Great Dane cycles

Hey, finally some new animation! This is a fairly vanilla dog gallop:

[ Javascript required to view QuickTime movie, please turn it on and refresh this page ]

I thought I’d take advantage of the couple of weeks between AM terms and use some of that free time to do a bit of playful personal animation. I found this cool great dane rig on The model is by Chris Baker and the rig is by Javier (Goosh) Solsona (thanks, guys!). I love the model — it begs to be animated, and it’s fun just to look at. The rig is pretty sweet, though it lacks any facial/ears/tongue/eyes. The scaling function isn’t working on the front left leg (there are a few frames where it kind of blows up), and the ankles can be a little clumsy, but those are quibbles.

Another view:

[ Javascript required to view QuickTime movie, please turn it on and refresh this page ]

I’d love to have a smooth skinned version of this rig with the extra controls to get all that great overlap (look at youtube reference of real great danes running — tons of great overlapping action on the ears, tongue, etc.). Anyway, I didn’t push this cycle much, so the animation isn’t as cartoony as the model. I think it’s fairly correct, at least as much as I can make it in a couple of hours.

This gallop is just a little exercise to help me get to know the rig. Doing a quadruped cycle was also like revisiting working on Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron . Man, did we study quadruped gaits for that film! I got promoted for that film by doing a neat bison gallop cycle, which was fun because there’s almost no reference for the way buffalo move. We all did horse walks and gallops and trots, but everyone’s work tended to look alike because we all had access to Muybridge. I wanted to do a test that wouldn’t look like anyone else’s. For the bison, I had to scrounge around to find a decent diagram of the skeleton (they have amazing vertebral processes), so I could get the proportions and leg motion right, and I went through a lot of films before I found two good scenes from Dances With Wolves. The best clip took place in tall grass, obscuring most of the legs, but there was enough info for me to make it work. The extreme size and power of a bison makes for a fun cycle, as does the size of a great dane. They’re amazing beasts.

Anyway, if I have time I’m going to do a little physical comedy bit with this great dane rig and Bishop, the AM human character. If I don’t get too ambitious I’ll be posting it here soon.

4 Responses to “Great Dane cycles”

  1. mohinder Says:

    That looks really great!

    Would other animated films, like 101 Dalmations and Lady & the Tramp be good reference to learn how to animate a rig like this?

    I checked out the Scooby Doo films they did a few years ago but I thought the animation did quite feel right for some reason.

  2. Kevin Says:

    Thanks, mohinder! Yes, those are films that have some excellent, well-observed dog animation. I’d add ‘Balto’ to the list, too. I worked with a lot of ‘Balto’ animators at DreamWorks (‘Balto’ was done by Amblimation, and the Amblimation crew formed the core of the original DreamWorks’ crew when DW was formed). They did a lot of careful reference study for that film, and it resulted in some solid animation.

    Just remember to also look at live-action reference, and to take into account the personality of the dog you’re trying to portray. It’s also easy to make your own reference — good subjects are everywhere! Just get a video camera and find some short-haired dogs, and you’re set.

    I never saw the ‘Scooby Doo’ movies. From the trailers, it seemed to me there was a bigger emphasis on evoking the original TV show than portraying correct canine animation, so my guess is that you’re right that they aren’t prime learning material.

  3. DJ Says:

    Hi Kevin!

    First of all, Happy new year!

    Great to see a quad-ped cycle. I put my shortfilm work on hold for the time. Working on small excersizes as we talked about in our last q n a. trying to get some stuff for demoreel by doing body mech/basic acting excersizes along with getting better at animation.

    I was just wondering about quad-ped animation. thinking of using this same rig to make him jump up on to a box, just to try out a quad-ped. good to see this test!

    i was looking at cheetahs jumping up on to trees to get an idea of the “feel” of it. It was terrific to see a log of squash and stretch happening in the body of the cheetahs and how they leave and land with front legs and catch up with the hind legs and all that.

    this type of stuff, im studying it for the first time and its really reminding me of my class 2 at AM, hehe.

    Anyways, once again, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Thanks for the great blog!


  4. Jules Says:

    Hey Kevin! Just wondering if you ever had a chance to do the physical test you mentioned in the post? I’d love to see that if it’s available. I’m about to do a quad animation with Bishop and the Dane rig as we speek.

    This is a very inspirational find going into this test! I don’t know how I didn’t see it when I had class with you!


Leave a Reply

The animation and animation-related musings of Kevin Koch