I got the idea from the latest Lion King movie that I saw before attending PixlVisn. My Animation teacher who had worked on the Lion King then inspired me to create a Lion shot for my Demo. We just learned how to animate quadruped walk cycles and basic animal behavior, so I wanted to test my skills as this was my first 'big' Project.
First I created 3 basic cycles: A walk, trot, and run cycle.
I spend so much time perfecting the weight on the cycles with my current knowledge and feedback from outside the school as it was hard to always get very good feedback in school when it came to Animation.
Drawing the outlines of the lioness's contact and passing poses helped me so much when studying my references. It made me see the silhouette of the different poses even more. I also drew some arrows in different colors when the weight changed from one foot to another. Realizing where muscles and fat bounced as the lioness moved at different speeds also helped me when it came to animating everything in the most realistic way I could and also helped me add some weight to the animation. Adding some bounce to the bounce controls around the chest, stomach, and throat made it look even heavier. When I was finished with animating the muscle bounce manually I added some physics to the bounce controls with the help of 'The Bro Tools' which made the progress of refining everything so much fun. (I also used this tool to make the shake look a bit more realistic after animating the throat wobble manually when the lioness yawned.)
After the cycles were finished I combined the trot and walk in one scene and animated the transition between those two speeds. For trying out animal behavior I chose to make the lioness lie down on this typical movie cliff so that she appears to be higher in the animal's order. I also created some flight cycles and made them lift from the ground just to fill the scene a bit more.(I choose to animate a crane rig because I´ve researched several birds that live close to where lions live and I found out that one of them were cranes)
It took me a while to combine the cycles and clean everything up. In the end, I also adjusted her mouth blend shape while yawning because the rig came with a horrible deformation when rotating the yaw open.
You can see the mouth shape before I adjusted the blendshape (first picture), after (second picture), and the reference I used when creating the blendshape below.
Making the Camera moves look realistic was also a little challenge for me at first. I got some references for camera moves from Documentaries and thought about the Videographer's situation when filming. I imagined him standing far away from the cliff and operating the first shot handheld and the others with a slight help of stabilization. I added some camera shake to it because I know how shaky your footage can get when zooming in and filming handheld with maybe a bit of image stabilization built-in. I also made it look like the camera was dragging behind the lioness's Trott to make it feel like the videographer wasn't quite sure of the lioness's next movent.
In the end, I can say that I am really happy with how this project turned out. I would adjust the shake at the end and the lying down a bit more but due to the time being limited at school for our projects I hadn't had enough time for that.