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Snail Tales – Building an Animatic

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I’m going to start this blog post by saying : I’m not an animator.  I know nothing about animation.  Well that’s not strictly true – I did learn something about animation from this tutorial video :


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Snail Tales: Part 1

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I have been working for a long time on a short piece of animation. It’s been made longer by my insistence on using purely Open source software to make the animation with.

I decided to use Synfig Studio and set about creating characters over a year ago.

Of course real life got in the way of this. There was a house move, and of course there’s been my work on Elite Dangerous and Zoo Tycoon as well as the work I continue to do for Hoo on Who. but here are some early tests and work in progress shots for the short.

In the original story board the opening shot was much shorter and it was static but I have decided to make it a longer shot to better establish the kingdom in this early test, there are no peasants, I will add a couple of peasants to the fields and village.

the scarecrow I added on a whim. I had watched the Wizard of Oz a couple of days previous and  trying to think what i could put in the environment to help set the scene, I thought it would be fun to animate a scarcrow. I built and rigged a scarecrow and animated him making a little wave and turning his head to look to camera.

A lot of his animation is masked by the tree currently. I might put the tree on the first  hill so it is well out of the way .

 

In this shot, the Cat detective is being telephoned by the Queen to come find her stolen money. I wanted to give some contrast to the cat detective’s office, so I designed it to look more Noir-ish and forced the perspective. I always though it could be funny to have the cat play with a ball of wool while taking the call, the idea to put the framed picture of a ball of wool happened as I was designing the background. Originally there was going to be a newtons cradle in the foreground, but the scene was busy enough and I didn’t want to pull focus from the cat.

 

In this shot, the cat detective is looking through his magnifying glass. I used two copies of the cat detective, and used the shape of the magnifying glass to mask out the larger cat

 

 

this shot is tricky and is in the process of being re animated.  The cat detective is climbing up a spirtal staircase, following the dragon prints. The Background was a 3d model I rigged and animated in 3DS Max- still frames were rendered out and the cat detective was then animated to look like he is climbing the stairs. I changed the camera angle to better show the dragon prints. so the cat Detective needs reanimating.

 

Using open source software has not been easy.  There are certain thing I like to do when animating that Synfig forces to you abandon. In order to combat this, Mike and I wrote Synfig Stage, This software will allow us to compile new scenes with copies of the existing characters in the production. expect a video of it in action soon.

Synfig also has a very steep learning curve, but as with all things, the first time you try anything it will always be hard. Subsequent attempts are quicker and some of the newer chacters have taken less time to rig and in some cases these rigs are more complex than others.  I hope to have a few more shots done soon. in which case ther might be other posts about this (which is why its optimistically called part 1).

 

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