An animations death

Post mortem for Rapid project; Monkey Island. As project lead, I will be looking at what we did as a whole, what we could do to improve that, then looking at what I did myself and how I can do to improve myself. This will let me focus on the two different sides of what I had to do for this project.

Firstly, our planning phase needed more work. We went in half cocked, with a vague idea of what we wanted to do and a general idea of how to get it done. Our storyboard, while followed a little, was not stuck to much at all, and as it was turned into our animatic, we made it harder on ourselves remaking scenes.
Next time, I believe a slightly more solid planning phase, with better research tasks handed out is important. We got excited (which is not a bad thing in some ways) but we did not do much research, we just jumped into making assets. So in this case it was NOT a good thing. Thing I would research or look into next time
1. The exact pipeline needed for the finished product.
2. What the finished product needs to look like, and how to get it to that point (such as the programs needed and the type/style of assets to be created.
3. Make sure people have their research tasks handed out and clearly understand what they are doing
One great thing, was the enthusiasm the team had, everyone loved the project idea and was instantly on board for getting it all done. Our leadership positions where clearly planned out as well, which helped a lot with getting things done as a cohesive whole.

Our use of time was poorly done. Many of us spent well under the time given to us. Though a few did go over some weeks. I am not totally sure how we could fix this issue, but I think a better time sheet would be a good start. And making SURE everyone knows to use it.
This area was not a total failure, as some people did get their weekly hours up to the limit most weeks, but most of us felt we could do more time and still not go over.

Project scope was interesting; I think we did well there. We had a good idea to start, and while we did not end up with many of the desirables, I feel we managed to hit a good benchmark. We also did not have to drop any of our scenes or ideas due to being out of scope, so I am happy with that. We achieved this by getting a good idea of what people where strong at doing, and then making an animation idea based on those strengths.
For the project management we used scrum, which I am a fan of when you are making a new team. I can see things like waterfall working way better later on in an established team, but for starting out I personally like scrum.

Task scheduling was a bit of a nightmare. It was difficult to make sure everyone was aware of what their tasks where after the face to face meeting. I attempted to do this via messages on our communication channels, but that did not always work. There was also a task and asset list, but it was fairly much ignored I think.
Next time, I would use Trello, while it is not perfect, but for a small project it is great, and it adds to the simplicity of making a scrum task and asset list. Trello also makes it easier to assign tasks to individual people, as long as they remember to use it.
Another issue we had here was that we failed to set out deadlines for each task or asset to be done. This meant that key assets where left to much later then should have been and we suffered in the composition and compositing due to lack of said deadlines. As such, the rendered version (for now) is only in 480p. But this will be fixed later.
Some things I will change for next time it to make sure that each individual task has a deadline it is needed by, and to make sure people stick to those deadlines. I would also allocate more time to comp and rendering as it can take a long time.

Quality assurance, as such, was not actually called that. We had an art director who made sure everything worked together and would fit into the same world. It worked really well, as everyone working on the art made sure to check with her with rough designs before they went for a final of the asset.

Team members was… interesting as some people did not seem to want to put in the effort for some reason. Others did not communicate their problems or tell me when they needed more work to do. Some simply did not understand what to do and never voiced that. I am still trying to work out what I would do to fix this next time I am lead. I think finding a way for people to feel more ownership of the project is a big thing. But also making sure that team members know they can ask for clarification if they need it. Whilst I did tell people to talk to me if they needed help in some way, no one did, and it was not until a week later I would find out something was wrong. Perhaps more meets with people I see being less productive, or unsure of things. More face time to help them learn what they need to do better, or to find a way to motivate them somehow.
On the flip side, we had some great team members who were constantly talking to me about how they were going, what needed to be done and so forth. This was brilliant as it meant they got their work done to the standard we wanted, as well as on time.

Our documentation was not too bad, we did fail a bit on the asset list at first as the team members working on it got side tracked and started to other things instead.
Next time I need to make sure people focus on that, but, as it stands, we do have our basic documentation for viewing at this location.
https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B8GX7u2ae-ESaXlZRUg5UWdfQWc

Sound and sound students was a really interesting thing to learn about and work with. At the start, we were told they loved out project, but our communication fell out and we while I am happy with the final product, I think a few things could have been done better.
Next time I will ask for more input from the sound people, I will also endeavour to make sure they feel a part of the team, not just contractors.
An important thing I learnt, was that some people are a little to hesitant to give different ideas, so making sure they know we are open to them would be a good idea, as apparently someone had been working on an acoustic version of the track and we did not find out until the presentation of our work. So making sure they know I am open to that is an important thing I think.

 

On a more personal level, I had a lot of work to do in AE for this project. And while I am not completely new to AE I am also not amazing at it. My second and third weeks, I spent doing research and setting up the scene. I went well over my time each week as I had to learn a lot in a short space of time, but eventually I managed to do so.
It was interesting to learn about syncing sound to the degree we did, and how to work better with sound people. There is sound synced to the rendered out version which is linked at the bottom of the post.

Being only slightly above beginner level at AE gave me so many problems to work through. I was so caught up in it all, that I forgot to document a lot of it. However, I do remember having huge issues with the camera work, which is still terrible in the rendered out version (480p) however, I will update this to reference the websites I went to that helped with the camera work when I upload the 720p version.

One of my tasks in AE was to put the scene together as a cohesive whole, in such a way that it would work in the world, look good from the view of the camera, but also look aesthetically pleasing. We did that well I think, we did have some issues with the size of assets being too big, but overall it came together well. This was also my larger contribution to the project, I did do most of the documentation, as well as creating a simple fireworks particle effect in 3DS Max. But those only took me 2 weeks to get done, my last 3 weeks were spent in AE making sure I could get everything into the right place, creating place holders and so on. Without me doing this, the art work, no matter how amazing it was, could not be put into the scene properly. While nothing ever hinges on one person and everyone in the team is important, my being focused on AE allowed the other better artists to do their amazing work and not need to think about learning new programs they have no use for right now. I personally think this was a good move as it gave us a better looking end product.

The Technical specs that we had to work to where simple in some ways. Well, let’s say the broad idea was, we were given a game (Monkey Island) and had to create a 15-30 second teaser trailer for a new game in the franchise. There was also a style given for this to be done to, some people got music video, some people got logo reveal, we got given a flythrough/scene pop up. As can be seen in the movie, we did manage to do this.
Some other more technical things we had to get done was to create each asset with no perspective with as many parts as needed to create the perspective in AE itself. We managed to do this, though it took some explaining as no one was used to creating work that was not in perspective, so that in itself created an interesting challenge. But one that I managed to achieve.
We were allotted 10 hours a week per person to work on this project, over 5 weeks. Not all of us hit that, some went over, but on the whole we stuck to it okay.

 

The 480p render can be found at this location: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B1qP913ffjsdeFlaVV9Qd1MtbFk&usp=sharing&tid=0Bxuvy4-8tFOpenE4el9BRUpQYTA

I will render it out in 720p at some point and upload that to youtube for viewing.

I would just like to say, that while some people are brilliant and writing and do it super well. I am not one of them. the fact I managed to write this much in a day is astounding to me. So, while its not up to other peoples standards, I am pretty darn happy with it!

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