Spooky Animorsels Animation! Pt2 Character(s)!

Good Morning all!

So in my last post I talked about setting the mood and the atmosphere for my Animorsels piece, This included a lot of modelling, lighting and rendering, as well as a jaunt down particle lane. I cam up with something I was really pleased with, but this scene, as a single package, was not the aim – the theme was ‘Monster’ and as of yet, this was something my scene was lacking.

Lacking Monsters

Animating for 360

The great thing about 360 video – in fact the sole unique element of 360 video – is the freedom by which the viewer can choose what they look at. They have agency over their viewing – it’s like handing over the directorial to the audience and trusting they will have a good time with it!

There are two potential ways to accommodate this agency given. A third if you’re dealing with real-time.

The first is that you litter the place with interesting elements. Not one single piece of action is the key piece of action – it all works at an even keel, The audience can look wherever they wish without feeling distracted, but discover different things through their own exploration.

The second is to direct the audience’s attention to certain areas of the video. This can be done in many ways, but should act to attract attention without forcing it – the audience still have the agency to look away if they wish.

The third – real-time – is to only start a sequence of action when the audience look in a certain direction. they have the freedom to explore, but when they look in the right direction, the animation is triggered.

As the last option was not viable for me, pre-rendering a 360 video rather than working it real-time – my options were stuck to the first two. And as such, two ideas for the character part of the animation were developed.

The Ranger

So some of you may remember these little animations –

These are little animation tests from a couple of months ago – a rig I had created from scratch called Ranger (because he was loosely based on a Power Ranger idea!).

Well Guess What! you can now BUY this little guy and animate him in 3Ds Max yourself! I have added this rig to gumroad, you can find the RANGER RIG HERE.

I put a lot of time into designing this rig, giving it all of the strange, non-standard stuff great rigs have. Limb correction bones, stretchy IK and knee/elbow pins to name a few.

Animertion says Hi.

Because this was a tried and tested rig, one that I had personally created and knew worked in 3Ds Max, it made sense that I use it for this animation. The only problem is that he is a good guy, not a monster. I had to change that. So I did.

The Lizard Folk

My first thought for the scene was that it would be non-linear, or at least looped, with stuff going on all around the viewer. I had the idea of many small creatures climbing around the scene, little lizard folk scuttling across rooftops and along walls.

Changing the Ranger Model, amending the rig

So I created this little fella, and posted a picture of him online. And the very moment I did, I felt somewhat ashamed of him. I knew that it looked, well… goofy. But if there was a number of these guys scuttling around, coming up to the camera and darting away, it could be ok? Right?


Well… I decided I wanted to try out something different. Time was getting short and I want happy with this guys. I didn’t have time to animate many versions of him. Instead, I would have to focus on my second idea, this time focusing on one character but with better animation.


So I had a couple of key action beats in mind:

  1. I wanted the viewer to see a mysterious, cloaked character on the top of the haunted house as lightning crashed around him.
  2. I wanted the figure to swoop down and past the viewer, once again, abstracted from view.
  3. I wanted them to appear as a silhouette of a bat in front of the full moon.
  4. I wanted the character to land, revealing itself as Dracula.

With all of this in mind, I began tweaking the Ranger model and rig to fit the Dracula I wanted.

Funky Dancing Drac

The design was easy enough, sticking to a very natural style for me. the next step was to design a cape. I did not want to use cloth – I have done so in the past and found it quite difficult to control. I mean, that was almost a decade ago, so I am sure this sort of thing has got better, but I wanted something that I could control with a simple rig.

So I set up a sequence of bone along some splines and cheaply skinned the cape object.

Wiggle Cape

Knowing that I wanted the character to be an abstract sphere as he swoops down meant that I had to create a small and simplistic rig for a ball. All this is is a Top, Middle and Bottom control which drives an FFD. The FFD deforms the sphere and the controls are linked to a master control.

Drac’s Ball

I also hooked up a system by which to switch the parenting of the hat and cape.

Final Character

So this is the final character I decided to go with. And do you know what? It feels and looks really good! Come back next time when I talk about the animation process and reveal the final piece!

Lots of Love! Oz

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