May 27, 2018

Major Project: Reflective Statement

My major project has been a big learning curve for me in many ways. I went into the project really excited and impatient to make my animated short, and the drive and inspiration I had for it never really waned throughout the months of the major project, as previous projects have done before. I realised the project I’d set up in my minor project was a good one for me, and one that captured my interests and didn’t grow tired of.
Due to this, I think I really think I worked hard to create my short film, and never really put it off or forgot about it for a while. I found it really fun and motivating to keep producing work for it, just as I did in the minor project.
One of my first tasks in my major project was finalising the rock pool scene. I did this easily and I think I got a good result by placing even more textures on different objects. As I layered these objects and textures together it really inspired me to keep working and pushing it, as I loved the way it was starting to look.
Animating was always the thing I was most reluctant to do, and started and stopped with it many times, however when I really started to work at the animating it turned out to be a lot easier than I’d thought it was. I spent nearly two months animating on and off, which worked well for me and I completed the animations with loads of time to spare and make tweaks before rendering. One of the most fun elements about animating was all the background fish in the scene, as I very quickly was able to make 20 rigs and skin them, and animate them in sequence, all in a day. I really felt my weaknesses in maya (rigging/skinning) were getting better!
Next I worked on lighting, which was a huge part for me as it would really give the piece the atmosphere I had envisioned. It was really fun to create caustic lighting, but t wasn’t without its challenges. In the end I think it worked very well and I loved the outcome of these lights.
Setting up for rendering I realised I had a few problems on my hands, my scenes were so full and therb e were thousands of unused assets in my scenes, so with help I was able to clean up my scenes and optimise them, in order to shorten my render times. I will remember this in the future, and I won’t make the same mistake again in making head hugely cluttered files.
Rendering was a stressful but fun and rewarding process. As my computers took days to render a 10 second shot, I chose to use a render farm. I used Garagefarm.net which was so successful for me as it was cheaper, 24/7 help and the renders came out faster. The software was really easy to learn too and make my project managing better.
After getting my renders back and starting to piece the film together, I realised that I needed a voiceover to really finialise my animation and make sure it was readable. I thought about this early on as my inspirations for the film were always children’s book, and having a narrator would really give a old story book/fairytale feel.
My main struggle and cause of stress was creating a script. I tried really hard to come up with something poetic and flowing. It still wasn’t sounding exactly how I wanted, but with lots of help from Phil, he turned my early script into something incredible and really shaped around my animation, that part was so exciting to see it come together! I browsed through many different voiceover artists but eventually chose Bob Kingsley, who was perfect for the film. Working with this voiceover artist was so easy, he was friendly and helpful, and gave me two takes of the script generously.
Once my film was edited all together, I needed to animate faces. This was easy for me in terms of the technique, but software issues, the tediousness, made it a dull task which had a few problems. It was very easy to get a quick sequence of faces on to a character, however I chose to illustrate each frame by hand instead of using ‘tweening’ techinques, which I realise now may have been a lot easier! I went back in and out a few of these in where it was not so perfect. Saving it was a problem too, as the export setting in Adobe Animate are not very precise, and came out at different scales, frame rates ect..in the end I managed to come up with something I really liked and I think was successful, more so on the crab. I think it can be tweaked in some areas for sure, and if I were to do this project again, I’d consider the possibility of cgi faces as that may have saved me some time!
At first when I was looking for a musician I posted jobs on multiple websites and got hundreds and hundreds of composers wanting to compose my film, which was so overwhelming and impossible to choose. After this I got in contact with Jeffrey Wang, who I had no doubts about and started on music.
I had been working on the music with Jeffrey Wang, who was really amazing to work with and came up with something really unique and fitting to my story. It was really uplifting to work with Jeffrey as he kept giving more and more to the sound of it, and went above and beyond what I had asked of him. I think it was a really good choice and I love the music for my film.
After I had all these assets it was just editing. This was easy for me as I had directed the film and decorated it the way I wanted to edit it. So the colours were the same and the lighting. I changed the depth of field in post predication because I found it very time saving compared to the hour long renders I had gotten in maya. This was an hour job in after effects for the whole film and I had so much control over it which was helpful. I also added electric visuals and noises. On top of Jeffrey’s soundtrack I added my own soundscape of water rushing and swishing, jellyfish stings and scuttle noises, this all added to the underwater effect, but looking back on it now I realise I could use a lot more. To hide some of the hard cuts that were not supposed to jump, I also went back into maya and added some fish transitions to disguise it, it was easy to layer these on top in after effects. My favourite part of editing was making the seat effect over the whole animation. When it was done I scaled the film up and added a swaying effect to the whole film, so it is less static and gives the effect of floating around. Overall I found editing easy, and the hardest part was overlaying the faces onto the composition and keying them.
I learnt so much from the major project about who I am as an artist and animator, and what I want to do. Due to having a very scant year 3 timetable, it gave me a huge chance to work by myself and learn things my own way. I learnt a lot by trial and error, by the internet and social media’s. when I did run into problems I used the university, and I often blogged, emailed and saw my tutors. I feel that although I didn’t work from university a lot as I have my own computers and no timetable, it didn’t hinder my work as the course is so social and I never felt out of sync or on my own.
This project has been so rewarding for me, I’ve really developed as an animator and am very proud of the work I have created.

May 14, 2018

'THE JELLYFISH AND THE HERMIT CRAB' SUBMISSION POST


MAJOR PROJECT: THE FINAL UPDATE

Here is what I have been working on this week, from sound and animation to editing.
I hit a few problems at the beginning of the last week while animating faces in Adobe Animate, as the video changed the sequence timing so all of the faces were out of sync. I fixed it eventually and finished this, and to apply the whole sequence to my animation I colour keyed it and set it to 'hard light'. This is so that the faces were not too black and out of place on the video.
I also have been working with Jeffrey again and updated the sound. For the music and sound, the Jellyfish and Crab have two different sound themes, the jellyfish has woodwind sounds like clarinets and flutes, and the crab has sounds of glockenspiels and bells, to go with the nighttime setting. The music was designed so that when the two meet and share a scene, the woodwind elements combine with the twinkling of the bells and compliment each other, much like the Jellyfish and Crab.
Other elements of sound were the fish swimming around the pool, every time they are on screen they are accompanied by a layered wooden chiming noise.
Other effects I added to the animation were the electricity zaps from the jellyfish, as it was an important part of the story. This was easy to animate and I loved the way it looks, just using the lightning animator in After Effects.
After getting feedback on my final version of the animation, I had feedback to add other sound effects such as the electric noise of the jellyfish tentacles and also the water swishing as the jellyfish moves. This was easy to do and managed to finish it. 
Some more feedback that I got was to cover up a divide in the animation with a bubble transition, but instead I went back into Maya and rendered out some fish swimming past, so I added that over the top and put a CC camera blur on top.
I also added a camera wobble over the whole animation in After effects. This works really well and makes the animation more fluid and less static, and makes it seems as if the camera is floating about.
Adding university branding

May 10, 2018

MUSIC

Here's a sample of the almost finished music, composed by Jeffrey Wang
Below is the music with the voiceover on top by Bob Kingsley. Towards the end I need to turn down the volume of the music behind the voiceover.