March 2017

Making of Ella Ch. 4: Elephant

, animator at Animat Habitat

Elephant in Africa

Elephants are an umbrella species. They are ecosystem engineers. Biodiversity cascades from their presence. Elephants are a keystone species in Africa. The elephant is an iconic symbol of the continent. When we think of Africa, we most often think of elephants. They are a symbol of power and strength, memory and wisdom, good luck and so on. If we as a people are unable, or unwilling, to save the smartest, largest, greatest land-living mammal in the world – a species that has roamed the earth for millions of years – then it is unclear what hope remains for other animals. This is where our story begins.

Meet Ella, the elephant.

White Elephant character expression sheet. (2015) © Animat Habitat

White Elephant character expression sheet. (2015)

This expression sheet is an excersize in character development, as well as a guide in part to facial animation.

White Elephant storyboard p. 8-9. (2015) © Animat Habitat

White Elephant storyboard p. 8-9. (2015)

A lot of the character animation is able to reference documentary film and stock footage. A little sequence in the story steps outside of the reference material. The more complex and, in this case, less natural sequences of animation start as sketches in a storyboard. Here is Ella's dance in the clouds.

White Elephant storyboard p. 9-12. (2015) © Animat Habitat

White Elephant storyboard p. 9-12. (2015)

Pencil and paper to start the visual development of a visual story. Here is a pencil drawing of Ella after the storm.

White Elephant sketch: ‘Ella after the storm.’ (2015) © Animat Habitat

“Ella after the storm.” (pencil, 2015)

Storyboards, color scripts and color keys help to block out and balance the various arcs of a visual story. Visual moments are then resolved into key illustrations that establish a tone and touchstones for the narrative arc. Here is a digital painting of Ella after the storm.

White Elephant ‘Ella after the storm.’ (2015) © Animat Habitat

“Ella after the storm.” (digital painting, 2015) Dane Aleksander

One more thing.

Here is a computer-generated render of Ella after the storm. Ella is created with Autodesk Maya and rendered with Mental Ray.

Image coming soon.

“Ella after the storm.” digital image (2019)

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