RSA Animation

Here is my dissection of the transcript of our audio file. This is to better help us understand what is really being said in the excerpt.


Story Development:

Here is our initial storyboard drawn up by Dorota


Character Synopsis


Cody lost his parents when he was young, they mysteriously went missing before he could remember. He has, since then, lived with his grandfather Walter, who he loves like a father. Cody is a fun loving; care free child, with a cheeky streak that is always getting him into trouble. Although he may be troublesome at times he is still the sweet child at heart, which he takes after his mother, as his grandfather knows all to well. Full of energy and humour Cody is always up for playing even if his grandfather needs to rest, he can be likened to Labrador puppy or monkey swinging in the trees.

All three of us all agreed that we want to create an animation that is heavily influenced by Pixar’s animation. Because of this we are drawing a lot of reference from examples of children we felt capture the essence of the character we want to make. Dash from the Incredibles embodies the cheeky fun loving aspects of Cody, he’s bold, gets into trouble at school and strives to do help when he can, all of which are apparent in Cody’s personality.



Mery is our main character, she will be the one narrating along with the animation. To try and have the character to be believable we have taken inspiration from the original speaker “Nathalie Spencer”. By looking into her online presence we were able to draw some broad conclusions about her personality, such as being very driven and optimistic; smart and forward thinking. We then combined that with traits that we felt would suit the character for the animation.

Growing up Mery was always the smart one at school, great for her grades but was never seen as one of the ‘cool kids’. But optimistic Mery never let that bother her, she was quite content being quiet. As she got older she began to realise that she could be more confident around like minded individuals, with the social politics of secondary school far behind her, she was able to be completely herself and focus on what truly matters. Being a health worker herself, she strives to help people to the best of her ability, putting their problems ahead of hers, some says shes inspiring and some say shes a true social innovator.



Walter has lived a long and, bar a few minor incidents, content life. The loss of his daughter a few years back really took its toll on the old golden ager, pushing him to the brink of dispair and depression. The only thing that brought him back from the edge was when Little Cody was left in his care, pulling back together the pieces of his broken heart, with someone once again to love and to care for he would do right by his daughter and raise the child as if he was his own. Despite his old age Walter does all he can to keep Cody happy; playing with him even though his joints firmly disagree and never staying cross at him long; because come on, who could stay angry with a kid like that.

Pixar is great at creating empathy with their characters, even more so with the senior people they create, already sweet in real life, the capture the essence that makes the audience’s hearts melt.

Im using Carl from ‘Up’ as reference here because of he too has lost a loved on his life and during the course of the film he re-finds his love for life, through the connection he makes with a unsuspecting child. The man he becomes at the end of the movie is where we draw most of our reference. At this point he has become revitalised and content with his life, he is no longer the miserable, grumpy old man.



Character Pose Sheets

Here are the character pose sheets that Dorota has drawn up for us. We can all refer to this and the character synopsis and reference to ensure that we all animate in a unified manner and make sure our character personalities are consistent throughout.

Primary Blocking:



Whilst working on my shots I worked in quite a fluid manner. Because I knew working on one shot from start to finish would become very tedious, I, at least for the beginning, worked on all the shots together. Towards the end when I was trying to finesse them I would work on them one by one. However for this reason there is no exact primary/secondary/finessing stage to my playblasts, so I am just going to include a few examples from each shot showing my progress and then the final rendered version.

Shot 1

Shot 2

Shot 3

We decided to change the camera angle on this shot because from the previous angle the audience was unable to properly see the animation so we wanted to zoom it in a bit.

Shot 4

Shot 5

Shot 6


The snowball effect was made using RealFlow a liquid simulation piece of software i have been learning in my spare time. We wanted to use it in this project because the snowball would look really weak if it wasn’t made using a simulation.

Shot 7




Rendering and Lighting

For this project I again used Vray as my renderer. I really like the ease of use and image quality when using this renderer. There is a wealth of information in the vray documentation that makes learning the plug in extremely accessible. I recently discovered that vray allows you to turn maya’s cameras in to ‘vray physical cameras’ this enables real world camera controls like ISO and f/stop which vastly improves the render quality and allows me to light the scene to a real world lighting. I was testing doing indoor shooting with my SLR camera to see what camera settings I should be using in Maya. Below is the process in images of my lighting tests. The scene consists of a sun and sky to get the light portal on the floor as well as various point and rectangle lights on the lights in the room.



Of course we needed to composite all of our work below is the graph network for every shot of our piece, first of all i tried to colour match each shot to each other. This proved hard as the scenes that were rendered on Tomas’s computer came out slightly different to the ones on mine. I got it as a close as i could within the time constraints. I then applied a universal grade to every shot and using a zDepth pass I was able to create the high depth of field look.






The Jump Animation


Character Synopsis and Thumbnail Poses:

Pose Renders

Jump Reference

As silly as this video is, it still serves as a good reference for the motion of the human form jumping. Although it doesn’t have an reference for a solid landing, the take off has a lot of variation.

I found this great Youtube Channel called “EndlessReference” its packed full of reference videos for all types of movement. It’s handy that they show the footage from a side view and front view so it would be possible to use it on an image plane in Maya.

Here is a clip from a new animated movie called Ballerina, I’ve included it because of the elaborate jumps contained similar to the one I intend to create.

1:10 for slow mo ballerina leap.

1:20 slow mo facial movement


I’ve included images as reference also, as the really capture the essence of the moment and express a lot of emotion, particularly on the little boys face. It is also grate reference for how the body contorts on a still frame.

Extreme Poses

Updated Extreme Poses

Primary Blocking

Timing spacing and favouring

Secondary Blocking

Overlap and follow through

Lip Syncing


Here is the most recent composition of my jump animation. I have been trying to finesse the overlap and follow through, arcs and timing, these are the things that I feel reall make an animation come alive. Sadly I was unable to finish this animation, I had to put it on hold to make time to complete our RSA animation. There then wasn’t enough time once we handed it in to then complete this and the modelling and rigging project. I would have liked the time to add in the hat as it would have been a really nice addition to the animation as it really helped to sell the cocky slightly drunk cowboy look I was going for. After the hand it i will be continuing to finesse this as it could be a good addition to my show reel.

Hat Flourish

To effectively incorporate the extra prop in to my scene I will need to use both FK and IK controllers for the arms. Using the IK controller allows me to parent the IK handle to the hat, in turn driving the arm with the hat. This prevent any sliding that could occur when try to eyeball it with an FK controller. An issue i have been facing is transitioning between the FK and IK modes. I have been using this documentation on FK/IK blending to to fond the correct way to have a smooth transition.