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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.


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.