Created by Ken Russell and Michal Hlavac.
Melanie requires support of the virtual environment created by the Synthetic Characters group.

Melanie is an angry critter.  She buzzes around her object of interest at near-sonic speed. Her irritating buzz can be topped only by the sound of a hungry blood-sucking mosquito. When Melanie's anger reaches unbearable levels, she explodes in a fit of accumulated fury: "Craaak!"

Characters with complex emotions are difficult to create. Trying to circumnavigate the problem, we decided to implement a simpler character.  Such character should be capable of experiencing and displaying one emotion only. Anger was the emotion we picked.


In order to animate the annoyingly fast drosophila, we were determined to make a heavy use of the Squash and Stretch principle.  As you can see in the images above, Melanie's body distorts out of proportion as she zips in tight loops around her target, the beaver.  It "squashes" vertically in anticipation of the fast move and then quickly stretches horizontally as it flies along its trajectory. Melanie's morphing performance is crowned with her angry fit.  She explodes into a fanged monster ten times her original size.  Most of these frames look unacceptable when viewed as stills, but work perfectly when incorporated into the fast-paced action.  Thanks to these techniques, Melanie's performance looks significantly different from that of a conventionally animated computer character.

Listen [600K aiff file] to Melanie's voice talent.

April 18, 1998

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