I have just finished a weekend of intense work on the project and have finally got to the rendering stage of may animation. I can't say I'm totally happy with it, I had some file corruption issues and in the end I had to animate the reins by hand, but I managed to work around this and now I'm rendering.
I have decided to render the animation twice, first with the background and then with just the characters. This is so that I can iron out parts of the animation where it is noticeable that the characters feet are moving through the ground plane. Obviously in some areas this will not be possible, such as when the characters need to intereact with the environment, but in most scenes this will make work to make the animation look less shoddy.
The hardest part of the animation was certainly the reins. I had to animate all 6 controllers to follow the movement of the two characters at the same time. Once this was done I had to animate the lengths of the joints on the ropes so that they look as if they are staying attached to the handle the knight holds. It wasn't possible to use dynamics or scripting because of the reins being attached between two characters. Even parenting was out of the question as each point on the rein had to be able to move freely. It took hours, but it allows the reins to seem as if they can stretch which gets round otherwise awkward staging problems.
I'm generally happy now with the look of the animation and think that it makes sense. In some areas I think that the timing is a little fast. But I think that this is due to not giving enough time at the video stage for some of the more expressive movements. Timing on something as long as this with no soundtrack to work to is something I need to work on. I think if I'd had music at an earlier stage the beat would made timings for things easier, although the video work with Kitty really helped.
I am however really pleased that I went for it and completely animated the full storyboard. I'm really pleased with this achievment in such a short time, and the fact I tried out new working methods (though a little unsuccessfully!). I'll post the finished thing as and when.