PPJ #13 – Team

The poster deadline was a huge hiccup for us this week. Although it isn’t our focus, it is a singular promotional piece that represents our project, and it needed to look nice and be accurate. We learned a lot about each other and the pipeline as we were assembling the poster, considering it is a singular composed scene. The biggest thing we learned is that everyone on our team is not on the same page on how scene references work, which resulted in strenuously large file sizes. We still have a lot of issues with textures, whether that is a lack of them being completed or continuing to swap out old Renderman textures for the R21 surface shaders.

Team members are frustrated, worried, and scared about others pulling their weight. From the project management perspective, it seems to be a lack of personal drive from individuals to get their assigned tasks done on time, which is accompanied by excuses. There is a paper trail of deadlines (we have a Slack channel called Noticeboard) and team meeting times, yet people still manage to miss them or be late. It is not my job to micromanage how people do their jobs or spend their time. I want to at the very least see the deadlines met, but that hasn’t been happening. It’s Week 8, and the repeated offenders have gotten multiple talkings to. Time to hunker down.

Our advisor is dissatisfied with the state of things. We need to impress him with better animations this week so he is not disappointed in us. Anna’s impressive animations have been pulling the weight of the team. We need to be better for at least Anna. Our goal this week is to have a fully animated, clean shot of at least 4 seconds to be rendered for next week. In addition to that, our animation needs to be one step past pop-thru.

The Bad ~ Please reference above. Deadlines. Team commitment. Advisor dissatisfaction. We can be better.

The Good ~ The poster is in and done. It reflects our animation nicely and we hope we can bring the quality of our renders and animation to that level. Another deadline bites the dust. Many more to come.

We hope we can impress at the presentation in Week 10.

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Aviva Week 8 PPJ

This week I spent a lot of time working on our poster. This started with me placing plants in the environment, creating textures, and texturing plants. I spent most of the week arranging the scene and worked very hard to get it in on time. Our render took about 6-7 hours when it was done I did a bunch of color correcting and editing in Photoshop (after it was put through Nuke).

The good: got the poster done, spent a lot of time working on it which got progressively more frustrating as our files got larger and larger. Working on photoshop was the worst because after we handed it in at midnight on Saturday I stayed back to do some more edits which took me about 2.5 hours, though if I wasn’t working with a gigantic file, probably would’ve taken about 20 minutes. Nonetheless, it is completed.

The bad: I rewarded myself and my hard work by taking it wasy the past two days. But then slept in until around 3 today and forgot about a team meeting. Disappointed everyone.

First picture = render out of Maya, Second = final poster

PPJ #13 – Cali Chesterman

I’m done faking it. You’re more than welcome to dock more points for a lack of a professional tone, but this is the reality of what’s going on right now in the state of the team and the project.

We are disgustingly behind on everything. I am going to take a huge part of this blame. While planning out this project, I didn’t factor in how much faculty feedback would be derailing us. We felt confident about everything until week 4 of Fall term, and since then the fun had been sucked out of our project. I also didn’t factor in the outright nonchalance of our team members, which has included not completing work on time, coming to meetings late or not at all, and not asking for help when it was needed, making us redo things over and over and over again. At this point, our advisor is pissed off at us, the team is irritated at each other over habitual working patterns, and everyone is constantly stressed out because we haven’t been outputting work that makes us happy.

I’ve been reaching out to mentors on how to get the ball rolling again, how to get people caring again, and how to be a better project manager. The advice has more or less been just push through it and remember why you all fell in love with the project and hold onto that. That does not cure laziness, apathy, or time, and it hasn’t been helpful advice. It feels very hopeless right now, even our grades are slinking every week. We have a lot of anxiety about the presentation for the end of the term. I want us to look really good and show off nice character animation, but the members of the team that haven’t been pulling their weight — it feels like that isn’t going to change, and nothing I say or do has been able to fix that.

We all put a lot of hours into the poster this week and we realized a lot of problems in our pipeline, organization, and surfacing. Aviva and Will, who were in charge of replacing the Renderman 20 → 21 environment textures, did not do so in the referenced files, but rather in the scene that was actively being worked on, in addition to it being the wrong/old texture type. The proper texture type was brought up in a previous meeting, but it seems some people were not paying attention so now we’re going to have to go back in and change all of this work. Again. I thought people were familiar enough with how referencing files works, that I wouldn’t have to explain these things. I hate micromanaging and want to trust team members to know what they’re doing, but I should have known better. What can I do better?

