Data & Visualisation, Narrative, Short Animation

Mother Bird Rig Ideas

So today I decided to try out different ways in how we could animate our mother bird. I found some nice tutorials on how to set up a face rig using controllers. Here I have a controller for the each eye and a main controller for the pair. This will allow us a lot of freedom for animating them.

I also made a controller for each of the eye lids and main one again. Having these eye lid controllers will prove useful for giving the bird expressions and allow for blinking. Again I did the same for the beak…

I’m confident with these face controllers we will be able to bring our mother bird to life and really sell her reactions to the eggs hatching

Once I had created the controllers I made a quick animation demostrating them in use.

So far I really like how the controllers are working so I added a rig from the base of the body to the head, this will allow us to give the bird head movement. Here is another quick test animating the rig with the face animations included.

The use of a simple rig will prove effective for what we are looking as our bird will be sitting down. Her main movements will be in the head so why make life more complicated…

Once I was happy with the controllers and the rig I decided to make a short animation of the mother bird sleeping. Our opening/first scene shows the mother bird snoring so doing this animation will give me a good idea of what our work load shall be for animating.

I can safely say that I am happy with the results for the rig. Of course our bird model still needs work but this has now put my mind to rest knowing that we will be able to animate it.

Data & Visualisation, Short Animation

Sun rise Effect

The group thought it would be nice to have the intro scene open up with a sunrise. The sunrise symbolises the dawn of a new day and new life!

Thinking about how we could pull off this effect I decided to jump into maya. I had the idea of using a dim sky dome light with a blue tint to resemble the night, I then added a directional light that was parented to a locator which would rotate. This in result would rotate the directional life around the scene resembling how the sun lights up our planet at different times of the day.

Here is my first rough draft testing out my lighting.

I think this was a pretty successful attempt at creating the day/night cycle effect. Obviously this cycle was very quick but I will try it again on one of my scenes at a slower rate.

In this video I tried the lighting effect again but at a much slower rate to give the affect of a sun rise. I used it on one of my rough draft concept models for our environment.

I think using the dim blue sky dome combined with the rotating directional light works very effectively.

Narrative, Short Animation

Setting & Symbolism for animation

Our main vision for this animation was to have it set in a nest resting on the highest tree above the forest. This shot would be very impactful for the intro but I feel that it lacks something for the scene.

Yes the sunrise in the distance could be interesting but I feel having a scene closer to home in a forrest would allow us to create a more vibrant and lively atmosphere.

Another problem I felt with the birds nest being so high is that it would create a sense of danger and unease. I believe making the setting in a more freindly enviroment would help give our animation that warm and welcoming atmosphere that our story gives. This would also allow us to show more life and sense of community in the story. I feel the nest being up so high compared to everything else will create a sense of isolation which could mix feelings towards the audiance.

Here is a quick mood board showing some settings I think could be useful to use for reference.

Symbolism of Water


I like the idea of having a waterfall or some form of flowing water in our scene. Not only would it be more visually appealing, it would show more life in the scene than just the birds. After some research I found out that Native American Indians used the symbol of flowing water to represent the continuity of life and the on going flow of time. Given that our story is about a mother bird and her chicks hatching I feel this would be a great tool of symbolism.

butterfly-smallAnother symbol used by the indians is the butterfly. Used to show the transformation of ones self or a messenger from the spirit world, the butterfly symbol has different meanings depending on its colour. For instance:

  • A black butterfly indicates bad news or illness
  • A yellow butterfly brings hope and guidance
  • A brown butterfuly signifies important news
  • A red butterfly signifies an important event
  • A white butterfly signifies good luck

I think the use of a yellow and red butterfly fluttering through our opening scene would be a nice little nod of symbolism as to what is going to happen.

8. Thunderbird-KwakiutlThe weather is another symbol used quite frequently in Native American Indian culture. It is a symbol of change, renewal and fertility. Lightning is another powerful symbol used and is commonly referred to the mythical spirit, the thunderbird. I think it would be cool to use thunder bird references for the design of our mother bird.

Reference for thunderbird image:*&imgdii=jBDmm4f4RT6pTM:&imgrc=lJfWV6RAKhbNlM:

The native American culture has grown on me through out this research, they had very spiritual beliefs in that every soul, human or animal is created equally as a gift from nature. Playing on this theme I feel we could tell a really compelling story through the behaviour of the mother bird, who is experienceing the miracle of life just as a human mother would.


Narrative, Short Animation

Bird Animation

We are at the stage now with our animation that we want to be thinking about what colours to use. We talked about the idea of using blues and purples, something along the lines of what you’d expect in avatar.

I made a quick digital painting to try grasp the concept of what we might be looking. As nice of an idea as it is our group decided that the colours were be too cold for our story that is meant to be heart warming.


We have thought about the idea of giving our opening scene a dynamic morning sunrise. Both Alistair and Nuala have been making great concepts for the opening shot to grasp what colours to use. I began working on tree concepts looking at different forms and colours that could be used. Personally I have grown fond of the spherical shaped trees, I think they would add a nice style of design to our animation keeping it surreal. I think for our first animation we want to stay awake from trying to create very detailed and realistic models given what time we have to make this.

Nuala drew some awesome bird designs, one in particular that I really liked was her chick designs. I think her designs bump up the cute factor for the birds! Using the colours that Nuala choose I made a quick 3D concept to see how the colour would translate.Composition_Test.jpg