Hannah has built a new copepod model, and we have imported the static version into some scenes to test lighting and focus prior to calling it done and proceeding with the “character” rigging. All seems well and we’ll probably leave it be for now until we put together the rig and other shot elements. Plankton! You see, we make a film about whales and thus we animate whale food, and then it makes less but still significant sense to model whale food – food. We will probably leave it at that lest we start telling a history of the sun.
We will be showing the copepod singly, in small groups and also large, by the thousands swarms. Most of the details won’t be noticeable in the latter, but we hope to have a fair amount of fun with the multitude of legs and antennae while showing off the creature’s dramatically different styles of movement. They appear to move in two ways: while feeding, where they sort of pull themselves through the water, more with their antennae and feeding legs; and escaping, in which they use pretty much every appendage they have in order to propel themselves forward at a speed that, while over a very, very short distance, gives them status as the fastest animals on the planet.
Later in the film, we will be showing the behavior of one whale repeatedly diving to the bottom over the course of several hours. The data in the chart above shows the real life whale’s dives as recorded by researcher Mark Baumgartner. The data is recorded by a short duration “tag” that can be attached to the whale and then separates from the whale after several hours, providing the recorded data that can be retrieved by researchers. Data captured includes depth, temperature, salinity, and the amount of food available to the whale. The seafloor is not shown in the chart, but is evident as being tracked pretty closely by the whale’s dives. The chart itself will be animated with accompanying water temperature and ocean depth information.
For a scant few seconds of the film, we will show the tag attached to the diving whale. Enjoy the quick models shown below. In the film, they will not be seen so clearly, hence we have not bothered to model all the features of the tag. The tag configuration shown is of that attached to the whale and one of only two configurations required by the film. The second involves just the main barrel, as if floats to and then at the ocean surface. For those interested in scale, the main barrel is about 16.5 inches long.
— Roger Topp (UAMN Head of Production)