Daydreams Post Mortem

Its done. Well kinda, it was due and we handed it in so in terms of that its done, but its not really done. Daydreams was a very challenging project for all those involved and I think a very valuable experience for each of us. I learnt a lot over the course of this project in both “soft skills” and “hard skills” which will greatly benefit me moving forward, there were many mistakes made during this project I will be sure not to make again.

During the our Pre-Production stage we had many positive and negative aspects to our work and our approach  which shaped the beginning of this project. We were able to quite quickly decided upon a concept for for our project which worked greatly to our benefit. However this conceptual idea of the story and themes went a very long time without any real visual idea of it being created. Elements such as a storyboard or animatic went much too long without being created, the storyboard never truly being made.

My role throughout the Pre-Production stage was to push for conceptual ideas to be produced and developed putting forward my input and opinion as much as possible while hoping to cater to everyone’s vision of the product. However I feel as though I did not serve this role nearly as well as I needed to. My decision to put my name forward as creative director for the piece was done so because I believed I would create the greatest chance for people to be able to have their input in the final film. In hindsight I do question whether or not this was the correct decision for me and whether or not I was the best choice for the position. In the conceptual development of the characters and story it became very clear to me just how unsure of my own creative decisions I was in this role, especially when working on a piece that would not only represent my work but others as well. I found myself often looking towards other peoples opinions, on what was the best option for us. This was most often Steve as he was usually the most vocal about it and had been named Art Director.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that it is very important to listen to the opinions and thoughts of those you are working with in order to create a great product, but I think I made too little of my own decisions for the piece which in the end effected the success of the final result. I think this lack of my ability to make these decisions became a large factor in the time it took to produce a storyboard or animatic. We went a long time without having any true idea of the progression of events in the piece and this issue became very clear to me when we had to have discussions over and over again to explain the sequences of the piece as they were so unclear. I think overall my ability to make creative decisions and critically critique decisions and pieces of work needs to be greatly improved.

 

The Production phase of the project became a large slump in our productivity, which I believe was due to many reasons. Beyond the mid production slump being a common occurrence this was around the time we began the nuke workshops which meant was lost some possible in class work time to that. However I don’t think that the lack of class time is a valid excuse for this slump in productivity as it should have been on us to make up that time working together outside of our usual classes.

My role in this scenario should have been to take up a much more grounded and strong stance when it came to deadlines and the amount of work people were producing. It was mentioned by Phil in a conversation after the piece was handed in that this was largely due to faults in the producing side of things, I don’t believe this to be entirely true. I think the lack of pushing for work to be completed is as much on me as it is on Ben, both of us were not strong enough in our enforcing deadlines and requirements from everyone. In future I hope to maintain a much more strict standard of work completion in both its quality and quantity.

 

During the later stage of the production, now moving into our very short Post Production phase we were very pressed for time. This was brought on by our lack of organisation and productivity earlier in the shorts development. It was at this point that all the little issues we had been sweeping under the rug resurfaced and became a great hindrance to what we were able to complete.

During this final stretch of the production I new we were in trouble with render times in the original style we had been trying to achieve. When Phil suggested we change the style of the piece and we decided that would be the right move for us my confidence in the short regrew. This was the thing that stuck with me most during the initial hand in of the product before its reworked version for the exhibition. We were stuck without much chance of being able to complete it, then we were given a solution to our problem and many extra bits and pieces from Phil, but we were still unable to get a close to complete product finished. I do not think this to be due to our lack of efforts in the late stage of the production, as I know all who could gave everything they had. Instead this was the result of the mistakes we made earlier which meant that even though we were given a second chance we weren’t able to get it to the desired level of completion.

It became my job to render the sequences of the animation, while trying to complete this I found that all the resurfacing issues made it hard to get things done. Beyond just the small window of time we had to render, lack of naming conventions, scenes with unnecessary assets and broken scenes also made the job much more difficult then it needed to be. Being the one doing most of the rendering meant I spent the majority of my time in those final weeks and days running around setting up and checking on render farms. This meant I was unable to be with the guys working on the compositing as I should have been as creative director. During the next production I will be making sure that naming conventions are strictly followed, unneeded assets are removed and issues are properly addressed as well as a small team, all members of which understand a strict render plan are assigned to rendering the production to unsure this does not happen again.

