Friday Animation Fun: I Grew Up Thinking I Was An Eagle
Find out how this short but very sweet animation was created using a combination of Cinema 4D and After Effects. Watch the film here too
New animated short, I Grew Up Thinking I was an Eagle, was a personal project created by Stockholm-based, motion designer Linus Lundin. The short story tells the tale of a creature minding its own business high up in the clouds where it likes to fly around in the cold rain.
The concept of the film was heavily inspired by the season in which it was created. “The dark winter absolutely had something do to with it,” says Lundin. “Usually my work is warmer and lighter. Even though most people maybe wouldn’t consider this one “dark”, but I guess everything is relative. I’m also very inspired by everything that Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have done.”
Not a planned project, Lundin simply drew inspiration from these sources and started developing the film during some of the darkest days in winter. “It’s not like there was a lot of deep thought on the idea development of this film,” Lundin explains. “When I had the creature ready and rigged I just started animating it. That’s how I like to work when I do things for fun. Just let it go and see what happens.
The personal touch
“There are probably two things that influenced the film’s development. Firstly, freelancing can really have its ups and downs, but in the end I still love what I do. We’d just finished working on a project and I was kind of tired of following client orders and felt I just needed to do something personal to get the feeling back.
“And secondly, my friend Fredrik Ekholm always wants to run outside and play around when it’s raining, and then he likes to take his glasses of and watch the bokeh from everything that’s reflecting in the wet paving. He also sees everything from a positive side and helps me get my motivation up a lot of times.”
Lundin began production, opting to use Cinema 4D, Turbulence 4D and After Effects for the bulk of the work. “I used Turbulence 4D as I didn’t have any other solution to create the smoke trails so it filled the gap perfectly,” he says.
“It’s far from using the full potential of the plugin but for this it was very useful. I used the demo version to render it, so I couldn’t use any shader since all frames came out with a big watermark. But, lo and behold, the frames still had an untouched alpha channel. Of course I couldn’t use any lighting with it, but it fitted the style nicely with a flat color so I was happy anyway.”
Although the film stands at just 21-seconds long, its production was not without some frustrating challenges. “The worst thing with Cinema 4D is that it can’t render correct depth passes if materials are using alpha channels,” Lundin says. “There are some annoying workarounds like texturing everything white, and then render it with a linear falloff light attached to the camera, but that didn’t work to well either for some reason.
“The only solution that would have worked was to use Cinema 4D enDOFin plugin, which I didn’t own. So, I ended up not using a depth pass at all. The only thing I wanted it for was to get some nice atmosphere in the composition later on. I did something similar with masks in some shots, but I think it would have looked a lot better if I just could have gotten that depth pass.”
The film’s setting also produced some particularly time-consuming technical challenges for the director. “I’d never done clouds in 3D before this, and the only technique I knew about was using Pyrocluster in Cinema 4D, so that’s where I started,” he explains. “I played around with it for a while trying stuff out, but I never got the result I was looking for and the render times where not pleasing at all either.
“I tried a lot of different techniques with 2D sprites and planes with alpha channels, but none of them worked particularly well and it was really hard to get a stylised look and at the same time lighting them nicely.
“Later on I remembered watching a talk about making the film Paths of hate and the clouds in it, so I watched it again. The video was truly inspiring and I sat up all night to figure out how to do the same thing in Cinema 4D. It took me a lot of time to figure out how to do it.
The silver lining
“Cloning planes on geometry is easy with the cloner, but getting the SSS color info to the planes was harder. Finally the mograph color shader saved my life. The render times were lightning fast as well after baking every texture. I found out later that there was a huge thread about making clouds on the CGSociety forums. Knowing that just a little bit earlier would have been nice.”
Despite these issues, Lundin completed the film in approximately three weeks. “Somewhere in the end I just got tired of it and didn’t even want to finish it, so it laid around for a long time unfinished until I heard the music that Bill Francis made for it. It surely was a process but I’m very happy with how it came out in the end.”
Like this short? Check out the selection of other awesome animations on our showcase page
on Friday, March 30th, 2012 at 3:30 pm under Shorts, Showcase.
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Tags: 3D animation, 3D software, After Effects, Animated short, Cinema 4D, Turbulence 4D