View Full Version : Character Animation: Martin Bird

02 February 2003, 03:30 AM
Well, after 3 weeks in development, the model is finished and character test animation for Martin Bird is done.

Being just a character test, the purpose of this animation is primarily for me to test the rigging, morphs and ease of use of the character, so it's not the best animation in the world, just enough to get the point across.

I used Morph Mixer extensively for the flying, wing flapping, and wing folding and opening (at times). The Morph Mixer animations took a couple of days to finish, and from there, the character test took just over a day to animate.

There are some nasty bits in there, especially a couple of bad sharp turns when he's flying, but by the time I realised I was too far into rendering to worry about it. And the audio is just a bit of fun, nothing too serious :p

So enjoy :)

MartinTest AVI ( - DivX5, 8.3Mb

MartinTest Quicktime ( -11.7Mb

(oops, stuffed the links... updated and working now)

And for those who missed the WIP thread, you can find it here: MartinBird WIP (

02 February 2003, 04:28 AM
Haha hes cute i didnt expect that voice!

02 February 2003, 07:11 AM
haha, awesome animation and very cute little bird. that voice also struck me as a suprise :thumbsup:

02 February 2003, 09:18 AM
Hi there, very nice bird.

I think such a small bird should move faster, they flap like crazy when flying.
I would like to see more fluidity in his movements, although birds do move quite jerky. In my view, either you do it very jerky and fast (more realistic) or slower with anticipation, follow-thru, etc. (more cartoony)... Itīs up to you, but the halfway in between is not very convincing.
The feet look a little stiff in the close-ups (secondary action?).

Keep it up!

02 February 2003, 10:53 AM
Gosh, those wings are are amazing. Very good setup you've got there.
I personally would exaggerate his facial targets a little more, atm his expressions are hard to see.

John Lee
02 February 2003, 11:07 AM
hey man nice rigging in the bird i see did you do this in all lightwave or was messiah involved in the rigging?

Good stuff

John Lee

02 February 2003, 09:10 PM
I love the animation from just before he lands onwards. But i think the flight still needs a bit of work.
Really great work though:thumbsup:

02 February 2003, 10:02 PM
:applause: Great,
the movement in the trunk is impressive, but
I think what the movement in flight are some irreal when the bird is near of floor and turn at camera. anyhow is great job. congratulations

02 February 2003, 10:21 PM
Thanks guys :)

Lukashi & fakie: Yeah, a voice artist I ain't :P

gagn: Thanks for the tips, you're right about the speed of flight, but being a test animation I wanted to show the flying motion. If the flapping was proper speed the wings would just be a blur.
Interesting point about the style of movement. I was going for halfway between, mostly cartoony, but with a mix of jerky to give it some bird like qualities.

colt: Thanks. Do you think all the expressions, or mainly the mouth, or the eyes?

neolee40: All in Lightwave

shoey: Do you mean the wing motion, or the bird motion through the air? cause there's a couple of glaring errors in the motion path of the bird...

Trebol_A: You're right :) As I mention above I wasn't too fussed about those errors :p

03 March 2003, 09:55 AM
I'm working on a bird myself,.Let me tell you how much respect I have for what you've done here. The whole wing colapsing and tucking against his body. wow.

03 March 2003, 11:55 AM
Great job !

03 March 2003, 12:07 PM
The movements near the camera (at the end of the animations) are pretty good, but the fly it's seems to be a rigid wood bird! :D

anyway good work


03 March 2003, 12:33 PM
Nobody told before but I like camera movement a lot!!

Maybe its not that important as birdie but Iīve found very challenging to move camera in a realistic pleasant way...

congrats to you:beer:

03 March 2003, 12:46 PM
I love it :D

He's full of personality :thumbsup:

03 March 2003, 01:54 PM
c'est GENIAL !!!!!!

there are some small imperfection in the animation...but the way you edit it is very very good...and the acting pretty fun !!!!!

:bounce: :bounce:

nb : at 15sec on the close up you have a very weird camera if the camera is linked o the bird...and the rotation is very rough...

03 March 2003, 02:16 PM
Great animations !!!! :bounce:
Well done !!!! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

03 March 2003, 03:02 PM
Great work, man :thumbsup:

Like colours very much :applause:

03 March 2003, 03:26 PM
Hey man,

Looks pretty good. Need some tweeking and watch out for the motion's a bit hard on the turns.:beer:

03 March 2003, 03:26 PM
Pretty good, i sudah kena.....haha :p

03 March 2003, 03:28 PM
Great Work!:cool:

03 March 2003, 03:33 PM
Jonny is my Hero :drool:

03 March 2003, 03:42 PM
Keeping in mind your earlier disclaimer that this is a test animation, it's an awesome job. I love the personality, and the rig is superb. Can't wait to see more. Your saturated color space looks great and really fits the character.

03 March 2003, 04:11 PM
I know this is in progress and a test animation but thought I'd mention the thing that stood out the most to me. Maybe you already know this. As the bird is flapping his wings there seems to be no movement in the body. It looks as if the body stands still yet the wings flap. There should be movement in the body. As the bird is using muscle all throughout his body to get his wings to flap.

03 March 2003, 04:12 PM
Hey nice bird I love the textures and the crisp look you got, the only thing that caught my attention was that the bird seems a little stiff, the wings work nice but the dird uses his tail to steer and make the turns, wich gives his back a little flexibility.

