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Saturday, 25 September 2010

Bird Flight Tutorial

Apologies for the lack of posts recently, I've been enjoying some time off and also moving home - from Australia back to Europe. However, I'm going to try and atone for my absence now with something I hope that you will find was worth the wait.



As Guardians is officially released in the US this weekend, I thought I'd share something relevant to the film. I feel my main area of influence in this animated film was in the design of the bird flight. I created many of the hero characters' flight cycles which were then used by the rest of the animation team.



I'd been lucky enough to animate many flying creatures prior to being appointed to Guardians. I therefore had a reasonable understanding of bird flight, so for the benefit of others, I attempted to write down my thoughts and tips on the subject in my spare time.



It quickly expanded into quite a long and detailed document as I sought to further my knowledge by drawing on all the sources I could - from video footage to websites and books on flight and ornithology. The following pages represent the finished document which was shown to all new arrivals on the project to help them quickly get up to speed and avoid the many pitfalls of animating bird flight.

VIEW TUTORIAL HERE

This will probably be most helpful to anyone who is currently animating a bird or other flying creature but hopefully others will find it an interesting insight into how I break down an animal's movement. When animating animals, especially realistic ones it is important to avoid animation clich├ęs and preconceived ideas as to how the animal moves as well as learn from others who have attempted it before you.

17 comments:

Robert_(RKL) said...

Wow Man awesome stuff i don't known how to thank you, for all the info you shared will all the community went you have the time .It's been 2 month i found you Blog and i'm reading everything over and over again animation is hard to learn thank you again for your time :)

Alonso said...

Wow! Thank you so much, that was awesome, totally laid it out, great examples, physics makes sense. It's hilarious, I thought I was good at wings, turns out I do everything wrong, ha ha. Thanks for the opening my eyes, love it :D

Brendan Body said...

Hehehe. Thanks guys. I'm glad your finding my ramblings useful!

dapOOn said...

"I'm afraid that's all I know"??? Are you kidding me? This is stupendous!!! The amount of research you've done is fantastic! And all this just when I was gonna start practicing animal/bird animation! Thanks Brendan! :)

Brendan Body said...

Hehe. That made me laugh. You're very welcome!

Lis S said...

I'm so glad I stumbled upon all of this information literally moments before I was going to make my first attempt at animating a bird. Even though I'm working 2D, this is going to help so much! :D

Alonso said...

So since my original understanding of wings was so woefully misinformed, I'm wondering how You go about learning something new like this?
How do you pick out the relevant detail from random noise?(like I don't know if I would have noticed the difference in wing fold on a large vs small upstroke)
How do you find your way through those technical doc's to find the the relevant useful info.
Is it just a mountain of watching and research you do, and this is just the summary? Or is there a trick?

BHAVIN JOSHI said...

congratulation Brendan for the Legend of Guardians. and Thanks hips for the bird tutorial...

Tyler J said...

This was a fantastic piece. It is well researched, well thought out and well presented. I love that you even thought to include a deeper discussion separately for those who might be attention-challenged.

I found this via Kyle Kenworthy's Animation Blog (http://kylekenworthy.blogspot.com/) and not unlike other posters, the timing is very serendipitous as I have just started modeling a bird to do some flying animation.

Thanks so much for sharing your vast knowledge; it is incredibly generous of you.

Frank said...

Brendan. This is great and would also benefit veterinarians when they have to rebuild an owl that's been hit by a truck.

Brendan Body said...

Thanks everyone.

Alonso, I'm afraid there's no real secret to it. I just had to read and watch a lot of stuff on birds and sift out the relevant information.

I've animated many birds and flying things over the last ten years for various film and TV projects, and made many of the mistakes I mention in the tutorial. But with each one I tried make it a little better and to learn a little more.

However, like everything else, there is still more to learn and I don't feel I have by any means got bird flight totally mastered.

ra'G said...

I recently found your blog and the first thing I read was this tutorial. It's awesome!! Thanks a lot Brendan for putting together this great resource, I'm sure it will be of great help to a lot of ppl, really appreciate you taking the time and effort to do this.

marcelloalvarez said...

Thanks Brendan for such an amazing tutorial :D

Aabid said...

Awesome stuff, loved the way you broken down the things and explained. Its the most detail tutorial on birds I have ever read. Thanks for your efforts and knowledge. Loved it :)

Natalie said...

Thank you sososo much for this Brendan, I'm working on a 2D animation of a griffin and this helps TONS in understanding and transforming the movement :D

Daniel said...

Thanks Brendan! I was googling for referrences and could not find any good ones, until I stumbled upon your tutorial. I got way more information than I asked for, which reignited my interest in animation again!

It was with your help that I was able to create these game animations of a toucan:
http://i.imgur.com/rzYlYBz.gif
http://i.imgur.com/gkG6hGx.gif

The flying could probably still be improved, but it is way better from what I would have had without your amazing tutorial!

Daniel Derbez said...

Dear brendan,
thanks for taking the time to go through such a deep explanation as this one. You have taught me a ton in just a couple hours.

Thanks a ton.

cheers,

Daniel