Category: Animation OUDF103

Final Maya Animation


Below is my presentation introduction of the toy I will be creating and animating in Maya.

My presentation for Maya project

Although I didn’t have the chance to present this i can give myself some feedback looking at it a few weeks later.

  • I could have added a animatic of my storyboard
  • A better drawing of my storyboard

My storyboard

Seeing as i always think too big i have tried to keep it simple and just have my toy having a fun time zipping in and out of some table legs with the idea a child has left him there. Going to try to get some expression on his face and some squash and stretch.


My toy reference photos. Different angles, size perspective and light.

I have taken photos of parts of my kitchen to use as reference for my environment and objects for my car to move round. I will be taking the lime green to put on my modeled cupboard doors.

In our Flash tutorial we ploughed though several tools and tweens. I had to use screen recordings of the swf files as the exported Quicktime movies leave artifacts on the scene and draws your attention away from the animation.

Shape Tween and color transition

Shape tween is the morphing of one shape to another.

Shape hints

Shape hints allow some control over morphing from one shape to another using points to control where each part morphs. It is quite temperamental so the simpler the shapes the better.

Traditional animation

Traditional is the animation of an object just using key points on the timeline.

Rotation point

Moving the pivot point on an object will allow rotation from a different angle.

Classic motion path

you can creat your own drawn path for your object to follow using a motion path.


Easing in and out allows the speeding up and slowing down at key points on the time line.

Classic motion fade

adjusting the alpha setting on an object on keyframes will adjust the opacity.

Advanced classic path

you can control the direction of the object during motion using an advanced classic bath.


I got lost a bit during this excersize. It was supposed to be rain but looks more like tv static.

Considering this was the first time I had ever done keyframe animation I think I grasped it pretty well.

A Slideshow of screen shots i took to document my process.

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Seeing the legs by themselves makes me giggle. Look at them go!!! I did that!

I worked mostly in the frame mode, I found it easier to see what each layer was doing. This is the whole finished nested animation.

Full coloured nested animation

3D Animation OUDF103

Looking at other 3D animations.

Lloyds TSB Advert

One of my favorites is the Lloyds TSB adverts. Done by studio AKA in London.

I couldn’t find evidence of what program they use for their animation, so if anyone one knows please comment.

I love the style of these animations which is strange because I am a big admirer of photorealistic.
The textures aren’t overly detailed and the colors are quite flat. It also has a kind of  Tim Burton feel to the character design.

Coca Cola Factory Advert

Another cheeky advert, Coca Cola Happiness Factory produced by PSYOP. This did catch my attention when i first saw it on the tv. Its light innocent and cute. The character designs are simple and lovable and the environment really adds to the loveliness of the whole atmosphere of the animation. I found this clip on YouTube of the advert but with a little extra on the end that they have called a documentary,

Doll face

I absolutely love this animation as strange and sad as it is. It has a simple environment, no need for a script and all the emotions are portrayed with the movement of the robot. I don’t know a lot about its origin or what it was made for but I do know it’s by Andy Huang.

Final fantasy

Ok it had to be done, I had to bring up final fantasy! It is my inspiration and motivation for coming on tis course after all. This clip is from one of the recent Final Fantasy’s number XIII. Every time they pull some amazing FMV’s out of the bag. In this clip the hair look absolutely stunning, it has great movement and flow to it. The water looks very realistic and the lighting adds to the whole sence of realism that gives me goose bumps. There is a small problem with the lip sync but we’ll let them off. But this is what I want to do in the future animations like this!!!! and it makes me so excited inside to think I could do it one day.

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The movement of  the clothing look great in this scene.

  • Research and evaluate – look into your chosen character, like movement and colors if you are replicating something realistic. If they are a policeman for example, look at police uniforms and training they might have.
  • Design and plan – Test effects you might use before hand to avoid encountering problems when filming. Make sure things work and work together.
  • Who is it aimed at?- think about what audience you are designing the character for. For example a character like the little mermaid wouldn’t be so appealing to an older more mature audience.
  • Visual Impact – a lot of things have been done several times so you need to try to be original in creation. I remember a character that had a really big visual impact on myself. Barthandelus from final fantasy XIII.I had to take a minute to look at his design, it was like no character i had seen before, totally unusual. his shape, the heads either side where singing during the fight and his overall size added to the visual impact .

