The Salmon Forest

When I moved out to the west coast of British Columbia I spent some time exploring with friends, and I was struck by the enormity of the trees here. Some of these trees have been alive for more than 1000 years. 

Around the same time I was in Gastown in Vancouver, and there was a First Nations carver making these amazing little cedar carvings. I bought one, and the gentleman explained to me that the carving depicted the relationship between the salmon, the tree, and the eagle. He said something to the effect that “the salmon feeds the tree which gives a home to the eagle”, and that got me wondering about the relationships between organisms.

It turns out that the reason that the trees here grow to such enormous sizes, is the millions of salmon, which every year return from the ocean to the very streams where they were hatched, to spawn the next generation. There, after they spawn, they die and their bodies provide nutrients for the entire ecosystem from the giant trees to their own progeny. 

I decided to create an animated video, which I am still working on, to illustrate this process. Here are some rigs and animation I have created thus far.

Here are some style frames, look development and some animation.

Great Grey Owl

Great Grey Owl

This is an experiment I did to figure out how to manage feathers, and also to better animate flight. I used xgen groomable splines and paint fx to create the feathers, and a wrap deformer to bind the feathers to a simple base mesh. It worked out well because I was able to create a rig for animation with no feathers, so it was quite a fast and responsive rig, and then add the feathers in at the end for rendering. Because the feathers are simple poly cards, they were easy to render, though it was a bit of work to texture them.

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