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The end.

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In the following text we’ll try our best to explain the biggest stumbling blocks of our project, hopefully in a way that is helpful to all of you who are about to start your own project.  This will be the last post about our own 3D animation project, since the project itself is suspended. We also put together a video presentation of all the material that was made during the project. There are cool characters, style frames, sketches and even animation 😉 !

We started the animation in the fall of 2009 as an extra project alongside school.  The original idea belongs to Hannu and Outi who decided to put a crew together to make a short animation film about turkeys. Our plan was to make a good-looking animation with a nice storyline and likeable character. This was a pioneer project in our school, because we incorporated people from the AV-fields, interactive and visual fields. That is why our second goal besides the quality of the animation was just to see the pipeline of a CGI animation project with a crew as big as this. We didn’t finish the animation, but we sure reached the second goal!

The proper way to end a project

We had a final meeting with the crew in 15.1.2011 so we could discuss about the suspended project and share our experiences of the whole thing. It was a short notice invitation, so only half of the crew was able to show up (Outi, Hannu, Markus, Tiina, Juho, Martti, Robert).

Everyone was sorry that the final product didn’t get ready, but as said earlier, the biggest trophy was to learn the different stages of a project like this. Especially for those of us who had never been in an animation project before!

Here is a list of the biggest problems that we had during the production:

1) The project was extracurricular, so basically most of the work was done after school. The meetings were always in the afternoon and there was no time arranged to do all of the work. At first it worked when everyone was excited about the new project. Soon enough it became too stressful to do all of this ”in your free time”. Motivation was sometimes hard to find. Close to the end, people started to have other projects and internships that took even more time from the project.

2) The whole project swelled too big for us to handle. The script ended up being around 3-4 minutes and there were complicated characters and shots to be made. At this point we just decided to push through and expand the timeline of the project. The right thing to do would have been to strip the project from all of the extra material and just focus on the essential idea of the script.

3) The 3D storyboard that we made was good for the editor and the director of photography to make plans that had to do with their work. It also looked good as an animatic! The problem was that the 3D storyboard didn’t work for the rest of the crew as well. We should have also made a nice hand drawn storyboard (well planned poses, expressions, etc.) to go with the other one. As a shortcut we just went with the one that we already had. The illustrated version would have helped us in many different cases (character design, modelling, directing, voice acting, animating, etc.)

4) We didn’t have a place to call our ”studio”. Everybody worked from home or in different classrooms. This made communication hard and the work became more and more unsynchronized.  This was a matter of resources.

5) We didn’t have a technical director. Every time a problem occurred it was a mystery who should fix it and how. If we had had a person dedicated only to this, it would have taken the stress off the artist. We also lacked many other vital persons like a set decorator, concept artist, etc. Again, a matter of resources.

Hopefully these were helpful and don’t forget to see the rest of the blog for tips on more specific topics. Leave a comment, tell us what you think and share your own experiences! We are leaving this animation behind to make room for future projects! So if you have any links, ideas for a post or something else, please share the fun 🙂

Thank you,

The Turkeys


Making of The Gruffalo

A great documentary about making an animated film. This is really interesting because the backgrounds are made with “stop-motion” and the characters with CGI. Check it out!

Here is a blog by Nick Dorra including awesome tips on producing animation. The newest post is about budgeting and why animation costs more than live-action.

Martti: I just came across this awesome video that explains basically everything you need to know about 3D animation and it’s pre-production! Enjoy

What now? Time for work?

By Martti, Producer:
Hi everyone! The summer holiday is coming to its end and we will start planning the future of our animation&blog any day now 🙂 It’s nice to see that there has been a group of followers through the whole summer, and I hope that you guys will keep in touch.

By Tiina Pyykkö, AD:

This is a scene from the beginning of the story, in which Marilyn approaches her new home in a pickup truck. In the background you can see the farmyard, but also the rest of the world created for “Homecoming”: 3D-field around the farm and trees at the edges of the field. Behind 3D-models lies a painting (made by digital artist Sini Pakarinen) that gives a rather realistic illusion of hills far away in the horizon, sky and clouds. The clouds appear to be moving, but they stay still on the painting – only the camera is moving.

The colours of the farm and rest of the world are pretty much what I wanted, but for some reason the colours on Marilyn sitting near to camera look horrific, like there would be a whole lot of grey used on her textures. My guess is that, due to paleness of Marilyn’s skin and hair, the green light reflecting from the back of the pickup truck mix up with colours on Marilyn and this makes her look at least nauseous, if not absolutely a corpse. By changing the colour of the car for example into brown and making Marilyn’s own colours a bit stronger she will probably look alive and charming again. Also, in this clip our cinematographer hasn’t finished the lightning yet and I believe there is no light aimed directly to Marilyn, so after fixing the textures and lights the clip will surely look quite different from this raw version.

So what this clip teaches me about designing characters for 3D-animation? It’s not enough that character’s colours look good on the model sheet, for they will be in interaction with reflections from many different objects during the animation, for example as common object as green grass. White and light yellow look so cute on a character, but they probably make the person adjusting the lamps on scene to pull his hair off. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use light colours, I just think it’s important to be aware that it’s difficult to keep light colours pure without burning them through with too much light on the scene. Even better if you have time to test your charchter in different surroundings before the actual animating begins to make sure its colours really fit in.

By Hannu Koivuranta, Lighting Lead & Director of Photography:

This is also done, but needs some minor tweaking. The shadows are too strong inside the car and it just doesn’t look real. Marilyn is also a very difficult character to light, since the topography of her face is very 3-dimensional and the shader of her hair has not been fixed (it emits too much light).

This video is an early draft of the shot. The background is not in its right place. The farm is supposed to reveal itself from the right side of the image, behind the car. It would then be in sync with Marilyn peeking through the board and the road wouldn’t pass the car as it does in the end.

The background layer is also out of place – it is accidentally moving, which should not be the case.

On top of all this, the final camera movement is missing. We were going for a hand-held look to emphasize Marilyn’s experience of arrival to the strange new farm.

3D Animation Projects producers Martti and Robert were giving a speech few weeks ago on TAF seminar, which was a big honour.

The title of the seminar was How Can Universities Give Students a Kick to go Global:

“We mainly spoke about how students can start marketing their project right from the beginning. It is common for student projects to end up just straight to the school library – some of them will probably be sent to festivals, and that’s that. We wanted to take the marketing a little bit further.

So we decided to open up the game in social media with:

Production Blog

Facebook group

Flickr account

Wreckamovie

We realized that it was a very succesful way to open  up the conversation globally and also make new friends and contacts from the 3D Animation field. We got great face to face feedback from a few listeners from the audience. We were even asked to speak about our production blog at a media school in Germany.

So there might be new interesting possibilities for us in the near future. We are very grateful to TAMK University of Applied Sciences (Art and Media) for the opportunity to introduce our project at TAF ´10 . ”

TAF 2010 Magazine in Finnish: Our project on pages 22-23