SPP3 – Assignment One

So, for the first assignment for SPP3 I have to find four full-time multimedia jobs, four full-time post-graduate courses, and “mock” apply (as in write out the paper work but not actually send it) to one of each.

Task A: Multimedia Jobs

This was tricky, seeing as most jobs usually ask for a couple years of experience; if you’re good at searching though, you can find ones that don’t have it listed as a firm requirement. I narrowed the results down to four via a combination of realism (no “Senior” positions for a first-time job – I learnt that when I attempted to apply for a job at Linneys Design near where I live about 4 years ago. Obviously, I am older and wiser now).

After careful consideration – and realising that the fact I don’t have a passport would be, to put it lightly, problematic (yes, I know we aren’t actually applying for these, but it’s still something to factor in considering how many jobs are overseas), I “applied” for the role of Game Artist at Playfish. Since I obviously don’t have the previous experience it lists as being a plus, I did my best to make my covering letter as interesting as possible (you’ll be glad to know that it’s a marked improvement from the last one I did – this time I actually have some idea of what I’m doing).

Task B: Post-graduate Courses

This one is somewhat unfair considering I’m an overly curious academic at heart, meaning there are a lot of courses I would be interested in studying. But I did eventually narrow it down to four.

Of the courses, I decided I would mock-apply for the Escape Studios Animation course. Not only would it make it even more likely I would get a job, the subject matter it would teach would be invaluable; I already know a lot about 3D modelling and texture, so I would really like to focus solely on the animation instead of having to construct my characters and rig them first. The downside, of course, is that it costs £8,750, and whilst the reaction of my parents would be amusing, that’s not something I’m about to tell them.

Another thing that’s come out of this:- my CV has improved ten-fold. I found the old one I had uploaded at Monster.co.uk the other day, and lets just say that it did seemrather amateurish (mind you, it did get me an interview for a position in the local paper’s main office, so it can’t have been that bad).

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Final Animation post of the year.

Okay I admit it. This should have been up before now. In my defence I hit a sort of burnout after hand in and combined with me being scatterbrained it ended up low on the list.

I’ll say this: modelling and rigging characters = piece of cake. Wiring parameters also equals piece of cake. Cameras and x-referencing scenes to avoid a program crash (I hit double figures during this. You do NOT want to know how visualisation went in that regard) equals a pain up the arse. I also learnt to next time not model anything in excess of 100 units tall because this makes the sets you need to build ridiculously huge. Once you’re hitting 4 digits in the XYZ coordinates it starts getting unbelievably silly.

The best thing I ever learnt during this project was just how damn useful hiding stuff is. Even if you’re reaching stupid amounts of polygons, hiding stuff you don’t need is a lot less taxing on the processor. The best thing I learnt though on top of that was that you can hide some of the polygons of an object. It was an absolute godsend when using morph targets let me tell you.

Anyway, here are screengrabs, in order, of the three featured characters’ rigs, one character that never made it into the final animation (the proportions are considerably off on that one), a couple of the two ‘sets’ and finally stills from the animation itself, where it becomes obvious that the lighting went bonkers.

The final animation has no sound effects (except for a couple of “voices”), instead I used royalty-free music from this site. I think I’ve also “Gainaxed” the ending (meaning that it doesn’t really make sense – “Gainaxed” refers to Studio Gainax’s ultra-confusing ending to Neon Genesis Evangelion). Also, I swear the shadows were turned on for the lights. *checks* Yep, they were on. They just refused to work how I would expect them to work (like, you know, actually cast a shadow on the other objects!). Also, can I just say that rigging and animation a 4-legged creature is very tricky? I may know a lot about animal biology, but trying to get it to walk right was still a serious effort. Anyway…

After The End is set in a world where humans are long gone, leaving being a myriad of weird creatures, which are constantly menaced by these robotic “angels” (I never figured a name). In this, it all starts when a strange wraith-like creature called Dormin happens across a broken piece of horn…

Couple of fun facts – 1) The reversed dialogue I used for the Angel is part of the Zagreus poem from the Doctor Who audio of the same name (yes, I am a total geek) and 2) Dormin’s arm does a rather bizarre 360 at one point (the bit when he reaches his hand out in the tunnel). It’s hard to spot due to the lighting, but it’s the only time it does that in the whole thing (I didn’t know how to get the elbow to work with a look-at constraint).

