anatomically correct walk, but shows a custom made walk. It teaches you how to be playful with pushing the animals character’s across.

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Video source – LO1: The video introduces the course by explaining the ability to understand the anatomy of the creature you are choosing to animate. And how it is similar to the human joints.
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LO1: The course looked at Eadweard Muybridge and how he used 24 frames to help capture the movement in a second, weird how this structure is still being used – I am infact animating 24 frames per second as well! Muybridge’s photography break through meant the identification of the way animals move were finally understood in ways previously not known.
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LO1: In this video of a run cycle of a dog we can O’Connor demonstrates how much movement really is in each joint and section of the dog. It puts into perspective how many arcs and flow are needed to create that natural and flowly movements. For instance in this video it suggests expanding and reducing the torso like a elastic band when the dog is running. This was something I didn’t realise I would need to do but watching this video it makes more sense. It also pushed me to watch more of Badger reference video and understand what parts move in what ways.
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LO1: This was my favourite video in the course as it shows how to create a custom walk. And a walk that plays with how to put a soul into your animal and not just the mechanics. In this walk O’Connor plays with a “comical trot”. What this video showed me is that the animation dosen’t have to be completely anatomically correct when it comes to animating a creature. It is about playing and getting the character across, even if it is not exactly realistic in it’s movement.

Animator’s Survival Guide

animatorguide2.jpg LO1: Animator’s Survival guide Page 330 Scanned in by myself  Here on this page was useful they used different colours to help show the different elements and to prevent confusing the different sections. I think in the same way the course on Lynda did it shows how the body mechanics needs certain rhythms to push the animation.

animators3.jpgLO1: Author’s scanned in page 327 of The Animator’s survival guide.  This page helped me consider how to break down  my animator. suggesting to begin with the contact positions and then considering the motions such as the movement and the weight. I hope to show the weight of my character.

animatorsguide1.jpgLO1: Scanned in page 328 of Animator’s survival guide. This page in Animator’s survival guide began to discuss the ideals of animal animation. It suggested looking at Muybridge’s photos as well in the same way the course on Lynda did. Sadly their is no Badger shots but perhaps looking at animals of similar family or build could help me.

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LO1: Scanned in page 332 from The Animator’s Survival guide. What was useful for me when researching was not only looking at realistic movements but how to be creative and playful. I like in this chart how this character’s walk cycle has been conducted. This isn’t something any animal would walk like but it exaggerates the character.

LO1: It is important to remember the animal’s body when getting a character across. You can use it to emphasize the character’s personality. For instance studying how Kaa from the Jungle book uses his body to emphasize his creepy hypnotizing ways is really great! I love how he can contort and create shapes. 

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Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas. 

illusions1.jpgLO1: Scanned from Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas. The Illusion of Life has an array of useful and inspirational material to look through. On this page it notes about how to get an animals character across. I highlighted the section to which it suggests a Cat is more expressive with it’s eyes and a Dog is more expressive with it’s body language ( Which I believe is the same for the Badger.) The way we make our characters can help play with their species as well as their personality. (We want to represent the animals correctly.)

illusions2.jpgLO1:  Scanned from Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas. As well as having this beautiful animation breakdown of Shere Khan; this page emphasises how studying animal movement can allow you to begin to be more creative without relying on reference. I feel right now I need to study the Badger movements so I am not just relying on the reference. I like the tip at the end (highlighted at the bottom) that suggests playing with the leg pattern to create a different emotion : such as sleepiness.

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LO1:  Scanned from Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas This page was scanned in not for any advice but for the amazing breakdown of Lucifer. I like how they have squashed the cat’s body (even his tail) to provide for the sinister hunter. As well as being fluid it replicates a similar behaviour in how Cat’s move.
Image Source   LO1: The research from many animators suggested to look at Muybridge’s photo sequences. Sadly he never did a badger, but he did do several animals which are similar in movements. Specifically the fourth one in demonstrates a similarity to how the Badger runs. It can’t be used too closely but it shows how to remember using the head to demonstrate movements as well as how the pelvic moves. 

