Friday, 16 August 2019

Bird in Flight Tutorial at Vimeo

We've got a new animation tutorial uploaded to our Vimeo channel; showing how to animate a bird in flight, and the basics of avian locomotion. The tutorial also covers motion paths, set design, cameras, and basic lighting, teaching all the basic elements of the 3D animation pipeline in Maya in one exercise. The tutorial is aimed at beginners and no prior knowledge of Maya is needed.  You can find it here at our Vimeo channel

Bird in flight by Giuseppe Candido
Bird in flight
This six part videos series is an introduction to avian locomotion - a crow in flight.  Animation techniques involve bird animation (a motion cycle), motion paths, set design, cameras, simple lighting, batch render, and final export as a movie file. In short, the basics of the whole 3D animation pipeline in Maya.

Autodesk Maya
Autodesk Maya is the principal software you will need (download your free student license here).  To complete the tutorial,  and add sound effects, you will need Adobe Premiere. If you don't have Premiere, you can get a free 30 day trial from Adobe.

common crow
Crow Rig
The crow rig we use is a very low poly rig, designed for games animation, but it is very robust and works well for everything except close-ups. The great advantage of the crow rig is that it is very light, meaning that you can import multiple copies of the rig into your shot, creating a flock of crows, without slowing down Maya. To get hold of a copy of the rig, email me at

Rig Notes
The crow is a low poly rig but robust and works well for everything except close-ups. It is designed for background characters or games.

Taster Day
The tutorial is the same tutorial we often teach during our animation taster days, a zero-to-hero approach to animation in a single day.

Crow in Flight Tutorial
To find the video tutorials, follow this link
Like all our tutorials at Vimeo, these are for our current students and Escapees only, and are password-protected.

There are 8 videos to watch
1. Animating a Crow: Introduction (above)
2. Animating a Crow: Basic Bird Flap
3. Animating a Crow: Improving the Bird Flap
4. Animating a Crow: Creating a Set and Camera
5. Animating a Crow: Motionpaths
6. Animating a Crow: A Murder of Crows
7. Animating a Crow: Lighting the Scene (Mental Ray only)
8. Animating a Crow: Creating a Movie File (Adobe Premiere)

Mental Ray
One thing to note; the tutorial is recorded in Maya 2016 and uses Mental Ray as the principal renderer. So, if you want to follow the lighting and rendering section (video 7), you'll need to install Maya 2016, or, better yet, use Arnold instead.

Brendan Body
It's also a good idea to check out Brendan Body's animation page on how to animate birds in flight.

Birds in Flight - student work

1. Bird in flight by Escape Studios tutor Lee Caller.

2. Crow in flight by Escapee Giuseppe Candido

3. Flock of crows in flight by Marc Godfrey

4. Crow in Flight by Phil Loeffler

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our new BA/MArt starting in September 2020, follow this link

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