Ball and Tail

Final Animation

After the formative I reviewed my animation and decided to make some changes. Most of the animation I liked, however I felt that at some parts of the animation the tail was a bit rigid – or it wasn’t moving and so the character lost life. The start of the animation is perfect – and I felt it lots of life however it loses that later on in the animation. Above you can see I have changed the ending slightly – the ball bounces and then stops next to the ball. And the timing of some parts were a bit to slow for the squash. Lastly I moved some the tail more fluid at some points. I am really pleased with this final version as its a bit more smoother as I spent time in making the ending as good as the start.

Above is my first version of my final ball and tail. I’m really happy with the finished piece, its very simple but clearly shows the story. I feel that the camera angles really help to create a fast paced animation – and to add emotion to certain scenes – such as when the ball and tail waits for the ball to jump up but can’t – we see the tail fall with sadness through a close up shot so that the focus is here. The only thing I am disappointed in is that the ending is a bit slower than the lively start – however I feel it expresses several moods of the characters.

Animation Principles / Using Maya

After coming up with my finished story I then began playing with my rig so that I could learn how to use it to bring the Ball and tail to life. The video above is a selection of these tests and experiments. Most of them look pretty funny as they are just for myself to get a hang of the way the rig works. Furthermore I needed to play about to find out how the tail with move in different actions (jumping, moving, emotions displayed and etc.) for my final animation. I have looked and several animals such as squirrels, foxes, Lemurs and lions – each move in different ways so i decided to look at my references and drawings to to see which suited best. My favourite from above is based on a lion’s tail – they tend to move in a curl in and out positions that look really fluid. These tests are for me the most vital stage since I ca discover what works and what doesn’t.

Ideas and Concept

the camera shots

 Above is my final camera and storyboard. Its very simple, and allows me to understand the camera angles when it comes to me putting cameras into Maya. I have quite a few camera shots because I want them to aid the story – for instance when the small ball cannot bounce up to where the main ball and tail is, the camera has a close up on the ball and tail to show how it gets upset. I’ve used an over the shoulder shot to show to show how the ball and tail has all the power in the scene and he has finally out witted the small ball – and it makes for a more interesting scene.

The chosen idea


The left side

The balla and tail is asleep and then a small ball bounces over and wakes him up. The ball and tail wakes up and then tries to capture the ball – the ball tries to run away. When the ball and tail finally corners the small ball, the small bounces up and hits him in the face. To prevent the small ball from bothering him again the ball and tail jumps up onto a block. When the ball tries to also make the jump he fails and falls down. The ball and tail then feels sad he is alone he jumps back down and they both cuddle in the ball and tails, tail.

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The several images I’ve included above are scanned from my sketchbook. After coming up with many ideas i decided to create these pose to pose storyboard to understand how the tail would move in the scene. It just let me put my ideas down visually for me to imagine what the animation would look like – to see what was to complex and what lacked a story. I really wanted my piece to have a story.


I began generating ideas for the Ball and Tail animation with simple storyboards like these above. I use around 7 frames to capture a simple idea. I then take the strongest and develop them out further. This page is just a tool to play around and generate lots of ideas in a short time until I come to one I really like.


Above, you can see a number of pictures of the rig that I will be using to make my Ball and Tail animation. I have posed the rig into some of the action poses that I made in my drawings below – I did this so that I could see what transferred well from the 2D sketches to the rig itself and I could potentially use in my work.

foxThis is a pose to pose drawing of a fox jumping into snow. The arc is very obvious here and the path the tail takes as it lifts of the ground (behind the ball) until it hits the ground (int the air) – each pose shows a different tail – it doesn’t just remain straight it bends and flicks. – I need to try and capture this in my final animation.


I wanted to look into a variety of tails and animals as not every tail moves in the same way. Above I’ve looked into the way a Lion tail moves. The lion’s tail, like the Lemur moves in a stiff way – more like a limb, it flicks and curls but it does not ‘fold’ like a fox. One of the most useful reference was a lion hunting – i was able to see how the tail moves when it runs and I got this in out curl pattern  – which will be very helpful when I come to animate my Ball and tail simply moving.