03 March 2003, 04:17 PM
Great animation, especially with respect to camera movement at the start. Keep the updates rolling. :thumbsup:

03 March 2003, 06:02 PM
Great Animation!

You inspire all of us that are taking up the task of animating a bird!

03 March 2003, 07:05 PM
If you had him beat his wings more before the "harsh" turns it would be fine. Birds can do some wicked turns if they need to. The only thing that still has me humming and hawing is the size of his chest I think...or maybe the way his head is faced/pointing. It just seems he is a bit large...but I wanna go out and watch some more real birds before I make a final decision.

All in all very awesome, I agree nice colors, especially on the bird, and good camera movement.


03 March 2003, 07:55 PM
Very good animation and nice model but the textures ....

03 March 2003, 09:38 PM
@ Tellerve

I think the chest looks okay. You have to remember that birds generally have large chests to accommodate their large pectoral muscles needed for flight. That's why humans can't fly... Compared to birds, our pecs are puny in relation to our whole body.

03 March 2003, 10:32 PM
Very nice! But I agree with colt, it would read better if his face deformed more. When the voice first started I didn't think it was the bird, because he didn't seem to be talking.

I think the eyes should be more expressive, and for longer periods (right now his eye snaps back to perfectly round right after showing emotion, try keeping the eyebrow down longer, or permanently?).

The mouth/beak should be pushed a lot more, as well. Puff the cheeks out a lot and pretend the beak is completely flexible. I think you will be surprised that what looks like "way to much" in the still frame will look just fine at full speed.

I remember your WIP and the rigging of the feathers is really impressive! Keep it up!

03 March 2003, 10:49 PM
I love the camera work...nice long lens at beginning gives a nice effect! Great work! Awesome wings!

03 March 2003, 12:55 AM
Wow, it's alive... the thread's alive :bounce:

Thanks everyone for your comments, and thanks smfjersey for bumping it :)

To answer the most common comments:

I was incredibly lazy/hasty with the animation, especially the flight (and had other work waiting). There are a couple of moments that look like he's on rails, which was because I edited his flight path at the last minute, and didn't catch the problems in the previews, and since it took 3 days to render I couldn't stand fixing it.

The stiffness of the flying motion is a valid point. There are a number of factors at play here:

Firstly the wing bones only affect the wings, rather than deforming the body the way the shoulders and upper arms would. I did this because I wanted specific control for the wings to accomplish the folding. As it turns out I didn't really need it, so I can modify that somewhat for future bird characters.

Secondly, this character is made to be animated by a team of animators, so through the whole rigging process it was a balancing game of quality of movement vs. ease of use (ease of use won out in most instances). In the videos this character is developed for, there is a very short turnaround time for animation, and to go for better quality animation would result in much more complex animation controls.
I also made Motion Mixer motions for the flying, and had to decide what controls/bones to tie to the motion, and what to leave out for the animator to edit. Following the same logic I erred on the safe side. (nottoshabi, you're right, he is using his tail to steer, but not his back, for this reason)
It was also very important to create the test animation as I expect other animators to animate. Yes with my intimate knowledge of the character I could have easily worked beyond the outer layer of controls, but aside from my haste, I would have been cheating myself, because I can now give this rig to others with complete confidence that I have done everything they'll need.

And lastly, In the videos so far, the bird characters have never, to my knowledge, flown. I don't expect they will fly much in the future either, although I am hoping they'll introduce some flying intro's and exists at least, now that it's possible. So I put more energy into other areas rather than spending too much time on flying, which will rarely, if ever, be seen.

Thanks also for the comments regarding the camera work :) I didn't used to think that much about the camera until a job I did last year which simulated hand held camera work. It surprised me what an impact the camera movement made to the piece. So since then I've tried to treat the camera almost like another character.

Tellerve: Yes, the chest/torso is rather large, it could be smaller, but I've tried to introduce some charactured elements of the voice artist. (who isn't heard in this anim... it's me in this one)

pearson: Yeah, I was thinking I might push the cheeks/beak a little more. Thanks :)

And thanks again to everyone that commented, you all rock :thumbsup:

03 March 2003, 01:27 AM
Hey that's cute, a bit hard to understand the voice, not sure what he's saying

03 March 2003, 02:10 AM
very nice, the feather seperation really looks good

03 March 2003, 08:27 AM
Kretin this is fantastic stuff!! For a test animation I haven't seen something like this in a long time!
The colours all work together, and the quick, cartoon-like motions when the bird speaks are great. Well done, keep it up!:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

03 March 2003, 08:54 AM
great work, man! :beer: I like this animation!:thumbsup:

03 March 2003, 11:26 AM
I really really liked it, the bird turned out fantastic btw :thumsup: you and your team have done an incredible job here bud. no crits

You have received the CGtalk choice award .Please feel free to display this image anywhere you like! Incredible work.

upon receiving this award, it guarantees you a spot in the cgtalk gallery hall of fame ( - which you are now placed

P.S. Please email me @ for the award .psd file


03 March 2003, 11:09 PM
OMG, Thanks Lildragon :bounce: How unexpected...

Email's on it's way

And thanks guys for the other comments :thumbsup:

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