We are done! This as our final week of production. We all worked on creating our final composites and edits to our renders through the Foundy’s Nuke.
We met for several color-correction sessions where we critiqued each other’s final comps. Later, we met with Jackson Mumford, who is handling our project’s audio. After seeing his work we all felt that the project really came to life. This was a positive week overall and it’s satisfying and validating to see our final product.
Some songs that relate my feelings throughout production.
Slowly Melting by Nomeansno
I, the Witchfinder by Electric Wizard
Love Lost by The Temper Trap
Well our road to completion of this project has been a long one. However, I think that we have created a final product that we can be satisfied with, if not ecstatic about it.
First, the things that were successful within the project or what we did ‘right’:
- We had a great sense of team inclusion and commitment to meeting from the very beginning. This is something that many projects suffer from and I think it was very important to us that we were instantly meeting in person both frequently and consistently.
- We had a clear and (mostly) cohesive vision of what we wanted our project to be from the beginning. This includes the tone, goals, and general aesthetics of the animation.
- We planned out the entirety of our pipeline in the early stages of our project, giving our team general direction and scope throughout production.
Now, three things that were not so great during the production of our animation:
- We met often to discuss all facets of the project. However this could sometimes be a detriment for several reasons. Sometimes the idea or piece of production being discussed was not wholly relevant to all members of the team. This is not great as it can waste time but the larger issue here is that too many voices may chime in with very different ideas about how something should be accomplished. This would create lengthy discussions about something that was honestly not quite worth the time put into its conception. It simply could have been done quicker and more smoothly had fewer members been directly involved in its creation.
- The team dealt with work and stress differently. Some misunderstandings of different work paces would lead to anger and frustration. Some people felt shoved along while others felt that they had to hold up the team.
- As we continued down the production pipeline, defined tasks and general management became less clear. The general consensus being for everyone to do the work most immediately due.
These hurdles were not the fault of any one person on the team nor element of the project. They are simply things that come out of a large project like this that can be hard to foresee. However, there are always takeaways from these past difficulties.
Some of the takeaways of this project are:
- Allow people to wholly own a part of the project. Let it be their baby. I’m not saying to never check in on their status/progress but let them be the master of their own work. Allow their passion and creativity to enter through their creative hold on it. For a time anyways.
- Divide up tasks among team members. Allow people to fill roles among the team and become the resident “expert” at a certain position.
- Find out what you want to get out of the project in the beginning and allow the project to come out of your gains. Instead of trying to gain something from the project.
This was our team’s last big animation push. Our animation lock was the twenty-first and we pushed right up until the end. Our shots all look a lot better than they did before and I think this big push towards the deadline helped our team.
I started the week by extending the mans walk in the first scene in order to keep him animated for the full hold of the title during the shot. This was roughly another two seconds of animation to be done. Luckily, it was more of the same and extending his walk cycle was not too difficult. What took a little more time was polishing the extent of the walk so it could be ready for the lock and rendering.
Next, I worked on finishing the dog’s animation in the first scene. This meant refining his jump, which is his large action for the scene, as well as giving him just more motion throughout the scene. There were parts where he was static or drifting that had to be further animated. The hardest part there was transitioning the dog from where he looks at the man to where his jumping-off point is. I had to do it quickly but give the dog enough time to fully follow the man with his head and then think about following him.
After animating the dog I got critiques from the team and our adviser on both of my scenes. Then it was back to polishing with the critiques. I worked right up until the end like the rest of the team and I think my shots look a lot better after this final push.
Alright so now the man is truly at an “only polish” animation phase for both of my scenes. The past week I implemented feedback I got from our adviser about the man’s facial animation, which wrapped up all of his animations.
So, what I spent the bulk of my week on was the dog’s animation. He was still mostly static, standing at the top of the hill. So now I have animated the dog jumping down the hills after the man. I have also put in some more movement when the dog is looking at the man throughout the scene.
Next week I will polish the dog’s animation and be ready for rendering.
Another week that I spent of making the motion correct in my walk cycles. Unfortunately, this week was also bogged down with other classes and I spent less time on the project than I wanted to. Of course, I still got some work done and I am almost done with animating the man.
