Massinissa currently works as a Lead Animator at REAL DREAM Digital in Algeria. We came across his talent on Vimeo and couldn't wait to get in touch about his process for creating realistic animations, particularly those of four-legged creatures. Below, Massinissa has outlined his process for creating an incredibly believable bear roar. This is great info for animators, and interesting for everyone! Check it out:

Animating a bear's roar is an idea I had after finishing my last animation shot named "The Scent of Sun." The idea was to experiment with new animation techniques on animals with more weight, like the bear.

I would like to share with you some of my animation methods that helped me with this little bit of animation, and I hope that it can be helpful for other artists. Here is the video breakdown:



THE IDEA:

First thing's first - having a good idea to animate is one of the success cards of your animation. Taking your time to find an idea of that will be a few seconds long is much better than doing 2 minutes of animation with a bland idea.

THE RIG:

Choosing a well-rigged character is a good way to get a solid animation. Several rigs are available on the net and for free. Just make the right choice. From my side, I chose the bear of Truong CG Artist, a great rigging artist who share several of his rigs on his site.

Remember, the animator needs to focus more on animation than on manipulating a rig.

For that, it is better to understand well the character's rig before using it.

We judge a good rig, by these options which help the animation, the minimum that must be found in a rig is:
  • IK / FK mode, even for the spine.
  • the symmetry of the axes of the arms and the legs.
  • have the choice of linking the head, and arms with other part of the body.
  • have a selection interface (is a plus).
It is also good to know a little the field of rigging as this will help you to create small constraint options when case needed. to help you.

THE UNDERSTANDING

After the idea, I had to understand the movement of the bear. I always said to myself, if we understand the subject, we will already have half of the work done.

For this, I looked at a lot of bear references, like bear's walk, standing, roaring and any other references that will help me to understand how my subject moves.

After my little research about the bear, I wanted to divide my work of animation in two parts: The first one was to do the walking cycle, and the second was the roaring of the bear.

THE WALK CYCLE

Each animal has its own way of walking. what changes most is the swaying of body weight and the timing of the front legs in relation to the hind legs. But there are also similarities between different species.

If you have never animated animals before, I would advise to start with animating a horse. The horse is a good base for all types of animals, and the Richard Williams book is a great reference for this.


For doing my walk cycle animation, I started by doing the main poses and after that adding the breakdown poses.

To better polish his walking cycle, the best thing to do is to concentrate first on the hind legs and then return to the front legs (or vice versa).

When you separate tasks, the mind focuses more and will quickly target the right result.


THE BEAR'S ROAR

I started the second part of my animation in a separate file, so to make sure it merged well with my previous animation, my first key pose was the last key pose of the walk cycle.

Then, I did a general blocking of the keys of the animation, by making the most important poses and some breakdowns.


Tip: to make fast breakdown poses, use the spline mode, or use the tween machine script, a great script for animators.

After my blocking, several steps of polishing were done. In order to do better polishing, I had to focus on each part of the body alone, starting with the conductive member that is the pelvis. Everything is played here, if you have a good pelvis animation, everything that follows will follow as a chain, all the weight and the movement comes from it ... (well, almost).

In the next step, I polished the spine and chest.

The head, which comes after the chest, is the master key of the body, because any spectator who will watch your animation, will focus his view more on the head than any other part. So I had to give more attention to it, to make it as realistic as possible. I added some extra movements to enhance the natural effect of the animation.

After correcting and tweaking the feet poses, I merged the two animations, walking and roaring.

At the end of the animation, I reviewed all the body parts, then, I added the animation of the skin (to simulate the muscles) and the facial animation, which amplify its realism. (Important remark: the main poses of the facial are done in previous animations).



TO FINISH... 

To finish my work, I added the fur for the bear (using xgen fur), I did a small background and environmental and light effects to give a more better look for the animation.


For rendering, I use Redshift render as it is best for fast projects because it is faster than other render engines with a satisfactory result. And finally, I composed everything on AfterEffects! I took pleasure in making this little bit of animation, and I hope that I could share this pleasure with you, the pleasure of animating.


A FEW TIPS TO MAKE YOUR ANIMATIONS A SUCCESS

  • Create beautiful arcs movement, and cushion your movements without sudden breakage. For that, there are several tricks, my favorite tip is to shift the translation keys from the rotation keys. It usually gives a better result without overcharging your animation with a lot of keys.
  • To best check your animation, take a rest and go far from your mouse and keyboard and come back after some time to see your animation. you could be surprised by what you will see.
  • Focus on each member of the body alone, handle one thing at ones is more easy than handle a lot of things at ones.
I greatly thank CGSociety for offering me this opportunity to share this experience with you, and thank you for expressing your interest for this project. See you soon with new experiences !