Saturday, December 15, 2012

Debate Team - Postmortem

Here's the animation I've been making on and off for (too) many months now, finally finished and rendered.

And now I will break down what went well and what didn't:

The Good:

- First time using actual reference in a long time.  It helped quite a bit, and I made sure I didn't over-rely on it for the most part (I'll touch on that later).  I think once I got all the breakdown poses in I left the reference footage alone, allowing me to put a bit of cartoonishness into it

- Speaking of cartoonishness, my intention wasn't to do anything overly cartoony, but little hints of it helped a lot.  Mainly the guy's snappy remark and the girl's reaction and expression.  The reference footage kept it based in reality, especially the first half, so the end is a bit of a contrast.

- This is definitely the best bit of dialogue animation I've done.  It'll definitely be the opener for my CG reel for now; it's not jarring or too in-your-face, but it's still interesting and funny enough to draw attention in.

- The render turned out pretty nice, and at 720p took about 8 hours to render the normal and occlusion passes.  Easy enough to leave the batch render running overnight and wake up to a finished render.  The lighting is pretty decent, and I even had to do some weird light-linking to get everything looking right.  Mental Ray motion actually blur worked for once, so I didn't have to do the crappy After Effects post blur.

The Bad:

- It's not as finished as I'd like.  I had to call it finished so I can move on to other stuff.  I got remarks from Ken Duncan a while back, saying to watch out for where I want attention to be directed, and not to be afraid to put characters in full holds.  The guy tends to be a bit floaty, and I showed him a version where the girl wasn't finished and he commented that he actually preferred her motions at that stage.  I tried going back a bit to the guy to simplify his movements in some spots, but I could do a lot more to it.

- The faces and hands were rushed.  If I had more time, there would be a lot more detail there.

- I kept getting caught up in the reference at the start which set me back a bit.  I'd try to match the footage rather than make it how it should look in the final piece.  I reconciled that for the most part, but that's something I need to address earlier in the process.

- I couldn't get depth of field to work without it screwing up their eye textures for some reason.  I had the same issue when initially adding motion blur but resolved it after a lot of troubleshooting I'd rather not go through again.

- I've forgotten a lot since the class I took on lighting.

- I'd planned on adding props and an outdoor environment, but I didn't give myself time.

- I think After Effects might have slightly offset the audio (by maybe a frame), it might lag behind the video a small bit.


I need to remember to use reference, but use it as a suggestion.  I need to work more holds into the characters, and make sure I know where I want people to be looking on the screen.  And I need to set some sort of schedule for myself to get these things done in a reasonable amount of time.

My plans next are to do some really short action-oriented bits.  Maybe some martial arts type things; some cartoony action, some realistic.  Then maybe a non-dialogue acting scene after that.  I have some ideas in mind, but I'll wait until they're more fleshed out.

All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with this.  There's a lot that could be fixed, but I need to move on to other stuff.

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