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.