Creative Decision Making: Final Overall Review

A great deal of my decision making is associated with my new learning post as most of the work that I have done is a new experience. Thus, through learning from a multitude of sources have been an impacting factor to my creative decision making.

From the beginning, I presented the text that my animation would be based on from the Gospel of Luke chapter 15 verses 11 to 32 from the Bible. Adapting the existing parable would mean requiring creative decision making in the script. How much of what happens is similar, what themes should be the most prominent and dealing with dialogue. I also had researched previous film adaptations of the story, drawing inspiration for narrative and possible aesthetic. Through researching other sources and viewing videos, I made some early tests of aesthetics that included rotoscoping and practice sketches. There were a few factors that led me to working with frame by frame 2D animation is that I had experience in a previous project, that I felt doing something else like rotoscoping would make challenges that are not manageable within the given time, and that I appreciate the aesthetics of films such as Prince of Egypt.

Using live action tests and the animatic helped project the duration. However it was really the constant interrogation from a number of tutors that helped make more concise and clear up any misunderstandings in the animation. Through the work of others online, has helped inspire my working methods and character designs.

Whilst working on character designs, I was also brainstorming for the environmental aesthetics. I knew that I wanted the 2D characters to be within a 3D world to make lighting and texturing more atmospheric. Initially, I constructed the 3D world in Modo902. However, since I did not have Cinema4D, I could not explore the potential it had. Therefore I moved on to creating assets in Photoshop and transferring it to the 3D world of After Effects.

Voice acting was also another aspect that determined some creative decision making. Whilst working with voice actors, we had to get a few different takes to see what matched and what was the most suited to carry the emotions I wanted across. The perspective and length of shots was then adapted to emphasize certain sentences. I found the animation community on online forums helpful in encouragement and critique. It was a place that allowed for consideration and for fresh perspectives to make creative decisions.

In conclusion, creative decision making for me has been majorly influenced in my learning of techniques and inspirations of others. Part of it has also do with test and experiments of my own.

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New Learning: Final Overall Review

During the course of the final major project, it has been another challenge level higher than before. I have grown from practicing basic characters and transitions at the beginning of the year, to working with animal movements for the client PROMISE to the end of the year with animating human characters with lip sync. With each transition I have used different methods of working and learned to use alternative software.

For this final project titled ‘Love Returned‘, I began to learn how to use Animate CC, when previously I had been using Photoshop for frame-by-frame animation. This meant that I would have to explore a new aesthetic and what the program can offer. Watching Toniko Pantoja’s tutorials helped my understanding of how to explore Animate CC and what were the possibilities when compositing it in After Effects.

There were many new tasks I needed to experience, such was planning in detail through gantt charts, doing live action tests, working with voice actors, animating people in more detail, perspective and speech. The structure and methodology I set out I have described in my final weekly review. These stages have been malleable and change according to how much I have completed against how much projected time there is left. One method I found to have motivated me to push through with my work is using Rescue Time. By comparing how many hours I put in each day drives me to do better in the following week. Overall I have been able to produce an animation at an acceptable level. The quality meaning the inbetweens, smoothness and body proportions are lacking, however at least not majorly distracting to the viewer.

In terms of the narrative, it has come a long way since the initial script, which was projected to be 10 minutes long. Through a lot of break downs, questioning the relevance of scenes and the guide of tutors, I had been able to shorten the duration to 4 minutes and 30 seconds. The narrative has also developed to be more centered on the older brother Michael, when originally it was clearly focused on the younger brother Ryan.

Looking back over the course of this project, there are a number of aspects and methodologies I would do differently if I had the chance to do this again. Firstly, to be a lot more thorough with the narrative and script writing. I was still making changes in the last quarter of the time given and if I had made the changes earlier, perhaps some aspects to the animation would be much clearer and compelling. Secondly, it would be animating the characters. During the key animating and in-betweening process, that was my practice, exercise and learning period. That is why some shots and scenes look far smoother and consistent than others. These are the aspects that I want to continue developing and to apply these acquired skills for future similar projects.

Final Weekly Review

It is finished!

Yes, incredible, 2 weeks before hand in!

Although not exactly. Sound design, a music score is on high priority right now. With the left over time, it allows me to revisit some scenes, to edit them to look better. To add in some in betweens or to correct the less obvious mistakes.

However I finally have something that I can submit. Now is time to make it more seamless.

I will reveal the final product after the time of hand in.

This post is to look back and evaluate the plan that I have set out to accomplish and how the revisions of the schedule and the actual realisation compare.

I have the original gantt charts below:

IMG_1161140617 C

Which I then broke down further week by week:

img_1227

And I have the official record of what I have indeed managed to accomplish in this link:

www.snowwybunny.wordpress.com/tag/fmpchecklist/

Outcome

How realising the project worked out differed quite a fair bit from the scheduled plan. The overall was fairly accurate if I group accordingly as voice recording (3 weeks May); environmental assets (3 weeks May 1 week June); key animating (1 month June); inbetweens, colouring (1 week June, 2 weeks July); colouring, shading, compositing, rendering (2 weeks July, 2 weeks August). Leftover time is 2 weeks end of August, which was indeed what I had hoped in my first gantt chart.

