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Saturday, 8 March 2008

Animals - Part 2; 4-Legged - Week 8, 9 & 10

A human has two legs, and with just two legs there is a lot going on in the body when we are walking. Then multiply that with two, so you got 4 legs and "two" hips to control. There you have our project; animating a 4-legged animal.
As with the last bird-project we had to hit three motions:-
  1. From rest to walk (start)
  2. Walking (walk cycle)
  3. From walk to rest (stop)
The first thing was to determine which animal to go for. Although our brief says 4-legged animal, it was not allowed to choose lizards, crocodiles and general reptilian animals, as these have a very different walk than a horse, cow, cat, dog etc. As I am very indecisive and I did not know which animal to go for, as they all are interesting to explore. I made a list of animals, I wanted to animate and draw one at random. Fate wanted me to animate a bison.

Then the decision has down, the research could begin. I was actually surprised of how much video reference, there is on the net, of bisons. If you did the same search, but a more common animal like a cow, there is a lot less material. But if you chose a cow, you should be able to get some first hand video reference. And that was actually my backup, if there wasn't enough material on the net, I could use the cows motion as reference.
To be honest I did not do as much research and studying as I did with the bird project. This might have been why the project didn't turn out great. The method of research and study of the motion was the same as always; research > study > thumbnail.

If anyone is interested in the research and planning, here is some videos and my flat-work:-



The research is down and done, now the fun starts; animating. I got to say that it is much easier to animate a grounded animal, than a flying one. The walk cycle went very fast; keys > passing position > inbetweens > done. As our walk cycle was one the spot (the animal is not moving forward) there was a lot of issues that I didn't encounter until the stop and start. One BIGGG issues was the way I had constructed the rig. The rig is basically a biped (see the Figurative project's pull and lift) that is posed bend down to walk on all fours. The problem was that I put the feet/hands on the bones right above the hooves. This meant that the pivot point of the feet/hands wasn't centered on the hooves, which messed up my curves in the workbench. Sorry for the very technical talk, but in the end I had to do a lot of bodging (local animators term of having to do a lot of work, like keying every frame). The messed up pivot point also meant a lot of sliding feet hence the bodging.
This project got really tiring in the end, because I felt that I wasn't animating but just adjusting all the time. Alright lets have a look a the labor for the last three weeks:-

The copyright is reserved for the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries.

In my opinion the is lots of stuff wrong with the whole animation. Some basic stuff is things like I didn't get enough weight in the movement. As the bison is such a heavy animal, you should REALLY feel when the animal steps and the weight balance is off-setting. I think my time could have been spend on improving the animation so much, if it hadn't been for the pivot point problem and sliding feet/hooves. I spend most of my time fighting against the rig, where we should have lived in harmony:-) But then that is a lesson to learn for the next time: make the rig properly!
I don't really have any wise words to say about this project. It kinda did the job, but I don't think I am going to sweep anyones feet away with this one.

The next project is going to be a long one; 6 weeks!! And we are getting into the easter holiday with 3 weeks off!!! So the next update to this blog lies quite a long way into the future. But maybe I will update it during the project, or maybe a surprise article... ehh, who knows, just a little head up on the time between this update and the next one.

I am all out of words now, and to be honest a bit hung over from my birthday, so I will rap it up here.