Thursday, July 29, 2010

Model Progress

A sudden case of Jury Duty (hah, pun) has run me ragged for free time these past two weeks, but despite my lack of blog posting progress has been made! There are draft versions of each scene, both the office and the kitchen. Each scene is in both Maya and Source, and they both render without problems. So that's one major hurdle cleared! A lot of work remains for lighting in each scene, but a workable base exists, so I'm plowing ahead with the schedule and working on character creation now. Here is the model for character number one, the "Office Thrall". Color textures and normal maps will be forthcoming this weekend.

It's been a while since I've created a character, so I'm pretty pleased with how quickly he came together.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Supermodels? Hah! Nothing Super about them

As per my earlier post, I made a grievous error when figuring how long it would take me to make the props for my scenes. With an edited timetable, I turned around and focused my efforts on getting the objects created that would be absolutely necessary. Anything that could be considered decorative I am pushing back until the animation stage of production. Decorations can be added in until right before we render, and the animations can still be done on time!

In the meanwhile, I give you a smattering of the things I've been making over the past few weeks:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On the capturing of audio Things

My view on George Lucas is mixed. On the one hand, his achievements as a writer and producer are.... slightly questionable. On the other hand, he is somewhat of a visionary and has done great things for the entertainment industry at large. One sticking point of his, and one that I agree with strongly, is that the importance of high quality audio was/is generally ignored in film making. I once watched an interview with him where he launched a mini tirade on the subject.

It's something that has stuck with me ever since, and the idea was reinforced during my three-year stint as a student employee of my university's recording studio. Time and time again, I saw low budget films where the audio was the first thing to go, though CG effects were still on at full force. Even now, if you take a look at this year's crop of student films, and you'll see what I mean. Some of the award nominees for NYC's local festivals sound like they were recorded on a walkie talkie.

This is a pitfall that I will avoid! The Robin Danger soundtrack will be crystal clear, colored with ambience appropriate to each shot, and will be completely non-distracting to the viewer. In fact, if we do our job right, nobody will ever even notice the audio. To that end, I have enlisted the help of the enchanting Miss Sonja, a woman of many talents whose linguistic background makes her an ideal choice to be my waveform wrangler. Also to that end, I have enlisted one of the rooms in my apartment to serve as a temporary recording booth. It doesn't seem to mind.

And now, to demonstrate how professional we are being, I present to you shots from our first recording session:

Do you see that? That's a Behringer B-1 Microphone taped to a pole. Nothin' but high class here, folks. Though seriously, it might not be the Neumann U-87, but this mic packs a pretty big punch for its price. And a bunch of mattresses and spare sheets make for an excellent soundbooth. I think our audio sounds pretty swank so far. You can be the judge when the animatic comes out!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Notes on Scheduling

As mentioned before, I assisted a fellow student in his final thesis assignment last semester. It was a great experience. In preparation for our own running of the gauntlet, my adviser asked me to share my thoughts on thesis work with the newbie students.

Without any hesitation, I noted that scheduling was key. I tried to be as broad as possible: don't use a heavy rig where a light one will suffice, don't use any new tools once production starts (stick with what you know), and try to spread out your efforts over the schedule of the project. Basically, keep the big picture in mind and remember that deadline is so named for a reason.

To that end, scheduling is vital. Plan out when you'll do what, and how long it'll take. Know where the rough spots are and try to compensate for it. Without doing that, the whole project could come grinding to a halt, especially when coordinating a team to work on it. A friend of mine offered up a well known piece of advice when I started:

"If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail"

And despite all that, and despite my own advice to others, I have totally goofed up my own schedule. I decided that I could model texture and compile three assets a day in order to have my collection of props ready by today. And while that's reasonable for someone who's doing this fulltime, it's not even close to enough time for me with my 9-5 day job.

So yeah, I dropped the ball there a little bit. I'm going to push back the schedule two weeks to compensate, and this time I'm going to prioritize. Only the essential bits are being worked on now. Assets that are decorative and wouldn't affect the animation I can work on later, while the animators work on character animation. It'll be a more efficient use of time, and it won't trip any of us up to add that in later.

I think Douglas Adams said it best, "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by"