The artwork for this project was commissioned from Emma Skurnick of Bynum, North Carolina. It was my job to bring these beautiful watercolors to life.
The narrative illustrates the water and life cycles that exist within a watershed, starting with the headwaters and working down into the open river. As we follow the movement of the water, we cross paths with the animals and insects that live around and within it.
I received the artwork in various states. Each animal was illustrated on its own, ready to be prepped and placed in an environment. Most of the landscapes were provided in multiple stages, allowing for transitions between seasons, but I further dissected each ecosystem into layers that could be manipulated into simulated life. From there, it was a lot of keyframes.
Each bird, insect, and fish was separated into it's own composition. Parts that overlap the rest of the body, like fins and wings, have to be separated into individual layers. Then they can be animated independently from the body as the whole. Legs and antennae can often be animated using just the puppet pin tool. This essentially works like pinning a peice of cloth to a cork board with a push pin. Once the pin is in the cloth, you can change the overall shape of the cloth by moving the pin around the board.
Most of the elements utilize a combination of effects, and each scene is separated into a series of compositions. Each falling leaf is it's own layer, each motion noted with its own keyframes to mark the beginning and end of the movement. The final project was a very complicated series of layers and precompositions.
I edited sound effects to fill in the audio track with the sounds of nature. I carefully selected these tracks, ensuring the bird calls were authentic and native to the area.