Image source LO1: The racoon is similar to the Badger in the way it leads it’s movements with it’s nose. This is really similar to how the Badger moves, what I will take away from this is how the Racoon turns it’s head and the way the Racoon’s paws help it balance when it turns.

The Badger A.K.A Meles Meles

LO1: Below is some videos I used as a reference for understanding the Badger as we as when I was creating it’s character design. The Badger is playful and charismatic! In my research I discovered that Badger’s are not hunters but foragers or as the Badger’s trust put it “opportunists”. This shows how they are not hunting on prey but searching for anything that can be eaten. Information Source

Skeleton structure of the Badger

LO1: To understand how a Badger moves and to understand the shapes of a Badger I collected some images of the skeleton and anatomy of Meles Meles (European Badger) to which my animation is based on.  

Image source Here is an illustration depicting the skeleton with the external fur to see how the skeleton holds up the Badger. This image helped me understand how for instance the leg joints effect what muscles, helping me think of what shapes. It also emphasises the small head and the rounder body.
Image source LO1: Here is another image of a skeleton, what I liked about this diagram is the words written at the bottom. “This shows very well the typical posture of the animal”. Indeed from my research this rounded posture is evident of the Badger’s in all the reference videos. I would love to play with this shape. “Head down and body near the ground” Again it emphasises the shallow body of the Badger.
Image source LO2:  I liked this angle of the skeleton of the Badger. It shows the length of the neck in accordance to the feet, the size of the tail. The skull in this image how its triangular point which it looks from the front too.

Collecting Reference. 

LO1, LO2:  All the above research is useful, but actually watching the Badger is the most useful way to observe mannerism and ways of moving. I collected some of  my favourite into a Playlist on YouTube.

LO2: Above is another video which helped me when it came to looking for useful video reference. Different to the other videos which leave food out this one focuses on casual Badger behavior.

LO1, 2: Above is my favourite video, 30 minutes long, it showed great footage of Badger’s. I was able to collect several pieces of reference to aid me when Animating. YouTube is particularly useful as it allows me to slow down the footage.  What I noted is the way the nose leads alot of the movement even in the way it smells the air. I have fallen in love with how playful the Badger is!

“That most ancient Briton of English beasts.”

I like the above description in a poem titled The Combe, I read by Edward Thomas. It adds to that air of mystery I want to achieve with my character.

 

Stop the Cull. 

LO1: In 2013 the government put into place culling of Badger’s to prevent the spread of bovine TB to cattle. This cull is continuing and spread to other counties and to Wales. According to the Badger’s trust 80% of the Badger’s killed in the Cull have not been infected with TB. The more I have done research into Badger’s for this project the more I have grown passionate on this topic. Badger’s and their protection is important, and should be accessed. Culling Badger’s are not the only way to prevent this disease.

Image Source LO1:  Brian May of Queen is passionate advocate of the prevention of culling Badger’s.
Image Source – LO1: The support of many marches and protest have been taken place this year to demonstrate the support for Badger’s.

LO1: “Just a couple times a week, put your iPad away, put it down on the table and say i’m going for a walk. Whether it’s the park the common, the neighbouring woods, someone else’s grounds, someone else’s garden and have a little look around and see what you find. Might not be a fox, might not be a badger. Might be a beetle. Might be a butterfly. Everything in nature is special.” – Virginia Mckenna (Born free foundation.)

LO1: In the video above the many famous conservationists and members of various charities discuss the first time of seeing a Badger. Many whom were young. What I took away from this video is the way they described their inner feelings. There are children who speak of their favourite things about seeing a Badger. It shows the excitement and the mystery of this animal who is nocturnal and live under ground making themselves “unaccessible” to the world.

LO1: There is a great debate between farmers, who proclaim it is the Badger’s spreading this disease. Above is a documentary that sheds some light onto this vast debate between the righteousness of culling Badger’s or not.

