Category Archives: Reboot Project

Handling Asset Data in Large Projects

As animators, we work with a large amount of data and a multitude of assets. Therefore it is essential that the asset data is handled correctly and organized well in large group projects. In this blog I will look at how I have handled this issue in the Rapid Reboot and Zurvivor projects, and how these methods can be improved for future projects.

Reboot Project

In the Rapid Reboot project we predominantly used Google Drive with communication over Slack. I initially set up this drive and created several different folders to help separate data.

CaptureI find that this keeps everything neatly organized and helps when trying to find particular assets. Additionally, Luke established a naming convention that was successfully utilized throughout the project.

The naming convention was as follows:

Name_Asset_Detail

Examples:

02This helped us to easily see what had been done and who had done what.

Although the handling of asset data was relatively successful, there are several improvements that could have been made:

1.       A detailed asset list.

Our project lacked any sort of asset list. We just kind of told each other what was needed. This was a very unorganised way to create assets. To rectify this we could have had a detailed asset list which outlined the required assets and who was creating said assets. The list should also include a progress tracker and update box. This would have allowed the team members to mark their progress off (e.g. “Unstarted”, “Draft Done”, “Final Done”) and allows managers to easily see where everyone is up to. An update box would allow team members others that a completed asset had been changed or modified (e.g. “Updated: Version 3”).

2.       Version numbers.

This relates to the above mentioned update box. A version number should be incorporated into the naming convention in order to allow team members to easily see which the most recent version of a particular asset is:

Name_Asset_Detail_V01

This will also allow for roll back. For example, if Version 4 breaks and is completely unusable, the team can simply use Version 3 which works perfectly but is not as polished. This helps prevent a loss of data as early versions are always accessible.

Zurvivor

How we handled asset data in Zurvivor is very similar to the Rapid Reboot project. We use a well organized Google Drive and a naming convention. However, at the start of the project, Rowan created a detailed asset list:

04This was extremely helpful to the animators as it clearly showed what the asset was meant to be and what type of asset it is. From here I moved this information to an “Asset List and Delegation” sheet. Using what I had learned in the Reboot project, I added a progress marker, delegation section and update section.

03This has noticeably improved the workflow and has allowed Ben, Hamish and me to work quickly to finish assets.

Again, we haven’t yet incorporate version numbers. As these assets are for a game, they are either “Placeholder”, “First Pass”, “Second Pass”, and so on. So far this has been a sufficient replacement for version numbers. However, for larger, longer running projects I will definitely be utilizing a version system.

To the Future

For future projects I will using:

  • Organized Google Drive
  • Detailed asset list
  • Progress marker and update box
  • Naming convention
  • Version numbers

These should allow for productive and efficient workflow.

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.

Reboot Project: Reflection

Working on the Rapid Reboot Project was quite interesting as I took on more of a manager role than a production role. This was a good learning experience for me as I haven’t had to take on such a role before and forced me to do documentation.

Implementing a Framework

In the beginning, I set up a couple of frameworks to help with the production process. I created the initial scope:

scopeI also set up a shared google drive and encouraged our team to get onto Slack and Toggl. In order to keep on top of things, I created the following schedule and hours log which I regularly encouraged the team to view and use.

Capture

hours

I believe that I sufficiently established a framework which facilitated collaborative production.

The rest of the project

In addition to the framework and management role, I also created the storyboards, a basic animatic and a couple of background assets during the first couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I got quite sick around the end of Week 3 and basically missed two weeks of uni. This meant that my work of the project was minimal bar the first couple of weeks.

Aside from a couple of communication issues, over Week 4 and 5 the team worked really well together, even collaborating with a graphic designer for the typography and colour. I am pleased that the project really came together and the final scenes all have a consistent style and flow. Although I can not take credit for the final product, I am really proud of what my team has produced and how effective the collaboration has been.

Rapid Production Project: Reboot

Today we started our rapid production group project. My group, Stayin’ Alive (Team D) will be rebooting the movie Saturday Night Fever as a television series and will be creating the title sequence in the style of the Archer titles.

I am quite excited to do this project, as Saturday Night Fever has a lot of iconic imagery that we can work with. I really think that we will be able to ‘reboot’ it in the Archer style.

Roles and Organisation

Luke, Lachlan and I are going to be directing some of the Studio 1’s throughout this project. In order to divide the work evenly and to help organise our team, we have each taken on a director role.

VFX Lead: Luke
2D Lead: Lachlan
3D Lead: Erika

In addition to this we have set up Toggl in order to track our time.

toggl

Communication Channels

In order to have effective communication, we have set up a several different channels.

I set up a Slack channel for discussion and also a shared Google Drive so that we can easily share images and files.

Capture

Kaylah has set up a Pinterest board which we have been using as our mood board.

2

In addition to these, we will be meeting on Wednesdays after class to work on this project.

Initial Scope

Required

  • “Actors” names for the titles.
  • Typography that fit with theme and style.
  • Bright colour palette that suits theme and style.
  • Unmoving 2D assets (drawings, blueprints) to be overlaid on coloured blocks.
  • 2D dancing silhouette assets for background.
  • Basic animated 3D assets (medallion, record player, disco ball) to be rendered flat.
  • Moving 2D stills for foreground (footprints, light beams).
  • Animated (puppet style) silhouette for foreground.
  • 15 secs long.

Desirable

  • Collab with audio student to get original music.
  • Effectively time animations and titles to music.
  • Moving or keyframed background silhouettes.
  • High quality background assets (2D and 3D).

Scale Back

  • Use Bee Gees or similar for music.
  • Animate the foreground images only.
  • Have basic 2D assets.
  • Limit to 15 secs.

Initial Schedule

Throughout Wk 1: Everyone is to watch movie and concept some ideas and images for project.
By 29th Sept: Luke will take these concepts and have the screenplay written.
Throughout Wk 2: The leads will breakdown the screenplay and create asset lists. Leads will work with Studio 1 peoples to define roles and tasks for each team member.
By 2nd Oct: Erika and Lachlan will have a complete storyboard for the project.
Starting 3rd Oct: Studio 1 peoples will start on animatic.

References

GK01Sam’s channel. (2014). Archer Title Sequence [Video].
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqHOAWChIOY

TrailersPlaygroundHD. (2013). Saturday Night Fever – Official Trailer HD [Video].
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5tBXe0kSLA