Understanding the motions of an endangered animal through animation (Part 3 of 3)

Animating the Mexican Long-Nosed Bat

  • Consider different levels of representation and interaction in 4D
  • Dissect form and speak to its aesthetics
  • Work with limited color to create meaning
  • Build a relationship between 2D static and kinetic forms, telling a story
  • 7 colors maximum
  • Use AfterEffects for the animation
  • Final dimensions: 1920 x 1080px, 8 fps 20 seconds
  • Create all sound effects manually

Day 1: 03.29.2021 — Thumbnailing Storyboards

  • Start with 5 bats perching on a branch (calm, peaceful tone)
  • Slowly zoom out of the tree to show a very busy city in the night time (add some ambient noise)
  • Transition to day time through colors and the addition of cars (loud car noises- honking)
  • Since it's now the daytime, the bats begin to fly back to their cave — roosting site
  • One of the bats starts to fly into the foreground — getting larger and larger as the background gets blurrier
  • The bat takes up the whole frame and flaps which transitions to it entering into a cave
  • The bat enters into the cave and then perches again, returning to a relaxed cool state.

Reference Images

Process (digitally sketched on tablet)

Completed storyboard

  • Red — description of the frame and actions
  • Boxes — addition of more frames for the smooth transition (ie. + 11 for 1 flap of the wings)
  • Blue — shifts in perspective, color, backgrounds

Concerns/ Questions

  • All of the bat's flaps are in the same position? Will this look strange, having them change seems difficult since I already have 13 frames for one flap.
  • Perspective shifts on the bat flying through the city — Instead of having the background zoom out while the bat size stays the same, should I make the background the same as the bat gets larger moving forward through the scene?
  • Have bat take up the whole scene — flap — which transitions into the different background
  • How does bat turn in the air?? The transition from perching to flying is very complex
  • As long as only 7 colors in every frame! Not 7 max total

Feedback from Margot In-Class Critique

  • The bat flaps can be in the same position — will go by quickly so no one will notice
  • Have the background remain constant and the bat grow larger in the foreground to show it flying forward
  • Instead of transitioning one of the perching bats to flying, have another bat fly in from the background, coming forward. Don’t have to worry about drawing those individual frames as well
  • End the scene with a calming resting scene — to have a similar beginning and ending tone
  • Consider removing the cars to avoid having to animate them. Instead record Forbes street for all the car noises, etc
  • I’m thinking about having the beginning tree sway a bit
  • Don’t worry about people not recognizing the city from inside the cave — it will probably be obvious even though it is simplified

03.31.2021: Day 2 — Revising Storyboards & Learning AfterEffects

In process of making edits

Revised Storyboard

Basic forms of 5 of 13 frames for bat flap

Daphne In-Class Critique

  • Consider having the bats in the busy city fly off the side instead of the front so then the whole video isn't the bats flying directly to the screen.
  • Since it is 8 frames per second, cut down the bat flying frames from 13 to 8 so one flap will fit in 8 seconds
  • Maybe end with the bat taking up the whole screen

04.02.2021: Day 3 — Starting the Animation

  • tree sways
  • bats rock
  • text shows up
  • tree sways
  • lights start turning on
  • stoplight turns color
  • cars move
  • building lights turn off
  • lights turn on
  • moon goes away
  • stoplight turns color
  • car drives into the foreground
  • bats take off and fly over the car (4 flaps)
  • Bat flies through cave (5 flaps) and takes up whole screen

Scene 1: Bats hanging

Scene 3: City at Dark

Scene 3: Color changes — city during the day

Starting to animate Scenes 1–3

Scene 4: Bat flies through the city during the day: Bat flying series 1

Series based on the image in the middle

Scene 5: Bat Enters Cave

Scene 6: Bat Flies through Cave: Bat flying series # 2

Trying to get ideas for the beginning text
Some frames :)

Final Animation Iteration for Class

Things to change

  • Fix transitions between the scenes (esp the scene with the color change — add more frames)
  • Make small movements more clear — traffic light change, lampost light, moon change — space the movements out amongst the bat flapping
  • Shorten timings — 2 seconds over (22 seconds)
  • Ending cave scene — add some more details to the scene and shorten it — make bat flapping faster to shorten time — kind of boring and repetitive
  • Have the bat get larger in the end, take up the whole screen
  • Maybe make the pink colors more compatible with the blue — think about a better color scheme
  • Fix the text — have more time for it and have it be larger (have to also add my name)
  • Think about adding sounds

Day 4: 04.07.2021 — Revising Animation

Daphne and Group Critique & Takeaways

  • Bat shaking in the middle, in the beginning, is a little weird — maybe make them not shake as much — one of the legs doesn’t touch the branch — make sure the anchor points are correct
  • In the color scene — darken the pink-purple color to increase contrast
  • delete the lines in the building right behind the bat — gets confusing
  • lower the traffic light so it doesn't interfere with the bats as much
  • Bat size is too big — make them smaller! esp in comparison to the car
  • The car is not as detailed as you come forward — make more detailed
  • in the beginning scene — have fewer lights turn on (not all of them) to focus on the text
  • ending cave scene — have the scene move — camera pans out to the left or right or zoom out as the bat enters
  • make the edges of the water ripple instead of the middle areas
  • Make the sun/ moon move throughout the entire thing
  • Thinking about adding grass to the cave and making it wave? (might be too much)

Thinking about Sounds

  • Wind rustling branch,
  • Soft car noises
  • Stoplight?
  • Loud car noises
  • Wing flapping
  • Soft water ripples


70% (right), 60% (left)

Next Iterations

Day 4: 04.09.2021 — Next Iteration

Q critique

  • The street scenes are too complex — too many different objects makes it less visually appealing — remove some things — decrease the contrast between the back buildings and the front ones
  • Beginning scene — maybe don't have the lights turn on yet (add an element of surprise)
  • Consider near the end adding in a simple jump scene to a bats face simplified
  • Look into photoshop expression for the lights
  • Cave scene add a reflection on the water that follows the bat through — maybe make more things in the cave move subtly?? tree sways
  • Moon moves slower?
Q’s recommendation on color changes — changing the background color to decrease contrast
Ripples middle stage left side of water

Overall Changes Made Checklist

Experimenting with audio

In Progress Animation Gif

Another In Progress Animation Gif

Changes Made
  • Improve the transition from the bat flapping to the final scene — maybe slowly turn completely brown — add more frames
  • Fix colors for the daytime scene
  • Find sounds for the very beginning scene — what sounds are suitable? leaves rustling? Improve sound for the nighttime scene
  • Maybe the flapping sounds sound too much like paper?

Day 5: 04. 13. 2021 — Revising Iteration

Daphe and Group Critique

  • The color transition from day to night — add some in-between frames
  • Definitely fix the transition to the last jump scene — maybe end the flapping earlier and then add wing-flapping for the last bat
  • The rubbing noises in the beginning — make the bats move more to have them fit
  • The water noise isn’t distinguishable — find better water noise
  • record some honking noises for daytime
  • Nighttime noise — see if crickets exist
  • Remove 2 seconds
  • Make moon continuously move
  • Too many colors in the daytime scene — reduce some

Creating in-between color frames

Creating a transition to the ending scene

Reducing colors in the daytime scene

More Iterations

Fixing sounds

  • Went cricket hunting for the nighttime scene
  • Redid water — different ways
  • Redid flapping
  • Redid wind noise

Final Iteration



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