References of good character animation.

Below are some GIFS of some quadruped animation which I really love. Breaking down these shots I can begin to understand why they are effective and how the animators were able to play and push with the animals.

Gif source  LO1: In this shot form Fox and the hound we can see Copper the hound disobey his “master” to protect his friend Todd. What I like about this shot is the timing of the motion of the front and back leg when he makes the decision to go forward. This slower and more considered movement shows the uncertainty of Copper’s feelings.  (Film: The Fox and the Hound – 1981)
Gif source LO1:  I have always loved the Aristocats for the vibrant characters. My favourite relationship to watch is the three siblings and how they argue with each other. The character Marie is my favourite for her lady like tendency. What this shows is the diversity of the characters and how they move. It isn’t as if they are set to one “cat like walk” but the animators have a way to utilise their personality. (Film – The Aristocats – 1970)

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Gif source LO1 –  I have previously stated how I am inspired by Beatrix Potter’s stories. In the 90’s the animation series was released and being a child of this decade I remember watching it and being amazed. Watching it as an adult I appreciate how beautifully the series was created, especially the style. I am really inspired by this series.

LO1: I discovered these ballet interpretation of Beatrix Potter’s tales. What I love about them is the way the ballet dancers take on an interpretation of the animals movements. Although it is essentially a dance, their is something poetic to the movements which has this beautiful fluidity and flow of action. It helps me to not be so rigid but play with the stereotypical behaviour.

Gif Source  LO1:  As I said above looking at how dancers have taken on the rolls of a squirrel for instance can show how you can create rhythm in the squirrel movements. I like how humour has been put in this specific GIF, it reminds me to experiment and play with the characteristics.
LO1: Here is another squirrel from a Ballet, It plays with the humanisation which Beatrix Potter does in her tales anyway. I love the way movements has been put into to create humour and emotion. Especially as humans we can’t exactly communicate with animals we can only view their body language.

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Ghibli Animals 

LO1: I love Ghibli animation for it’s beauty and its magnificent stories. The way character’s are crafted are particularly wondrous. Below are some GIFs which demonstrate how they animate animals in a brilliant way.

Gif source LO1 : The anticipation in this shot to discover what he is looking at is really great. Although really simple, Ghibli gives as an example of how pacing a shot can work amazingly!  Film – The Cat returns.
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Gif source LO1: Here is an amazing example in My Neighbour Totoro. The Cat Bus is a great example of a creature creation. I love how the cat becomes more menacing, helped with the light and shots. The animation is also something which is simple but very powerful to evoking that uneasy feeling.
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Gif source LO1: The two GIFS above show how simple expressions can still give the animation of the character so much personality. I like how pushing the eyes and smile cane creating this appealing character who you can’t help but know he is a good person. i have several shots that rely on my character’s expression to carry it across. It is useful to understand why these work to help me when it comes to my animation.
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Gif source LO1: As previously mentioned the Cat Bus in My Neighbour Tototoro is a perfect example of creating a quadruped. The animation plays with the timing of the legs. Because after all when you have ten legs they are going to propel you faster. I like how simple this shot is and it’s ability to still replicate how a cat would move.
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Gif source LO1: Weight. This shot shows how to play with weight using the other elements of the shot to propel it. Weight is a principle which can separate further the differences between my characters.
Gif source LO1: Observing these Gifs while animating have allowed me to rein back at time when I feel I put too much into one shot. I like seeing the simplicity and the charm in these quick bites of animation. In this Gif we can see another animation principle put to use – Exaggeration.  Although he is roaring their is such a likability that Totoro remains not scary. I love the colours in this shot especially as my piece is set at night also; it’ great to see another interpretation.
Gif source LO1: Howls Moving Castle is another masterpiece from Hayao Miyazaki, Heen the dog the servant of Madam Suliman, featured in this Gif. I love the energy and shape of Heen. His run here is really amazing to see how the pelvic move and the head to demonstrate the hectic race.
Gif source LO1:  Here is another Gif of Heen the Dog from Howl’s moving castle. He is often animated doing this exact animation. I like how timing has been used here to exaggerate his energy. I love the facial animation as well, theirs age and sophistication rather than cuteness which is what you see a lot in animal animation. I also think it’s great to see how he pushes of from his fee.
Gif source LO1: Again here is another animation of Heen doing the same rotation, (part of his character) this time we see him squash into the stairwell. What I like about this one is the humor in the action.
Gif source  This GIF is around 4 seconds long but it uses a great range of emotion and action. I love how his shock literally blows his ears open. And before he can contemplate what to do he has to do that Heen rotation mentioned above.
Gif source LO1: Heen really is an amazing creature to look at. His design is basically a rectangle but the way the ears have been used o give emotion and in this one propel him to catch up with Sophie is so humorous!  I love this GIF , he rolls of Sophie’ shoulder numbly and their is something charistmastic about him. I like the different approach to this character.

