All posts by ahaegler

I am studying 3D animation at QANTM college. Hopefully in the not too distant future I will be able to start my own animation studio.

World Building lessons and improvement plan

Basic processes used
As with most things to do with animation, modelling or anything else, we used a creative process. Normally this would start with concept art and creating a lot of concepts of characters, landscapes or anything else that is going to be a large object.
However for the world builders project, we skipped a large part of this, all we really did was a basic shot rough so we could convey to the rest of the team what we wanted to do. As Simon and myself had a very good idea of what we wanted, and the other team members where either happy to do as we suggested or did not voice their complaints. Once we had given the team our basic style guide and ideas, we did not really concept the objects in the scenes. so that step was skipped, but we did have an art bible that gave us the information we needed to achieve what we wanted.
Our smaller items (such as lollies, plates, cutlery, etc.) where made using a basic box modelling technique. being that we started with a box in 3Ds Max, and added loops, extruded edges, and so forth, until we reached the desired shape. There is a video on youtube explaining how box modeling works here, and what we did to get our basic smaller assets created. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJDfvkSEUXU
Our larger assets where created by a much better modeller then I am, though I believe he still used the box modelling technique.
Once an asset had been created to a basic level, it was given to the person assembling the scene it was specifically for and put into unreal to test that the size and other dimensions where correct. If all was well then it would be unwrapped, and taken to Quixel to be textured. A large part of this started out as bumbling around in Quixel. whilst most of us had used the program before, it was a lot of trial and error to get the assets to look as we needed as they had no specific textures for the things we wanted. Assets ended up having strange textures put on them to look right, such as a cake with tar that was made brown not black so it looked like the dough. I have linked a youtube tutorial that I found helpful in learning the basics in Quixel and how to get it done faster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3xQm8dI764
after this it was once again put into unreal to test that the textures worked, and fit the scene and other assets.
from here it was a matter of working out general scene set up and asset placement, cameras with lighting and atmos effects being done last.
scene layout was not too difficult, a while some was done with the foliage tool, a lot was also done by hand for precision of layout, such as lollies around house, and rocks for the path.
Camera work was difficult, as at the time there where no tutorials on the Unreal camera system that had just come out, so a lot of it was trial and error to get done.
Finally the lighting, which was done in unreal using basic techniques found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmY7X9cBQZ0

Analysis of processes and what could be improved
Our modelling process went well, and while we did not use anything too in-depth such as sculpting it worked exactly as we needed it to for the project.
The first thing I feel needed to be improved here, was that the Quixel process was extremely basic, and while we did change some colours of basic textures, not too much else was changed. This in itself is not too difficult to fix, though it would take a long time, and more in depth tutorials on Quixel and how it works. There are tutorial for this on Digtial Tutors, as well as found online in places such as YouTube. This is one thing I would like to improve upon, though texturing itself is something I would like to get better at.
Unreal is a tool I have greatly enjoyed using, while our scene assembly was good and simple, I would not mind learning about it more and how to create better scenes in it.
some of the biggest things I want to work on in unreal also cover the other things I feel we could have improved on, which are camera work and lighting.
The camera work itself for this project was okay, though extremely basic, and did not fully capture what I was hoping it would for some scenes. so this is something I myself would like to improve as well.
Our lighting was pretty good once I finally got most of it done, but it is also another area I feel we could have done better at as it still lacked some depth to it in the end. One way we could have made the lighting better, would have been to do lighting passes, rather then trying to render it all out as one.

Other techniques that could have worked
There are many ways to approach all of these processes, and whilst I think what we did ultimately worked, there may have been other ways to approach them which I will see kto learn more about myself.
Firstly, texturing, whilst Quixel is a good program for texturing and can go much more in-depth then I took it for this project, there are other programs and ways that can help with texturing. Substance painter for one, is something I would like to learn to use.
There is also texturing in Photoshop which would be great to learn to do well, as this process can be used to increase the quality of textures that have been done in other programs.
Camera work is something else I would like to improve on. Most 3D Programs have cameras that work decently in them. 3Ds Max is something I would like to learn more about the cameras in, as there are many useful and proven tricks and ways to make them look extremely good that I would like to learn.
Maya also has some good processes and tools for camera work, as well as lighting and rendering passes.
Lighting is also something I see as useful from this, as it can be done in passes in other programs, though I am not sue about Unreal lighting passes. this is another thing I want to learn to do better, and would like to learn more about the processes that can be used here.

Cross-Disc

Cross-Disc has been interesting this Tri, possibly the first time I have enjoyed it even though the extra work has not been too much fun.
We had a lot of animators on this project which did reduce the workload, which was nice. but being the most experienced 3D animator I had to tick off all of the assets for them to  keep going through the pipeline.
My actual work on this was originally to make a fire, with some low polly flame particles.

