Meet the team – Postmortem

IntroSkaven1.jpg

This has been a year for ironing out rookie mistakes and as this blog shows my clothes are definitely creased. Warhammer 40k was a title I’ve wanted to work on since the beginning of animation so I held this project dear to me. However as I have swiftly learnt, sometimes you need to keep some distance.  Perhaps my expectations were unrealistic, or perhaps there were measures that could have been met to better the overall result, or perhaps it is both. As we journey through this blog I hope to shed light on issues and how we may have or better yet can prevent them.

The idea of the project was to have every member of the group create an original character from a chosen universe and create a video sequence where they are to “meet the team”. Our decision was to create characters for the Warhammer 40k Universe. The character I worked on in this sequence was “Gniitro” who I based off of “Games workshops” other title “Warhammer”. The idea was to bridge a race that haven’t yet been adapted to its counter part, in this case the Rat inspired race known as the “Skaven”.

Anytime during this blog  you can access the projects deliverables via the provided Google Drive link. Additionally you can can find the embedded copy of our groups final deliverable

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-X9opuHMEQPdzJhd09fdmRvR2s

Behavioral Reflection

Communication

What went wrong?

communication-group-1940x900_35361.jpgAmongst the biggest issues of the group was our communication, or lack there of. Some of the group just stopped existing outside of uni and others including myself didn’t communicate specifics. We all kind of just chaotically did things which ended up  with a result that was less then what I was happy with. I don’t have a what went right segment for this because there wasn’t any. This trimester has taught me the most about team communication and cooperation. If I’m ever assigned to group lead again I will be harsh but fair when it comes down to group work.

Image taken from 10 Ways to Build a Strong Team

Burning Out

What went wrong?

A lot of the time during this trimester I overly valued the work and made myself stressed over things that didn’t matter. This greatly effected the way I work with the team and how the work I developed was presented. This has taught me that personal issues are kind of like a butterfly effect in the sense that something that influences you can influence everyone in the team. In future projects I will take better measures in preventing this by distancing myself from my work.

What went right?

I discovered that downtime is a treasure that should be used in proper increments. During this time I was able to reconcile and make amends with members from prior projects and sort out any differences. In future projects I hope to assign this downtime into a more organized structure. Looking back  some of my best work was done after bringing my moral back up.

Organization

What went wrong?

As a whole the group work as well as my work in the team was very chaotic. Even folder structure and naming conventions diminished after some time. Additionally not every group member was on the same page until the very last week of development. As team lead I should have organised more group meetings and discussed as a team how we can become a better and more structurally sound team. This is also evident in the way that the work was or rather wasn’t assigned. It seemed to fall under the individual group members to step up and take the work rather then it be discussed and distributed evenly. Additionally I will take further measures to do “house cleaning” where I take timeout to ensure that files have proper naming conventions and everything is allocated to the correct folders.

What went right?

As discussed in the what went wrong panel, the group often went out of there way to complete work even when it wasn’t assigned to them. I think this shows tremendous character and selflessness. Some of the attitude shown is something that I would like to strive towards as an animator. However as discussed before, hopefully this will be done structurally and in an organised fashion. To ensure both of these happen for next trimester, if I am in the role of team lead I will assign work properly however if I’m just a group member I will step up during group meetings and take on as much work as sensibly possible.

Final Work Reflection

Animatic

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Image form the Iron Man 3 Animatic

What went wrong?

One of the earliest problems had to do with the animatic. A lot of the issues involved the readability of the animatic. It became very apparent that this needed some love put into it. This issue will also be referred back to a lot through the duration of the blog as it is a large issue that effected multiple areas of production. This served as an excellent lesson for me teaching the importance of pre-production. To take measures to prevent this from happening again I plan to research professional ways to create animatics and create more readable 2D pieces of Art. Overall the lesson learnt from this project is that an animatic is a holly grail in which all shots and timings are decided and should be treated as such.

What Went right?

Despite the failures of the animatic there were some shots that still appeared as though they would translate nicely towards the 3D stages. One shot that was constantly referred back to was the shot for the “Eldar Harlequin”. The shot showed a dynamic bike crash into the swarm of enemies followed by a turn around and pistol fire causing the bike to explode. I hope to create more works as dynamic as this with a little more readability for future projects and maybe incorporate a cross between 2D to 3D as environmental drawings are far from my strong suit.

Previs

What went wrong?