Jiji – Analysing Jiji’s animation 

LO1: Jiji is one of my favourite animal characters in a Ghibli film. As well as being able to actually talk unlike most of the others, he has a lot of charm in the way he is animated. Below are some GIFS which show a variety of movement from Jiji.

Gif source LO1: In this one, I like the timing between the two characters, we have Kiki the girl to the left, walking at a relatively normal pace and then Jiji walking even quicker to catch up with her. This is something I want to remember when animating my character and the Badger. The diversity in the pace and the weight as well. I like how simple yet humorous this is.
Gif source LO1:  Jiji in this shot is particularly lovable. He acts tough, nearly gets knocked over by a broom and then regains his cool and looks back for good measure. I really love this shot from the pattering side step of the feet to the subtle turn back. I think this is a great piece of natural animation. On a side night the shot itself is really beautiful, we do no see Kiki but in this scene Kiki is sad missing a party she really wanted to go to after feeling isolated. The shot makes us look at Jiji first but when we glance to the puddle we see Kiki walk away. This shot is really powerful.
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Gif source LO1: What I like about this shot is how Kiki (the girl) is expressionless. Although we know she is sad she doesn’t show it. Instead Jiji is used here to add tension and another layer of sadness. That is what is great about having another character sometimes, it allows for adding more complexity to one shot. This is a beautiful shot, and I would love to explore using that interaction in my own animation.
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LO1: Below is the Lily Allens Music video for the Christmas advert for John Lewis. The music video breaks down the animation process. What is great about it is it shows the amount of work put into the animation. There are several amazing quadruped animations, really capturing the animals essence rather than a human character. I wanted my Badger to still be really animalistic therefore it was great to see a representation of an animation that crafted their quadrupeds in such a way. It also is just so heartbreaking when the bear sees the Christmas tree for the first time. So beautiful.

Creating my own MuyBridge line up

LO1: The research above showed me how important reference could be. I used a lot of video references to assist me with working on my quadruped walk. This really helped me when it came to me animating.

Original Youtube Video Source LO1: I print screened this section of the Badger walking off screen as it was similar to a section from my animatic. I used a Grid in the way Muybridge did for his images to see the dips and movement in the Badger’s walk. This is the images lined up (Not accurate timing) But it is so helpful for me to understand the way the Badger walks.

IMAGES

Youtube Video source LO1: Here are all the images together with the grid. Looking at these images I can see how tension and weight have been distributed. The shot was similar to my animatic  for my Badger. Badger’s have really short legs for digging so at times it is hard to make them out. Dissecting my video reference has helped me when it comes to that specific aspect such as where the foot is placed.

Observational Sketches.

LO1, LO2: I studied several videos to help me observe the movements of a badger. By doing these studies it should help me in creating a playful piece of character animation. Sketching is a really great way for me to understand gestures and quirks of the badger.

