It’s done!

This weekend was spent editing our movie, meaning today was simply touching up and refining the sound or anything which didn’t seem quite right, we also had to cut the final scene (the falling leaf) because of the time limit of 15 seconds – it just wasn’t going to fit and here is our final animation…


Animating the scene

I’ve now brought the character into the set to try and begin animating scenes 7, 8 and 9 of our story.

Again I started with animating the anticipation of the jump, trying to create a smooth arc with the movement of the head.

A slight variation in the movement of the head however the clip above works much better than that below.

The beginning of the jump, to try and show that there is some weight in the character I created a delay with the lower body lifting from the branch, the lower half stays in place slightly longer than it should.

I then roughly blocked out the animation of the jump, the path it would take, in this clip there is no shift in weight during the jump.

The body follows through passing the position of the head, while the head twists slightly as he begins to look towards the ground.

The character has looked toward the ground and then back up directly at the camera, however i think this movement of the head is a bit too quick.

The clip below has a much better timing of the head movement

I felt that in the clip above the body looked somewhat twisted as it was hanging in the air, so with the clip below I have corrected that by adjusting the middle controller of the body.

I then moved on to animating the tail and trying to gain a sense of follow through, a delay between the action of the body and the action of the tail.

However my group felt that the character was stretching a little too much on the jump and he seemed to be jumping/ in the air for a rather long time, so the play blasts below show the adjustments I’ve made to the scene.

I began by reducing the stretch in the anticipation.

Then again I blocked out the movement of the jump, a few less frames were used this time  around and the stretch of the jump was reduced.

As the character moves closer to the acorn the degree of rotation was increased.

Then I added in the follow through action of the body

The body completes it’s follow through arc and the character looks at the ground, then back up to the camera. However the action of the body moving is a little ‘bouncy’ but this is fixed later on.

adding in the expression

Now again it was time to animate the tail…

I also had to animate the bounce of the branch, similar to a diving board, i Started by lowering the branch during the anticipation of the character and then as he jumps it springs up and continues to move until it runs out of momentum.

Using blend shapes I’ve added the character’s expression as he jumps towards the nut, he’s wanting to eat it – he’s greedy – mouth is wide open…

Then to animate the swinging of the acorn as the character collides with it.

Adding in the drop of the character

There would be a slight delay between the fall of the body and then the tail

Slight adjustment, he now holds his expression a little longer before he falls juts to make sure it’s clear to the audience

Scene 7, 8 and 9 completed

Just a few different image sizes





To try and figure out how I wanted the character to jump and fall, I started by creating some animations with it not yet in a scene. Below are some play blasts.

Seeing as our character has no arms I needed to find another way of showing the anticipation into the jump, I wanted to make it so his head is the force pulling the body upwards, so in the anticipation stage I’ve tried to create a scooping action from the head -it goes back, down and up in as smooth an arc as I could create…

I then moved on to creating the jump. The head leads the body out into a stretched pose, the body then following at the last possible moment – a slightly delayed movement, as not all parts move at the same time. As he reaches the top of the jump there is another arc that can be seen as the lower half – which until this point is being pulled upwards by the force of the head – starts it’s follow through action, the head has stopped moving but the body carries on in a smooth arc due to the earlier force pulling it upwards.

The body will carry on until it reaches a similar height to that of the head, this will then be a queue for the start of the fall – the character will almost prepare for it. I want him to pause mid air, look down at the ground, then look up at the camera with his shocked expression created using blend shapes – almost as if he is interacting with the audience, I thought this type of comical action would be much more interesting to watch than just a straight forward jump into a fall.

After the body has reached a similar height to that of the head, I’ve added a slight twist and downward motion to the head, the body was still continuing on it’s follow through arc so the head will be the first part to fall as it is still leading.

The head drops and twists to more of an extreme in the clip below, far enough so it’s believable that he is looking at the ground. I then have him react to what he sees by using the blend shape to create the shocked expression.

There is a slight drop of the body in the video below, however I don’t think it made much of a difference when compared to the previous above.

I then began to animate the tail. There needed to be a delay with the action of the tail in terms of the body’s movement and position. The tail is an appendage to the character meaning it will only move after the main frame of the character, the body creates the force that will pull the tail, so the tail can’t move until the body creates that force. This means that in theory the should drag behind but this was rather hard to create onscreen.

The pause before the fall, head drops slightly further below the position of the body, eventually the body will be pulled down to follow.

Another version of the video above, the head falls slightly further.

Character quickly looks back up at the camera, perhaps a little too quickly, before disappearing off screen.

A front viewpoint showing the expression of the character as he jumps as the acorn, he’s determined to eat it, expression was created by adjusting the blend shapes.

putting all of the actions above together, also slowing down the movement of the character as he looks back up to the camera, this is only a rough attempt at the animating to gain an idea of what I want to create.











The Illusion of Life

Acting and Emotions

“In our animation we must show not only the actions or reactions of a character, but we must picture also with the action… the feeling of those characters…”

Criteria for judging any performance:

  1. Are the characters interesting, lifelike and vivid?
  2. Do you become emotionally involved with them?
  3. Do the gestures and movements seem sincere, convincing and properly motivated?
  4. Does all of the action help to delineate the characters and their situation for you?
  5. Is the action clear-cut, realistic, prolonged sufficiently and exaggerated enough to be seen by the whole audience?

Animating Emotions – Points to remember…

  1. Make sure the emotional state of the character is clearly defined..
  2. The thought process reveals the feeling… this can sometimes be shown using a single, held drawing or a simple move, at other times there should be gestures/body moves/ full action – in each case, determine which will be the best to use..
  3. Be alert to the use of cutting and camera in helping to accentuate the emotion…
  4. Ask yourself constantly: What am I trying to say here? What do I really want to show? How do I want the audience to react?
  5. Use the element of time WISELY: to establish the emotion of the character – to convey it to the viewers – to let them savour the situation.

HOWEVER don’t be ponderous, BUT don’t take it away from them just as they start to enjoy it.

Source: The Illusion of life, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston


Our tutor mentioned that our staging could do with a little adjusting as it was hard to see the squirrel and acorn. So we have lowered our horizon line – reducing the height of the background and trees, we’ve also changed the colour of the trees, all are now a similar orange tone – as beforehand it was just to busy with the multiple colours of the trees…

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