Third Year : Evaluation.

With the second deadline hitting hard, it’s time to evaluate the project so far and further plans I have regarding my thesis film. In this post I will go into what went well and what didn’t go that well, adding to this what I can change and what I want to keep regarding my schedule/planning. 

Righto, so the second deadline hit a day before the actual deadline was going to hit.  This due to the bank holiday right before the easter weekend.  Sadly, I only found the change out the morning of the reset deadline, due to me not being into uni because I had family visit from overseas.

This all aside, I will go into the things that went well and didn’t go that well during this term.

3D.

Most of the term was spend on Sun and his environment.  This was the term in which I had to redo all the settings of my previous render back into Arnold just to play it safe.  Seeing as I am not that versed in 3d I couldn’t take the leap of working with a render which no one really knew much about.  Perhaps I could have done this during a smaller project, but certainly not during my final film in order to graduate this year and move onto my master course.
However, it isn’t in vain.  I will be working with this render again with personal projects.  This thesis film showed me one thing during the second term and that is that I do enjoy creating things in 3D and working in this environment. I learned a whole lot, such as more complicated rigging, read up on different ways of rigging and how to create rigs that are ‘bulletproof’ for animators (so they have a difficult time breaking them.)
I also found that during this whole 3D process, that textures and maps make a whole different scene depending on usage. The difference between bump/normal/displacement maps were a real time saver once I found out the difference between them and where to use what. I also read further into textures that aren’t simply images, but also presets such as how to create glass, gold, copper, stone.  And due to me changing renders I was also able to get further into the hypershade graphs and really get to know how the connections for textures and maps work.  This knowledge took some time to obtain, but in the end proved really helpful when I had to change things in my textures.
I read up on x-gen and paint effects which were a real time saver, however I do want to study further in my personal time on how to create hand-painted objects to lower polycounts or even to lower the poly count in a scene as a whole.  But this is something for the future and not for now.
Regarding Sun and his rig, I have battled a lot during this term when it comes to Sun. First with his maps not working, his UV’s not being done properly, the transition from Zbrush to Maya and all the different ways of doing this.  At the time that I was going through it, it was absolute hell and I was ready to call it quits.  But now that he’s all set and done, and the animations are set up, I’m very happy with the result.
His little loin cloth was an issue for me at one point, because I gave him this with the idea that I was going to dabble a bit with N-cloth in Maya, however .. seeing as how much I’ve struggled with what I already had, I’m happy that I let go of that idea and now just manually move the cloth, else it would have been far too time consuming.
I honestly wouldn’t have sorted the Sun issues if it wasn’t for my Zbrush teacher, Rob. He helped me so much, even during the days that there was no class.  His explaination of what was going wrong and how to fix it helped me a whole bunch.

Rendering.
The render times for my scenes are high.  The first scene being the intro scene where the camera flies through the grass and becomes airborne to then show off the land below whilst moving towards the upcoming sun is a heavy scene.  It takes around 2days to render it out and due to me needing my computer without lag, I’ve decided to render that scene out on the laptop.  The house scene of Sun where he walks up to the balcony and notices the moon in the distance is 400 scenes long, which took me 4 days to render out, this I did during the time family was over so I would be able to spend all my time on them whilst I was still working on my project by rendering the scene.  As you can guess, that took 4 days to render out.  It’s not perfect, and as I am writing this I’m rendering out 60 frames in which I’ve adjusted his animation, but it’s good that I had the other 340 frames done.  It gave me a good insight of the editing I will have to do once the frames are done. So far I have the intro scene done, the second shot of the house scene done where Sun walks onto the balcony, the moon waining is also done and the final scene where Sun walks towards Moon’s realm and then disappears into it.  The latter I will redo, because I wasn’t happy with the camera angle.

Moon and her scenes.
I am finishing the line work on Moon’s shots so they only need to be coloured and then they are done.  I did look in to Toon Boom for the colouring part, and perhaps some camera play, just so I can have that experience in my credits of my film.  It’s a great program, but seeing as I want my film put together when the last term starts, I’ll just have to do with Tvpaint for now and use Toon Boom in my personal time for personal projects.
I’m happy with how the close ups are looking, but the full frame/establishing shots which I’ve added to the story during first term aren’t really reading as I want them to. I wanted simplicity. Through the film I wanted to show basic designs with animations added to them. Perhaps so it could read as a short visual portfolio in one film.  A walk cycle in 2d and 3d, a run, a dance, slow and fast movements and ofcourse the basic rules of animation. However, where I stand right now I don’t feel the techical side of the 2d as much as I thought I would, but with time being short, I’m not going to fuss around with it and just finish it before the term starts.  I’ll have the feedback from my lecturer who might be seeing the issues I am seeing as something very small or perhaps she won’t see an issue in them at all.

Schedule and planning.

I had set my own deadline on the 1st of april (no joke).  I wanted to have the film done by then so I would have April and May to edit and adjust what needed to be fixed.  I didn’t make that deadline. My film is still in bits and I think that is mainly to blame on my issues with Sun and his scenes. I ran into a whole bunch of issues, which are understandable because I’ve never worked with as many things in 3d as I have now, but I had not thought it would be this many.  My time in uni during this term was also low, mainly because I could not find the focus in class to do the work I had to do so I was mostly working from home. For the work that still needs to be done in Moon’s world, I want everything done in the first week of the vacation time, which means long, -looong- hours of line art in Tvpaint, seeing as my family is leaving in the middle of that week.  Which gives me five days to really get to it. But, I’m positive I can do it so I can spend the last week on pasting the film together and getting ready for the new and last term.

All in all, I’m not too happy nor too sad about where I am right now. The issues that I’ve faced were ones that I am happy that happened else I wouldn’t know the things I know now.  I learned a whole lot during this term when it comes to 3D, the render, the time management, rigging and textures.  The aesthetics of my film so far are pretty much what I was going for and the animations so far are looking good. I honestly can’t wait until it’s done to really see if I hit that whole magical feeling I was hoping to achieve with this film.  The downside of this all is that I couldn’t meet my personal deadline nor the 2nd deadline set by my university where I had to submit the actual film.

Lakescenearmtest3

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