Animation Update

In which I start reaching new levels in downright weird.

Fair bit of the Easter holiday was spent working on my other main character, an “Angel.” The reason it took so long to do it was down to several glitches cropping up that required me to go back to a previous file (good thing I’ve gotten into the habit of using the Save As Copy shortcut), the reaction manager causing crashes (about 10 in the space of 15 minutes, that must be some kind of record) and the problems of not being able to remove any constraints you’ve added except for Undo. As it stands, a character that’s mechanical and doesn’t need bones is even more awkward to rig than one does.

Will add commentary later.

Character Project

Just to show I have actually been doing something, here’s a progress report for my animation project. Visualisation will have to wait till I can get the stills from Ed (and after we’ve done this blummin’ presentation – am I the only who finds having one group doing Victorian architecture and another doing Industrial Revolution architecture (my group) to be a bit silly and redundant seeing as they’re around the same time period?).

I started off with this:

originalcharacterideapreviouscharacteridea

Didn’t get very far with modeling it as you can see, because it felt rather… safe? Uninspired? Anyway, I’ve filed it away for future use – I’m particularly fond of the rough sketch in the bottom left. I also quite liked the quick (and unfinished) speed paint I did:

taropsuedoreal

But after watching Jojo in The Stars in our animation lecture last week, my brain took a decidedly weird turn, and I ended up creating this guy, who is now almost fully modelled.

creaturesketches creaturetopcreatureside

creaturefrontcreatureperpective

Things got odder when I found this little flash app called SCRIBBLER – which takes a drawing that you create in it and makes it scribbley (is that a word?).

Before:

beforescribble

After:

afterscribble

I ended up playing around with it when I really should have gone to bed, and came up with these… things.

scribbles

It’s like walking the pencil on steroids. And when I started to use some as a basis for extra designs, things got decidedly weird.

weirdcreatures

I’m starting to think my subconscious goal for this project is to see how much I can creep everyone out.

doodlesofcreatures

And this was me doodling when I should have been listening to the lecture yesterday afternoon. Although apparently they’ve proven that doodling actually helps you concentrate (not sure if it still works like that when your mind starts thinking about things like plot and visual style mind you). In case you’re wondering, they’re sized relatively except for the one on the far right.

Memo to self: Look at some other themes because this one is a bit on the narrow side.

Animation Overview

Apologises for not posting here – to be honest it’s the last thing on my mind when I’m doing Uni work, and I’ve taken to using sketchbooks for design work instead of posting progress on here (I’m more likely to pick that up than log in). So I’m just going to post some of the pages and WIPs from the animation project. The other two will follow, once my brain’s not longer scrambled from Deadline Rush.

Attempt at using the gallery feature in WordPress (I still think the media gallery is  cumbersome – couldn’t they have it as one of the side boxes or something so I’m not skipping between the post page and a flash window?):

I’m very pleased with how my models came out – not so much with the final animation, I might take a leaf out of my sister’s book and have each shot as a separate file, because once you hit over 500 frames you really can’t see what you’re doing on the time line and more often than not the whole thing ends up in slow motion. There was also going to be a large disembodied hand ala Black and White, but I discovered that Biped doesn’t like it when you try and cannibalise it for a hand rig (I would like to know if it’s possible to do that).

PS: I’m currently in a state of shock at the apparent closure of Free Radical since our game design lecturer is, or as it stands was, an employee there. And after seeing the concept art for Timesplitters 4 (God I feel so sorry for these guys, I know that if I were in their shoes, it wouldn’t be the fact I was now jobless that got me, it’d that I couldn’t continue working on the games. I’d be gutted) I’m in mourning. I don’t play FPS’s but I admit to having a soft spot for that series. It was quirky and different and it had a gun-toting monkey for crying out loud (as if you’d forget a game that had that).

PPS: Be careful reading the WordPress news pages if you do (any online environment guys reading this should go and see what I mean, it’s relevant) – they got  a strange snow effect on the page. Festive I suppose, but on a white background it only succeeds in making me think my eyes are going funny.