Creature Workshop 2

Animal Behavior

11-Week Class
Now that you've learned the fundamentals of quadruped locomotion in Workshop 1, it's time to focus on animal behaviours. The goal of this workshop is to craft believable and entertaining animal performances and make your showreel stand out.

Overview

The goal of this second creatures workshop is to build upon skills acquired in WS1 by applying your knowledge of body mechanics and introducing the concept of specific animal behaviors and actions that convey an emotion state. Workshop two is about "animal genuine acting" through the thorough observation of animal behavior.

Workshop Breakdown

Block 1: Animation workflow
Block 2: Specific animal behaviours; Dogs, Cats (big and small), Primates, Horse and Cervidae, Birds, Dragon.

Assignments guideline:

  • 3 short exercises, 4 weeks each maximum
  • Keep it short to focus on quality, ideally 5 seconds maximum
  • Just one animal in the shot
  • It must be a different animal per exercise
  • It has to be a typical behaviour of the chosen animal

Week 1

Introduction and workshop overview. Discuss students personal goals.

Lecture:
  • Going over the workshop breakdown and set students expectations
  • The importance of taking a critique and understanding that feedback is not to be taken personally. We're in this together.
  • The importance of taking risk, accepting failure and having fun.
  • Overview of the assignments and the different animal rigs available
  • Launch class on first animation assignment
  • Go over animated examples and realistic examples to make sure the students understand what are specific animal behaviours and how to prepare their assignments.
  • Be prepared to show reference/thumbnails and pitch your animation idea during first 1 on 1.
Assignment of the week: Find a piece of video reference that captures a very specific animal behavior. Draw a few thumbnails of specific poses if needed.

Review:
We will focus on discussing your idea and locking down a reasonable goal for your first animation. Review all the material gathered during the preparation phase; video reference, sketches, thumbnails, storyboard, animatic, etc.

Week 2

Lecture
  • Thought process’ behind animal and creature animation.
  • Recognize clear behaviors that are associated with specific animals that may convey emotional states. Discuss various aspects of animal behavior including the ladder of aggression, how to recognize signs of aggression vs signs of playfulness, appeasement behaviors and posture signals.
  • Analyze your video reference. How to pick out your keys, tweak timing in order to make the animation feel alive and not rotoscoped. How to pick important body language symbols. Train the eyes to see details that makes each animal unique.
  • Blocking techniques, which techniques to use and why.
Demo: How to approach and start the first assignment.  Show reference, set some poses, and discuss workflow. Stepped vs. Linear vs. Spline.  Pose to Pose vs. Straight ahead vs. layering.

Assignment of the week:
Start to block your animation based on the video reference chosen.

Review:
Go over the blocking of the first assignment. Make sure the poses and timing are dynamic and read well.

Week 3

Lecture Adding breakdown poses to your blocking. Moving from blocking into spline/offsetting.

Demo
Evaluation of the class progress and what needs to be generally improved. Moving from blocking into spline/offsetting.

Review:
Go over the blocking-splinning of the first assignment. Make sure there is a good transition from blocking to splinning.

Week 4

Lecture Polishing your animation. Techniques, tips and tricks. Analyze the reference for small details that will help make our shot more believable and entertaining. Toes, tails, ears, etc. Adding weight, jiggles and simulated muscle tension to make your creature more believable. Cleaning your animation

Demo Evaluation of the class progress and what needs to be generally improved. How to polish your animation.

Review: Go over the splinning-polishing of the first assignment.

Week 5

Lecture
  • Review how the class felt about the 1st assignment. Learning from the mistake made during the first assignment, prepare for the second assignment.
  • Animal facial expressions and motion. Analyze reference footage. Launch second assignment.
Demo Evaluation of the class progress and what needs to be generally improved. How to approach animating the facial performance.

Week 6

Lecture
  • Focus of the week: Dog behaviours
  • Discussion on current assignment challenges and issues
  • 15 minute open Q&A

Week 7

Lecture
  • Focus of the week: Cat behaviours
  • Discussion on current assignment challenges and issues
  • 15 minute open Q&A

Week 8

Lecture
  • Focus of the week: Primate behaviours
  • Discussion on current assignment challenges and issues
  • 15 minute open Q&A

Week 9

Lecture
  • Focus of the week: Horse and Cervidae behaviours
  • Discussion on current assignment challenges and issues
  • 15 minute open Q&A

Week 10

Lecture
  • Focus of the week: Birds (introduction to Creature W3)
  • Discussion on current assignment challenges and issues
  • 15 minute open Q&A

Week 11

Lecture
  • Focus of the week: Dragon (introduction to Creature W3)
  • Discussion on current assignment challenges and issues
  • 15 minute open Q&A