Studio Client Project: Double Jump Studios

Having been assigned to a company, we arranged to meet our client representative: Naill Carlin: lead of Double Jump StudiosOriginally creative head at White Noise Studios, working on projects for clients such as the BBC. Developing an interest and seeing the potential in the application of Virtual Reality, such as the Oculous Rift, on media today.

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Who are Double Jump Studios?

Double Jump Studios are a graphics, VFX and video production company based in Belfast, they specialize in all things animation. Delivering ground breaking designs and visuals on time and on budget.

Brief: Create an explainer video/Animation for Double Jump Studios.

It must reflect the company, so make it:

  • Inventive
  • Fun
  • Creative
  • Problem Solving

Typical Workflow Process

  1. Script Development
  2. Creative Concepts
  3. Storyboards
  4. Animation 2D/3D
  5. Video Production
  6. Post Production
  7. Voice Over
  8. Final Delivery

Duration on each Stage

Conceptualisation:1 week

Visual Concepts:1 Week

Story Boarding:1 Week

Asset Creation:3-4 weeks

Animation: 3-4 Weeks

Polish: 1 week

Final Presentation

Having the chance to meet and work with Niall is awesome! Love the brief set, It pretty much covers the entire production process so we’ll be able to work on all aspects of the process weather its designing,modelling,animating (etc). Also its a great chance to learn a new piece of software, we were told that we’d be working a lot with After effects, a power piece of software used frequently here in the North so that’s a bonus. Working with Niall is also going to give us a great insight into what the industry is like, his work is impressive covering a range of media, like compositing and visual effects.

 

Looking forward to getting started!

 

 

Guest Lecture: Niall Carlin-Double Jump Studios

Background Research:

Niall Carlin: Head of Double Jump Studios.

Photo Taken by Alec Parkin.

After graduating from Design for Communication, Magee Campus, Ulster University.He went on to become the creative head at White Noise Studios, working on projects for clients such as the BBC. Developing an interest and seeing the potential in the application of Virtual Reality, such as the Oculous Rift, as an interesting method through which to communicate ideas.

What does Double Jump Studios do?

  • Double Jump Works closely with organisation to help them unlock their creativity
  • Develops the best strategy to give the client what they want.

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME

  • Technology is readily available and easy to obtain
  • There’s information everywhere for an individual to learn the software.

however as a result, the ability to use software isn’t considered to be a key trait anymore, instead those with a firm grasp and understanding in areas such as design Theory, colour, Typography, composition and animation are valued above all else.

“SO LEARN THE HARD STUFF!”

You need a Hero

Look at the work of the individuals that inspire you and constantly assess your work against theirs, and keep developing, even when you surpass them.

  • Practices everyday, whether it’s drawing, modelling, animation or even a bit of everything, practise everyday. The more you practise the better you get.
  • Be good at taking criticism.

Deadlines

  • Deadlines rules your creative life
  • Time is money

Always ask why and not how…

 

The tool is not the skill (i.e: Maya is a tool) but knowing ‘why’ to approach a problem or scenario in a certain way is more important.

Don’t Be The Best

Always push your skill level and seek to learn more, and learn from those around you.

Additional bits of advice

  • Be great
  • Meet people and get to know them
  • Be cool

I really enjoyed Niall’s lecture, I thought it was very inspiring to see an individual who pretty much started off in the same place as we did and work his way up the industry here in Northern Ireland. Also the advice he gave in general is fairly invaluable, it’s a very competitive industry and if you’re not prepared to sit down and learn the hard stuff someone else will gladly take your place and I couldn’t agree more with the necessity of being able to take criticism. Having worked in a variety of teams over the past two years I learned that criticism is a great form of communication that gives you the opportunity to learn more about the person you’re working with or for and it forces you to really think about how you work leading you towards good practices in creating your content.

I also had the chance to ask him a few questions after the presentation.

Knowing that he had previously  undertaken courses in games design and had experience in creating visual effects for television, I asked him if whether or not he found the skills developed from either of these areas were easily transferable from one to the other?

To which he replied,

“On a Tech side, programming skills are fairly transferable, games now a days have quite a cinematic standard, so it’s not uncommon to for from games to film or vice versa also games Artist often transfer over to the world of VFX as Generalist technical directors covering modelling, lighting, texturing, layout and rigging and so on…”

In addition I asked him if whether or not he thought virtual reality has a lot of potential to develop in our industry.

