So as promised, in this second Production Co-ordination blog post, I'll explain a little about our file naming/file sharing set up, why it was important, show some of the other things we had in place for versioning and I'll divulge a little more information on the shader ID sheet I shared previously!
So to begin with, I'll speak a little about our file naming/file sharing conventions and how shared files between us as a team when we weren't allowed file sharing systems like Dropbox on our PC's.
This was something I discussed a little during my pre-production/CAPT post, but I can definitely go into it in more depth during this post. We chose OneDrive as our file storage of choice because we were given 1 free Terabyte with our Bournemouth University log-ins, which gave us plenty of space to store large files like EXR's and Textures.
Similarly to my work on Munchin' Monk, I was in charge of making sure this file sharing space was organised in a way that made sense to everyone on the team and allowed us to stay as efficient and organised as possible with our work. Myself, Vlasis and Huy had already decided on a simple and easy to work with file naming system (spoken about in detail on my CAPT post) The idea when creating this system was that, if a stray file was found (or any file was uploaded) it was immediately obvious what part of the pipeline it belonged to, what version it was and what the file contained. This would make things easier for us in the long run, in knowing which version of a file we were supposed to be using/updating etc.
The decided on system can be seen below -
Another important part of organising our production was the structure of our upload system. Without an easily understood folder structure, we risked our One Drive becoming messy and disorganised.
Below is the folder structure I proposed to the group and the one that was agreed on. It splits the production into the 3 stages of production. Pre production, Production and Post production and then into the individual areas of focus within those sections.
The project section was where we'd place the final, completed assets/textures etc, so we weren't lugging around a 50gb folder with every iteration of everything within it! The Pro folder mimicked the Maya folder structure to avoid confusion.
The next thing I'll write a little more about is our versioning control. This was something we struggled with during the first couple of weeks of production and it ended up loosing us some time, so was something that had to be knuckled down on heavily before it started affecting the whole production.
Version control was originally only done in the way above, a V2 etc on the end of the file name and word of mouth between team members so we knew what assets needed to be re-downloaded. As production picked up this became a little inefficient, especially if some team members were in at different times of day (and occasionally people would forget to notify people surrounding their are of the pipeline, the issue we had was with modelling and rigging, rigging had begun skinning a non-referenced version of the previous version of the model, which in turn put rigging behind but also messed up texturing, who were already painting using the previous UV's too)
I spoke with everyone in the team about using a group Slack for version control, feedback and change logs. Thankfully everyone was very receptive to the idea and I set up this area for everyone to communicate.
One great thing about Slack was the ability to have multiple channels, this allowed us to have a channel for each stage of the production, so modellers need not be bothered by notifications about compositing if they don't want it and same with all the various areas. The appropriate team members were put into channels with their area and the areas that work together closely with theirs (for example modellers would also be put in the rigging and texturing channels. If something was changed on a model, they could then post a change log in the texturing and rigging files so those team members would get notified and be able to download and update their files to the latest.
We also had a general channel for meeting announcements (with mentors in addition to our team weeklies)
Here's an image of our slack sidebar, showing our channels and the members of the team. Another handy thing about Slack is it allowed us to link with our Onedrive, so members could download straight from Slack rather than having to open one drive and navigate to the folder.
Below is just a snippet of some of the change logs/fixes needed from the rigging channel of our Slack! Most of these were problems with referencing new rigs into the previous animations and were easy to fix, but some were a little more complicated, so it was important that our riggers knew there was an issue as soon as possible!
Honestly, it was an invaluable resource for us in the end, especially during the first couple of weeks when models and rigs and textures were being created/changing regularly and during the later stages of production where animation was almost complete and final fixes were being done to the rigs!
Finally, the last thing I'll speak a little more about on this post is the Shader ID sheet. This was a system Huy created for his group project, My Coin and was implemented in our project to save time on the shading process.
Below you can see a demo video of the tool in action.
The tool allowed our modelling an texture artists to assign a number to specific materials (for example 1 might be the mans skin, so no matter how many pieces his skin was in, head, hands, ankles, all these pieces of geometry would be assigned the number 1) This number would stay, when exported using Huy's tool, so even in Alembic, Huy knew which shaders were needed and where.
This obviously allowed the shading part of the process a lot quicker for our group and is why the Shader ID chart I showed in the previous post was so important for the project!
Either way, that's everything I can think to talk about for now! I'll post one last update with an overview of the project and the final film itself, so bare with me for that!