I worked on textures for the dog and man this week. Both of these tasks needed to be done last term. Even after I finished the textures, my team members are not happy with them because they’re too detailed and don’t match up perfectly with the concept art. It’s frustrating.

I have 20 shots to animate. It sucks. It’s a huge workload. I really appreciate Will volunteering to take on the textures because he has a shorter scene, but that wasn’t smooth.In addition to texture work, I also set up all the text and did the layout for the poster, to pass the Photoshop file to Aviva to work on in post.

The Good: The poster is done. It looks really cute. I want our animation to reach that quality.

The Bad: Senior project. Bad vibes. Some of my teammates have stopped caring. We’re all stressed out.

Nice Things to Say: Aviva is really good at post and 2D visualization. Aidan is really good at wrangling individual team members and speaking her mind. Anna is really good at everything, especially time management. Will is really good at cute game textures (that doesn’t help us here). I’m really good at painting and textures, but I think my work is too detailed for what we’re trying to accomplish. I love my teammates as people, but all 5 of us — we don’t work well together. I hope we don’t hold grudges against each other after we graduate.

What can I do better? Please send help.

 


 

PPJ #13 – Anna Rebman

We’ve all been working like crazy trying to get the poster finished. I mainly did lighting, render set up, and compositing, but there was so much to do. We had to switch out a lot of plant textures that should have already been switched out but because people duplicated the meshes after they were referenced (Don’t do this.), the textures were disconnected from the referenced files. Furthermore, a lot of the textures that were due on Thursday were not actually done. It’s a little frustrating because there were some alleged misunderstandings about the deadlines, but we did repeatedly talk about the deadline for the poster both in class and in our meetings and on Slack. There are receipts. There are emails. There shouldn’t be this much confusion. I don’t know how to emphasize deadlines and meeting times to people anymore without literally tattooing it to their face. We talked about maybe Slack is too cluttered. We tried using a special “Noticeboard” channel on Slack for just the important things like deadlines and meeting times, but people are still missing meetings and deadlines.

noticeboard
#noticeboard on Slack

Those of us who are meeting deadlines and showing up to meetings on time cannot pull the weight of the project by ourselves. We all have a little less than a minute to animate and we can’t afford to animate anyone else’s shot as well as our own. I’m getting really tired of hearing apologies and not seeing any changes. I know people are stressed and overwhelmed but we can’t afford to fall behind and we can’t afford to cut stuff just because someone didn’t get around to it. We didn’t get all our scenes to pop-thru in time for the presentation which I’m still bitter about. I know not everyone is in this for the animation but it needs to get done. We cannot afford to be perfectionists about the environment and the textures. It is way too late for that. I can’t do this by myself. I need people to start doing the stuff they agreed to do, and I need them to do it before the deadlines. I can’t pull their weight for them. I literally can’t. I have enough of my own work to do. I cannot start doing other people’s work.

Click here to see the full size PDF.

dragonbonesposterfinal_small
The actual poster is 10x this size and higher quality.

The Bad: I’m angry. I’m scared. I’m frustrated. I’m ashamed. Our adviser is mad at us and he should be. I know what I need to do and I know I can get it done before the presentation, but I have limited confidence in the team as a whole. I can’t take over another minute of animation just because someone’s not doing their work. We all had to be here texturing and lighting and compositing, putting everything else on hold, because our poster was nowhere near finished on Thursday. Now everyone’s exhausted but there is no time to relax. None. I don’t know how to get people to realize how far behind we are. They don’t seem to be worried. It’s really hard to put the fear in them when they turn off their phone and don’t show up to meetings.

The Good: I’m meeting my deadlines and showing up to meetings on time. My scene got the audience reaction at the presentation, and it’s the furthest along. It’s a hollow victory if the rest of the animation doesn’t start catching up.

PPJ #13 – Will Reardon

The last week was mainly a crunch to finish our  textures for the poster. We chose to render a still of our animation for our poster so that meant all parts of the still had to be in their final state. This includes character textures, of course. Not everything was texturing this week. I also spent some time polishing the animation and camera work of my scenes, using Shere Kahn’s entrance from the newest rendition of the Jungle Book as reference.

Due to Cali having a larger-than-normal workload I volunteered to texture the characters for her a week or two ago. Unfortunately there was some miscommunication about the textures. I had thought that they were mostly complete with simple shading and a smooth, cartoony style. However, they needed to be overhauled with more detail, more colors, and more texture.