  • Line qualities –  The lines used to draw your character can help with the character archetype. thick, even, soft and rounded lines suggests someone approachable and cute. sharp, scratchy and uneven lines can suggest an uneasy and erratic character.

  • Exaggerated characteristics – Exaggerated features can make your character look larger than life. also it will help viewers to identify the characters key qualities and personality traits. For example giving your character huge muscular arms will tell the audience they are strong without having to verbally announce it.

  • Color me bad – colours can be a signifier of a characters personality. Using Black, purples and greys often integrate as bad guys. Where as lighter colors like white, blues, pink and yellows denote good and purity, traits of the good guys.

  • Adding accessories – Think about dressing your character. for example if they are rich give them lots of jewelery. Or even a parrot as a literal extension of your character.

  • The third dimension – The majority of the time you will need to know what your character will meed to look like from all angles. seeing a character from the side can give them a totally different persona. Hight weight and physical shape is also important if it is going to be in a 3D world.

  • Conveying personality – Other than looks your character needs personality in order to be interesting.

  • Express yourself – Expressing your characters range of emotions will further flesh out your character. Depending on the personality their expressions may be muted and coy or explosive and exaggerated.

  • Goals and dreams – Give them goals and dreams a driving force behind the character this can also help with the story line developement.

  • Building back stories – where they come from, how they came to exist and life changing events they have experiences.

  • Quick on the draw – ‘ think too much about what you want to draw, experiment and think outside the box.

  • Drawn in mud – Decent materials aren’t the be all and end all of designing your character, so what is you don’t have Photoshop, use a biro.

  • Real world drawing – get out and about and let the environment inspire you.

  • Release the beast – Get feedback about your creations. Ask if they can identify their personality traits but find a suitable audience to ask.

  • Beyond the character – Your character needs an environment in which they fit. the environment should also reflect on the character and their activities.

  • Fine tuning a figure – Question everything about your creation, make sure there are no contradictions.

Arcs– To achieve greater realism in movement of living creatures the arched trajectory needs to be taken into account. the movement of limbs produce an arch or even thrown object move along a parabolic trajectory.

Squash and Stretch

Squash and stretch is used to exaggerate movements such as a ball bouncing, a rocket taking off. It give a sense of anticipation of a movement often used as a comedic effect.


Anticipation prepares the audience for something that’s going to occur and where its going to occur. This can be depicted by motion holds and switching back and forth between shots.

Staging (mise-en-scene)

Presenting and idea so that the intention of i.e the character is clear using key character poses and shot types.

Straight ahead action and pose to pose

The braking down of structured motion into a series of clearly defined key points. In a straight ahead action the character will move spontaneously through the action one step at a time until the action is finished.

Follow-through and overlapping action

These are techniques used to make actions richer, fuller, detailed and more subtle. Follow through are actions that occur after a movement and is usually an indication of how the character feels about what has just happened or what is about to happen. Overlapping is the overlapping of multiple actions of a character.

Secondary action

These are smaller motions that compliment the dominant action. for example the bobbing of the body and head in a walk cycle.


The exact moment and the amount of time a character spends on an action adds emotion and intention to the characters performance. Like how quickly it takes for the leg to bend in anticipation for a jump.


This is intended to emphasize the intended action of the character. This can be achieved well using squash and stretch.

Solid modeling and rigging.

Emphasizes the definition of a shape necessary to bring a character to life. This helps convey weight, depth and balance.Riggs are best when they are optimized for specific personality and character motion.

It involves understanding the basics of anatomy, composition, weight, balance, light, shadow etc to make something believable and recognizable in the effect and image you are trying to portray.

Character personality/Appeal

Characters must have an interesting personality, be well-developed, have a clear set of desires that drive their behavior and actions in order to get an emotional connection with the audience. This could be achieved in the way a character moves. Fine tune the personality using key poses and turnarounds.

