The ball and tail rig is very simple. And so it would be easy for me to simply animate the ball moving with a tail attached – however what we want to do is to create a character for this rig. We want it not to move but to have its own personality, thoughts and goals. First I will need to understand the way that my ball ‘will move’ in order to create my character – I can do this from looking at research such as animal videos online. So I’ve looked at several videos of animals moving with their tails – I want to understand the relationship between the animal and their tail, for instance how much control they had with its movement and the way it moves.

This video above is one of the many fox videos that I decided to look at. This is because when first looking at the rig, the shape of the tail reminded me of a fox. Furthermore they are lively and fast animals which really intrigued me. I’ve included this particular footage (Above) on my blog as it captures the fox preparation of his jump and recovery. It’s perfect for me to analysis this footage because my final animation will most likely include a jump. The footage captures the clumsy tail of the fox as it tries to pick himself up form the snow. After watching many videos of foxes I found that their tail is controlled quite well by the fox – however mainly moves in a ‘flow’ smoothly when they are running about.

I also looked at a lion. And this video of a lioness chasing a zebra is perfect for seeing the way that its tail moves during speed. You can see that the tail moves with the back legs. The tail is more solid than the fox I have previously looked at. It moves up and down in a cycle. It is more stiff so will not bend as much as say a fox or squirrel would – they are more furry – the lion however curls and beats against its own body. For this reason I feel that I most likely will not base my final ball and tail animation around this animal – although looking at the fluid movement pattern has let me gain knowledge about the way a tail could move.

Lemurs. Their tails are a bit different than that of any other animal I’ve looked at. They naturally put their tails in the air when walking on all fours, in a straight point up. The video that I choose for this one animal (I looked a quite a few) is a good example of how the lemur jumps and the effect it has the tail. It is good at showing the anticipation/ build up to the jump. We see how the lemur prepares to take the long leapt – this is really useful as my ball and tail will be very simple and using reference such as this will aid my character. The lemur is similar to the lion in the way its tail stays stiff, it rotates in a circle remaining stiff and bounces around after it has landed.

Sword and the stone (watch the scene here)

ss4The best animated reference of my research that showed the perfect overlapping of the ball and tail was Disney’s Sword and the stone. The particular scene that I have used for my research is when Arthur and Merlin are transformed into squirrels. Just watch the tail of Arthur as he jumps from one tree branch and grabs another. Throughout the entire scene we are presented with a smooth, flexible and changing tail. It is also really nice to see how the tail is used as a prop – when other squirrels pull and tug – how they get tangled in their own tail – and how the tail is used to portray emotion. This scene shows the unrequited love of the females, the danger of the wolf, the human into squirrels. Its very clear to see that the Merlin and Arthur still process human attributes that the other ‘born-squirrels’ don’t have. Furthermore the way they communicate to each other is special to see – it inspires me to really think about my story, and the background of my characters? Especially how emotion can be conveyed with such a simple rig.


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