This is a action sheet of many different poses a fox tail can make. I have tried to think about different angles and movements when making this – as well as using online footage to to capture different poses. I will later use this sheet and the others to model in Maya with our rig.


This pose to pose sheet I drew from Disney’s Sword and the stone, when Merlin and Arthur become squirrels. In the footage I looked at there was this one clip where Arthur takes a jump and swings around a branch, the tail follows inn a very fluid movement in an overlap.


Another pose to pose of squirrel – this really shows how a large force can impact the tail so much that it falls over the body – what is also useful is it reveals how the tail goes back to its ‘solid form’ after the jump. I can also see the arc the tail makes as it takes the jump.

swordandstone2This is action poses of a squirrels tail. The tail is softer and more fluid in its movement. And because it is so soft the tail can flick and overlap with the smallest force. This is probably my favourite tail that I have looked at so far. I drew these from the Disney’s Sword in the stone.


Another selection of action poses and pose to pose drawing of a lemur. This page just shows how it would bend if it hits the floor or an object. Compared to the fox drawings it is very stiff.


This is a pose to pose drawing of a fox making a jump. This research just enables me to understand the personality of my ball and tail – my ball and tail might be lively and jump all over the place just like these pose to pose drawings.


These are some action poses I drew from a Lemurs tail. These tails are quite different to a squirrels or foxes as they are more stiff and bounce around with every actions. However they are not as fluid – it could be interesting to draw the lemurs tail that stays vertically straight when walking.

Rule of Thirds and Background



I begin creating my background by first making many thumbnails. I feel that it is the best way for me to put down as many ideas and to just experiment with what works and what doesn’t. They were just quickly done, rough. After this I then selected some that really stood out to me and drew them with black and grey charcoal (like above) to get a sense of the tone before committing to the colour (which I hasn’t chosen just yet.) I really like working with this medium as it enabled me the freedom to draw over mistakes and rework until it was just right. It also gave the original thumbnails more depth with tone and would improve some the concepts. After this I then selected the best and moved onto the colour pallet. In the end I was stuck between the blue and orange and the dark greens. The first, was more abstract and played around with the colour of the rig (creating a world where he belong) and being a bit more abstract as the ideas I had were more shape and abstract too. However the dark greens were based of woodlands where a creature such as my ball and tail may reside. So from here I used the different tones of colour to see how it could change the ideas from the black and white drawings. I really like the outcome – although it is messy you can clearly see the use of colour bright and bold. I then decided on my final piece from what I felt was the best outcome of the colour paintings.



Above are some more visuals from the Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – I just included these as they are able to capture the dark setting of the beast’s castle and location – the whole layout is dark and intimidating.

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Rule of Thirds

Psycho-1960-shower-scene-horror-movies-6594858-275-151psychoPsycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock remains the master of suspense, Psycho and here one of his most famous films we can see his real genius. The first photograph above shows the power of the center. The eye has been placed in the middle of the screen (which goes against the rule of thirds.) However this is because the our attention should be fixed on her dead glare – in addiction the eye will change into a show plug drain (in a cut) that has been clearly thought out. We watch the blood and water swirl down the plug, is this a metaphor for her life literally goes down the drain?  The acting in this scene is very over exaggerated to reflect the adverts of this time. They were glamorous and sexual. Furthermore is this trying to reflect the strange sexual desire that the killer has on the victim – do we see this because we are meant to think about her. The last image of the water curtain is a very good example of the rule of thirds. The character has been placed on the third right of the screen this is to leave this space in which the killer will appear. Leaving this space will also create suspense to the audience as they are anticipating for the killer to appear. When they do we are greeted with this menacing figure. The rule of thirds are used to reveal the killer and build anticipation – then zoom up .

We looked at this video in class. What I like most about this short animation – aside from the story, is the continuous camera tracking. It is always moving. This gives the animation further symbolism of hoe time will continue to pass and how  things can change. Furthermore because it is about a farmer and his entire life the use of camera is good for expressing time moving forward without have to cut different sequences. Another element I must mention is the animation style – the background two – the whole popup, 3D, paper like looks superb and fits in with the subject matter.



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.