Modelling: Message ‘Alert’ Bot and Script Writer Bot

Message ‘Alert’ Bot

In previous versions of my animatics, there was a little floating screen object which displayed the mail icon to symbolise the arrival of the brief. Shown below:

old_message_alert_bot

However the more I worked with and developed the scene, the more bland it became in comparison to the colourful and cartoony look we were going for.

As a result I decided to turn this message alert object into a character, that responds to the set and other characters in a more life-like way.

I wanted to keep it simple, making sure the screen was still the main object of focus. So I did a bit of research looking into other TV head based characters, excluding my own and came across and blog under the name of wnjmn.

This individual had made some incredibly cute and appealing looking character with heads, resembling that of TV screen which was exactly what I was looking for:

Work by wnjmn.

As a result, I based the message ‘Alert’ bot design off off these character, adding a little siren at the top and modified the little speaker shapes at the side.

 

Script Writer Bot

With regards to the script writer bot, it’s original design changed very little over the course of the project.

Referring my concept design from earlier on in the project.

Final Outcome

 

 

Character Modelling Process: TV BOT

Half way through the animatic stages, I started to polish and refine some of the assets required for the final output. I this case I started with the creation of out TV bot character.

So I refereed back to some of Pauls earlier concept designs as a starting place and looked at how they could potentially be developed further to match the look we were going for.

Click here to see Paul’s designs

The things I took away from Paul’s work was that the characters were simple, cartoony and very appealing. Which was exactly what we wanted, so developing upon the previous work it was incredibly important to keep these features in the final outcome.

In addition, I looked in multiple places like pinterst and tumblr for more designs and inspiration that could be added to our own work.

 

I found these designs to be the most useful in terms of what I’d like our TV bot character to resemble.

  1. Otamemo’s little (Japanese styled) bot character was a really interesting piece for me to work off, although somewhat over detailed in some areas from what we’re going for, it thought the over all design and form of the character was spot on in terms of appeal and use of colour.
  2. Sony’s little playroom robots we’re also great references to work off, with a similar colour scheme used with Otamemo’s bot (which could easily be modified to match Double Jumps style) the simplified appearance and design, specifically the head design and pix elated treatment for the eyes.
  3. Disney Pixar’s EVE design was also useful due to the simplified form and facial design.

Below is my first model (work in progress) of what I thought the character could look like taking particular influence from Otamemo’s and Sony’s work.

Using image based lighting (hdrlabs) to get a quick result combined with Mental ray pre-set materials: Glossy Plastic and Solid glass.

Feedback:

After posting these images for feedback, Double Jump’s response was as follows:

  • Really good modelling displayed
  • Exaggerate the forms.
  • Simplify everything.
  • It looks very realistic – needs to look a bit stylised and fun.

In addition to the feedback this design was given as a rough concept with where to take the proportions.

So as a result, I made it more cartoony by exaggerating certain proportions like the torso to leg ratio, trying to make it cuter and more appealing, in addition I also played about with the mental Ray material value’s, turning down the reflectivity of the glossy plastic pre-set whilst keeping the glossy value, and adding matte plastic material into the mix to create a bit of contrast.

 

In relation to the rough concept that was submitted with the feedback I also tried out a different colour scheme that matched the rough concept. (reminds me of an old 1990’s gameboy)

Feedback

  •  Go with the white and blue one, the accent colours work well and suit the brand.
  •  Add a smile to the face.
  •  Proportion is still realistic – try and squeeze the body segment down a bit.
  • Add the double Jump logo to the character

With the feedback recieved, I went into learning how to apply the Double Jump Studios logo to the character, I thought the most appropriate place to put it would be the chest, where it would be easily visible.

I started off by uv mapping the relevant piece of geometry on the body, in my case, it was a simple planar map on the z axis due to my scene orientation. which gave me the following:

 

outUV_blog

This was plenty for me to work with, however how to texture it was the next step. I looked into adding the colour and logo  to the uv entirely in Photoshop however felt like I was loosing some of the material’s appealing value as a result, so I opted for having a mental ray material on the geometry and layering the logo on top of it.

