Major Personal Project: Creature Animation
For my personal projects I wanted to improve on my creature animation. I wanted to animate a quadruped animal and decided that a domestic creature would be best to add realism for a Nuke track animated sequence. I decided to use the German Pinscher Dog rig created by CG Truion and a Doberman rig by Ram Krish, to animate my dog walk and run/jog cycles.
I began the animating process by testing each rig and doing a short-cycled animation for each, using the Pinscher rig for the walk cycle and the Doberman rig for the run/jog cycle.
Here is the German Pinscher rig. I am at the polishing stage of cleaning up my walk cycle animation. I focused on setting up the body poses first and then did the feet. I’ve left the tail and facial movements until last, as they only need subtle motions in the animation. I had difficulty controlling the body shaping at the up pose and down pose, as the mesh of the rig can create a neck bulge which becomes noticeable when the animation plays. For the final stages of this animation I will improve on the secondary and overlapping actions of the head and tail, and tweak the spacing of the feet placements.
I decided to use the Doberman rig for the run cycle, since my running reference is that of a Doberman running on a treadmill. Once again, I set up the main body poses first, and then proceeded to place the feet poses in place. I didn’t always find shaping the dog’s feet easy, especially when creating the peel pose, as I had to ensure that the shaping of the back legs remained rigid, and I found using the rig’s feet controls fiddly. For the final changes in the animation I need to improve on my head, ear and tail movements, and again check that the spacing and speed of the front and back legs are smooth and accurate, with the left and right side of the dog matching.
VFX Nuke Track Sequence:
For the main section of my personal project I wanted to animate a sequence where a dog is seen to be playful, happy and generally doing dog things, such as sniffing, jumping, walking and running. I had previously used Nuke software in the pre-production stage to track the footage that I had filmed at a local park. I had also matched the Nuke tracker marks in Maya and created a series of mesh shapes, so the dog rig had something to interact with. Once I was certain that the mesh shapes stayed in place and didn’t move, I knew that the matching process was good, and the scene was ready to be animated.
I began the animating process by first setting up how the dog walks off the spot and sniffs the ground, following one of my dog references closely. Once I had a sense of how the dog looked and how long it took to walk in the scene, I continued to block out the key poses of the entire intended animation sequence. I have finished the blocking out stage now and I have started to ‘spline’ (work into the blocking poses) the animation.