After nearly 30 weeks of hard work, I am proud to present my first 3D animated clip.
We were given free rein (well, mostly) on what we can execute for this project. After a few initial idea pitches, the lecturers felt the premise of 'an evil villain constructing a robot to take over the world' to be the most interesting. I then went on to produce conceptual artwork, design the storyboards and eventually create the 3d models and set, ready to be animated. The good half of the 30 weeks were then spent on animating and fine-tuning the video that you see above.
VFX experimentation paid off
I use the term 'experimentation' loosely as I mostly just referred to the abundant resources that were available online (thank you, Andrew Kramer!). From the get go, I knew I was pursuing for a visually interesting animation, and the effects played a big part in selling that idea. Prior to this project, I have almost zero experience in dealing with 3D effects, and as a result, I had to spend additional time to test and tweak the simulation settings. In retrospect, I'm glad I ventured ahead to try out new things that added the extra flavor to the clip. I certainly have begun to appreciate the VFX field more after this project.
Everything was accomplished on time
This happened despite the numerous disruptions and distractions (My one week army re-service and the launch of Diablo III). Had to endure 6-hour-sleep-nights to get animation in the can, but it was well worth it.
What didn't worked
Or lack thereof. As everyone's short clip was played consecutively during the final presentation, the Pixar mantra of 'Story is King' becomes more evident than ever. Clips with a strong and entertaining story component garnered the most laughs from the audience. Mine was not in that list. To be honest I started the project intending to produce something that looked visually appealing and spectacular. I was less interested in animation and story, after all, aren't most game trailers just cuts of cool setpiece moments that when strung together absolutely mean nothing in terms of story progressment? It was tough standing in front as my clip reached the credits section and the audience remained completely silent. It was then that I finally understood the meaning behind the emphasis of story.
While I always use the rig as the excuse for the low quality animation, there are some fundamental problems with it. One of the comments I got from the industry critique was that the key poses weren't strong enough. I agree, but what you see is already at the rig's limits. The same thing could be said about the facial portion; the system I've created was too simplistic to pull off any interesting expression. I remembered my lecturer asking me to widen the character's mouth and even that was impossible. I hope to improve on my future rigs.
I feel that this has been a good experience for me. I learned a lot about the animation pipeline and hopefully I can apply this knowledge on the next project.