Animate a Bird in Flight

Animate a Bird in Flight - student project

In this class we will firstly be analyzing the motion of birds in flight. It will include a brief analysis of wing anatomy, behavior, and a breakdown of timing in a birds flight cycle. We will also explore the forces going on that effect a birds posture and animation as it soars through the air. I will also share handy tips and tricks to help speed up the process of animating CG creatures in Autodesk Maya. Links to any character rigs and handy tools will be shared and explained during the class.


Video Lesson Outline

Class Description Learn how to animate a cg bird in Autodesk Maya

This class is geared towards anyone who is interested in animation. Whether you’ve animated in 2d hand drawn/vector/stop motion we’ll be using basic Maya tools and I’ll give you a run down of the graph editor and any other more complex tools we use . A basic knowledge of animation is required. We won’t be delving too deeply into Maya in this video so newcomers to Maya and 3D animation are welcome to follow along. I will explain any tools we will be using and why. Also I’ll outline some do’s and don’ts in cg animation hopefully getting you over the beginner pitfalls.

Project Description

Students will create a realistic flight cycle animation in Autodesk Maya. Blend it into a glide animation and back into the flight cycle. Finishing up we will add a camera to our scene and shoot our bird flying by.


I will be using two plugins during the course to save time in the recording.


Students can either work around my handy tool shortcut by repeating the process learned for the opposite wing




Follow the install instructions on links found in the resources section below (Recommended)


Resources Pose library and handy mirror tools Faster Arc tracker and other amazing tools Free Rigs


John Kennedy
VFX Animator