PAC_MRX_ITW_16.jpgThe previs was not at all close to the shots that we created in the animatic, this could be due to the animatic or lack of teams communication. Reasons aside, the changes made in the previs made it confusing what to follow closely and from there the team including myself seemed to rebuild the timing every time a new deliverable was asked for. For future events perhaps the animatic could be a little more readability allowing for the previs worker to have a better source to go off of. Simultaneously I could has specified more so that the team mate could have followed the animatic closer.

What Went right?

Despite its move away from the animatic the previs clarified and cleared up a lot of questions that were raised as to what was happening in our sequence. In this sense it was a massive step up on the animatic, and it additionally introduced a “tracking shot”.

 Image from Pacific Rim’s Previs

Concepts

What went wrong?

During the concepting stage I didn’t try to aim for a specific character look and I feel like my over all character model could have turned out substantially better if I made morecyborg_rat_knight_by_thelivingshadow-dahgroa.jpg specific iterations. One example that stands out is the robotic hand. I feel as though this required some more iterations in order to make it look cleaner and more relative to the shape of a rats hand. If I was to redo this assignment I’d make more silhouettes as well as refined concepts.

Art by TheLivingShadow

What went right?

There isn’t much I can say for this compartment, I’ve never been the best concepter however I think that I did encapsulate the “Skaven” aesthetic. After the second iteration of the character model sheet things in 3Ds max started to work out niceley.

Scaling

What went wrong?

D03.pnguring the production we were almost animation ready however it was then hinted at us that we should make sure our characters were correctly scaled. They were all consistent with each other except for one in which the whole world was built around. This resulted in having to remake the bones and then reskin them. That was a large slip for the schedule. Unfortunately you cant just scale up a rig as the joints don’t work the way they are suppose to afterwards. For future projects size should be trialled before the rigging phase to avoid such setbacks.

What went right?

I really can’t say much about this aside from the fact that most of the characters were coincidentally the same height which was nice before we had to scale them down.

Crossing the beams

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What went wrong?

My biggest regret looking back on this tri was when everything got to the wire and last minute changes were being made. These changes affected my work flow essentially meaning I had to start again and I ended up getting desperate and parented my rig to the others. Since they were bone and Cat rigs parenting them together was pretty much the biggest no but I was desperate. There was a save where they weren’t on top but on the last week of project we had to make major changes to the character I was riding and desperation overtook my logic. I have definitely learnt  my lesson.

What went right?

This is also one of those issues that doesn’t have much upside. It didn’t look to horrible in 3Ds max however it’s practicality is very sinful.

Importing into Unreal

What went wrong?01-1-650x404.jpg

There was so many issues with FBX, a lot of the characters had to be imported through Alembic which is not ideal as baking movement across all the vertexes means that you make very large files. However for the most part it did the trick. There was another issue that was addressed where one of the team members characters pivots where altered and our Unreal worker couldn’t work out how to arrange them in order. After this project finished my knowledge of Unreal has improved exponentially. My only regret is that I didn’t learn it sooner so that I may assist my teams needs. My stand alone model wouldn’t import as an FBX and I have a feeling this has something to do with the bone hierarchy. To avoid this I will be upping the anti with my knowledge of rigs to ensure my model goes into engine without a fuss.

What went right?

For the most part two of the teams models made it into engine successfully. They were then polished and presented in a way that exceeded my given expectations.

Reflect on the Roles

Although the team was hard to communicate with and sometimes outside of class it was my job as team lead to make communication a viable thing. Additionally I let stubbornness take over, trying to get everything done without help seemed to just make me feel burnt out and overall hard to work with. Even after the project ended I took it upon myself to fix up things that we agreed other people would do such as the art bible. In future I hope to lean on and trust my team mates talents and capabilities which were proven to me countless times during this project. In saying that there are also other things that I should take complete responsibility for. As team lead I was in charge of documentation however there was an incident that rose up with the Gantt chart. The member was adamant that he was capable of completing the Gantt chart however left it unfinished and never updated. I should have taken ownership over the doccumentation and checked it frequently.

Overall I think that I was ill prepared for group lead. None of us including myself wanted this role, this is overall as bad a attitude as it is a look for the team as a whole. If in future groups I am assigned to team lead I will come in more open minded and willing to bond more with the team.

Wrap it up

Over all I think meet the team has taught me valuable lessons that will help in further assignments and potentially industry work. It’s also helped me realise where my weaknesses lay and where my ambitions should follow. I think after a long and refreshing break I will be able to reform more organised and efficient.

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