In this video, Dermot O'Connor demonstrates how to animate a small bird, a sparrow or a starling.
- [Instructor] So let's look at the simplest possible bird flight. Don't be bored if this is the first thing you see in this course. I know it looks really daft but it's just breaking it down into the graphical essentials of a bird flight. So it's front on view, extremely stylized, and it's showing us the basic flying action. So the first frame is in the up position. The middle frame, that's five, is in the down position. And on frame nine we cycle back into frame one. So frame nine is frame one, it just happens you know plus eight frames.
So notice how the wings reverse on the in between frame, that's number three, as they begin to hit air resistance. 'Cause they're starting to push down against air. And it happens again on seven as they fold in and they contract to rise again with as little resistance as possible. Because the bird wants those wings to be up and up fast so it can beat down again. So if I add the in betweens now on ones this is the end result. Now here is the same basic flight pattern but it's applied to a more cartoony design.
And now in this example I've bolted down the body so that we're just focusing on the wings. Notice how the feathers, they flare out on the down stroke because the bird wants to catch as much air as possible to push against. And on the way up they contract and this is to minimize the wind resistance. Let me go through frame by frame. So they're folding in on the up, tight as they can, and as they beat down, they furl out to push against the maximum amount of air that the wings can hit.
And that's it. So between that and these nice reversals, that's the essence of a fairly straightforward bird flight cycle. Now here's the very same cycle but now I've added a slight opposing action on the body and the head. So now when the wings move down the body moves up and vice versa. So what you're seeing is extra flexibility. And this also increases the sense of power. Not by much, but certainly much more interesting to look at than the body bolted in place.
Which you'll see a lot of that. People are doing a very simple flight cycle, they won't do this. Notice also there's a little subtlety on the tail. It's just changing it's attitude very slightly and just opposing the main action just a little bit. So it's slightly offset as well. So it tends to drag by about two frames the action of the body itself. This is the kind of subtle detail that can be sometimes easy to do and sometimes difficult to do. So don't fret about this too much if you're struggling with the primary action of the wings.
But once you get your wings down adding little secondary actions like little in and out motions of the legs. You know, little resistance on the tail. That's like the icing on the cake. So here you can see the five main keys of the more cartoony or the dimensional bird flight. And it's the very same timing as we saw at the beginning of the movie on that original graphic animation. And you can also notice the up and down movement of the head and the body. If you follow them along the horizontal lines, especially the beak, the point of the beak here on that white space, and you can see how there the beak's moved up.
And there the beak is at its maximum height and then we're back down again. And so that's the same with the body. The body is also tracking that motion. So see the white space between the horizontal line here and there. So if they follow that line along the mouse, you can see it's that degree of motion. You could push that motion further if you like. The further you push it, the more interesting your animation gets in a good and a bad way. So don't be intimidated by pushing it further than this. But I just wanted to keep it within a range of motion that was safe for a first bird flight cycle.
And just if you're curious about what the in betweens look like. And actually there's one here in particular. This is an interesting in between. Because in terms of design, if you are unfamiliar with in betweening difficult transitions, this wing to that wing would be considered a tricky drawing because we have half of the underside of the wing and half of the top of the wing. So that would be, maybe that would be, it could be a problem for a new in betweener. So I'm flagging that for you so you can see the solution to this particular design problem.
And this is an interesting one as well as we flap the wing down and up. That's also a design that probably could be improved a little bit. But it's okay, it works fine. And I think number eight is easy enough. That's an easy in between, between here and here. So that is our complete small bird flight cycle including the timing pattern.