I found this tutorial to be really useful when trying to achieve the effect I wanted.

Key Notes

  • The layered texture node does not directly support the mia material
  • However we can use a surface shader to act as a bridge between the mia material node and the layered texture node.
  • Plug the result of the Mia material into the out colour of the surface shader, this calculates the mia material render result value and plugs the value into the surface shader.
  • A surface shader does not calculate lighting information.
  • With both materials connected to the layered texture node via surface shaders, create a third surface shader and plug the layered texure node into the out colour of the surface shader.
  • Create/use a alpha map (reads black and white information, white- shows the top layer, black shows the bottom layer.
  • With your alpha map texture obtained, plug it into the alpha value of your top layer.

View of my hypergraph editor:

Hyper Graph view

 

I managed to get the Double Jump logo form the website, after which I gave an alpha channel, (in photoshop) and saved it out as a targa file for file optimisation.

Below is both an image of the alpha channel and the texture that will be layered on top of the mental ray material.

Alpha Map – Visible logo, white (will show through the geometry. Non visible background – black (wont show through the geometry).

 

 

This method of texturing gave me the result I was after, where the loosing any visible values from my mia material whilst having the logo clear and visible.

For an additional bit of feedback I sent images of the current TV Bot to my lecture, to which he suggested that I re-address the proportions of the body as they seem unbalanced.

Sending me these as references and guidelines.

chibi mini tutorial two by punkAliceRose.deviantart.com on @deviantART:

I thought these were really cool because of their cute and cartoony appearence and after using these images to experiment with the proportions and changing the arms and hands to look less ‘crab like’ I got the final outcome below.

 

Animatics: Development

With our storyboards ok’d we started to move our work into Maya for the animatic development stage. This would give us the opportunity to work out the timing of our animation, camera movements/transitions and overall flow of the sequence.

Animatic One

Mentioned previously, I realised that due to the change in set design the original concept of having a pipe come down off screen to carry the brief away into the next scene didn’t really fit or make sense.

(Original Concept)

pipe_comes_down

As a result, I changed that idea to something more suitable, where the brief (now in a sack or bag)  is sitting on a platform or area of focus after which a little helicopter character arrives to collect it and deliver it to scriptwriting. This refers back to what Double Jump Studios does on a daily basis, and displays a transitional process within the sequence itself.

  1. Client Brief arrives
  2. Brief is taken through the script writing process
  3. Scripts are transferred to creative concepting
  4. Pan out to reveal logo

The spinning motion of the camera was influenced by a transition from the animated short trailer: THE SCARECROW. We thought it would an interesting transitional effect to our own work whilst having the chance to show off a lot of interesting and querky processes.

giphy

 

 

Feedback

  • Have the briefs emerge from the platform
  • Work on the framing of the camera, make sure we see something interesting happening with every transition.
  • Work on the pacing and timing, slow to camera movement down when we need to focus on something (ie: the key processes)
  • Good start. Keep at it.

Taking the feedback on board I made the briefs rise from from the platform after which a little helicopter character (based from Paul’s design) flys up, collects the brief to then deliver it to the script writing stage. Which then begins to output a series of scripts which float down into the creative concepting stage. I also slowed down the camera movements when focusing on key processes and readdressed the flow and framing issues brought up previously. I also developed the set more to help characterise the process, particularly  the ‘Brief arriving stage.’

Animatic Two

Feedback

  • Start to polish the set design elements, add a light bulb to the creative concepting stage to emphasis the idea.
  • Start looking into colour
  • Good work on the flow and framing of the sequence

Alec’s feedback

  • experiment with zoom in transition – e.g. zooms into colour/eye and out into another sting or part of sting or logo etc
  • work on Camera flow of was in outs of camera
  • consider experimenting with isometric/orphagrphic camera in maya – similar to ‘A Day’ short & monument valley
  • block out colours in 3d animatic so it’s not all lambert1 grey

A DAY – MAKES NO SENSE

So we got a good amount of feedback to work off to improve our work which was great!

