The Curious Primitive.
Voluntary Motion.
Involuntary Motion.
The Curious Primitive Rig.


The Curious Primitive.

Have a look, a sniff, a listen and then, while you are doing those sensorial gatherings, have a quick think.   When you have finished doing those then hopefully a decision will have taken place in your brain which
will enable you to make your next move. This is not advice to the aspiring animator but advice to any terrestrial or marine living thing that exists in our world.   If you are a human being, mammal, insect or one of the many other organisms that populate this world, then the general rule for survival is to use your senses and then to think and act on these.   Most species in this world simply want to be fed and have a mate.   They do not want to be eaten by something else, so sensing, thinking and then reacting, are probably their core activities when there not asleep.   So have some empathy with this small and simple piece of Maya geometry.   Empathy means understanding and entering into another's feelings and you should imagine that this piece of primitive geometry is small, nervous but generally quite curious about the world.

Voluntary Motion.

Human / animal motion can be split into two basic categories of voluntary and involuntary motion. The voluntary ones are those that the character wants to do, such as, looking left, picking up a ball, taking one step forward, and because most voluntary human and animal activity is triggered by a thought process, it is a good idea to portray this in some way.

This is what John Lassetter says about "The thinking Character". He also quotes Disney.
"When animating characters, every movement, every action must exist for a reason.   If a character were to move about in a series of unrelated actions, it would seem obvious that the animator was moving it, not the character itself.   All the movements and actions of a character are the result of its thought process.   In creating a "thinking character," the animator gives life to the character by connecting its actions with a thought process. Walt Disney said, "In most instances, the driving forces behind the action is the mood, the personality, the attitude of the character—or all three.   Therefore, the mind is the pilot. We think of things before the body does them."
To convey the idea that the thoughts of a character are driving its actions, a simple trick is in the anticipation; always lead with the eyes or the head.   If the character has eyes, the eyes should move first, locking the focus of its action a few frames before the head.   The head should move next, followed a few frames later by his body and the main action.
The eyes of a character are the windows to its thoughts; the character’s thoughts are conveyed through the actions of its eyes.
If the character has no eyes, such as an inanimate object like a Luxo lamp, it is even more important to lead with the head. The number of frames to lead the eyes and head depends on how much thought precedes the main action.   The animator must first understand a character’s thought process for any given action.   Consider a character wanting to snatch some cheese from a mouse trap; the eyes will lead the snatch by quite a bit because this is a big decision.   The character needs time to think, "...Hmm...This looks tricky, is this cheese really worth it or is it just processed American cheese food?...Oh what the heck...," he decides, and snatches the cheese.   Conversely, if the action is a character ducking to miss a low flying sheep, the anticipation of the eyes leading the action should be just a couple of frames.   "What the...," and the next thing, he is spitting wool out of his mouth."

Involuntary Motion.

There are movements that can be classed as involuntary motions.   Breathing for instance or a pulsing heart.   A nervous twitch or a nervous reaction are things that can happen without the character really deciding to do it.   Staying absolutely still for a human or an animal is almost impossible, there is always something slowly swaying or changing weight, pulsing or flapping.

The Curious Primitive:

Artistic Elements Covered: Using your Empathy to Work with a Simple Character, Camerawork and General Choreography

Scene file "The Curious Primitive".   Sequence duration 12 to 25 seconds

Empathy = "understanding and entering into another's feelings" (c/o wordnetweb).

Reacting to simple stimulus. This character is very basic.
Using the rig, make sure the characters scale values are all set to 4.
Use only the controls provided, to animate this character reacting to the three ducks.
Clue = Small nervous creatures are usually prey for others.

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