Butterflies and Poppies

This is for some background filler for a future episode. I wanted to get a bit of nature in the background, so decided to have a go at Butterflies and Poppies.

The video is an experiment using a few different Adobe Character Animator features.

  • The flying butterfly uses the “Cycle layers” behavior for the flapping wings. There are three images for the left and right wings (up, middle, down) which it cycles through backwards and forwards. At 12 fps, that is 3 flaps per second. The bigger the wings, the slower the flapping should be used, which would be achieved by adding more frames into the cycle.
  • I put a dragger on the flying butterfly to move it around the screen, making it easier to get the randomness you normally get of a butterfly’s flight.
  • (A future experiment is to add a keyboard trigger to override the flapping with a constant wing position. Butterflies glide periodically to catch their breath while flying.)
  • I am still struggling to get flowers swaying in the wind nicely. The default wind effect changes fairly quickly, so you don’t get a nice sway (its a bit too jittery for my liking). In this video the poppies I set to a gravity percentage of 1, pointing to the left of the screen (that is, I changed the gravity direction to sideways). I then set the wind to strength 1% with 50% variation pointing to the right of the screen. Spring strength is between 80% to 130% for the different poppies (trying to get a bit of variation). The attempt is to get the poppies to sway a bit better. The normal wind causes small jitters rather than big gentle swaying.
  • I also tried draggers so I can pull a poppy to one side then let go. That also works quite well, but you get a decaying curve – it does not go on forever. Using wind with variation injects randomness, which I like.
  • The butterfly landing on the poppy with legs down is a copy of the butterfly artwork sitting on the poppy. That is, there are actually two butterflies – one flying around, and a second that is a part of the poppies for the butterfly sitting on the flower. A keyboard trigger is used to make the sitting butterfly appear, aligned with setting the flying butterfly opacity to zero. So, you see either the flying butterfly or the landed butterfly. The advantage is the landed butterfly then sways with the flower it landed on.
  • To get the opacity set to zero, I did a record-one-frame of opacity 0% which I then dragged out to match up with the landed butterfly being visible.
  • Butterflies are not completely still when landed, they flap at random. So, I used the “Auto Blink” behavior to flap the wings at random for the landed butterfly on the poppy.
  • Oh, I drew the butterfly and poppies using Adobe Draw, tracing over some photos of real life butterflies and flowers.

The end result: I had to record dragging the flying butterfly around, I had to use a keyboard trigger to make the landed butterfly on the poppy appear, then do a recording of the flying butterfly with zero opacity and line that up so only one butterfly is visible at a time. Everything else is automatically done by Character Animator.

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