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All the documentation and iterations on concept and so forth can be found at this location on google drive.
https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B8orfbV7K8YzTFBKSjZ4U0oxNEk

Some of the games designers did not understand what the animators needed in the way of art bible and concept art, so that had to be explained and resolved. Sadly it was not understood properly until too late, but at least they know for next time and it will be easier for them work with animators next time they need to!

Mortem-Pole for the building a world number 2

Last attempt at a post mortem was written in a state of stress and much tiredness.
This attempt shall hopefully not cover the same things as before, but still cover important information that I forgot to put into the last post.
I could just go and edit the last post….but that means reading it and moving things around and….no thanks.

Final Product

Here is the fun of our project, complete and uploaded to the tube on You

Links for deliverables

As with most of our projects we had a fair few deliverables to hand in for this project.
Our project plan, asset list and art bible can be found at this link https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B5uER0a-d18oRm1adW85QnBFX28
This link holds our concept art and drawings for our first concept of the scenes https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B53d0l4klphMMTBfX1ZIOGJFdVk
The whole google docs folder can be found here
https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B8GX7u2ae-EScjNzdUtoamxGS3M
And it holds all our files, concept art, models and so on that we used.

Critical reflection on team behavior and performance

This section has a few different things to look at in it. firstly, several key points or issues of the project and their positive or negative aspects.

a.
1:The projects first notable key point was getting the asset list finished and having people work on it. or say they would. at this point everyone assured that they would work on it and use it properly as outlined in the document. that they could work on it without deadlines and create all the assets without having to be pushed to get them done. Sadly they where wrong. Positive aspect is that I learnt that no matter peoples good intentions they need deadlines and reminders. Negative aspect is that we did not get all the assets created that we originally wanted to get done.
2:The second event was when we had reached a point of being able to show some of our work and it was noticeable what we where going for. We had to show some people, and the feedback we got was to create more of a story with how we created the overall project. This made us take a step back, rework all our ideas to fit a narrative better, that would create the feeling we where after more. In my opinion most of this was positive, the only negative thing was that we had to make some assets look different and got set back a little on time. but not by much as we where still ahead at this point.
3:The final event that really stands out to me was data loss on a massive level. Losing all of 2 scenes, which was devastating to say the least. The positive aspect of this (and it took me a long time to find one) was that the team member who was in charge of one of the scenes was forced to create it themselves, not rely on others to do it for them.
The negative, was that there was a lot of hours of work gone down the drain.
b.
1:As much as I am loath to admit it; I feel the events that lead to the lack of deadlines and such falls on the project lead (Myself) as I have a tendency to want to believe the best of people. whilst this is not a bad thing in itself, it can lead to situations like this, where I take them at their word and don’t put fail-safes into position. Confidence is a good thing, but I believe I need to be more aware that peoples good intentions do not mean they can do what they say they can. Especially at the start of a project when stress has not kicked in yet.
2: In some ways, this event was simply caused by our lack of knowledge, but also partly a lack of foresight as well I guess. Whilst we did our best, we got so caught up on how to get the feel of what we wanted to across that we forgot to go for the narrative being told through the scenes.
3: I believe this comes down to 2 problems. one, being lack of data backups, and not enough of a plan for cases like this. The other is that some people need to learn to keep track of the backups that they do have. Whilst this may seem harsh, it was one large part of the reasons that our backup plans failed.

c.
1:
Solution, make sure to stick to a project plan standards, such as a deadlines for assets and milestones for things to be done. Ensure everyone is following them and make sure people are up to date in weekly meetings. Create a simple project plan that people can follow with ease, and one that will not be hard to navigate. Same sort of thing with an asset list and art bible.
2:Checking and double checking that the brief is being met is a good start. but also making sure to keep getting feedback from other people as it will help to create a better end product.
3:Better data backup plans, making sure to keep newer backups, and with people who wont lose them. one such plan I intend to use is to keep a backup of the latest version with all team members as well as online, and make sure I keep at least 4 iterations back in case all saves are corrupted.

Creative processes used

Our creative process was fairly simple really. After we decided on the style of the world. We made sure each of our assets would fit into it. sticking to having one person tick off all assets before they went into the scene.

Literally nothing from my chosen craft was used in this, and that is my one problem with these projects. they never touch on animation, nothing is put into that, as its hard enough to get a good looking scene in it. so as such, I feel that trying to workout what other approach could have worked is pointless

 

Reflection on roles in production process

I feel my performance was good, but could have been better in some ways. In getting people to do more of their own work, as well as making sure that the work was done on time.
But I did do much better at being a lead on the whole, and did much better handling peoples problems as they arose.