Verdi Cooked Birdie Evaluation

Finally, we have reached the end!…

I sit here, the night before hand in and think about the past 8 weeks and what I learnt, accomplished and dealt with and I feel that to explain that can’t be done in few words so here It goes…


In the very first day of our project we were put into groups in a brand new way. We were lined up against the back wall of the studio, Conann and Mike picked one person for each table in the room and then got them to pick one person from the wall until everyone had a seat at a table, in their new group.

I got put into a group with the lovely Shelley Marshall, Niamh Cunningham, Scott Gill and Pete Holland, and we got to work straight away with the ideation process.

The task at hand was to create a 15 second animation with 5 seconds introduction and 5 seconds credit time, leaving it at 25 seconds in total, this film is to be made fully using Maya software wich we only began learning after our Christmas break.

We had a wall full of post it notes and white board marker scribbles that read out keywords and  ideas that we then developed further until we decided they weren’t good enough or we really liked them, if we really liked them we put them in a separate pile of post it’s. Once we had about 5 we loved we wrote out pro’s and con’s to each, taking into account effects and other difficulties creating said story would have.

We picked 3 stories that we really loved and began developing characters and even short storyboards for them to see which could be developed to have great potential and which needed to be set to the side. Here is the blog post’s explaining this part of the process.









Finally we decided on a story that changed somewhat rapidly in the few weeks we had before animation began.  We had decided we liked the story of a little bird who is in a room with an ipod, and pokes at it until it plays music which ultimately terrifies him and he runs/flies into a wall and knocks himself out but in our first presentation with it we got a lot of criticism, so much so that we felt the idea needed changed completely.

We then changed the story to involve a second bird who resembled an ‘emo/depressed’ character who would have a fight with the little bird and begin rapidly pushing the ipod’s button to change songs until finally the ipod would begin to smoke and then explode leaving the two birds naked/featherless but once again this got very negative comment’s in presentation and so we were back to square one.


We then thought of an idea where it had two birds In a tree, one walks over to the other and begins rapidly poking him, desperate for attention, when he finally looks down and screams ‘what!?’ the little bird timidly points to reveal that the tree they are on is in flames. The big bird screams in terror but before they can fly away the tree goes up in smoke and flames in a comical ‘loony tunes’ style story arc. When the smoke would fade we would see that the birds are not on the tree anymore, the camera will pan down to the group to show two little piles of ash with the birds eyes and beaks peaking out looking ‘grumpy’ and ‘exasperated’. The group really liked this story and we made a full storyboard and animatic in full colour and had even modeled and rigged characters, and I had even modeled the tree we imagined them acting on, sadly once again when we presented we were told it wasn’t good enough and had ‘more holes than a slice of cheese’ and so we were back to square one. Having had the flu/chest infection that day (and few weeks to follow) I really felt quite upset as it seemed every time we went back and restarted It was still getting the same negative remarks and comment’s. Here is the work from that time period linked from my blog.








We then finally got our heads together and decided on the story for our final film, which we did successfully animate. It begins in the same way as the previous story only the little bird emerges from a hole in the tree that it producing smoke (showing from the start of the film that the tree is on fire) he goes over to the larger bird to tell him, the older bird is comically singing/whistling the opera song ‘The Drinking Song’ by ‘Verdi’ when he abruptly stopped he get’s angry and whacks the little bird off of the tree, pleased with himself he wipes himself off, clears his throat and is about to sing/whistle once more when he see’s the smoke/fire , his eyes comically bounce out of his head and as he is about to scream the smoke floods the screen, when it fades we see a cooked chicken sitting on the tree, credits will roll at this point.

Here is our storyboard for this, Pete created it, and here is some other work from this time also.







Our next step was to create a set, set pieces, new characters that are fully rigged and have the capability to animate.

When we finally got this all done we began animating, animating was probably the easiest part of the whole process, just time consuming and tedious as we were all very critical of one another’s work and wanted the film to run as smoothly as possible. I was in charge of collecting playblast’s and editing them together to see how the film would run before we began the rendering process. This was very tedious as I was constantly getting newer versions of clips from the film and keeping track of them and naming in a smart way began to get very confusing, but we got there, and here is our final playblasts.



Finally it was rendering time and after a few hiccups with settings and taking into account the time it would take to render  we finally got there. Shelley then pieced it all together and added sound until we finally had what we call our final film, wich we named “Verdi Cooked Birdie”. Here it is…


our title and credits were made by Niamh and I think they look great, sound effects were found online and supplied/created by the team.


Over the past 8 weeks I genuinely did enjoy this project despite the many problems we encountered.  I enjoyed it because of how much I have learnt over that period of time. I have learnt how to model and rig and deal with maya’s problems and work out what I’m doing wrong and what the software is doing wrong (because most of the time its my own fault, haha). It also taught me to deal with what sometimes felt like ‘constant criticism’ but as I have always been told by my dad and otherwise, any criticism is good criticism as it is what mold’s something mediocre into something great.

Taking ill during the project also caused me some problems, but it pushed me to keep working and never give up it also made my communication skills much better as I had to make more effort to keep in touch with the group.

