Friday, February 4, 2011

Questions and Hopefully Answers

From time to time I receive questions from animators who are looking to learn more about the craft. Even though I've done some lectures and am a mentor from time to time at Animation Mentor AND I've been animating for a good 13 years now, I'm still surprised when people ask for advice. Crap, I still have way more questions than answers myself. Although sometimes I actually do have an answer! "So what?", you may ask. Well I'm thinking if any of you out there have any questions feel free to ask. I'll do my best to answer.
Here's the first one!

An animator recently asked me "How do you animate a wing flap on a creature?"

To make a believable wing flap, on any creature, you first should look at reference of birds, bats, and insects. When you're actions are grounded in real life they will be more believable to the audience because it's something familiar even though it's on a different type of creature. Once you've studied that reference you'll see that a wing flap is not just up and down. It's not even just up and down with some front to back. There's a twist in there, literally. Not to mention the attitude/motivation of the creature will dictate the type of flap you need. A flap that helps a flying creature land, for instance, is much different from a flap that accelerates the beast.

One way to think about a wing flap is as if the creature is "swimming" through the air. Air, even though it's primarily a gas, still has a lot in common with water. Therefore flying is a lot like swimming through the air. Think about when you tread water or even do the butterfly stroke (Okay only like 2% of the people in the world can do a proper butterfly, but you've at least SEEN it done). When doing these strokes your arms don't flap up and down hap hazardly. They PULL you through the water or PUSH you above the water. Now go back and look at some birds flying and see if you can see the commonality between Michael Phelps doing the butterfly and a loon taking off.
Good Luck.


Jess Morris said...

This is great advice! Thanks Jim! :) ...and your weekly anims are looking great! I can't wait to see what part 2 of the last one will be!

jbr0wn6 said...

Thanks Jess!

A Mordant Brown said...

How do you animate your sister beating you in ping pong?