Animal Project Part 3

This was a project assigned to me for my Design Lab class at CMU which required me to research an extinct or endangered animal and then make an animation about this animal's behaviors using Adobe After Effects.

This project really interested me, but I was also nervous due to having to learn a new program especially after just getting comfortable with Illustrator. The storyboard on the left is my first, but I ended up going with my storyboard on the right since it would be difficult for me to animate both the bird taking off and landing, since this has a lot of frames from the birds small movements. The general storyline is starting off with trees from above, my bird flies in and then there’s a shot of a plum before the bird takes a bite of the plum and then there’s a gunshot and the bird flies away.

This is what I made for my opening scene which is decent, but the quality doesn’t reflect how much work I put into it. Instead of an orchard it looks more like a cabbage field due the difficulty I had showing depth. I decided to put the intro text onto a feather because it would make this scene more dynamic and help the text to not blend into the background.

I moved on to making my next scene which is a plum glimmering in a forest before my bird swoops down and takes a bite. I changed the scenery from the original on the left to the final on the right to feel more like it’s in an orchard and to make the change from the last scene to this one less abrupt. I had modeled this scene from my poster, so it makes sense that it looks more like a forest and not enough like an orchard. I also decided to go with an apple orchard instead of a plum due to most people recognizing an apple before a plum. I changed the colors and looked at what apple trees look like to change the shape of the trees. The trees that I used in my poster for part 2 of this project were sycamore trees while apple trees are much more curvy and have more condensed leaves and fruit.

This is my second attempt at an orchard from above which is much more successful at showing depth and looks less like a cabbage field. I also attempted to start figuring out After Effects at this point and I was able to make my feather move across the scene.

The biggest animation I did was making my bird fly away at the end because I had to draw every frame in Illustrator before then sequencing and animating it in After Effects. I got the posing of the bird in each frame by taking a video of a sun conure flying and slowing it down and taking screenshots of key points in the bird flapping its wings. I then went back in and added in details and the eyes and beak in every frame. Then in After Effects I used the puppet tool to make the frames flow together better. Above are a couple of my frames.

My next step was to animate the bird flying across the orchard. I made the bird's wings appear to flap by shortening and then lengthening them. The tought part of this scene was making the background scroll by with the bird because I had to line up all of the trees and shadows perfectly.

My last step was to record and add in sounds. I walked around my neighborhood and recorded birds chirping and singing. The difficult part was finding spots without car noises too. I played around with a loud noise to make the gunshot, originally I wanted to bang a pan but that sound echoed too much. Instead, I dropped one of my kitchen chairs on my tile floor and it made a pretty convincing gunshot. I also recorded my friend biting into an apple to use for when the bird bites into the apple in the animation. For the wind, I whistled gently and for the bird flapping its wings I swung a skirt up and down.

Most of the final work in the animation I did was little touch ups: making the bird bite into the apple, making the bird walk across the branch instead of hop, making the background move in the gliding scene, etc. For being uncomfortable with Adobe software and graphic design in general, I’m pretty happy with the end result of my animation. I learned a lot about how to use these softwares as well as how to compose a short film and tell a story with so little time. I also developed my compositional skills when it came to each individual scene after my introduction to these skills with Part 2 of this project. Above is my final animation.