During the course of the project, I realised that although there are certain periods of accomplishing certain tasks, there was a necessity of juggling a number of different tasks simultaneously. Therefore for each period, that would have been the priority task taking the largest percentage and at the same time other tasks that took a smaller portion of the pie.

Below are the links for the original plans of the animated short:

FMP Preproduction Pack Final Portfolio

FMP Project Planning Folder Hilda Hiong

Project Planning Folder

I was able to complete most of the targets I set out to accomplish within this folder. Some targets became irrelevant either because I had to change voice actors, change character dialogue and shift scenes around to build a narrative that was clearer to understand. I have managed to deliver the complete animated short. I have changed the target audience to be more specific. To have circles of audience that get narrowed down to young Christian adults. This project has been shared and documented through different forms of social media that include: Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and Twitter. I had also signed up for several forums to engage with and ask for feedback. Further detailed documentation of my work have been recorded here on this blog. Certainly, this experience has been a great learning process of time management, solving technical issues, working with others and improved my drawing skills. The more tasks I have gone through gave me challenges to resolve and adjust my working methods.

It has indeed helped me to consider aspects of career that are specific and aspects I am willing to compromise. Specifically, I would like to apply for animation studios that focus on 2D animation, that are educational oriented either with children’s TV, animated documentaries, even music videos etc. Generally, I would not mind going into motion graphics or graphic design related work.

Conclusion

I have managed to keep my time management controlled. However, I have noticed that quality was thus compromised. It would be good now to continue making improvements in the details.

Review and Update

I have made changes to the narrative in terms of the order and added new scenes. It is a risk by adding scenes but I have attempted to make it as simple to achieve with the least work, to be sure I can complete the project by the set deadline.

I have quickly rendered two versions: the no added scenes and the added scenes. I feel that the added scenes fill a more rounded picture, whereas the first version at least provides the bare minimum to understand what is going on. Version 1 is also my fall back, in case if I run out of time. Version 2 is what I want to aim to achieve.

Weekly Reflection

Today we had our final symposium workshop meeting about reflection and evaluation. It was helpful in understanding the cognition and thought process. There are three key components from Kolb’s learning cycle that is: the experience (do something), to reflect (evaluate), to conceptualise (generalise) and the plan (what next).

Currently there is around about a month left to complete the final major project. According to the gantt chart and the items I have scheduled, I have not been keeping on track. At the moment I need to juggle with outlining the characters using the appropriate colours, in-betweening, colouring animation and shading. Previously, I have used screen capture to record my work in order to compile it into a video to upload on YouTube. I would record continuously from 30 minutes to an hour each take non-stop. This technique I found was motivating to press on working. However I cannot use this method each time as it would take up a lot of disk space. Therefore I signed up for Rescue Time to log my productivity as seen in the image below, which was last week’s.

rescuetime

Using Rescue Time has helped track my software, website usage to determine what is seen as productive and not. It is also encourages me to work more consistently and acts as a motivator.

Also, based from the meet up last week, I have been reassessing how to narrate the animation and working with what I have to tell the story more from the older brother Michael’s perspective.

Weekly Review

This past week I have not been able to achieve the weekly targets. It has come to my attention that I need to readjust my schedule to meet more productive ends for the remainder of the time I have left. Normally I balance my time between social, university work and my part time job. I will be needing to cut out some of the social activities for the time being.

This tutorial I had two tutors Kate and Jess. Jess will be filling in for Kate as she goes on holiday. Today’s discussion was more focused on the emotional narrative aspect. It was Jess’ first time watching the full length of the key animation. Her perspective was very insightful as there were a lot of areas which was difficult to understand from the animation. Small to larger areas such as making more clear Ryan is begging and making the money more convincing with sound effects and also providing more information on Ryan’s downfall, which was what Kate also mentioned last week.

What would be required of me for the next week is to continue colouring the animations and also to work on the narrative more.

Working on the narrative I mean by:

  • Fleshing out the character development
  • What is the tagline?
  • Who’s the main character?
  • How can we demonstrate emotion and translate the relationships between family members better?
  • working with brainstorming and sticky notes

Although it seems too late to make drastic changes, I feel that discussing thoroughly the narrative is one of the most important aspects in order to bring out the value and morals of the film.

So far, the title of my animated short is ‘Love Returned’. Initially I thought ‘A Love Returned’, however I realised I wanted the audience to question will both brothers put aside their differences to work on the relationships within their family, in particular the older brother Michael?

Weekly Review

Today’s tutorial provided some insightful tips to improving my animation. My tutor felt that what was missing was what had happened in Amsterdam and how Ryan had lost his money. Other than  this,I have been keeping on track with colouring, shading and composting. 

After discussion, we agreed that it would be good to show my animation to a number of people to get feedback if the story makes sense. However, after showing it to a couple of my friends from church, they could quickly recognise the story of the prodigal son from the bible. Therefore the story was easy to pick up. I feel that to get more valuable feedback I should also present this to people who do not know the story themselves.