Here is an animation of a character doing a pole vault jump and is also my first animation that was done using another person’s rig (provided by Digital Tutors). I basically learned that most professional animators rarely use their own rigs when animating. So this was a great way to experience a similar scenario.

Since the main focus for the project was the animation, the first thing was to familiarize myself to the character and it’s rig. ‘Blue’ was designed as a cartoony style bipedal character with an overly large head, slim body and only 3 fingers on each hand. The rig was built very well with an inverse and forward kinematic switch feature along with simple to understand control curves. As far as facial controls, there were sets of deformers for eyebrow control and facial deformations along with a basic eye rig (Blue has no mouth so that simplified things even more).

After I was familiar with the rig, it was onto storyboarding.  A very basic scene was sketched out in Photoshop using the animation timeline. Also during this process, a rough idea on camera shots was laid out.

Once that was done, it was onto constructing a reference library. About 20% of this project was dedicated to finding references and scene preping. Several images of pole vaulting equipment, running poses, and key positions were gathered for scene prepping and for animation blocking. Also high speed footage of actual pole vaulting was referenced and proved to be very useful during the animation process. Then a very basic scene was constructed in Maya to resemble a basic track and field stadium with a pole vault setup.

Then it was finally onto animating. Using animation references gathered earlier, I started blocking out the animation using a ‘pose-to-pose’ technique to get the basic feel and timing. Also during this process, the animation transitions were set to ‘linear stepped’ so the animation was very choppy and had no ‘in-betweens.’ This was quite different than the way I’ve animated before, but after getting a few poses finished I gradually started to get the basic idea.

After everything was blocked out, the animation was set back to ‘plateau’ and I switched to a ‘straight ahead’ technique to fine tune the minor details. During this pass, the ’12 principles of animation’ was referenced to help me with basic animation mechanics (squash & stretch, follow through, ease in ease out, arcs, etc).

Finally everything was rendered (with motion blur) and exported into After Effects for post production where sound and camera effects were added to complete the animation.

Check out the gallery for screenshots and view the final animation for the pole vault jump below:

Software Utilized: Autodesk Maya, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Audition