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LO2, LO1: Author’s Own Here are some observational sketches. I wanted to understand some of the characteristics of a Badger.  What I like about this page is the variety of the shape of the Badger. They can become squished into little circle balls, become rectangular by stretching forward. They can extend their heads and have long legs and shrink down and become very short legs and low down bodies. There is a lot of room to be playful!

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LO1, LO2 Author’s Own  Here are some quick sketches what you get from this is they are really circular and short animals.
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LO1, LO2 : I like the posing of some of the drawings, the strong lines play with the circular bodies and I think this could create some nice contrast when I come to animating. Some of these drawings are not as successful but I have put all here to show how some are not anatomically correct to help me see what works and what dosen’t.
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LO1, LO2 Author’s Own Here are some more sketches, again some of the perspectives are off which shows when I come to drawing i need to utilise my tools to ensure the perspective looks right and works well. It is good that I tried to play with perspective however.

The character.

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I mentioned in my research tab a bit about my character’s personality. I want my Badger to be animalistic, inviting and omnipresent. When coming to animate I need to consider these personality traits. Totoro for instance reacts and is animated in a way that makes him mysterious. I need to take this same philosophy and drive it into my animating.

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LO1: i also had filmed reference of myself pretending to be my a Badger (It is too embarrassing to put here!!) But here is a screenshot of it. I did this so I could understand the timing and pacing. I wanted to see where I could add anticipation. For instance sniffing and suddenly turning quickly.

LO2: Using my observations of the body structure and the quirks of a badger I tried to put it into my animating. I wanted to have Badger qualities. For instance on my research I discovered Badgers have a nose 800x more powerful than our own. Which is insane! But also allowed me to understand how useful the nose is to a badger.

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Author’s Own LO2: I used the nose as the driving source for the Badger movements. Below you can see my line art animation how the Badger is using his nose to inspect VS his eyes. In this shot the Badger is silhouetted other than his nose which enters into the light (Red line indicating where light will be.) 

 

LO2: When working out my Badger walk I wanted to ensure that I understood the structure of the bones. How the paws bend the amount of volume distributed and muscles. Using the reference I was really able to achieve a walk which took all those things into consideration.

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L02: When animating I tried to understand muscles and how the Badger would move. You can see here an example. 
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LO2: Here is another shot of the bones coming through at the beginning. Because I did a lot of observation I was able to see how the Badger moves its pelvis and shoulder area. It was bits like this that made my Quadruped seem more natural. 

LO2: I ended up using the leaves as an extension of the Badger’s Expression. Two Oak leaves became sort of eyebrows. I worked with playing with them and overlapping them to bring a little humour. LO5: Alice gave me feedback on my animation and really helped me out in adding a bit of humour. In this section the Badger’s eyebrows fall onto his eyes when he bowing.  I had originally squashed them down but Alice was able to suggest a different perspective that made it even better! These little pieces of animation gave my Badger more personality.

 

LO2: In order to make my animation seem like my characters personality I considered how my character would internally think and process things. I wanted my character to be mysterious and inviting. Therefore a lot of the reactions are slow, this way it emphasises not knowing what the Badger is going to do next.

 

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Author’s Own Gif  Here is the animation final shot. 
LO2: You can see there was a lot of different elements to this shot, from the background, lighting, leaves, worms, Badger, snails, lanterns, shadows. The leaves took 10 hours to do in itself. There was so much to do. This is one of my longest shots also being at 6 seconds and therefore it took much longer than I had anticipated. What I do like about this shot is the amount of detail in it. I spent a long time working on the Badger and I am happy with how I progressed. Somethings I want to get better at however is pushing the poses. Looking back at it I feel I could have pushed the Badger’s bow even more.

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LO2: I wanted my animation to have texture. So for the Badger and elements of the Girl (such as jumper) the character has a watercolour effect. It meant my colouring time was basically doubled. But the effect creates this rich textured movement which I had wanted to create using my style boards as inspiration. Here you can see how I had to highlight the piece red to help me clean up the colouring. 
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