The past few weeks of production have been intense, and the team has begun to feel the pressure of achieving quality and quantity that has been set by our own ambitions.
In the period of time that has passed between our presentation this morning and that prior to Easter, we have been joined by a fifth member of the team – Aimee KP. Aimee has been a God-send for our team, and her work with Tyrone to address the bulk of the animation together has really pushed the standard of quality higher than what has been shown to-date.
Figure 1.1 – Shown above, the playblast animatic that contains the entirety of our work that has been produced so far. It is a mixture of fully-animated scenes, blocked out posing and other elements that require polishing prior to render.
Figure 1.1, displays the compilation of work that has been produced to date. The team made the decision to use our animatic as a timing drop – replacing the two-dimensional substitutes for the three-dimensional pieces. The playblast animation provided us with an opportunity to see all the work that has been created so far brought into one space, which will have been the first time that it has occurred since we began the project at the end of January. It removed the necessity of working on blind faith and gave us a boost of morale that we were in fact on the right track for achieving our original intentions – both in the visual and narrative qualities of the animated documentary.
Figure 1.2 – Shown above, the testing of a sequence using Arnold to achieve the rendered style.
Figure 1.2 provides a good example that alludes to how the final piece should look once we have acquired the ‘exact’ look – it will require some adjustment and experimentation until then. Likewise, due to the different approaches of achieving the visual style the render tests enabled us to see how the duplicated geometry and ‘over-sized’ lineart would work with the dog model, that has their lines painted directly over their coloured fur texture.
In terms of our approach to the workload – the team has focused on dividing and conquering the tasks in large chunks, a process which has seen most members of the team change their type of task depending on which element required greater priority. My focus has been entirely on the environment – in particular, the hallway scene.
Figure 1.3 contains the concept design for both iterations of the hallway environment – the first is shown when Zara first appears within that space. The green-coloured hallway cross-dissolve transitions and matures as the dog is contained within the bedroom space. The purpose of a dual-style environment was to be utilised as a subtle visual cue in order for the audience to understand that a progression of time has occurred during Zara’s experience with the environment.
The process of modelling and texturing an entire scene from scratch has been a significant learning experience. Whilst I have modelled an environment before, UV unwrapping and texture creation had been an entirely new area of knowledge that I gained during the first semester. However, the approach taken for the hallway environment was a new challenge – something manufactured, rather than the organic nature of the boy character.
The medium of work by Walt Peregoy was a fantastic asset to have during the texturing stage, as I frequently referenced his visual style and colour palette whilst creating the assets for the hallway. The piece of concept art that I had created previously was another beneficial asset, enabling me to cross reference between the three-dimensional product with the two-dimensional guide.
It was whilst in the process of asset creation that the decision was made to reduce particular elements, using time pragmatically in order to divate efforts towards other elements of the project that require attention. For the hallway scene, assets such as the rug, umbrella stand and picture frames were removed from the design, and other assets such as the wall frames and mirror remained for both stages of the environment.
The entirety of changes can be viewed in figure 1.4, where individual elements have been removed. In addition, some of the furniture received adjustments to the colour of their textures after reviewing how they appeared in render view. The most prevalent colour of the animated documentary is brown – regarded with colour theory as the signifiance of strength and solidness. The choice to have it within every scene is a subtle cue to associate those connotations with Zara – the focus of the piece. However, there was a concern with overusing the colour and ruining the subtlety, which resulted in my decision to create a range of shades within the piece. The tonal range creates depth to the environment and reinforces the homely, ‘rustic’ country atmosphere that I was trying to replicate within a three-dimensional space.
Figure 1.4 shown above – Render passes of the two versions of the hallway environment, demonstrating the minor changes between the concept piece and what was ultimately modelled.
The feedback (or lackthereof!) from our final presentation was encouraging – just keep proceeding as we are and take necessary steps to ensure that we can finish our product in time for the deadline. The positive comments were overwhelming – especially the comment that our approach to an animated documentary was ‘innovative’. In my opinion, that term compliments the intention of creating a film with an Avante Garde flare, so receiving that response from the audience is a phenomenal advantage of user testing experience – and reassuring for us, the filmmakers.
The team is aware of the amount of work that we are required to do in order to achieve the deadline of the 19th – whilst that mountain of production is a daunting aspect, it is my perception that the team will pull out all stops to complete a fantastic product.
With the hallway environment completed, my final significant task for this project will be creating the parallax for the opening sequence and ensuring the smooth integration between the two-dimensional illustrations and the three-dimensional model of the pupper pile. I will develop the concept from the experimentation piece that was presented a few weeks previously. It can be viewed here.
Team Roles and Responsibilities:
Ryan – Production Director: Rigging the adult and puppy version of Zara, creating the blendshapes, and any fixing issues with the model that have occurred during the animation process. In addition, he re-topologised the adult version of Zara. He was also tasked with rendering the scenes that have been animated so far – ensuring that they are processing correctly.
Jess – Art Director: Has been texturing the country road environment, and created the textures for both the adult and puppy versions of Zara. She has also provided direction on the artistic direction on how to achieve the lined appearance, and has also textured the lines for the veterinary clinic.
Tyrone – Lead Animator: Modelled the veterinary exterior and the bedroom environment, and created some textured assets for the vet. In addition, he has been animating some of the scenes – including the conservatory and doorway. He has been working collaboratively with Aimee KP.
Aimee KP – Animator: Aimee has been a fantastic asset to our team, assisting us with the animation of Zara the dog. She has been animating the hallway, bedroom and country road scenes.
Katie – Character Designer: Katie modelled the puppy and adult version of Zara, and created the normal maps for both models, and the puppy mountain. In addition, they textured the conservatory and bedroom environments, and corrected some assets contained within the bedroom scene so that they were suitable for the UV unwrapping process.
Nadine (me) – Environment Artist: Modelled two versions of the hallway, UV unwrapped the assets, textures – both material and the lineart, lighting, and render-tests.
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.
6th March – Presentation Two: Final Design, Updated Animatic, Tests & Updated Plan.
Process Stage: Complete. Review link can be accessed here.
27th March – Presentation Three: Animation, Render Tests, and Production Update.
Process Stage: Complete. Review Link can be accessed here.
24th April – Presentation Five: Research, Animatic and Production Plan.
Process Stage: Complete. Review can be found within this post.
19th May – Presentation Six: The Final Deadline – Fully-Rendered Animatic.
Process Stage: In-Progress.