(From My Little WORLD production blog)
When approaching a new subject in My Little WORLD, and in this case- the Tibetan antelope or chiru, we began with research study, finding clips, images and books to learn its natures and habits.
When actual footages of the referenced animal is difficult to find such as the case with chiru, we then look for footages of animals that share similar attributes, like a gazelle or others within the antelope family. In this circumstance, a combination of observations from several different animals is utilized to arrive at the film’s specific needs.
Reference study is divided into 2 stages, (through observing freeze-frames, slow-motion and regular playback speed).
First, we begin with searches to understand the ‘feel’ of its make, learning to draw and visualized its structures from various angles and perspectives; much more critically- is to identify its spirit essence through distinct and unique mannerism, both in still-gesture and movement pattern.
Next is to be in touch with a general understanding to the 4-legged movement mechanics, avoiding direct referencing image-per-image to animating.
It is good to take note of the specific condition and emotional nature of the reference footages, which are most likely different from the emotional intent of the animated scene.
For example, (as in the very precious 3 min. footages of chiru we’ve recently found in a BBC documentary entitled ‘Wild China’), the manner of chiru galloping here are at mating season; its speed and gestures are war-like and aggressive; and in our film, the chiru are strolling around, brisk and playful.
For us, key to studying and translating reference is interpreting and not copying, with aims to reflect certain essence of ‘soul’.
Once we’ve found ‘just enough’ insights into a subject matter, then the animating process begins, often still with much apprehension in these first attempts…