With all the feedback taken on, I came out with the result seen below.

Animatic Three

Feedback

  • More offset on the robot movements perhaps (maybe one is doing something different i.e. robot dance)
  • Renders – match styles – share material presets
  • Experiment with some motion graphics and extra ways to push the quality of the idents in post production in after effects – ask Niall what kind of AE effects he’d like you to look into.
  • Add subtle motion blur in final renders with the reelSmart motion blur plugin

Niall’s Feedback

  • Much bigger light bulb .
  • Exaggerate everything.
  • Little bit more animated with the characters would be good too.

So again, plenty to work with and improve but happy with the responses so far! looking forward to polishing this up.

Making a cover letter

Before writing my cover letter up I wanted to take a bit more time to research into what makes a good cover letter, ranging from the content and format to what will help to stand out in the rest.

What is a cover letter?

‘A cover letter is a one page document that you send with your resume when applying for a job.’

It sets out to:

  • Introduce yourself to the hiring manager
  • Argue why you’d be a good fit for the job
  • Fill in places your resume cannot describe
  • Further explain other aspects of your resume

Format

1.Contact Information

Begin your cover letter, include both the employer’s and your contact information.

2. Introduction

Find out who you’re addressing the letter to:

Look through the company’s website, LinkedIn, or even give the company a call to ask for the hiring manager’s name. Even if you get it wrong, it still looks like you’ve made an effort.

Introduce yourself:

In the first paragraph of your cover letter, begin by telling the employer the position you are applying for and how you learned about the opportunity.

The rest of the paragraph should briefly present basic info about yourself, including: degree, area of study/expertise, and your career goals in terms of how they align with the goals of the company.

3. Sell Yourself

  • The second paragraph should respond directly to the job description written by the hiring manager.
  • Describe how your previous job experiences, skills, and abilities will allow you to meet the company’s needs.
  • To make that easier, you can (and should) literally include words and phrases from the job description in your cover letter.
  • Try to find out what they are doing,why,given the current state of their industry.
  • In a third paragraph, explain how you can fit into that schema, and help push the company forward and achieve any goals you suspect they may have.

4. Conclusion

  • This is your “call to action” portion of your cover letter.
  • Inform them that you’d love to get interviewed and that you’ll be in contact with them in a week if you don’t hear back.
  • Thank them for spending the time to read your letter.

So based off what we were taught in class and from the following bit of research, I started on my cover letter.

In my case I decided to use Double Jump Studios as the company I was applying for due to the fact that I had been working with them for several months and built up a good working relationship with them.

First draft:Andrew Coyle_cover_letter_old.jpg

 

After showing it to Alec for feedback he suggested going into more detail about how I would fit in with the company and what I could contribute to them as a result of being employed. Also add your signature to make it more personal. 

With the feedback taken on board I finalised my cover letter

Final Draft

Andrew Coyle_cover_letter_newest-1.jpg

 

 

Showreel With feedback

 

First draft of my showreel, so theres still a few bits and pieces to fix up. I put this together with the intent of applying for a generalist postion with a company, showing off my work in as many areas as possible, modelling, animation, compositing etc.

After wrapping it up, I sent to Alec and Niall Carlin (Double Jump) for feedback and advice on how to make it better.

Alec’s Feedback

  • Try some other car renders – try using different hdr images maybe with higher studio light contrast (more black areas) experiment with the car paint shader material.
  • Move the comp shot forward, after the robot model, then the animation cycles, then the bird and crunch shots, then the prop models
  • Add textures and appropriate shaders to the prop models along with the wire frame stuff you have when you have time after hand in.

Niall’s feedback

  • Liven it up more
  • Don’t just have turn tables of your work, have you assets doing something that engages the viewers interest, like interacting with one another.
  • Show the early concepts,process and development of your work

He then told me to look at this ‘making of video’, taking note of how the individual, shows the development, process and breakdown of the work.

 

Really happy with the feedback given, it’s really constructive and will definitely make a huge difference whenever the changes are made. Thanks lads!