This general miscommunication was revealed Thursday which led to some frantic             re-texturing as the poster was due this past Saturday. A bump map had to be made for both of the characters as well.  In addition to this, I also re-linked all previous textures in the scenes from a shader that used to work the pixar surface shader that works in the newest version of Renderman.

PPJ#13 – Aidan Dougher

This week we had bump in the road this week, a.k.a. the lobby display poster. We had planned on having it done on Thursday, along with all the textures for our environments and characters. So we paired off and worked on our individual parts of the poster, Aviva planned out the environment and textured plants, I textured plants for Aviva and tired to help out in any way that I could, Anna worked on the technical side and, and Cali and Will worked on textures for our characters. At some point in the week, Will started doing the textures for both the characters, and then came Thursday. The textures for the characters weren’t done. This became a huge problem, which lead to us scrambling to get the characters textured and done. Our poster still wasn’t done either, and that was even more of a problem. Our adviser wanted us to submit another version of the poster to him by the end of the day on Thursday, and two more versions on Friday, and two more on Saturday before handing it in. We did all of these things and handed in our final product after not sleeping.

Then everyone needed a day off after that debacle. I can’t take days off though, mostly because I’m a ball of stress and anxiety because it’s week 8. So I worked on Rigging my flower for our danger flower scene. I also worked on animating anything I could for my scene. So far the Danger Flower has been rigged and textured. All I have to do now is work on the needles that it will spew from its mouth. For some reason the blend shape won’t hook up properly to the sdk that I had set up for it. But it doesn’t matter really as long as I’m the only one animating the flower opening and closing it’s mouth it shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll just have to animate it from the blend shape window. While animating this week I’ve really begun to notice how disproportionate our man is. He has tiny arms and a very long torso. His legs are also strange and clunky. But we will be able to get by. Not that the dog is much better. I did a few render tests with some terrible lighting, but they show off my flower and Anna’s awesome crystals.

 

The Good: We completed our poster? Yay?

The Bad: Animation is way way way way way behind. I’m not sure if anyone else on my team has worked on animation besides Anna. We also need a few more passes on the textures, and the pant’s texture on the man is way overdone.

 

PPJ #12 – Will Reardon

Animating! (and some texturing). Now that we have passed the midpoint of the production term our whole team is focusing on the animation of the project. We have completed our animation tests and our block-ins. Now the main focus is fully animating and refining our individual scenes.

I have the first scene in our animation and I completed my full block-in last week. After critiquing our block ins as a group, I set to work refining and fully animating the scene. I started with the man. I animated his walk, crouch, and standing motions. That means I have to animate him searching some brush and using a bottle.

When I had most of the man’s motions animated, I began to animate the dog. I figured I should create some of the dog’s motion before finishing the man. I now have the dog taking an inquisitive stance and jumping down from tall rocks. This is a big improvement over the full-body sliding I had in last week.

Other than animation, I also refined textures for the man this week. Next week I will do the same for the dog, which means all of our main assets/characters will be textured in a final state.

PPJ #12 Team

Everyone in the team is jumping between responsibilities this sprint. Everyone is responsible for their own pop-thru in addition to whatever tasks need to be completed. These tasks have included finishing up environment model textures, instancing plants in scenes, finalizing dog blendshapes (the man is almost there, his beard adds another layer of complexity), getting a new pass of dog and man textures to comply with Renderman 21, doing some research on Renderman 21 materials, and so on. The hallway poster deadline adds a lot more pressure to get these assets done faster because we want to prove our pipeline and make a good impression of the University’s animation program.

For the end of this term, our (revised) plan is to have a pop-thru, with close-to-polish animation, from beginning to end. As it stands, our animation is 3:37.

The Good: Everyone has been putting in a lot of good, hard work. We’re getting more confident about our pipeline now that our characters are being animated. Our story has more life! The weather has also been amazing (60 degrees!) which has spiked everyone’s mood out of the winter doldrums.

The Bad: We’re still a little behind. Finalizing the story helped exponentially getting us back on track, but we’re still playing catch up on our overall goals. Resources are getting extremely competitive as winter term creeps closer to finals week. The labs are full at night and it’s hard to get a computer if you haven’t been working in the lab all day. Machines are constantly in use, while some are still buggy.