Fly, little birdie

My animation project is simply called “Birdie.” It tells a short story of a newborn bird being inspired by a plane it sees upon hatching, and how it motivated the baby to learn how to fly. Knowing the limitations I had in both time and resources, I wanted to tell a simple, but sweet story that could be effectively communicated under a minute. The idea of a baby bird finding inspiration was one that appealed to me, especially since I could convey the emotion entirely through the animation itself. The principle character is, of course, the bird, while the plane itself (the one piece of external art used in the animation) serves as a sort of secondary character, albeit one without sentience.

The presentation of my animation follows a simple, bright color scheme meant to portray a lively, sunny day. The most notable feature of the animation is the deep blue sky that serves as the backdrop throughout. Given the significance of flight in the story, the presence and look of the sky was very important for the animation. The rest of the designs followed suit in their color schemes, while the designs themselves were kept simple and minimalistic. I believe a simple story like this can be effectively conveyed through such simple designs.

In the animation, I used a couple of new techniques. First, there was the splitting of the egg. I used a polygon tool to trace out cracks on the original egg symbol and used that to split the egg into two movie symbols, one of which would fly off the other once the bird hatches. Using the polygon tool let me get two perfectly fitting egg halves to create the illusion of the egg breaking apart as the bird emerges.

Secondly, there was the zoom-in technique. Near the end, I created two shots where the camera appears to zoom in on the bird, while the plane reflects in its eyes. I wanted to employ a zoom-in to help convey the sense of wonder and inspiration the bird felt upon seeing the plane. In order to make the zoom-in effect, I converted the entire scene into a movie clip and used a tween to expand itself on the center. This growing effect created the illusion of the camera zooming in on the bird. Learning both of these techniques took a couple hours of experimentation, as I taught myself how to use the effects through experimentation (I did receive help from Dr. Delwiche on the polygon tool, however).

In terms of sound, I used only a couple of sound effects to fit the appropriate scene: a plane sound effect for whenever the plane was shown in the sky, and the sound of an egg hatching to match the birth of the bird. These sounds give a bit of ambience in what is otherwise a silent story.

I had some difficulties with managing the many layers of the animation. Between all the cuts, objects, and motion, I ended up with a quite a few layers to the animation that I had to manage. This required some careful observation and double checking to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be, and not showing up in the wrong scenes. I also had some difficulty getting the polygon tool to work, but I figured out the issue was in selecting the object to edit on my own.

If I were to do something like this again, I think I’d like to experiment more with using more complex images and sounds instead of hand-drawn objects composed of simple shapes, perhaps with more dynamic visuals as well. I deliberately kept things simple for this project, but branching out could be interesting and offer more possibilities for visual storytelling.



I downloaded the plane clip art from the site Clip Art Panda, while I converted the sounds of the plane and egg hatching from YouTube and converted them to MP3s with a youtube converter site.


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