“Yes, I think there’s huge potential for virtual reality, it’s a new and exciting medium through which to tell stories and communicate ideas with.”

Awesome guy, looking forward to seeing what Double Jump Studios does in the future.

 

You can see some more of Double Jump’s cool works here:

 

An Introduction To Creative Enterprize

With creative Enterprise, we are being taken through the steps necessary to get ourselves ready for employment or working with clients. 

The module is split up into two parts:

  1. Lectures from Greg
  2. Lectures from speakers

The module is set up to teach us how to sell ourselves, referring to 3 main stages.

  1. HELLO WORLD (Marketing)
  2. INTERVIEW (Personality)
  3.  JOB (Success!)

The ‘Hello World’ section of the module looks into marketing yourself to companies or potential clients by:

  • Creating a 2 minute (3 minute max) showreel, demonstrating the skills you have to offer through some of your best work.
  • A CV – Resume
  • A cover letter
  • Website
  • Taking part in mock interviews

Typical Reel layouts:

Modelling Reel – Display turntables, textures, wire frames and uv’s

Animation Reel – Short Cycles, to and from idle

Compositing Reel – Clean shot, trackers, markers (swipe)

 

CV Content:

  • Clear; Relevant
  • Contact information
  • Searchable Text – Keywords like ‘Modelling‘, ‘Animation.
  • Chronological order: Latest employment information at the top of the CV with dates and a brief description of what you did.

Cover Letter – Why you want to work for the company you’re applying for.

Personalised to each company – eg.

  • ‘Dear [insert carefully researched name here]’
  • ‘I love your work on The blind optician
  • ‘I like doing this’ – describe relevant tasks you enjoy
  • ‘I would be a good fit to your company because’

Website – Content should include

  • Show reel
  • About You
  • Clear & relevant
  • Professional Name
  • Experience

Mock Interview

  • Arrive Early
  • Confident Pose
  • Bring Hard Copies
  • Sketch books
  • Bring Laptops/Pc/Tablets/USB
  • Prepare for a lack of internet
  • Don’t wear a suit

Networking Opportunities

  • Online & Face to face
  • Toody Threedy
  • Games NI
  • NI Screen
  • Facebook
  • Make Business Cards
  • Have your show reel on your Phone, you never know who you’re going to meet

Job – When working for an employer:

  • Don’t be a dick
  • Take direction well. Make your boss happy
  • Keep Networking
  • Keep your Show reel up to date
  • Keep looking for other opportunities
  • Keep learning
  • Blog
  • Work at work. Stay off Facebook

Seems like its going to be an interesting module! looking forward to what speakers are brought in and hearing what advice they have to offer, should be fun!

 

Creative Strategies: Project Reflection

With the module finished I can say that i’m a mixture of happy and underwhelmed. Originally I set out to do more in all areas but ended up compromising due to issues with time and deadlines.I loved the module briefs and think they leave a lot for the user to experiment with and achieve awesome results, but it all felt a bit overwhelming at times for me personally within the time frame set. Looking back now, I can say with confidence that  I learned a lot, I love modelling and am happy with how my knowledge and approach to the area has developed (looking back at some of my early modelling and thinking “what the hell is that?). However i’m still somewhat clueless to Uv mapping, which annoys me cause I know its an area that really holds me back, however as a result I’m determined to solve this problem, I’ve been looking into Ptex a little and it seems like a really handy way to get some nice maps but I still want to learn how UV map in Maya first and when I know  I can do it that way, then i’ll try out Ptex. Animation and compositing have become a personal favorite, and would love to work on a few projects that combine the two. Overall I really liked the module and brief set but felt a bit overwhelmed at times. Thankfully i’m getting better at dealing with this, knowing when something is too ambitious and when something is realistic to achieve, which in the past has been a problem but i’m happy with my outcomes as a starting point, just going to have to keep getting better with practice. To finish off I would like to say that I had an awesome team. Edward,Kerry and Sorcha are incredibly passionate and hard working individuals who are doing to do some awesome things in the future, was really glad I got to work with them and am thank full for all the support and feed back given by both the team and my lecturers.

An Introduction to UV Mapping

In addition to modelling, we’ve also been tasked with UV mapping some of our models. 