Preparing for the Interview

In preparation for the interview I decided to do some research into the potential guest panel interviewers.When talking through good ways to present yourself and preparing for an interview, it was clear that doing a bit of research on the company your applying to work with and the individual interviewing you was a good thing to do.

As a result I decided to do a bit of research into NI Screen’s Paula Campbell and Black North’s/Enter Yes’s Ross Morrison

Who are NI Screen?

Northern Ireland Screen is the government-backed lead agency in Northern Ireland for the film, television and digital content industry, driving global growth through boosting our economy, celebrating our culture and enhancing our children’s education.

Paula Campbell – Skills Executive

  • Joined in August 2011 as Co-ordinator for the Aim High training scheme, a joint venture with Creative Skillset and BBC NI, and was appointed Skills Executive in November 2014.
  • She  co-ordinates work placements for the Aim High trainees with local indie production companies as well as BBC NI. Paula is also responsible for organising additional training workshops, master-classes and trips to festivals and markets for the trainees.
  • Prior to joining Northern Ireland Screen, Paula worked in production for over 25 years including being a founder and director of a local production/post production company for 10 of those years.

Who are Black North?

WE ARE UNDERGOING SITE MAINTENANCE. WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE. CONTACT US FOR MORE INFO.

Black North are a multimedia company who create award winning animation and interactive products based in Belfast Northern Ireland.

Ross Morrison – Assistant Producer

  • A writer by trade, Ross has been involved in the creative industry for a number of years. In 2007, he was a finalist in international novel competition, Pulp Idol.
  • In 2008 his short Slow Life was selected for an anthology put together by the Society of Young Publishers to celebrate the most exciting young writers in the UK & Ireland.
  • Since 2009, he has occasionally worked with Blacknorth as a Script Editor until he joined on a full-time basis in December 2014.
  • He has established himself as a useful asset, bringing with him project management experience along with a vast array of talent and imagination.

It’ll be great to get in insight to what the industry is like here from these two, and where they see It going in the future. Hopefully they foresee jobs….lots and lots of jobs… But regardless, they both have a lot of experience and advice to give from the sounds of it so I’m looking forward to meeting them.


In addition, we also went through some interview questions, looking at how they should be interpreted and how we should respond to them.

Some examples were:

Tell us about yourself

  • The employer wants to know about you but also put you under pressure to see how you react on the spot.
  • Take full advantage of the control they’ve given you
  • Don’t give a life story, keep it pertinent, keep focused on the position you’re applying for.

Appropriate Answer:

2 to 3 minutes long and briefly cover your education,interest in the field, work history and experience.

Why Should you get this Job?

  • Your opportunity to describe why you want the job and why you would be a perfect fit for the company.
  • This is your personal sales pitch

Appropriate Answer Format:

“From what we’ve discussed so far, you’re looking for ‘X’. In the past I have demonstrated ‘X’,’Y’ and ‘Z’ (experience and your main strengths) which have really helped my previous employer.

Where do you see yourself in fives years time?

  • The employer wants to see if you’ve thought about your future and you’re ambition to progress in the industry.
  • They also want to verify that you plan to stay with them for a long time.
  • If you’re applying for an entry level position, explain how you’d like your career to progress. for example ‘I’d like to progress to this position’
  • If you’re applying for a senior position explain how’d you move the company forward, have a look at their business strategies and explain how you could help them achieve it.

Appropriate Answer:

Be passionate about the industry, fit your career goals around the company’s objectives. Demonstrate passion and exploit your strengths.

What are your weaknesses?

  • Realise what they are, be honest, there’s always ways for us to improve ourselves.
  • Take one weakness and give practical examples of how you’re trying to address it.

A good answer would be:

“I used to find it difficult to work on simultaneous project, preferring to finish one task before starting another. However since taking part in a time management course recently, I’ve learnt how to manage my schedule more effectively, making it easier to multi task when necessary.”

Appropriate answer format:

Weakness + how you’ve tried/how you’re trying to address it, and turn it into a strength.

