The Anatomy of a Scene

I decided to animate the next two scenes simultaneously, since they are a match cut. Here are the two panels from the graphic novel.
From there, I built my plan of action. I began by listening to my music temp track and cutting in the still panels in my editing software. There, I made notes on timing and visualized both scenes in my head. Once I had a very clear picture of where I was going, I created all the art elements in Photoshop:

● Background
● Clouds
● Distant Mountains
● Distant Fog
● Mountain
● Fog
● Bubble Trail Paths (6 different designs)
● Grad Matte
● Bubbles With Creatures (6 different designs)
● Big Bubble
● Sparkle

These levels were then imported in Toon Boom where I finessed my camera move timing and created the animation of the trails by moving my “Grad Matte” over the “Bubble Trail Paths”. The “Bubbles With Creatures” were positionned at the tip of the trails and moved accordingly. The sparkle effect was created by using a single drawing that I sized up and down. Here’s the scene at this stage.

After this, in Photoshop, I created the art for both creatures keeping the eyes seperated on their own individual layers. I imported these in After Effects where I create the animation using the Puppet Tool. The Blossom animation was created using a texture matte and the “cc sphere” effect (see older post). Once the animation was completed, I rendered everything as PNGs and imported the files in Toon Boom. There, I hand animate the eyelids closing up and down. I combined the eyelid animation with the eye layers using the “Cutter” node. This erased the eye wherever the eyelid was drawn, giving the appearance of a blink. Here is the video of the After Effects layers composited in Toon Boom with the blinking effect.

Then, in Toon Boom, I hand animated, frame by frame, the magic effects and Blossom trail using my Cintiq and Stylus. I also imported the previously hand drawn electrical sphere effect located in my effects library (discussed in a previous post) and positionned it over the bubbles as required. See video of these layers.

To finished up the scene, I added an exploding effect created with the software, Particle Illusion. This effect is used when the Blossom changes shape. Here’s the effect.

All of these elements combined with the music track makes the final scenes:


11 thoughts on “The Anatomy of a Scene

  1. I guess I’ve never really sat and thought about what goes into a single scene in a piece of animation. It’s been very interesting getting to see all of the steps and the layering. I look forward to more as the movie comes along!

  2. It’s so exciting to see this coming together one piece at a time! Makes me really appreciate all the hard work that goes into animation. Thanks for sharing this with us, Michel! I look forward to more of your process! 😀

  3. Golden, thank you. Michel would you say it has been easier to animate off of a finished layout/ comic book or is there an advantage to working off of rough storyboards?

    • When I did The Saga of Rex as a graphic novel, I planned it as a movie, so that the transition would be easy. So in this case, I can easily skip the storyboard stage because I already see the action in my head. However, if I add animators at a later date, I would probably have to do some rough board to communicate exactly what I have in mind.

  4. The overall effect of this shot is really awesome! Would you mind making a short video the next time you use Particle Illusion? I’m kind of curious to see what it looks like and how you’re using it.

    • While I was doing Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, I worked with my partner, Joe Olson (who’s a master at particle animation), to create a series of particle effects rendered at very high resolution, that could be re-used in all sort of situations. This particular effect is part of that library. I am, however, researching and experimenting with particle software and will share that at a later date.

  5. Wow its getting better and better. The puppet tools looks great! How did you manage to get the slight head turn on the dino? Was it all just one drawing separated like before? Also the pixie dust hand drawn stuff is really great, it would be great to hear how you approach animating this type of fx if you have time in a future post 🙂

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