• Charlotte Grant

CAPT Pre-production Assignment Roundup, the start of a new group project!

Back again to explain the other project! I haven't spoken about it much over here, but since the group project finished and we split for Easter break, we've had a pre-production assignment called Computer Animation Principles and Techniques to finish. This required us to produce a production bible for our masters project in either a group of as an individual, including all areas of research and development needed to show an outsider what our film was about and what it'd look like.

For the masters project I wanted to work in a group on a big project, as I really enjoyed the group project, so I teamed up with a group of 8 other students (7 MA 3D and 1 Sound Design Student) to make this a reality!

Our group was called Last Notes (Formerly Beauty in the Beast) and the idea for our project was to create a short film based around a violinist and a beast, written by Will Wardle. This short would be gothic in genre and have dark undertones to it.

My role on this project is as Production-Coordinator (similarly to Munchin' Monk) and as a 3D animator for the quadruped character in the film! Creating a document for a group of 8 people that still allowed us to hit marking criteria and didn't overlap too much in areas was a huge undertaking, so I started my role on production by discussing with each member of the group how they wanted their roles on the film to tie in with the production document (we'd decided roles before teaming up) from this I was able to split the document into 7 succinct parts. The Introduction and Story, Design, Cinematography, Lookdev, Animation, Pipeline/Tech and Conclusion/Roundup. This structure covered all the bases we needed for the document and made the assignment of pages within the group a lot easier.

I compiled a list of pages I thought would be vital to the document such as the story, character designs, hair tests and research into how we would rig the characters. I compiled this into a spreadsheet and added more pages that members of the group felt necessary for their areas. From this a very detailed checklist of everything we needed within the project was formed (see below). This list ensured no one was stepping on each others toes in the research (although topics would naturally overlap) and ensured we knew where we were towards completion of the project at all times.

Full View Here

This structure turned out to be a life saver over the 3 week Easter break when the group had little face to face contact and some team-members returned to their home country for a little.

We began the document working off a powerpoint template I'd made from our own PC, but after a week or so of sending copies of the document back and forth between people, we decided on an easier solution, to use a cloud document on google docs which updated in realtime. This allowed us to always see where the project was and how many pages we had, let members review other members sections/spell check etc without sending files over google drive constantly. It did require backing up daily, but was a lot more efficient (and inspiring) than our previous way of working. We handed in on time and our production bible was over 300 pages, which is nuts!

Below are a few of the example pages we submitted as part of the CAPT document. Because of the size of our team and the time we had to work on this project our production bible was very detailed and we're all really pleased with how the assignment went. It's been a very inspiring few weeks with a lot of exciting discussion, so I think we're all looking forward to getting started on the final film!

By Ana Paula Pezzolo

Rigging Research by Nathalia Sanchez Moya

Rough Designs by Chris Ioannou

Final Designs by Chris Ioannou and Ana Paula Pezzolo

Bat Movement Studies by myself

Fantasy Creature Movement Studies by Myself

More Movement Studies by Myself

Pipeline and Naming Conventions by myself, Vlasis and Huy.

It was essential that we found a pipeline and naming conventions that suited all of us and the conventions I used previously for Munchin Monk were a little too complex for this topic, so we decided to devise a much simpler method of naming and laying out our files. We used Onedrive for this project (as the uni allowed us 1tb of space on it) and the pipeline had to allow the possibility of hair simulation.

Huy is an experienced render and lighting artist so the pipeline we used was built around his needs. He had created a Shader ID tool that uses set driven kers in the channel box to assign a shader ID number to geometry. This tool will allow us to export all animation and backgrounds as .ABC files which Huy can then re-assign the shaders too (from a spreadsheet I've made, detailing the material each shader ID needs to be) this reduces the need for us to faff with the reference editor after animation and essentially splits the pipeline into two distinct sections. Before animation, where we're using references and after animation, where the final rig/model's geometry can be exported as .abc to allow for lighting.

This makes the pipeline a lot more streamlined and leaves a lot less room for error than was allowed on Munchin Monk, which is good, because the majority of issues we had were changes when referencing on the Linux PC's that the render artist was using. This method almost completely removes room for referencing errors before rendering, requiring we're exporting correctly.

But yes! That's what we've been up to, we get our marks back for this project in just over a week and if we get the go ahead we can begin work on the final film, which will be exciting! Until then we're going to rest up for a couple of days and then begin producing some rough assets (that are unlikely to get rejected from our pre-production hand-in)

If you want to view the entire pre-production bible, click here! (Warning Large File Size: 227mb)