This week I will complete all of the man’s animation. I will hopefully animate the dog to full polish as well. The dog is currently at a pop through phase but I do not think it will be hard to push it towards the final product. The dog’s movement is short and I have already animated similar actions. I do not think this should take too much time.
That being said, things always take longer than expected so I suppose I will have to see how it comes out. Regardless, he man will certainly be done this week.
Animation was the task of the week again. I am animating both the first scene and our establishing shot. This past week I worked specifically on animating the man’s walk cycle in each scene.
For the establishing shot the man is just walking away from his ship and gazing around at his new environment. So really, the only animation in the scene is the man’s walk. However, he is also pretty small in the shot so I was not going to tweak it to perfection because there is likely no discernible difference when it is rendered. I worked for a couple days on his walk making sure that the timing and movement of his body (waist, chest, and shoulders) flowed naturally.
For scene 1, I worked on the smaller but more nuanced walk the man does to exit the scene. Here he slowly turns, then begins to walk away. He slows slightly and looks back at the dog, then returns to speed and leaves the scene. With this walk I focused a lot on the hips and feet placement to make sure the legs look like they are realistically supporting his weight. I still have some work to do with his torso and arms.
I also rendered my scenes on the renderfarm to make sure we have something to use. As usual the results were mixed. Most of the frames were fine but a few lost textures or lighting.
This past week was spent primarily on animation. After changing my shots last week and creating a basic pop through of the new Scene 1, I had a lot of animation and polish to complete.
I started out by taking my pop through of the first scene and making sure the timing was right. I checked in with our team’s advisor several times to confirm the placement, timing, and actions of the camera and characters. On Wednesday I finalized the timing and pushed the pop through to a full animation. Thursday I again worked on the animation of the first scene and created a walk cycle for the man in the opening shot of our animation.
Both Friday and Saturday were spent polishing the animations of both the opening scene and the first scene. On Sunday I added a camera to the opening scene and created the shots. Upon reaching a comfortable place with my animations I created new playblasts and compiled them with the rest of the team for the next iteration of our animation.
In total I have worked approximately 26 hours this week. This time was mainly spent on animation of my scenes.
This past week I spent updating and tweaking lighting and textures. I also made some pretty large changes to the camera placements in my scene.
The readjustment of my shots was to more simply serve the animation. The same general mood and scene is delivered, but in a lot less time. This creates a simpler, cleaner scene for both animation and story. Now the camera stays more or less in one place, with only one major move. There is a zoom out on the initial shot in order to reveal the dog in the background. We start closer in on the man as he looks at the environment in the foreground. Then the camera cuts a little farther back to reveal the dog watching the man. The man becomes aware of the dog and there is a moment of recognition for both of the characters. Then the man simply walks off screen, wary of the dog. The dog pauses, then follows.
Other than shot readjustment, I spent my time refining some textures. The ship has been textured for a while but I decided to more precisely break up its UVs in order to focus on those areas more while texturing. I also UV’d the control console of the ship as I had not done that before.
This past week I also finalized my scene’s lighting. This consisted of small changes to overhead distant light and adding a rim light to the man.
In total, I spent about 20 hours on the project this week.
Sickness and more sickness this week.
I got very little accomplished overall this week because I spent most of it bed-ridden. I am just now feeling better today on Monday, the tenth. My plans for this week had been to complete the ship textures fully, retouch the lighting in my scene, re-position some of my shots, and polish my animation. Unfortunately I was only able to get my ship textures mostly complete before succumbing to the flu.
I woke up last Tuesday feeling unwell but I went to class anyways. It was when I went home to complete the ship’s textures that I realized I had a full fever and total exhaustion. I spent the rest of the week staying home and trying to recover from this illness that totally took away my energy and focus. It was pretty much impossible to work on anything. If not because I was distracted by bodily pains, it was that I couldn’t stay awake long enough to get anything accomplished. This was a very poor week for me.
Hopefully I will be able to get back on track as soon as possible this week and make up for the lost days last week.