Keeping to Targets
The first term seemed to be taken up mostly by changing the story constantly and we were a bit in no man’s land for quite a while with regards to the narrative and how the film would progress We had quite a few meetings with our tutor who kept changing his mind about what he would like in the film and this kept swaying the Director. In the end he eventually took charge and with my research into different comedic and animated film the narrative was completely changed to include more gags and bring out the fun in the film. This gave us more focus for the second term although rigging issues seemed to slow down the process continually, which was not helped with the added pressure of our dissertations. We aimed to have all the models and rigs finished by the time we started the second term, but unfortunately we were still finalising the rigs well into the third term. As an animator I found it frustrating to keep having to relay the problems to our rigger and really enjoyed animating in the last term – even though in my opinion the rigs could still be improved. We also aimed to have the film animation finished half way through May ready for tweaking and compositing and again this was not the case. We did tend to have shorter term goals that were more successful, such as by the end of the week having a shot blocked out, the changes to the story did push a lot of the work back in the beginning of the project. I am glad this was the case however as I feel the film is much stronger for the narrative side of this, although I wish the character designs could have been pushed through quicker.
My main job role throughout this process was that of Head Animator. I also used my rigging skills after learning about the process in the first term of this year. I do feel at times this was undermined and other members of the team took on work without making myself and others aware. For example models made or started when they were assigned to another team member. Job roles often became quite mixed and this lead to confusion throughout the year, not just for myself but for others aswell.
The team started off brightly and we all contributed to the meetings and did lots of research. As the end of the first term drew to a close however we were a bit disheartened by the feedback we had been receiving. The second term gave us another wind when we had finalized the story and everyone started pulling their weight for the first time. The last term has had everyone working hard in order to meet the deadline.
There has been some team problems, mostly to do with other members and myself. Due to some absence this last term there has been a bit of confusion regarding feedback and talking through things in person, but these were for reasons beyond my control. In fact looking through the work now and reading the Facebook group etc. I was one of the main driving forces pushing the film forward most of the time. Especially when quite a few of the plot points or gags in the films were my ideas. I think the group has taught me valuable lessons in communication and at times no matter how much you do actually try it will never be enough. Furthermore people can really back stab anyone else at every given opportunity.
I am quite pleased with my animation and only wish I had had longer to complete it. Becoming ill in the vital ending stages (which as an animator I had been looking forward to all year) knocked about half of the time I could have been animating right off. I feel if I had the extra weeks I could have created more shots and polished the ones I have submitted to a fantastic standard. Hopefully I will be able to in time for the Degree show or especially the Skillset Showcase should our films be chosen. Furthermore, the work will take place in my showreel and I am quite excited to show it to prospective employers. I have learned so much about walk and run cycles it is untrue, and I feel confident that I will be able to create them with any rig thrown infront of me from now on! I have also used the graph editor a lot more than I have before to try and make the animations smoother and at times reign them in. I get somewhat excited when I start my animations and have so many ideas they sometimes go a bit too far, especially in the films like this where I want to show off what I can do. I think the most important lesson I have learned through my animation is that less is more, oh and to ALWAYS take on the feedback of what the director wants.
My other aim for the year has been to learn rigging, which I have done to some degree creating the character blend shapes and also setting up the rig for the Mongolian. This is the one area I really do wish to pursue in the future as I think it will not only help my career prospects, but I also enjoy the challenge and working out how to fix the problems. I only took the body rigging as far as the controllers and as yet have not delved into the world of painting weights, but I am confident from my practice at the beginning of the year with the facial shapes that it will not be a problem, especially with all the new tools released with the newer versions of Maya.
Overall, there have been many ups and downs to this project and although it looks good I still think too many inputs from different people have created some shots that do not look that great, especially towards the end of the film with regards to filmic language and camera angles. Personally, I will be glad to start my life after University now, although I have enjoyed the whole Ravensbourne experience.