Final Year · Major Project · Semester Two

Presentation Three: Design, Animatic and Pipeline

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 22.54.55

Figure 1.1 – Shown above, the character sheet for Zara, designed and illustrated by Katie Noble

The production of the animated documentary has been progressing smoothly since the previous pinnacle milestone, discussed in this post. It was at the end of that presentation that we received some feedback concerning the animatic, but the general comments from the tutors suggested that we were on the right track – we just needed to continue our flow of progression and keep to schedule.

For the presentation today we had objectives – demonstrate render tests, provide an updated animatic with a thought-out ending, illustrate the animation style, and exhibit the artistic style of our piece though character designs, environments, and models. The presentation that was shown in class can be accessed here. The animation tests that were conducted by Tyrone can be found here, and the parallax test that I created can be accessed here.

Figure 1.2 – Shown above,  the current version of the animatic, with the majority of the adjustments featured towards the latter half 0f the piece.

The video included above is the current version of the animatic – from the previous presentation, the majority of evident changes and reviews are in the latter half of the piece, with subtle timing adjustments throughout the duration to create a smoother flow between the visuals and narrative direction. From the feedback that we received today, the tutors informed us that they felt the ending had lost the emotional quality that was evoked through the execution of the ‘death’ scene.

The team had made the decision early on in the editing process that we did not want to leave the animated documentary on a sombre note – the project is a responsive piece to the experience of pet companionship as told through the perception of the owner. Whilst the ending will always result in some form of grief, the experience also has a lot of positive emotional peaks too. We wanted the piece to have a bittersweet tone – and the emotion graph that we created is a great visual representation of the high and low points that we intend to evoke within the audience. If the outcome of the piece results in those who view it having an increased appreciation for their relationship with their animal companions, then personally, I feel that the project will have succeeded in its emotional objective.

The progress that the team has been making with the pre-production and early production stages has been very directed and focused. Each member of the team have been exploring their dedicated roles extensively and have been producing a good quality of work. In my personal opinion, I feel that within the past two weeks since the last presentation has not been as productive and this has affected my confidence regarding my position within the team. It is unfortunate that I have been coping with an infection that has impacted my ability to maintain a consistent work-flow, but the hope is now that it is being treated with medication, I may recover from falling short and catch up with the production pipeline schedule.

The most significant challenge that I have explored within the past few weeks is the parallax test. I discuss it in greater detail within the dedicated post which can be found below – the exploration was awkward to manage within Maya, as there were roughly around thirty odd layers to arrange and position to execute the intended look. I first thought about using the method as an opening shot in a discussion during a team scrum, voicing that it might be a pragmatic approach to the opening shot. In order to communicate the concept to the rest of the team, I decided to create a rough example so that the visual aids could assist in their understanding of the approach.

The scenery design has been an ongoing process – the animated documentary has at least five different locations, with other minor environmental or atmospheric elements that require an executed design. The process of creating tonal paintings was conducted for an objective – I wanted to communicate the composition, perspective, and appearance of the location, whilst incorporating light and shading information within the concept pieces. The creation process was an important step as it required me to sketch out the roughs and think logically about each location – is the design achievable? Does the composition work with the camera positions and transitions? Is a three-dimensional model the most appropriate option, or would a two-dimensional alpha plane be more suited for the purpose? The constant questioning resulted in my designs becoming influenced by informed decisions, rather than solely based on aesthetic appeal. I feel that this development has enabled me to implement that methodology to the other tasks that I was undertaking, and has been strengthening my problem-solving abilities.

The pipeline for the team has been catered to accommodate for the work that has been developed and tested so far, allowing for time for experimentation and exploration of the visual style to be conducted. The most interesting challenge of the production process has been integrating one another’s work style into one continuative aesthetic. At this stage of the project, we are approaching the point when each delegated area reconvenes together, and the individual pieces begin to slot together to execute the visual concept. The period of the next few weeks will be testing for the entirety of the group.

Management Plan 

Team Roles and Responsibilities: 

Ryan – Production Director: Working in collaboration with Katie to rig the dog character, create blend shapes and review other pre-animation properties.

Jess – Art Director: Modelling the backroad environment and exploring the approach to executing foliage in the intended art style.

Tyrone – Lead Animator: Exploring character animation and testing the dog character rig in order to assess that it is suitable for the intended animation.

Katie – Character Designer:  Finish the three-dimensional model for the adult version of Zara, begin the youthful pup version of her, and apply the basic skeleton rig to both models.

Nadine (me) – Environment Artist: Execute the environment concepts in artistic style, complete the asset directories, and contribute to environment modelling.

Bi-Monthly Deadlines:

6th February – Pitch Project

Process Stage: Completed. Review link can be accessed here.

20th February –  Presentation One: Research, Animatic & Plan.

Process Stage: Completed. Review link can be accessed here.

The team presented on Tuesday the 21st of February, and have begun to adjust amendments based in relation to feedback from tutors, classmates and other team members.

6th March – Presentation Two: Final Design, Updated Animatic, Tests & Updated Plan.

Process Stage: Complete. The team has their delegated roles in each area of the pre-production process. We shall spend the next two weeks focusing on nailing down the elements that we need in order to be prepared for the production stages.

27th March – Presentation Three: Animation, Render Tests, and Production Update.

Process Stage: In-Progress. The team continues to manage their delegated roles in order to complete the preproduction process. The team will commit to the pipeline schedule for the production stage of the project, which can be accessed here.

3rd April – Presentation Four: Rough Animation, Render Tests implemented within the Animatic, and updated Production Plan.

Process Stage: To be Completed. 

24th April – Presentation Five: Research, Animatic and Production Plan.

Process Stage: To be Completed. 

15th May – Presentation Six: The Final Deadline – Fully-Rendered Animatic.

Process Stage: To be Completed.


Post Directory

Artistic Ambition


Figure 1.3 – shown above, the veterinary clinic exterior concept, executed in the intended art style.

Environments with Artistic Style – executing the range of location concepts with the intended art style. 

Figure 1.4 – Shown above, the backroad concept for the escape scene and the blueprint, which illustrates how the piece should be executed.

Figure 1.5 – Shown above,  the tonal conservatory concept and the blueprint for the interior.

Organisation and Layout

Blueprints and Asset Libraries – creating design guides to demonstrate the composition, scale and placement of assets within the scene, providing guidelines to smaller design concepts and illustrating camera placement. 

Backroad Asset Directory: Asset List Directory_Backroad

Conservatory Asset Directory: Asset List Directory


Figure 1.6 – Shown above, stills from the Parallax test, illustrating the individual lined layers that conjoin to execute the effect.

Two-Dimensional Parallax Text – Establishing Shot from Newcastle to Kilkeel. 


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