I haven’t had much experience with UV mapping in the past, so I thought it would be necessary to brush up on some of the basic theory revolving around  UV mapping.

I found a nice article by Renier Banninga(found Herein which he goes over some useful tips and methods to use when UV mapping. In addition Digital Tutors also had some really useful tutorials addressing UV Mapping. (found here).

The Rengier article dives straight into the technical aspects involved in the UV mapping process, whereas in contrast, the Digital Tutors tutorial starts off by explaining some the basic theory and terminology used and then gradually builds into some of the more technical aspects of the UV mapping process. Both are great sources of information regarding the topic at hand and often include visual examples  of what they’re trying to explain which I find incredibly useful being somewhat of a visual learner.

What Is UV Mapping?

(digital Tutors)

UV mapping is a solution addressing the problem one may face trying to apply a two dimensional texture onto a model or piece of geometry that exists in a three dimensional space.

UV’s act as a bridge between 2D and 3D, allowing us to apply a 2D image onto a 3D object.  Each face on the polygonal object is tied to a face on a UV map.

UV example

In reference to the image above: I like to think of a UV Map as a the 3D object stretched out and flattened, making it easier for us to paint on it and this process is often referred to as laying out the UV’s. (UV mapping)

When mapping our UV’s there’s a few things we need to keep in mind:

  • UV’s need to be spaced evenly to work well, otherwise this could lead to our texture being distorted when applied to an object.
  • Seams, , non-connected, non continuous edges on a piece of geometry, plan where they can be hide on an object.

 

Mapping Types And Their Uses:

(Renier Banninga)

Planar Mapping

Renier describes planar mapping as the most basic of the mapping modifiers to apply to objects.

It  projects the texture onto a model from one direction and is useful for mapping objects like walls and basic terrain. however, isn’t considered to be effective when a complex object with many overlapping surfaces needs to be mapped

The reason for this being that it will often stretch the polygons that don’t face the projected map directly.

planar

-An example of Planar mapping above-

Cylindrical Mapping

Projects the texture in a radial pattern inwards making it very useful for mapping objects like tree trunks, arms, torso and legs. It’s very handy for blocking out mapping on various types of meshes. However it still requires a lot of tweaking afterwards in the UV editor.

Cylindrical.jpg

-An example of Cylindrical mapping above-

Spherical Mapping

Projects the texture in a spherical pattern onto an object. However it causes a very high pixel density at the poles of an objects mapping. This causes a pinching effect that’s hard to counter when painting the texture.

Spherical

-An example of Spherical mapping above-

Pixel Density and Stretching

Try to keep your mapping a consistent aspect ratio for the pixel size in the texture map. Lookout for areas where the texture gets stretched or skewed. This can cause unnecessary problems for the texture artist who would have to counter any warped mapping.

no.jpg

Mapping Seams

To Minimize Seams when UV mapping, Simply align the vertices of the seam with the corresponding connection in the mapping on either the horizontal or vertical plane of the texture coordinates. This way the pixels align on one of the axes.

For technical objects, it’s easier to get away with seams since they tend to be quite fragmented, and the nature of the object allows it. however for organic meshes.

We can minimize the amount of seams as much as possible by using accurate, continuous mapping.

Banninga, continues by covering some of the more advanced aspects of UV mapping.

Optimizing UV Layouts

Optimized UV layouts are particularly useful for real-time characters.

(He’s basically stating to not waste space in your UV editor, and this is because the entire texture gets loaded into memory, so take advantage of it)

To do so, you should scale, rotate and move those UV-mapped vertices until no more space can be saved.

 

Unfolding and Relaxing UV’s

Unfolding and relaxing UV’s is a handy thing to do if your UV’s are caught up and tangled.

Relax

Inside the Relax UV option box we can edit some values such as Pin selected UVs or Pin Unselected UVs.

Pining either means they wont be affected the the action of the Relax UV’s

Relaxing with even and smooth out some of the irregularities in you’re UV’s.

Unfold

Lets you unwrap the UV mesh for a polygonal object while trying to ensure that the UVs do not overlap. Unfolding UVs helps to minimize the distortion of texture maps on organic polygon meshes by optimizing the position of the UV coordinates so they more closely reflect the original polygon mesh.

Within the Unfold options we can set restraints, in order to achieve the effect we want, like limiting the unfold to only unfold Uv’s horizontally or vertically.