I found a really good clip of the principles of animation examples using ice age 2. Just puts them in context.

I also read, in ‘The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki’ that all forms of animation comprise a set of basic phases:

Concept– This is the pivotal controlling idea on the basis of which stylistic and technical decisions about the execution of an animated movie are made.

Design– This refers to the visualization of the preliminary concept through the drawing of storyboards that show how the story will be articulated in terms of a specific graphic-pictorial language, how the action will develop, camera angles and where the characters fit into the story.Making the character real and interesting, be it a heroin or villain.

Model sheets– Outlining attributes of individual characters in accordance with the style of movie.

The hot keys are incredible useful to know. They allow quicker access to the maya tools. The most important ones I find are those that allow you to move the object, area and camera (the manipulators). It will take me a while to become familiar with them but I’m sure I will get the hang of it in the end.

Below is a photographic documentation of my maya animation process.


So this is my model, not overly happy with it, though still impressed I have gotten the overall shape. My tutor said it was fine as it is though I would have like to spend a lot more time on it, but time hasn’t been my friend this last week. I’m not very fast at maya and think that has hindered the outcome of my model. I have managed to smooth a lot of the edges but there are a few discrepancies. I had to choose a difficult shape, why didn’t I find  toy made from primitives?? because I don’t like taking the easy options, you don’t learn as much along the way.

My environment

By the time I got to creating my kitchen environment I was pretty familiar with the transformer keys and manipulating primitive polygons. I surprised myself how quickly I put this together and am really pleased with it.

When I had finished modeling the scene it allowed me to resize my car model to the size I want it to be in the animation. I had taken a photo of it next to my desk lamp as part of my reference photos and liked how small it looked to everything else and thought a lower perspective view might be different.

Time for colour

In a previous tutorial we used a checkered floor texture and quite liked it. It reminded me of a lino kitchen floor and decided I was going to use it in my animation. The cupboards were inspired by my kitchen cupboards in my flat and thought it would add and interesting pop to something that could be very bland. The plinths and panels are also the same beach colour as my kitchen, and guess what! The workshops are the same as the ones in my flat. I beveled the edges of the cupboards and workshops to finish them off nicely.

I used for the:

  • kitchen cupboards – blinn
  • plinth- lamert
  • floor- blinn
  • worktops- blinn

But I turned down the reflectivity on the work tops as I only wanted a shine. I really like the colours, I think they work well together.


I was well away by this point and quickly put together a chair and table. Having missed the tutorial for bend deformers I was adamant I wanted to include them somewhere, so I applied it to my chair on the back arm supports and back panel.

The table was very simple, just manipulations of five cube primitives. I liked the red i used for the car so i applied it to my chair, also i thought if i introduced another colour it might look odd. I used the same colour as the plinth for the wooden legs and the same for the work tops and table top. although I didn’t like the look of the table top in a grey colour so changed it to the beach colour and it looked much better.


My scene is now complete time to add some lights. I tried to think about where the light would be coming from in  a real kitchen setting. The obvious answer being the top lighting down. So I added a directional light as my key light, then an ambient light and an area light just to soften the shadows underneath the table and make detail visible. This image I took isn’t the final placements of the light rig.

Time to Animate

Now this was the tricky bit. I knew how I wanted my car to move and my tutor suggested drawing my own path. So using the CV curve tool I was able to draw my path with nice smooth curves and loops.

I tweaked the curves using vertises mode and the move tool to polish my path. The next part I get very confused and frustrated with. I had to attach an object driver to the path and then my model car to the object driver. Now im still not 100% on how i did it but i will attempt it a few more time to get used to the process. I also ended up erasing a key frame at the beginning of my time line which stopped my car animation along it. Not really sure how I did that. But all sorted in the end.

Finished screen shot

Wow! I did it… I produce something in maya and it looks better than i imagined. The ray tracing in the floors and cupboard really add a sence of reality to it. The table and chair feel grounded in that space. One thing I have just spotted is there are no shadows in the raytracing on the an attribute on the lights the ray depth limit. Something else I have just spotted, I would have like to have toned down a really harsh odd-looking shadow at the back of the scene on the cupboard doors. something I could have done by adding another light, maybe another area light but that is something to look out for in my next animation.

