Heaven – Margaret Thatcher, James Gandolfini, Roger Ebert, Marcia Wallace, and Lou Reed
Every year we have at least one good “heaven” shot to pay tribute to all the public figures who have passed away in the past year.
This scene was particularly challenging not because of the character animation, but because how it had to link up with the previous shot, which was being animated by another animator at the same time. We usually try to keep shots of this nature together, but this time there were so many characters in the previous scene and we were trying to make a close deadline, so in this case it made more sense to separate them.
The first step was to set up the faces for animation, creating the jaw chop and rigging the eyebrows and pupils.
Once all the characters are set up, it’s time to begin animating. Since I’m working on the second half of what could have easily been two shots, I leave enough time in the timeline for the duration of the first part of the shot (shot 31) since I know that will be added in later.
The most important thing is to get the overall timing of the characters popping down from the heavens right. This is hard to judge purely from the animatic, since its such a rough cut, but you do the best you can and see what it looks like and make continuous revisions as you go. I know I’ll want to add an arm gesture to emphasize the “AMEN” line. I also know I’ll want all the characters to feel in sync with one another, but not so perfect that they feel cold and mechanical.
After getting all the animation for the 5 angels looking smooth, it’s time to import the animation from shot 31 and see how they come together. The timing overalls works great since we both animated as close to the animatic as we could, so only a few little changes had to be made before it was ready for the big time! I have to thank Natan Moura for the great work on the animation on shot 31 and for our little collaboration meetings to make sure they’d fit together nicely (which they did).