March 06, 2018


Still Render from a scene, still needs proper lighting and visual effects
At this point in my project I am focusing on animation, and have been blocking out simple animations for each scene so that I can find better camera shots and get more ideas for the cinematography, before I commit to detailed animations which I cannot change as easily. I have three quarters of my animation roughly blocked out, and as they are perfected I will be going into them and adding all the details and movements. I have kept them from my blog a while as they are very rough, not perfect, and not what I want to show, but as I am progressing I am going to upload them as I go, so that my blog stays updated.

(Warning: these shots are very quickly playblasted, no final camera shots or animations, just the rough blocking of movements and motion. Time frame is not accurate as the shots are not cut down or timed properly. Uploaded video just as progress and proof of what I am working on at the moment.)

While I have been animating, I have also been testing out more techniques for the effects in my animation, such as lighting in after effects, caustics lighting in Maya and swarming fish simulations in Maya.
Background fish, swarming simulation render
Following such tutorials as:

Although my scenes are completed and my 200+ set pieces textured, I still have yet to perfect the lighting in my scenes, as I am having trouble with getting the underwater lighting to work and connect up. I will be going into uni every week from now on to try and solve these issues and get more feedback on my work.

(Just a lighting test to test out different types of lighting I can create in After Effects)

I am testing out different techniques in after effects to put on my animation post production, so that it may look more underwater and less Maya- like, and also make the night time scenes look like nighttime without dulling everything. For example particles, light rays, colour overlays and other visual effects. I have also realised that I will not get as much lighting effects from Maya in the scene in which the Jellyfish lights up, so I am figuring a way in which I can make that faceted lighting in after effects. I have also realised while animating that it was easier to animate with two jellyfish models, the one with legs which follow and jiggle around, and also the better rig-able one so that I can swap between and get different effects from each model. I have been animating them at the same time and giving them the exact same keyframes so that I can turn one off and let the other render and merge between. For the jellyfish I have also been testing out different facial expressions and different ways of merging the 2D face onto the character without it being to jarring or different from the 3d background. I have given myself a time limit in which to complete animating so that I may render in time to still animate over the top in 2D.

In terms of story, as I have been animating I have realised shots that need to change in order to get the story across, for example the crab's story. Instead of having many other crabs in the animation that will shame him and make him lonely, I am keeping the single crab and emphasising his loneliness in another way, as the other crabs made it overcomplicated and would have added a lot more time to the animation. I have added shots such as the crab still looking for friend, and finds a silhouette of what he thinks is a crab and finds out he is not in fact a crab, but a pile of stones. 
I have gone back to storyboards and drawn out many different camera angles and scenes to see what would work better and how things will flow into another, as my animatic had a very static approach. I want my animation to be successful in direction, so I had Toms help to find effective shots and transitions that worked.
The only surviving photo of the storyboarding process left, post its are lost!
In terms of sound and music, I posted job opportunities for music composition in December to find a composer, and after searching through loads of applicants, I started working with musician Jeffrey Wang back in early January, and he will be creating an original score for my animation. More to come of this when I have more of my animation refined and put together!

I am having a lot of fun at the moment making this animation, and it has caught interest of others already and has gotten me a job after university, illustrating a children's book.


  1. "it has caught interest of others already and has gotten me a job after university, illustrating a children's book"

    Hold the phone! This slipped past my net... Congratulations... tell me more! :D

  2. Haha thank you! :D

    Well after posting jobs to compose for my animation, I got a LOT of people looking at my blog, and somebody who was looking for an illustrator saw my work and asked me to illustrate a short children's book, which is very similar in theme to my animation! Not sure if I'm allowed to say too much about it, but I'm very excited about it and I'll update when I can! :D