Sunday, 19 June 2011

Last remarks

so final hand in is done and this is what we have to show so far. i am extremely proud of what we have managed to achieve so far but at the same time i feel there is a long way to go yet in order to deem the film finished. most of what is shown in this rough edit is just straight renders from maya as we had very little time for compositing. the edit is very rough as well and there is no sound as of yet. sound people have been involved for a while and we sent them a copy of the playblast animatic, after this they requested a finished rendered version to do the sound to, hence no sound yet.
there are a couple of shots in this edit which have been composited and they are proof of the quality that we can achieve given a bit more time.

The Experience
It has been an amazing experience to spend a year creating my film, there have been some tough times and some difficult decisions but overall the experience has been great. i feel that directing is something i will definitely be interested in pursuing in my career although it is terribly stressful.

The Team
The team as a whole has been great and production was solid and consistent from start to finish, the team has also worked well together and we helped each other when coping with the pressure.
i must say that some members of the team have been outstanding with their professionalism and commitment to the project. Ben has been like a rock solid throughout and always there to support me in whatever decision i chose. ben was there many a time to enforce the deadlines of projects and arrange meetings with the sound guys. Ben was also invaluable when we decided to do the over night shifts at college, we bounced off each other and kept track of the jobs we were doing whilst trying to stay awake.
Keith has taken a very professional approach to his work on this project and has produced some great work. Keith has been great at taking constructive criticism to progress his work and develop his skills. as i have a very perfectionalist attitude to my work i found myself getting keith to redo the same task over and over again until he got it right. But Keith has remained true and has taken the criticism in his stride. Keith has also put in many many hours into the project and this definitely shows with the amount of work we have managed to produce.
Mel has worked at a consistent rate but has only really shone in term 3 with some of her animation and her compositing. there was 1 shot in particular that took considerably longer than it should have done, but she kept working at it whilst working on a number of other shots. i was skeptical over her compositing to begin with as she was insistent upon using nuke instead of after effects. my main issue with this is the fact that we would all be using after effects and she would be using nuke and there would be the possibility of continuity errors over visual style. so when we came to doing the composition of the rendered shots i was insistent that she used after effects and she has shone through and displayed has produced some amazing results.
Fahran was what i would call a work horse on this project as in he had to be told what to do but when he did it he would usually do a good job, although there were a couple of times when more direction was necessary. for example the eel model is amazing and this was all done pretty much under his own direction whereas the kid model took a lot longer to get just right. all went quiet for a while with fahran but then he came back in force on the very last day to ensure he could do everything he could to help out. i feel that fahran is possibly better suited to working on his own projects than big group ones but still his skills and results were invaluable.
Emma has been a key animator for this project and in the early days produced some really nice designs for the project. Emma was good at meeting deadlines and again was someone who was great at taking constructive criticism. i feel that she will have a great career as an animator as long as she keeps working on her digital skills in maya.
Carlos has produced some very nice work for this project including some fantastic set pieces such as the iceberg and the ice cave. Carlos has a quick but strong way of working where he can be given a job and deliver good results very quickly, i do feel that he could be much greater if he spent a little bit more time on some of his work. Carlos is a great 3D generalist and can pretty much do any task assigned to him, this is gunna go down great in his future career as im sure hes the kinda person who learns as they go along, the only possible issue is his relaxed attitude to attendance.
Clym did some great work in terms of the rigs that he produced and i have to say the film would not have been possible without him and his work is greatly appreciated.
Joe was a late addition to the team and as he is creating a 3D piece i decided to allow him to distance his trailer from the main film. i made this decision so that he could utilise his skills as a 3D guy and not be hindered by elements of the film. this has also allowed him to explore his own skills and techniques in the realm of 3D.

Whats Next?

so now that we have handed in our folders and there are no more submissions i feel that the film can be worked on and improved ten fold. my intentions, now having the finished visuals and timing, are to do a very heavy edit of the film and possibly cut the entire opening scene from the film and replace it with an earlier idea of having the film start in the interior of the submarine and have the kid read something like a newspaper or a flyer that causes him to go and photograph some cool stuff. this re-edit and re-animation will be timely but i think it will provide greater grounding for the film and make a much better film as a whole.

so this is me signing out of this epic documentation of the last year its been tough but over all its been amazing.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

another all night render binge

so it is now the day before hand in and we still have at least 10 shots to render and about 30 shots to composite. ben and i have decided to stay late again which is great as we seem to have a gd working relationship and we are able to easily keep track of whats going on. the only downside is that all of the shots that need setting up have to be done by me in order to get the right lighting and to ensure everything is how it should be. ben will be compositing some shots that he has completed which will speed up the edit later on. i must say i am extremely happy with the level of commitment shown by most of the team there are however two members, Carlos and Fahran, who would be extremely uselful in this tight space of time. i have asked on a couple of occasions if they could come into college and help with the rendering but they are insistent that they wish to work at home. i cannot let them do this as i need to be able to give advice on the lighting and coach them on how to set up the scene properly for rendering to keep in touch with the films continuity. i have recieved no replies from my messages for help. apart from this the rest of the team is flawless. i do understand however that towards the end of hand in every moment is precious and some people need a lot of time to commit themselves to their personal submissions, it is this reason that i have not pushed carlos and fahran to come into college as i do not want to hinder their submissions. but i am now very tired and very hungry...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

forgotten problem

there was an issue we had where certain objects would not render at all and would in effect be invisible when rendered but perfectly visible within the scene file. after some sifting through attributes keith and fahran were able to discover that the render stats of some objects had been disabled. it started happening with the kids button ties and then happened more notably with the entire eel. it turns out that when you use the create deforemer- wrap tool it messes up the render stats of that object and you must manually reset them. it is vital not to forget to do this before batch rendering otherwise it can be very disappointing.

