Post-mortem of Reboot Project (full-version)

Project

The rapid reboot assignment was an interesting collaborative project with a limited time budget of 10 hours per student per week. From weeks 1-5 we were to collaborate with students from the animation studios to create a title sequence for an old movie which was to be rebooted. Our team was compromised of students from Studio 1, 2 and 3. Given that we were in the later Studio units, Luke, Lachlan and I were to take on the roles of project leads and managers while the Studio 1’s worked on the production side of things. Our team was to “reboot” Saturday Night Fever as a TV show. The brief stated that we must take inspiration from the Archer title sequence and create a title sequence for the reboot. The sequence was to be between 15 and 30 seconds long and had to incorporate text. We successfully fulfilled this criteria and in Week 6 we presented the finished sequence.

Performance

Key Accomplishments

The final sequence had a very consistent visual style. This was largely due to a considerable amount of planning during preproduction. During preproduction, all team members created a variety of concepts and experimented with creating work similar to the Archer opening while still capturing the feel and era of Saturday Night Fever. Luke and Lachlan took these concepts and ideas and created an art bible which, I believe, really helped us to nail down the visual style. In addition to this, our title sequence was stylistically similar to Archer as we utilised silhouettes, bright colours, background overlays and smooth transitions that were driven by the disco ball. In this regard, I believe we successfully fulfilled the clients brief.

Another aspect of the project that was successful was the use of the Google Drive. I initially set up the Drive and, from there, everyone contributed. By the end of the project we had quite an epic directory and all of the work was neatly organised. In addition to these, Luke set up a naming system that was used throughout the project. This helped us to easily see what had been done and who had done what. This was an extremely useful asset to the project.

Key Problem Areas

One of the key problem areas was communication. Throughout the project, several of the Studio 1 students had trouble using or were reluctant to use Slack. This meant that there were only a couple of students communicating regularly with the leads. This resulted in a lack work and us falling behind schedule in some regards. Additionally, the lack of communication resulted in concept and asset work that was “off-model”, not to specifications and even in the wrong decade. This trend continued throughout the project, forcing the leads to fix up or do uncompleted work and resulted in some of the final scenes varying from the specified resolution. This was definitely the key problem area of the project. Although the students were regularly encouraged to communicate, some did not at all. Personally, I believe this was due to the Studio 1 students being unfamiliar with these channels or being shy about sharing ideas and work.

In addition to this, there were fluctuations in the workflow. After the initial bump of trying to get everyone on Slack and organised, work was quite productive. However, towards the middle of the project I feel that some of the work piled up resulting in a last minute rush in which Luke and Lachlan had to do more than expected. Unfortunately, I cannot describe exactly what happened as I am one of members that did not fulfil their tasks. Between weeks 3-5 I came down with a virus and basically did nothing towards the project. As a result, my tasks were distributed. This was not expected and not fair on my team.

Overall Project Assessment

Overall the project was a success: we finished the work on time, within scope and to the specifications. Moreover, the visual style was consistent and effectively combined elements of Saturday Night Fever and Archer. The way the group handled assets and files using the Google Drive was highly efficient. Unfortunately, these aspects of the project were impacted by our poor communication and time management. Although we successfully fulfilled the brief, our inability to sort out these issues resulted in a final product that was not up to the standard that we had hoped for.

Key Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

Through this project I have learned what is expected of a group manager and leader. Although this was a novel experience for me, I feel like I have learnt how to organise a team and how to take a management role in production by delegating tasks. Setting up a schedule was also good as it forced me to consider our team time budget and how to allocate the time efficiently. I believe that these will be important skills for the future as it is likely I will need to take on such a role again.

In addition to this, I have seen how essential good communication is for a project. Good communication helps facilitate work by keeping everyone on track, up to date and on model. This can be achieved with regular meetings, online discussions (on Slack) and detailed schedules. Without this, team members may be unsure of what to do or what something should look like and, as a result, may do nothing as they do not want to make a mistake. I realise now that many of my past projects may have suffered greatly because of communication issues.

Future Considerations

Moving forward I plan to implement and facilitate better communication in the future. I will do this by setting up easy-to-use channels that encourage focused discussions (for example Slack is excellent, while Facebook is not). In addition to this, I would conduct a meeting or session in which I would set up and demonstrate how the Slack, Google Drive and schedule work and would make sure each team member is able to use them. I would also try to disperse some of the hesitations that students may have about sharing their work or ideas. This could be done through a ‘concept jam session’ or similar.

Additionally, I plan to become better at time management and scheduling. This means taking risks (such as team members falling ill) and inexperience or unfamiliarity with software into account. In past projects we had created risk mitigation sheets that were quite effective; this is something I plan to bring into my future projects. In addition to this, I now know to overestimate how much time a task takes to complete (even more if the team is unfamiliar with the task). This should help me create an achievable schedule and scope. Time budget is always an issue but if I strive for a tight scope and a good schedule I should be able manage any project.

Final thoughts

I had an excellent team on this project: we had fun and worked well together. The brief was quite enjoyable and I was glad to see how much everyone got into it. I regret not being able to work more on the project but I look forward to working with the Studio 1’s in the future.

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