Something else I pride myself in is that I took it upon myself to learn some visual effects for our film. We had originally decided to create the smoke/fire outside of maya, using Adobe After effects, which I did successfully as you can see in the links below…




When we presented this we were asked to try and succeed doing this task using Maya, I then began learning about particles and how to control them and get the smoke to move and look as I wanted it too, this took many youtube tutorials and the use and purchase of a digital tutors account. I wanted the smoke to look bubbly and almost ‘playdoughy’ to match the world we had created. I feel I did this quite successfully and if I had more time to work on it goodness knows what I could have created, but I know I will learn much more in the future as I really enjoyed working with particles and learning a little basic physics.

One of our main problems was the group itself, whilst 4 of us worked as a team throughout and took each others criticism and idea’s on board, one team member could not manage to do this and decided to not attend class for a few week’s, this began in week one of the project which was very disheartening. We tried to keep in contact and let them know what was happening and what work was being/needing produced but this didn’t change matters. It wasn’t until the final week we were truly a group of 5 and even then it was more like a group of 4 and a1/4. However I feel as a group of 4 we dealt with the situation very well and welcomed the other member back with open arms and did everything within our power to get them enthusiastic about the project, this did not work but by then it was out of our hands.

Overall this project was enjoyable and really has made me excited for more work in the animation industry.



Emma McCormick


Final Playblast

As i have discussed in earlier posts, we wanted to playblast our animation and edit it into one film so that we can see how everything plays, by the time we had this process complete i must have had atleast 50 different playblasts on my computer as we fixed some choppy animation and camera angles that didn’t flow well together in one piece of animation.

Here is our final playblast…


An Update!

Today we plan to be ready to render within the next 2-3 hours.

We are almost there! 😀

We are currently all fixing problems with the animation and improving upon what we have already done. For example, in the end scene Shelley animated the big birds cocky/laughing expression. We felt that as it is now it look’s a little ‘choppy’ and the animation isn’t as ‘smooth’ as we would have liked so Pete is working on it to make it play smoother and have his expressions and emotions smoother and clearer for the audience.

Another problem we had was that Shelley’s animation didn’t cut well together with my animation so i got her to send me her maya file and i imported her actions and bird into my scene so that her animation is covered by my smoke and turns into the cooked chicken as planned.

Niamh then took the final scene and extended it to add in the credits which she created in maya and set the camera so that it is ready to render. (at this moment right now Pete is fixing the animation).

Another problem we ran into was with the eyes, We couldn’t parent the eyes to the bird as then we couldn’t move them about and make him look alive so we have been animating them separately as we cannot work out how to do it any other way. Because of this there are certain points were the eyes are not attached the head or are inside the head, so we have took some extra time and care to go into the scenes and fix these problems so that the eyes look normal.

What is left to do

What we have left to do is fix all the camera angles so that are how we want them in the final rendered film, once we have that done we can start rendering!

I am glad that we can render today, as if something does go wrong in one of the shots, we could still have time to re-render as we are dividing our films rendering between 4 mac’s which really helps us speed up the process.

Whilst the film is rendering we can work on our sketchbooks and blogs and also work on our other module. We can even start finding and/or creating sounds that we haven’t found yet for our film so that we are fully prepared when we start editing.

Once everything is rendered we can then begin the editing and sound process and i should hope that we will have everything ready and prepared for our deadline on Monday which is 5 days from now.



Now we have met our next deadline we assigned ourselves and have all our animation playblasted and put into imovie, i am currently editing it so that we can see how the film is working together and what needs changed/fixed/altered etc. We have luckily timed our film very well and with 5 second opening and credits at end the whole film comes to the 25 seconds allowed. The animation is coming ever so slightly over 15 seconds but with some editing we can fix that 🙂

Here is the screenshot of the timeline

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.31.16 Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.31.29


Here is the story told in print screens of our playblasts…

Opening scene

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.32.01

camera begins to fly around

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.32.07

Camera stops to show were scene is taking placeScreen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.32.14

Shot changes to show bird in tree singing/moving/dancingScreen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.32.22

transitions to show other smaller bird inside treeScreen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.32.29


Bird in tree, begins to panic, smoke emerges Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.32.37

Bird flies away

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.32.43 Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.32.44

Lands on his bum beside larger bird

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.32.53 Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.32.56

Little bird begins poking larger bird trying to get attentionScreen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.32.57

Big bird continues to sing, smaller continues to poke.Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.33.12

Finally big bird acknowledges smaller birdScreen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.33.16

Big bird lifts his arm as if he is swinging his arm to sing Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.33.24

Big bird hits smaller bird out of the scene. Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.33.32

Big bird smuggly smiles about what he has doneScreen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.33.35

then opens mouth as he about to continue singingScreen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.33.40

he turns around

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.33.43

opens mouth is shock at what he see’s

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.33.45

smoke comes into scene

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.33.55

covers bird entirely

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.33.58 Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.33.59

smoke fades to reveal a cooked chicken.

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.34.03

credits role.

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.34.08 Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 16.34.09


Obviously there is still many tweeks to be fixed and altered, but we would hope that by this time tomorrow all our computers will be rendering.