The finished Animation


For my first attempt I thing I have done a good job considering my inexperience with 3D programs. I’m not going to lie and say i found it a breeze because I didn’t. there were times I could have thrown in the towel but deep down I knew I could do this. There are a few things I would change, the moving camera for example is to fast in places, my model isn’t the spit of my toy and I would have liked some personality to be portrayed. that said it is my first attempt and modeling, light rigging and animating a camera and object, so I think I should give myself a break. I do really like my scene, I saved a rendered key frame and have put it as my desktop wallpaper showing the front of my whole scene with my little car shooting underneath.

My very first Maya animation…ONE BIG STEP FOR ME!


Claymation is stop motion animation using clay. For example, a clay model of a character would be placed, photographed, moved slightly, photographed and moved again. This process would be repeated and the photographs would be played back in quick succession to produce the illusion of movement.

thinking back to my childhood I used to watch Claymation children’s programs. One that i can clearly remember is Trapdoor.

This process is very raw and you can sometimes see indents in the clay of modelers finger prints. They also use block colors because if the plaster-cine mouldability. When I think of Claymation I always associate it with children’s programs it has an innocence about it, like children acting out stories with their dolls.


Pixliation animation is a similar process to Claymation, but instead of using clay live actors are used and photographed. Watching clips of Pixilation animation, I find it quite grotesque in the way the people move. It looks unnatural and disturbing, Especially Jan Svankmajers’ Pixilation animation.


Developed by Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker. A pinscreen is a white screen that consists of thousands and thousands of pins in small holes. Light shines from the side of this platform causing each and every single pin to cast its own shadow. Each pin, being able to slide easily back and forth through the holes, can cast different shadows. The white screen becomes darker the farther the pins are pushed out. The more the pins are pushed in, the lighter the screen becomes, giving a grayish tone and eventually an all white screen again.

This looks like a painstaking process but does look pretty amazing. Must be so tedious but the result is quite unique. The movement of the people look very ghost like, like shadows of people.


Graphic animation is the use photographs, newspaper clippings and magazine clipping, similar to 2D cell animation and stop motions. The clippings would be put into place and photographed, moved and photographed again etc.

I’m not sure how I feel about this style, it looks kind of amature, but that’s possibly because i like the fully rendered and realistic animations.


Object animation, the gradual movement of objects, the clip below says it all really.

animations like this one make me giggle, it reminds me of playing with dolls when i was younger, giving them personalities by gesturing them.

Direct Manipulation

The process of erasing and adding to an image.

What a lovely animation, so innocent, no fancy computer programs just a piece of chalk and a camera.


The best example of this type of animation would be South Park. This is a very early animation of south park, before it went digital it was just card/paper cut out shapes manipulated frame by frame.

This posses is very similar to Graphic animation, but not so freaky. this other example is lovely, it reminds me of children’s books illustrations.

Time Laps

A series of photographs taken over a period of time then sped up.

I really like this video, the music and the type of images gives it a really eery feel.

My friend ben and I did a timelaps for a friend. Taking a photo about every 2 seconds of a movie clip on the tv. Then put on to a time line it was sped up edited and we added music.

Model and Puppet

The frame by frame manipulation of a model or puppet. Tim Burton is a great example. His work has a great freaky feel to it. I think that’s heightened by the style of the puppets.


Clangers is a british stop motion animated children’s program. On my visit to the small world animation festival in september 2010 the puppets used were on display.

A little test using stop frame animation

I glanced at my wooden articulated bloke that i use for my art and did a very quick test using my mobile phone. I took a photo, moved him a little, took another photo, moved him a little again and so on until I had about 10 photos. Imported the photos on a time line and copied the same sequence 4 times and speed it up to the desired speed. The final result is messy but I just wanted to do a quick experiment. It’s a bit joltty, I think if I had moved the object a little less in to the next position the movement would have looked a lot smoother.