in this image it shows the location of the render stats found in the attribute editor on the first tab of the selected object. all of these, apart from opposite, should be switched on to obtain a visible render.

working 24hours

so ben mel and i have agreed to do an "all nighter" to get a bulk of rendering done. good idea but the room was mega hot and we needed to take frequent breaks. we had also rented 2 laptops from the college stores to help with the work load. right so the college laptops worked after a fashion but they just werent powerful enough to render efficiently so we stopped using them after the 1 render submitted took most of the night. the college computers on the other hand worked well and we were able to max out our log on capacity of 7 computers. some renders took very very long to complete. running at around 8 mins a frame i feel this is impracticle. so ben and i worked till 5 am and got a few hours sleep whilst mel left at 4am after completing her compositing for the day. in the morning i returned the laptops and retrieved the completed renders then set about rendering the next lot.

ben turned 22 on this shift and we agreed it would be sensible to leave college at 5pm to refuel and get some rest ready for thursday another possible all nighter.

the chart shown is representative of shot completion as of 5pm , when we left college. as you can see a few shots have gone backwards as the renders produced, when passed over to the compositor had failed to render anything or needed re-rendering. a pain in the backside but at least it is easy to keep track of those shots with this chart.


here are my maya light renders for shots ....

im really happy with these results and after speaking to mel, the main compositor she was happy too as it gives her a lot to work with.

the next problem

its come to our attention whilst setting up a batch of scenes that the eel was not rigged with the colour changing glow spheres that are an important part of the storytelling within the film. the colour change is there to denote the eels mood and as such add another level of depth to the film. it came to our attention when i asked fahran to give me a demo on how to animate the colour change, to his horror he could not find the glow spheres thena fter some searching we discovered that they had not been applied to the rig. after a short phone call to clym the answer was to retrieve the spheres from an older file and use the create deformer - wrap tool to individually attach each sphere to the mesh. this simple fix is rather time consuming though as each animated shot with the eel needs this to happen and as such is another request for the individual setting up the render file, me ben keith or fahran.

after this it is a simple task of keying the glow attribute and the colour attribute on the shader.

the chart

so we are rapidly approaching the hand in but i feel that we are a long way from the finish line here is the chart that shows our progress, i have added a new column just to make things easier for myself. red is necessary to complete, green is done, orange is in progress and black is cut.

keiths light set and cleaning the files

so keiths light set is great but it can create complications in the form of light linking. when it was first set up the light rig was linked to models in that scene, as it was then exported to another cave file it lost the linking information and as such creates a very flat and nearly uncontrollable. i attempted with keith to relink some of the objects but this became very time consuming and near impossible to know what objects you were linking. so i tried to introduce my own lights which were having mixed results within the scene,.....

then we went to lunch and discussed the situation. the result of the conversation that i thought if we isolated each one of keiths lights on their own display layer then i could illuminate one by one and see exactly what each light was doing. after doing some rigorous testing for a around an hour i managed to find a happy solution which involved switching only 4 of keiths lights on and then introduce some of my own lights to light the shot. the 4 lights that i have chosen produce a nice contrast between light and dark and keep the nice bluey/purple tones in the cave. i also introduced some shadows onto the characters aswell to add some depth to the scene. so the lights i added were mainly area lights in order to provided some focused colourful light. i believe that using the light rig in this way is very efficient and provides continuity and freedom to develop the style of the film.

beginning to get a bit messy

so nearing the end of the project and renders are floating around all over the place. not to mention the very time consuming practice of setting up the shots to render. the animated file must be cleaned up, so that only the characters are present and that all of the textures, shaders and lights have been deleted from the scene. display layers must be compressed to the essential and render layers must be deleted back to the master layer. thus creating a clean file. the animation is then imported into the master cave scene that Fahran and Keith have set up. Fahran created all the shaders that would be used, so it is a case of reassigning shaders to the characters. keith created a pretty expansive lighting rig that can be used in a multitude of ways. niccceeee. once all the textures are attached then the render characters must be added to the specific render layers and then checked. as keiths lighting set is an overall lighting for the environment each shot will be tweaked to ensure the characters and set are both lit in a dramatic way but stay true to the films continuity.

Monday, 13 June 2011

2 weeks to go

so we have 2 weeks to go and i finally have all of the animation to production standard with a few minor alterations i believe it will be great. the hardest shot to get finished has been Mels initial shot, shot 3 of scene 1. as it was given to her at the beginning of animation, 4 weeks prior but now animation has finished and the lighting for scene 1 has been finished rendering can begin to roll.