Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Since the beginning of the 2nd term...

In this post, I am going to talk about a new unit which I have just started called Professional Skills and the work that I have done towards it so far.

First of all, as a group, we have put together a Gmail account for the Cata and Rat project to use and organise things like the scheduling of meetings and if necessary, exchange files.  Here is the Calendar feature of the Google account which we use to schedule each task and make sure that they all fit with every other task.  As each member can log into this account, we can all contribute to this Calendar and add tasks.

As you can see, we have made a firm agreement to meet up and talk privately every Tuesday.  We had the first of these meetings on Tuesday, where we resolved the majority of the issues or perceived issues that came about over the Christmas period including:
  • Some team members were not clear of the roles they had in the group; This is apparent as three cats were being modelled when we only needed to rig one, thus delaying this process.
    • Resolution: The three non-modellers of the team (namely Lily, Sarah and myself) voted for which cat model we should use in the final film and Oly's model won the vote.
  • Even though I managed to come up with new designs for the characters, that both my team and tutors approved of. Some of the model sheets that I had drawn digitally were not up to scratch due to my lack of experience with a graphics tablet.
    • Resolution: I remain the character designer for both the Ox and the Emperor, but Lily and Sarah would draw up the model sheets in digital form, based on my original paper drawings
  • It was felt by a few members in the team that we were holding back on criticism, to "protect people's feelings", so to speak
    • Resolution: We have decided that if we disapprove of any work that another team member has produced; we MUST say so and give thoroughly constructive criticism on what is wrong and how it can be improved, as this better reflects a professional working environment.  We will refrain from just saying "it's ok", "that's good" or "i like that", as this is not constructive.  In equal measure, we will also refrain from saying "that's shit" as no good comes from that either.
Overall, it was a pleasure to have this first meeting as it proved the importance of face to face contact as ideas can be share and explored in real time; something which is more absent in the online world that we relied on largely over the holidays.  It also relieved some of the panic that some of the team members were feeling, including myself, that the project was not moving forward, as we were all largely doing our own thing over the holidays.

When we met up, we managed to quickly resolve these issues and now we feel as though the project is underway; we have started planning our time now.  I am going to be doing the rigging and weighting of the Ox and the Cat (as I have the most experience at rigging quadrupedal animals in the group) over January and February.  Much of March and the Easter Holidays will be dedicated to animating the shots so we will need to work out who animates what, during the Easter period, it will be important to keep communication flowing and to share playblasts to show our progress, and if possible, to meet up.  Late April will be dedicated to rendering and the whole of May (until the 25th) will consist of editing the film together.

We are actually due for our second meeting today (Tuesday 17th), but there was a road accident this morning, meaning that four members that drive were unable to make it into uni, so we have decided to postpone to this Friday.

Along with organising group meetings and laying down our workflow, we are also going to be assessed on how we promote our film, along with our contribution to the degree show.  I have been given the task of building the site for the Cat and Rat film, probably after the good job I did on the web site I built for our E & E project.  I am keen to take this on as I have generally developed an enthusiasm for web design over the past few weeks and it has become a part of my skill set.

So far, I have set up a web hosting account with 1&1 and I have bought the domain name www.catandratfilm.co.uk.  If you click on it at the moment, there will be hardly anything up there right now; unless, of course, you're reading this post about 2 months after I typed this up.  In week 6, Mike will give us a Wix template for putting the site together.  I have spoken with him and I will be able to design the site using Dreamweaver and HTML.

However, even if I decide to craft the website myself, I will still use Mike's template as reference to make sure that all of the essential information is included in the site and that it markets the film to the target audience adequately.

So far, I have got all the planning for the Cat and Rat project sorted and I have written up an Individual Contract with what I plan to do each week until May 25th.  In theory, I may also have work on two other projects; The Obsessionist and Rush Hour, but these teams will get back to me if they need any more CG Character Animators, so I cannot plan out my time for these projects yet.

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