Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Whatwhatwhat Production Report Entry ^_^

The whatwhatwhat project appealed to me right away, as an option that could really be interpreted in any way by the group, an almost completely blank canvas to work with. The first chance we’d had to really use our imaginations, and do whatever we thought was fitting with a reasonable amount of time to work with.

The actual concept for our group’s animation, I came up with whilst the project was actually being presented to us originally, and though I normally case aside initial ideas for being too simplistic and not well enough thought out, for a thirty second animation, this one seemed as though it could well work. Anything more complex would put serious strains on the allotted 30 second time, and risk rushing the production process, neither of which would be a desirable result at all. So I allowed the idea to stay, pondered it overnight and explained it to the group the next day in class. I was surprised to find the idea extremely well received, and in no time at all the group seemed to have adopted it without question and were pondering all the different variables… characters… settings… level of realism… method of creation.
Right from the start I had imagined it being a black and white hand drawn/flash animation of very simple design, and whilst what we got was black and white as hoped, it was far more complex and pleasing to the eye than my original idea had been.

We went over all the variables numerous times before settling on the idea of two hulking men, or chavs, as we referred to them at the time, since those are the most likely pair of people to meet in a street and not wish to give way to each other. Almost before I knew it, concept art was emerging, and the process got under way fast and smoothly, the storyboarding and animatic being done rapidly and effectively without too many problems at all, the pre-production phase was sadly the only one that seemed to go smoothly however, so the easy time was to be short lived. From the very early stages of production, we were hounded by delays and technical troubles, and the huge workload seemed to have fallen a little unevenly within the group. Fortunately nobody complained, all apparently deciding that if there was any trouble to be made over it, it could be done when time allowed for it and the project was over.

As time wore on still, I became progressively more impressed with the group’s ability to keep working grimly onwards as a team despite the mounting time shortage and workload, somehow coaching each other towards finishing, even when it really did seem hopeless.

Things felt like they reached the peak of hopelessness when we realised the deadline suddenly seemed to have jumped a week closer, though it is totally unknown if it did or not. Then it was all to panic stations as we realised that it was possible that we didn’t physically have time to finish the entire thing on time for the deadline, there being simply such a huge amount left to do. Flash made the situation even worse by crashing every time we attempted to start putting things together in the studio. We had to improvise a way to do the project that was a lot more time consuming, but possible at least.

So having panicked for a little while and had to handle more technical problems, we managed to pull things together, produce one working computer to handle all the strain, and were finally able to get working in a definite progress-like direction after a frustratingly long time of running in circles like headless chickens.

We were lucky to be given a semi-extension for the project, because even after spending the entire weekend sitting working on nothing but the animation, with not enough sleep and too much panic, we barely got it finished… three hours before the final hand-in deadline. This was where my troubles began. Being post production, I was now handed a 1.36 GB file, to compress, edit, put sound to, and do an entire post production process on, in three hours, when the compression alone was set to take at least seven hours. Nobody was to blame for this, having witnessed the events leading up to it I can be sure of that. It was simply the way things happened. So I just had to work to get it done as quickly as possible, making reasonably good time with it, and finally getting to do the sound, which was the part I had been looking forward to all along. I would have liked to spend a lot more time tweaking it and finding more atmospherically matching sounds, at least several days would have been nice, but given the time I had, I don’t think the sound came out too badly. As a first official sound attempt that I’ve had the chance to work with on this course, I am pleased with it.

The credits and such were easily done and attached with the help of after effects, and then after rendering out all of the infernal TIFFS and mov files, it was off to the studio for a DVD burning… which once again the studio computers attempted to sabotage, almost succeeding too… technical errors following us to the end.

Overall though, having finished and handed it in, I feel that the project was a success, a lesson in both teamwork and the whole animating process. I cannot speak for the others of course, but I feel we worked very well as a group and I look forward to continuing to animate with these people over the rest of the course.

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