 

In terms of the KPI’s I needed to meet throughout my time in ANI230 the main areas I had not shown I was successful in implementing by week 7 were; Time Management Abilities, Problem-Solving Skills, Ability to Accept and Learn from Criticism and Working Well Under Pressure. Since then its difficult to say whether I met the Time Management outcome as we were naturally so pressed for time in those weeks following the KPI meeting, especially in the final weeks. I do however think I used my time as effectively as I could both inside and outside of the classroom as it became very important for me to do so. I would also say those weeks following the KPI meeting gave me a chance to test my problem solving skills in the form of addressing issues and making compromises where necessary. This project also became very high pressure in those final weeks and aside from a few slip ups here and there I think that I as well the rest of the group were able to work quite well under the pressure of the due date looming on the horizon. Areas such as the week of animation fix up and the time between the initial and second hand overs would be evidence of work being produced in high pressure scenarios. As far as accepting criticism I hope that my nature throughout those last few weeks, the hand over and this postmortem itself are evidence enough of my not just willingness but want to learn from my mistakes and peoples criticism of my work.

 

As a whole I believe from start to finish this class has been a very valuable experience and one I know I will remember for the rest of my life. Although we did not end with the product we hoped I am glad that we were able to end with something. Moving forward I do hope to come back to daydreams one day and make it what it could have been.

 

 

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Daydreams Post Mortem

ANM230 Final Blog Post (Probably)

Hey there long time no see, things have been super busy lately and I haven’t had the time to keep the blog updated. However now that the project is passed and I’ve gained some more time I thought it might be good to fill you in. The project got really rough there towards the end through no fault but our own in the more early stages of its development, but that’s something ill go into more detail on in my Post Mortem.

Other things just like this blog have largely been on hold due to how busy Daydreams became, namely my Research Topic on Deep Data has not been touched for quite sometime. So the other day I thought I’d attempt to approach it once again see if I could get anything going. Now that I have an image imfcopy’d into the right exr format and containing deep data my hop was that I’d be able to make some more progress. However as I may (or may not) have addressed attempting to deep recolor this image in combination with with and the non deep pass results in Nuke crashing every time.

This issue obviously prevented me from continuing down this path and after a few hours of searching I wasn’t able to find a solution. I thought I would attempt once again alternative rendering software but Renderman currently having a different issue and Vray requiring a commercial, not non-commercial version for this kind of work I appear to be very much stuck. Now seeing other issues appearing in my usual rendering software Mental Ray and as well as computer programs I’m beginning to think I may be having an issue with my computer itself. I’m not sure if this is a completely separate issue to what I’ve been encountering with the Deep Data or not but whether it is or not its preventing me from moving forward.

Over the holidays I plan to reformat my computer and re-download all the software I need to attempt to make some more progress in this project but until then I’m not sure what else I can do.

We also were recently emailed about an internship opening up at Holden that I’m very interested in applying for, so I’ll likely be posting updates on a little project I want to work on in preparation for this application. I’ll keep you updated there.

 

ANM230 Final Blog Post (Probably)

ANM Weekly Blog 10

Hey there, long time no see. Things have gotten super hectic these last few weeks, especially when it comes to our group project. We are now approaching the final stretch of the time we have to produce the piece and at the current pace we are moving with the amount of work still yet to be done we are going to be hard pressed to get it completed.

These past few weeks we have begun looking at the animation of the piece, Steve, Alex, Mitch, Daniel and I have each been assigned a section of the 3D sequence to work on. The first and probably the most difficult to handle element of this sequence is that its a one shot with the characters never leaving frame. This means that theres no opportunity between cuts for the animation work to change hands and that instead everyone’s animation needs to imported into the same scene. I decided it would be best if everyone was to do a rough pass which I would then import into the same scene. This took a while to work out the kinks and get it working as it should but I with Steve’s help was eventually able to get it working. The plan moving forward on the animation is to do these animation imports as frequently as possible to ensure everything is coming together as it should and so animators working on a particular part of the sequence can look back or forward to the other sequences for references.

