The Animal Pt3

Animating the characteristics of our animal

Chelsea Tang
9 min readMar 30, 2021

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Day 1

March 30, 2021

Task: Animate your animal to demonstrate its characteristics in a 20 second video with only 7 colors and using original sounds

Storyboard sketches:

Brainstorming
Urbanization idea
Urbanization Idea with different beginning
Powerline Idea

I had three different storyline ideas: cranes dancing and showing urbanization, crane fishing and showing urbanization, and crane flying and showcasing power line damage.

The decision was mainly between the fishing and flying storylines. I decided that the idea with fishing was the most logical choice since the crane flying into a power line would require lots of work regarding wing movement and may not be as easily understood from the viewer’s perspective. Also, power lines damaging crane wings is a real problem, but I could not find footage of it for reference. Since I was unsure about the mechanics of the crane hitting the power line, and there was a lack of resources for me to understand it, I reasoned that this movement would not be the best choice.

When I settled on the fishing storyline, I came up with two introductions: fish swimming and puddle stepping. The first one would have the start of the clip underwater, and a fish would swim into focus with the crane following behind. The second one is the clip shown below with a crane stepping into a puddle, which would then transition to the fishing scene.

Testing out frame rate

I did this little gif to understand how much content can fit within 20 seconds. This gif is 4 fps and 4 seconds long, and we will be using 8 fps for the final animation. I realized that 20 seconds is a lot longer than I had originally though.

Day 2

April 1, 2021

Feedback from Margo:

  • Introduction of fishing with puddle scene is nice
  • Flying version might be difficult due to wings

With this guidance, I started on refining the storyboard.

Rough animation

I did the full story board of the animation along with a sketch to get the pacing and details out of the way before I move to illustrator. Ultimately, I decided to merge the puddle scene with the fishing scene as Margo suggested. I think that this combination introduces the water habitat subtly and tells the depth of the water in the habitat. Because of urbanization, wetlands are being drained, so the demonstration of how shallow the water is makes for an added detail relating to the reason for endangerment.

Questions:

  • Should I have a transition between the walking and fishing scene?
  • How can I improve on the walking animation?

Day 3

April 6, 2021

Feedback from Daphne and Q:

  • Don’t limit the view of the animal to only the profile
  • Be careful when blocking out shapes using few colors
  • Make the city scene less cartoony
Revised animation

Following the feedback received, I changed the horizontal walking scene to a 3/4ths view while still keeping the profile view of the crane honking. This way there would be scenes with 3/4ths view, profile, and front view. I had a hard time knowing how to transition the 3/4ths view to the close-up front view, so I made the camera change angle to a front view, which would follow the bird down to the water.

Then, I made a few color thumbnails:

End scene (left), Title scene (middle), Honking scene (right)
Above fishing scene (left) walking scene (right)

I ran into some issues with the coloration of the fishing scene. I have a total of 8 colors in my whole video (only 7 on screen at a time!) but since the close up has elements from both the water and the bushes along with the added red of the bird, it had 8 colors.

Left: 8 colors, Right: 7 colors

I decided to get rid of the light colored green by just cropping the image so that the grass would not be visible.

The storyboard was revised a bit to fit the new change. Because my previous fishing scene incorporated the above water scenery, I had too many colors at play. I decided to remove the above water area and focus on the underwater scene to reduce the colors. This means that when the crane plunges into the water, the scene will transition from totally above water to fully underwater.

Altered story board

I also removed the camera angle pan because I knew it would be hard to animate. Since the angle of the crane is changing, I would have to create a frame by frame animation, which would take too much time. I made the scene do a jump cut between the 3/4ths and front view, but I bridged the transition with the crane’s movement. The crane dips its head in the 3/4ths angle, and the movement extends to the front view.

Illustrator/after effects scenes:

Title scene (top left), Fishing scene (top right), City/ending scene (bottom left), Honking scene (bottom right)

When I made the fishing scene, I was having this debate between a simplified fish and a more detailed fish. I thought the detailed fish was a disconnect with the crane because the crane is less detailed, but I think the detailed version looks nicer.

Detailed vs less detailed

Then, I animated a few of the scenes.

Animated scenes:

Animated scenes in After effects

Adjustments:

  • fix the title to be more wave like and less jello like
  • alter colors to be more saturated
  • start on the rest of the scenes.

Day 4

April 8, 2021

Feedback from Daphne:

  • Title scene: more realistic water — make the text still and have the clouds move across the puddle
  • The city scene and the title scene detail level disconnect — make the city scene more detailed
  • Grass is overly simplistic/cartoonish

Because the grass is abstracted, I had a hard time deciding how much is enough. I turned to my grass in Animal Part 2.

Trying out different levels of detail

I added more pointedness to the grass to mimic the grass at the bottom. However, the crane and environment is noticeably more detailed and realistic, so the amount of refinement in the grass for my animation would not make sense.

Grass Inspiration

I decided to go with more abstracted version that consisted of a largely solid form with a few cuts subtracting from it.

Grasses

The title scene was changed to have the reflection of the clouds move across the puddle and the title be stationary.

Progress

Between the honking scene and the city scene I put a blurring effect to try and mitigate the effects of abruptly switching the level of detail. Originally, I wanted the honking scene and city scene blend into one with the camera slowly zooming out of the first and into the second. However, this was really difficult to do since the honking scene is closer up so its more detailed and the city scene is more abstracted. The blurring transition is to prevent the change in scene from being noticeable, but I think it made the whole transition more out of place.

Adjustments:

  • figure out a way to transition the honking scene and the city scene
  • add more detail

Day 5

April 12, 2021

Feedback from Q:

  • Outline of water is too thick — vary the thickness
  • Add reflection in the water
  • Move the intro or honking scene to the left or right to break up the center focus
  • Add detail to the honking scene
  • Zoom transition — try doing a mask to remove/add elements

Revisiting scenes to add detail:

More detailed versions

For the grass, I decided to do a style I had never done before. It has the same elements of the grass from before, but with an added layer of lighter colored thin grass strands. I feel that this adds more detailed without being overbearing and is still elegant. I kept the original abstracted style for the mid level grass and the furthest level.

Moving into illustrator:

Trying different grass colors

I decided on the dark blue since it added more contrast. Because it is the same color as the water reflection, I added a semi outline/highlight to differentiate it.

Then, I tackled the 3/4ths walking scene.

Bird frames

Since the leg and neck movements can’t be accomplished through the puppet tool or rigging, I made frame by frame cranes.

Progress:

Progress for animation

Adjustments

  • finish fishings scene
  • add crane and water movements to the city scene
  • maybe make more frames for the walking scene if enough time

Day 6

April 15, 2021

Feedback from Daphne:

  • Honking scene looks washed out
  • Jump cut transition between the honking and city scene was fine

Changing honking scene to have more contrast:

Before (left) and after (right)

I made the grasses in the front the dark blue color to add more contrast. Unfortunately, I could not change the dark blue color to be an even more dark blue since my Illustrator file would not sync to the After Effects file and update the color.

Working on the fishing scene:

Frame by frame heads

These heads will appear on screen one by one and not all at once like in the picture.

I added more detail to the crane head, so I put in the fish scale details to match.

Final:

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Chelsea Tang

Design and CS student at Carnegie Mellon University