• Just go watch some birds

    Twenty years ago, I was sharing some self doubt with a friend. I said I don’t think I’ll be able to animate this bird, as I don’t understand physiologically how a bird moves. And how I should have studied that more.

    My friend Jorma is wise, and a hell of an animator. He said… “You could just watch some birds to understand how they move”.

    That really stuck with me back then. As an animator you have to opportunity to study so much. The ways animals move and behave. Including human animals, the most unpredictable of all.

    Years after that, another bird issue came up for me. I was working on the technical aspects of animation. The process generally known as “rigging”. It’s the preparation of 3D characters so that they may be later animated. It’s like making a virtual puppet.

    Anyway, I had to make the bird puppet for someone to animate. I was fiddling with the legs. They just didn’t feel right. I had the point of articulation at the bottom of the belly, where the leg “started” or so I thought.

    I looked at some skeletons of birds as reference, and wow was I off. Look at how high the “hip” joint of a bird is!

    The leg just doesn’t just come out of the belly!

    When you want to learn something, you get to do some research. You don’t already have to know everything. Thanks Jorma for introducing me to the growth mindset, let alone how to learn about animation.

    “You could just go watch some birds to see how they move”.