While first year of university was all about introducing us into the ever-changing world that is; the CG pipeline and second year specialising in our chosen skill-sets, the third and final year was the opportunity to show what we have learnt and express it through the culmination of the final year major project assignment (and also the reason why the majority of my projects were specialised into animation). Continuing on from my previous posts, we enter my third and final year of university as this post documents a collection of all the work I have done throughout my final year.
Digital 2.5D Matte Painting
Using 2.5D texture projection techniques we were challenged to create a photo-realistic shot of a subject and environment as if were an establishing shot for a feature-length film or an overview of a particular subject. In my piece shown above depicts an old white house I came across during my visit to Lewes’ Bonfire Night.
I augmented this image replacing the original environment around the house with elements taken from additional photos shot in many different places around Bournemouth, from patches of grass and pathways to a better looking cloudy sky.
Using Mari in this assignment was a total nightmare mainly due its unstableness at the time of use; specifically the clone stamp tool persistently failing and not work the way it should. Nevertheless I really enjoyed this assignment as it honed in on my photo-manipulation skills while learning new skills such as colour-correction and fixing chromatic aberration in Photoshop.
Dog Run Cycle Animation
I animated a dog run cycle for a creature animation project. This was the first time I had ever animated a quadruped creature and the work paid off after watching many hours of dogs running online. This was also helped because I would always walk through Slades Farm every day to uni where plenty of owners would walk their dogs, so I was able to observe them first hand in-order to understand how they walk and run. I have learnt so much in the mechanics to how dogs run and I can’t wait to further develop what I have learnt in future creature animations!
I studied on distinct animation styles that are commonly found in both 2D and 3D animation and experimented to see if these trademarks found in traditional animation would transfer well into the 3D realm.
Looking for an existing traditionally animated sequence as a base I decided with a scene from Tex Avery’s Dumb Hounded animated short where the wolf is caught escaping jail and performs a series of stylised ‘cartoony’ reactions. The scene is a perfect example of what traditional animation is capable of so it was the perfect sequence to be translated into 3D.
While I found that many of the elements of 2D animation is suitable in 3D, there were quite a few elements that didn’t bode well and needed to be adapted to fit in. One of these was the holds; 2D animation can get away with it but in 3D the practice makes the character look lifeless. Moving holds can fix this as I would just need to add a little bit of motion to the holds to maintain the ‘lifeness’ of the character but still look like a hold holistically.
During this project I have learnt a lot about traditional animation techniques I haven’t known before and have become valuable assets in improving my animation skills.
As part of a masterclass brief set by BlueZoo animation studios I was tasked to animate a bump sequence where a character jumps off a diving board and lands into a pool of water concluding to reveal a brand logo; this case being the NCCA logo. One of the key requirements for this sequence is that there must be a twist to shake up the general narrative. I came up with the genius (but possibly evil) idea where the character steps on a piece of Lego brick (that just happened to be lying around on the diving board) which ruins his run-up on the diving board.
Plenty of reference footage were recorded of me jumping around in circles on one leg (but not stepping on Legos) to nail the middle segment of the performance. I also battled with the timing between all of my planned shots because of the strict 15-second limit, meaning I had to be extremely economical with the available frames. What was estimated to be around 20 seconds I compressed to exactly 15 by cutting out unnecessary poses and frames while ensuring the flow of the sequence was consistent and easy to follow. While I believe I could have improved on the poses of the beginning batch of shots I feel very proud of the final result!
P.L.U.S Freelance Project
Working with a small team of Games Technology students on their placement project to create a stop-and-search simulator game for the Devon and Cornwall Police, I created 3D model assets and accompanying textures and shaders to contribute to the game’s environment to reflect a real life British high street while providing assistance with the rest of the team to animate human walk cycles to be used in-game.
I had to be very quick and efficient in producing the models due to the aggressive deadline while ensuring the models were economical and didn’t contain anything redundant. It had been a while since I had properly done 3D modelling but I quickly got back into grips with it and learnt several helpful techniques to improve on my work-flow.
Final Year Major Project – “Flower Story”
I worked in a team of three with Adrian Cathie and Anand Hotwani to produce our final-year project culminating into ‘Flower Story’; a 3D computer animation short about the companionship of two flowers in your average back garden. I was responsible for the animation performance and the rigging of the characters. It was a great and an inportant experience to work in a team over the course of 8 months to create this piece while having other projects and assignments happening at the same time. The project was also an intense experience animating a 3-minute short within a short space of time because of the battle between quantity versus quality. On the bright side it made me more quick and efficient in the animation process such as quickly posing key frames and deciding which shots to prioritise and spend the most time on. During the peak of production I was producing around 4 seconds of polished animation per day! Working in these sorts of projects foreshadows an idea of how production works in the industry and has given me indispensable experience and preparation of what to expect.
These last three years have been a spectacular chapter of my life in terms of academics, social life and self-improvement. I guess I have fulfilled to an extent to what I had ‘hyperbolically’ wanted to in my UCAS personal statement. Sure there were a bunch of stressful moments throughout these years, but I believe they are part of the uni experience and have an influence in shaping who I am today, encouraging me to adapt and move forward as a better person. Do I regret enrolling into university? I couldn’t have asked for more. I am ready to transition from my university graduation to my long-term career out in the open world. It is anyone’s guess for what the future holds but there is one thing I am sure of; working and being involved in the CG industry is definitely what I am going to do in my long-term career.
And that’s all folks!… is what I would say here, but this is only just the beginning!