Monday, 1 June 2009

So Year 1 comes to a nearing end .....

The final evaluative report on our final project ...

The end of our project comes to a halt like the train that pulls up to the last stop of the line, the end of the road. I had no idea what to expect from this project, a number of factors being, how well would I work in a group, would everyone get on together and do all work set out before them, and more importantly would we set a realistic goal and manage to finish the animation well? The answer to all these would be yes. Our team had excellent variety over the roles, with me on pre-production, Matt and Matt on the actual animation: the production, and Tom doing post-production stuff, but we did all share out various roles within the various stages of producing the animation, but with the main contributors to that area of production having a final say.

First off was choosing which medium to do the animation in, 3-d or 2-d, well it was fairly obvious we all had our hearts set on animating in Maya, but the tricky part was which style to use and effect we wanted to have on the audience. So first off we had to scrounge around the internet and various thoughts, concepts and ideas on films and in books, to settle on our ideal storytelling for the sound file. We finally came across a Supinfocom student film, “La Marche des Sans-Nom” and saw the main character, a long gangly type figure, very long and thin, and thought we could use this archetype for our main character also. There was also the stylised background, setting and props which gave the animation a somewhat realistic feel in a surreal way which is something that we all picked upon, and decided to opt for a stylised look to our animation. As well as these secondary resources we also arranged a group trip to Hayle to get a first hand feel for what it was like, which is hopefully portrayed in the final animation.

Since we were a pretty varied skilled group it was easy enough to assign tasks and roles to our group as mentioned above, I had the main role and say in pre-production, as it was something I’m seriously considering as a career prospect, so this has been the perfect time to have a go at. I was also working as both the director and producer of the group at the start of the project for a couple of weeks. But it was decided that Tom would take over as producer since I wasn’t being firm enough with the work that needs and needed to be done at the time, so he would co-ordinate and hand out work to the group, being more productive and the team producing better work in the long run, as well making sure everyone is always getting on with something.

The pre-production role was fairly easy to approach creatively as I could experiment and research as I do for my own work, and form it in a way that was applicable to the project. For a while though, I did find it hard to fully apply myself, and put my heart into this project but once I got my head into the hard craft of designing characters and streets and figuring out the right sepia tone or black and white tone to the animation, I soon delved into the pages of my sketchbook.

As well as any other aspect in a working environment there are sure to be, ups and downs and strengths and weaknesses. The strongest aspect of this group was probably the animation, and how easily and competently the two group members, Matt and Matt got on with most of the modelling, rigging, lighting and animating and also the persistence to carry on going strong and to achieve the best, even when impossible to jump hurdles came their way, for example the rather lengthy creation (technically and creatively) of the exploding gas works, which inevitably we did fall behind on schedule on. I think the biggest weakness of the group; I felt, was the communication between group members in assigning the work to do not just for an afternoon or day but for the next week or so, which is why it was decided that Tom would take over as producer so that he could hand out work progressively to keep everyone occupied with stuff to do, as well as making sure there is some variation in the tasks.

This project has given me the chance to practise and work at the pre-production area in producing animation to give me a feel for what it’s like to be at the most important area of the work, at the core of the concept and design, and hopefully within a big animation company, having some influence over the final design. I especially enjoyed conceptualising the street scenes and full length character, Alfred, as I could play around with colour palettes, if only briefly, and various angles on the street. I also feel that my skills in designing and coming up with ideas for projects like this have improved working to a set brief, i.e. no deviation from the set story given in the sound file, which means no deviation from the setting.

All in all I’m proud of the work that our group has produced, and very pleased with the outcome of the hard work we’ve all put in. I especially like the fly-by scenes the planes do, they’re quite simple yet really effective, what I think needed a bit more work was the main character, Alfred, as portrayed in youth, the animation was slightly limited and linear, which could have been produced by the simple rig that had been applied to it. My favourite scene from the whole animation would have to be the gas works explosion scene, and how well it managed to turn out, considering there were many hurdles to overcome which set us back only slightly on our schedule. I enjoyed helping out with this and finding the basic dynamic presets to modify to create different effects was really enjoyable, finally getting to see the final result of my initial assistance.