Monday, July 5, 2010
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"