Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Four: An Adult With Polish

  With progress done om the environment model I went back to the animation sequences. With the time that I have available I feel I can definitely push out some much cleaner and more lifelike animations. Currently building a library along the way. It won't translate easily into the juvenile - who has a very different style of movement - but the groundwork should speed up the pace.

 A rather diligent cutting of the animation down to four minutes has been a struggle, as there is always that question of what to keep and what to remove. But after some thorough examination, and the sacrificing of a few details here and there which in a number of cases could be supplemented by visual information, the video flows a little more succinctly and fits within that alotted time frame.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Four: Animation and a New Laboratory

I've been working to improve the animations for my project. Feedback has it that where the most improvement is needed in when Four runs or walks. However one of the larger complications has been that in order to smooth out the way hands moved about, the control around the wrist was re-parented so that it moves with the base and not the torso.

This has the added advantage that she can more easily grasp things, and the hand stays in position better when Four is stationary, but it does mean that all the hand positions need readjusting.

  One update that might have slipped is an improvement to the scale of the rooms. Everything was a little large and off-scale so one of the challenges has been to compress a few things so the environment feels less cavernous. This may have a knock on effect in that Four would need to be smaller. Part of what I learned while researching for the project is that grubs can be much larger than the insect they grow into, likely because the fat and material they store up is also what keeps them alive during the energy-intensive metamorphosis project. It might be a simple case of not making the size differences as drastic but at the same time, Four isn't a low-level predator, and animals whose shoulders may reach the waist when on all fours can stretch taller than an adult human when they try standing on their hind legs.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Four: More Prop Progress

  I've spent the last week building a number of props that will be scattered about the laboratory. While they add to render times, they are necessary components to sell the world.

  Also to sell the world are some features to dial back some of the sterility of the locations. Interest elements like pipes and a new feature to the ceiling were installed to make the place feel less eascetic. One of the intentions for a final pass is a layer of dirt and grime, partially achieved by the ambient occlusion from the pipes and tables but more still needs to be added to make the whole thing convincing.

  Also to sell the world: Some experimentation with photogrammetry and more general texture maps to sell a convincing texture for the world being built. This experimentation has so far been interesting, I was surprised at some of the difference it makes to making an object convincing.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Four: Making Clutter and Props

  The last few days the design priority has been in prop-making.to give the biolab a lived-in look.

  There are still some props that need making - binders, dossier folders, perhaps a camera, Alfonse's experiment, post-it notes, perhaps items like used TV dinner trays or cups of soup. Built into the coffee cup is a particle emitter that when rendered would resemble steam. One of the rops I've entertained is an ash tray in David's office; this could be used as a means to convey that David is overworked, having to take cigarette breaks to get though the day. However, the idea of the decontamination unit that connects the lab to the corridor was to imply that the lab needed to be sterile and clean of foreign contaminants. Food might be passable but smoking in his room also feels like a stretch.

Making food to actually go on these trays might be too much. It might be that all I need to do to convey that the scientists have been eating is empty TV trays that have been stained by what was on them while they were eaten.

  Looking at the time period, what might have best suited the lab in terms of lighting fixtures is a tube of flourescent light that circles the room. This differing setup shoudl contrast the room nicely with the corridor outside.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Lab Toys

Playing about with some techniques to represent glass mostly, but after a pause, things are moving along.

For the prop department, one of the things needed was some lab equipment, so to work my way back int oa routine I started simple: Test tubes, petri dishes, pipettes, tube racks and finally a microscope (though while the base is finished, the model still needs some serious shader work). Other device considerations planned but yet to be designed include a crucible and some scales, which will be scattered about the workspace.

It was exciting designing these as I was reminded of science classes back in school, an interest in science has been part of the inspiration for Four overall so it was good fun designing some of the equipment that I've conducted experiments with..

Monday, 15 May 2017

Major Project Reflective Statement

The past year was nothing short of challenging, but it was a challenge that overall I came to enjoy. It was exciting to explore new areas and investigate new techniques, developing the skills I had gained. Over the project I definitely felt like I was getting faster as I got better accustomed to the techniques I had picked up, techniques I had learned though trial and error allowed for faster and smoother operation, The intensity of the project as well was a positive as it allowed for an immediate application of my improving skills.

I was ambitious in my goal for the project, three characters and a scene included in a full animation . In some areas I felt I was highly successful, in others there could still be areas for improvement. Although this project was a struggle, at times looking like the goalposts were miles away, and while there were days that taking my mind off the project was very appealing, there were few times where I spent significant periods dwelling on whether I could have done something else. There were indeed times where moving to a different project was enticing, in these cases I learned I was able to solve these feelings by moving to a different aspect of the project (i.e. if model making was taking too long I would spend a few hours either painting or sound compositing). In later stages, afternoon projects unrelated  to the main project provided a similar sense of relief. There were times when a smaller project was more inviting, or a different idea entirely, these feelings were often satisfied by the afternoon relief projects.

Being mindful of mental fatigue was one of the more significant lessons I learned over the project. When exhausted, it is not just work quality that slips but unless maintained, mental fatigue can create more significant problems that can build up over weeks and months. As much as I felt the urge to continue working, even on the most productive of days I had my limits. To balance sleep, diet and workload has given more productive results than maximizing my work hours at the cost of other needs.

The project gave me a better understanding of workflow and work practice. I gained a refreshed appreciation for the process it takes to turn a story idea into a visual reality. The project - particularly the search for the right voice artists to go with the project's characters - has given me a strong amount of confidence in the various skills and processes required to make a film a reality.

Overall I am proud of what I have accomplished. I set out on an ambitious goal, and at times this goal felt very far away, but to reach it despite the magnitude of the challenge that was before me has felt like an enormous accomplishment.

Four: Major Project Final Submossion

Four: Final Animation from Mark Stamp on Vimeo.