Upon attempting to put together the 3D master scene Alex and I also found that the reflections of sky weren’t working as we anticipated. Phil helped me out in class attempting to find out why and we were eventually able to come to the decision that it was attempting to replicate the almost stretching effect light has on waters surface but it was looking wrong. Example below.

Cities_The_reflection_of_the_city_lights_in_the_water_087156_.jpg

This isn’t quite what we were after we are aiming for a perfect, mirror like reflection. Like the one below.

space-stars-water-sea-night-mirror-water-reflections.jpg

To achieve this it became obvious we would need to simulate a reflection instead of using a ray-traced one. My first attempt to tackle this problem involved me using the star skydome simply inverted underneath the water and then scaled down a bit from a sphere shape to a bit more of an oval shape. This worked quite well in giving the impression of depth in the fake reflection where a simple texture placed over the water surface plane wouldn’t. This approach however became an issue when it came to the way the characters wake and ripples needed to distort the reflections. I came up with a super convoluted method that seemed so crazy it might just work in creating a shader that would change the color of the plane based upon the height of of each vertex. The hope in creating this shader is that I could then use it as an alpha channel so I could manually distort the reflection myself.

When I pitched this idea to Phil he confirmed something I was already pretty sure of, it was a super convoluted idea. However he did suggest that I give it a shot to see what I can learn from it, he also suggested that I look into environment shaders and using them to simulate a reflection. Although I’m interested in seeing how well (or poorly) my method would turn out in interest of time I decided to look into the environment node. With it I was able to create a reflective surface that worked pretty well and I’m pretty sure I can deform to simulate the distortion of the wake, but that’s yet to be tested.

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Essay over.

 

 

 

 

ANM Weekly Blog 10

ANM Weekly Blog 8

Hey to anyone who’s stumbled upon this, welcome to my blog of my weekly going ons throughout my university studies, hope you enjoy the (mostly bumpy) ride.

the simpsons hello hey hi welcome

This week I decided it was about time we finally have some form of rough previs for DayDreams. I wanted to make sure it was done as soon as possible so I put it together myself quickly and quite roughly. Rough as it is though I’m sure it’ll go a long way to help with the final animation stages and the overall visualization of the piece.

Over on the Research topic side of things I was able to, with Phils help figure out what was wrong with the way I was doing imf_copy. However after we were able to get that working I found that for some reason my render passes had become tinted red for some reason. When I reran the process at home I found this time they had become tinted blue, I tested the files in every way I could think of in an attempt to fix them. In the end I decided (mostly out of confusion and frustration) to attempted to uninstall and reinstall Nuke, which for some reason worked. So now I have an EXR render with all the passes within working and another with deep data, but of course I’ve found myself a new issue. When trying to view this deep file in Nuke through a deep recolour with or without the color render it attached it crashes Nuke. So stay posted for progress then the next issue there.

moment frustration

ANM Weekly Blog 8

ANM Weekly Blog 7

This past week I’ve continued work on both the group and research project. I feel like the group still needs a bit of fire in their belly’s over this project and to get motivated which we will hopefully be able to do in the coming week working together in class.

I’ve been continuing with some dynamic simulations trying to figure out exactly how we should be achieving the effects we’re after. I stumbled across a video earlier in the week researching these effects that I think we may be able to take on.

This effect makes use of Maya’s Pond System and some nParticles to create a nice result I figured we could use for our piece, so I got to work on the same kind idea and was able to come up with this.

I’ve been able to come up with a method which I believe will work for our wake effect and that I can confidently reproduce. This is just created using the Wake Emitter on a Maya Pond which works quite well for what we need. Unfortunately in the example vid below I didn’t position the camera so you can see the horizon line so it looks straight out of interstellar.

As far as the research project goes. Tiled EXR stop, why are you not working imf_copy, what is going on. Stay posted for updates there.

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ANM Weekly Blog 7