A little test in hand drawn animation

A few years ago a drew a little character from my imagination named Bo. He is a very small and nervous creature and I thought I would try to do a very small test with drawn animation to give him some life. So using a light box I drew over the original but changed the eyes slightly. I repeated that 5 times slightly changing the eyes each time, scanned the images in and put the on a time line.

I really like it, I think it adds a little bit of life to him and I find it very exciting when you see that happen to one of your characters. I think the animation is smooth and has plenty of room for future development.

My Walk Cycle OUDF103

Just having a think about what I could actually use as a walk cycle.

My initial thought was to animate a horse walk cycle, but then I’m thinking am I running before I can walk? So think I will save that idea for when I have a little more experience with flash.

I have drawn up a storyboard of a little girl chasing and capturing a floating seed and then making a wish and her wish coming true. The walk cycle would be the girl running after the seed.

I based it on the fact that I used to do it as child, i was told they where fairies and they granted wishes in return for letting them go free. But I don’t like it… it’s not me at all, it feels like I’m making something because I have to and making things easy for myself, rather than making something I would enjoy and like to animate.

So back to the drawing board, although I have been considering the idea of using an ostrich and really like the idea of producing a walk cycle with that image. I think I could get some great movement in the legs and the bobbing of the head it’s just coming up with a narrative. One obvious trait of the ostrich is them sticking their head in the sand, so maybe I could develop something around that idea, or even ostrich racing? Just picked out a few pictures to give me some ideas and start thinking about simplifying the characteristics of the ostrich to import into flash.

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Spotted this image and I like the background colors contrasting with the black feathers, make him really stand out. So think I’ll use similar background colors. Also looking at this image rather than him running on top of a line depicting ground. NOTE TO SELF!! Notice how the blue of the sky gets darker towards the top of the image.Try blue gradient on the back ground.Looking at other animated ostrich’s

About 11.30 pm just as i was about to nod off I remembered the old childhood favorite animated film Fantasia and the dancing ostrich’s in it and thought it was a great source for reference and ideas on how to animate my ostrich.

They are similar colors to a real ostrich. They move very elegant, maybe because they are ballerinas.

The lion king also have some good examples of animated birds and ostrich’s in the “I just cant wait to be king” song.

Looking at images of the ostrich they remind me of the chocobos in the final fantasy game series. In each different final fantasy, they vary slightly but still are very similar and are identifiable as chocobos. Maybe I could put my own twist on the ostrich? base an animal on it rather than replicating an ostrich?

Observing the real thing in action

In order to animate my ostrich i will need to look at how they walk and run in real life. I found a great video on YouTube that will help me replicate a believable movement.

when at a walking pace the ostrich has a distinct bobbing action in the head and the body in particular, you get a very heavy but spring like movement. the feet look very controlled and pointed when off the ground. They accelerate very quickly and the bobbing in the head and body disappear and seem to remain very still and straight in full stride. looking at the legs you can see at full speed both feel are off the ground. the inverted knees highest point when running is under the wing when bringing the leg up for the next forward stride while the other leg is fully extended.

When designing the structure of my ostrich I will make the wings on a separate layer to allow the knee to appear like it is moving under the wing. I would also like to portray acceleration in my narrative. so need to think of a reason why the bird is accelerating, is he being chased? and how he goes from a walking to a running pace. he could be racing or preparing for a jump?

My storyboard Anamatic

My finished Walk cycle

Wow what a challenge this animation was. I was the first time I used the bone to an extent and while the tool its self was useful I found the whole nested animation very difficult. I would have preferred to animate within the scene in order to make the other objects work with the walk cycle. Because it was a nested animation I have to animate it within its self, the movie clip. Due to this, time and frustration I was un able to complete my animation exactly like my storyboard. I had to remove the idea of my ostrich jumping hurdles. I found it very frustrating creating the poses and making sure that the opposite leg was in the same position in that spot as the opposite leg was previous. This drove me insane! I spent a whole day trying to sort it out. Next time I will draw myself the walk cycles before hand and save myself a lot of time and frustration! instead I constantly refered to a video clip of an ostrich running.
All that said I am very pleased with him, I think his movement is a bit stiff but overall I feel I achieved a better result than I had expected.