Animation Studio 2 – 01 – New Projects

Disclaimer, I haven’t blogged in the first couple of weeks so this blog is going to go for a while as I have to bring everything up to speed.

It is a new studio unit this year and with it come new projects, hopefully, ones that don’t end up crashing and burning. I have assumed the lead role in my rapid project (more on that in a bit) and the new role introduces a few new hurdles I wasn’t expecting. And I’ve got my Aftermath project which is presenting me with the opportunity of learning new workflows and software.

RAPID PROJECT

The rapid project presents the challenge of completing a 30 second fully polished clip with the budget of 10 hours per week, and it has to be done in 6 weeks. The key to the success of this project is good project management and effective task allocation, and that is where I come in. Besides being the creative lead for the project, I also have to allocate tasks to each of my team members, which is actually harder than I expected. First off I have to make sure everyone is on the same page as me, which is hard as a few of the members aren’t always present on the communication platform we have set up. The second challenge is identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each member, and from there ensure that I don’t give them too many tasks or too few, so effectively spread the workload.

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Now onto what the actual project brief is, we have to create a teaser trailer for the fictional reboot of an old game franchise. My team got to do Banjo & Kazooie, and we have to do it in an environment reveal. Meaning that we have to show off the environment that the game takes place in and end in a reveal of the characters. The challenge in this is building a sense of suspense as to what the teaser is actually… well teasing. We threw around the idea of replacing Kazooie with another type of flying creature so we could show it off and not have people know what it is until we show Banjo, but in the end, we decided against this as it might upset the fans of the games.

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The main plot of the teaser is that you see Kazooie flying past environments that are from the previous games and at the same time she is being attacked by unseen enemies (so we don’t have to make rigs for them) with some kind of green spell fireballs. It is supposed to have a feeling of haste and buildup that will climax when Kazooie flies up into clouds winks at the camera and quickly falls toward the ground where she lands inside a backpack. There would be music that would stop at this point to reveal Banjo’s paws playing a small bit from the original theme on his banjo. He then throws it, as the camera reveals his face and Kazooies next to his, he then puts his fists together as it cuts to black to reveal the logo. There are a lot of challenges with this idea, the first being the amount of animation involved, and not only that but bird animation which I believe is a whole different deal to anything else of the studio people have tried to animate before. The secong big challenge is to create these big environments, although simple they would need plenty of detail. An the third challenge is all the particle and physics related stuff, such as the feather on Kazooie and the fireballs, not to mention the ocean. To get a better idea of what im trying to achieve here a couple of videos that showcase the looks im going for.

At the moment we have just finished the preproduction stage completing the storyboards and the animatic and most of the concept art, this has allowed me to have a complete asset list, which will be key to getting everything together. We also have a model for Kazooie whic I myself will be rigging soon, as animation should start as soon as possible. This project also gives us the chance to work with audio students, which will be challenging as I’ll have to explain what I want in a way that they understand.

AFTERMATH PROJECT

The aftermath project is in my opinion, the schools attempt to keep up with modern workflows, which I am not complaining about. The basic gist is that we have to convey a story through just the environment, specifically the aftermath of some type of event. This project gives us the chance to explore new workflows and all new types of software.First there is Unreal Engine 4 which will be used to render the environment flythrough. We also get to use Quixel for modern PBR material creation (finally) and also we get to bake high poly models onto our low polys.

So now onto what I am actually making with my team. We get to choose an overall style and we decided to go with steampunk/noir and we chose the story to be a combination of the aftermath of a party and the aftermath of an experiment gone wrong. The setting is a high class train where there is a party in the dining/bar carriage and it turns out there is an experimental creature in a container in one of the storage carriages. It escapes its container in the middle of the party and slaughters everyone in that carriage. We were going to originally model a total of 4 carriages (2 seating, 1 dining, 1 storage), but after our first pitch the teachers recommended us to focus on only one, so we decided to do the dining carriage as it is the most important one in telling the story.

Concept_Container

Concept Art of the Container by me

We are taking a modular approach which is perfect for a train as so many of its elements repeat. But as there is no defined team lead there was some difficulty in making important decisions, such as the actual dimensions of the train. But in the end, we have made the decisions and are in full production. The next challenge is applying the new workflows and software and get it all into Unreal, as well as making sure everyone’s models stay consistent.

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