What are your Strengths?

  • Pick the three biggest attributes that you think will get you the job and give examples of how you have used these strengths in a work situation.
  • They could be tangible skills like, proficiency in a computer language or intangible skills like good management.
  • If you’re not sure where to start take a look at the job description which should give you an idea of what they’re looking for.

Appropriate answer format:

Be ‘T-shaped’, Have a good broad knowledge but a good expertise in the area you’re applying for.

 

 

 

 

Story Boarding and A change in Brief

With our character and set design concepts established, it was then our task to start story boarding.

Before I started, I did a bit of research into what many individuals within industry would consider to be good storyboards, and I came across this article titled ’10 Tips for creating storyboards from Dreamworks’ by TheBeat

It starts off by stating how Storyboards are an extremely useful asset to have in the pre-production process that allow us to show shot layouts and composition.

It then starts to go into the tips and advice,explaining them in detail. Like:

1. Avoid flat staging unless when necessary.

  •  Flat staging is a picture that is void of 3D perspective.
  • A flat image isn’t particularly engaging and therefore makes for an uninteresting storyboard.

2. Lay down grids to help “ground” your characters and compositions.

  • Ground grids help develop a sense of space and camera position.
  • Without grids it can be hard to tell where the figures are standing in the scene.

3. Use foreground, mid-ground, background & far background to sell depth.

  • Keep in mind what elements may take up the foreground and background of a shot (walls, trees, etc).
  • Just like a well composed shot, a storyboard needs to have elements at different distances in order to sell depth.

4. When dealing with multiple characters try to logically group them to help make cutting back and forth easier.

It can be rather difficult to shoot more than two people talking to each other at the same time. Dreamworks recommends grouping up people to make choosing cuts easier.

5. Be wary of composition in which everything is parallel to the frame.

Having objects parallel to the frame makes for a very uninteresting shot. Try offsetting the background to add depth.

6. Careful of how you frame characters…don’t squeeze them just to fit a shot.

This goes down to simple basics drawing. Just like with a video shot, the empty space is just as important as the space

7. Over-the-shoulder shots & reaction shots help deliver dialogue.

“Dirty” shots help to give the scene a sense of intimacy or even hostility, making the dialogue seem more important.

8. Characters squared off & looking at our left or right ear.

Characters looking directly at the camera can make the audience feel awkward. While this can be used to a filmmakers advantage, Dreamworks wants their characters to be as inviting as possible.

9. Exploit different character heights, if you need to establish or re-establish your shot.

As any Film 101 course will tell you, camera angles tell the audience a lot about how they are supposed to feel about a character. High angles imply weakness and fear, low angles imply power and dominance. Cutting to different character heights can remind the audience how to feel about certain characters.

10. Motivate your cuts.

Just like in editing, your storyboards need to show the motivation for cuts. This can be written sound effects, heads turning, movements, etc.

I thought these tips were incredibly useful when it came storyboarding some of our stuff. Although our animation isn’t going to be as complicated as a Dreamworks animated feature, there was still a lot that could be applied to ours, like avoiding flat stages and laying down grids to help ground our characters compositions within the shots.

Story Board Draft One:

As our ideas developed so did we found ourselves thinking about what sort of angle or shot would ensure a even and consistent flow within the animation and how can we have seamless transitions from one process to another.

Feedback from Double Jump and the team for the first draft of the story boards was pretty positive.

  • It’s heading in the right direction
  • Have a single group of TV Bots. It’s make things simpler.
  • Whenever the TV Bot characters come up the with idea, having them reacting more, like a thumbs up or an enthusiastic pose.
  • Could you also fit in a joke in the creative concepting stage?  E.G, where one character goes way off course with it’s idea, causing the surrounding characters to slap sense into it.

 

PROJECT UPDATE – BRIEF CHANGE

“28th of Febuary”, with an increase of work emerging, Double Jump Studios changed our brief from,

 Create a one minute explainer video highlighting the processes and services Double Jump provides to Using all the work, designs and assets already created, Create three 20 to 30 second stings highlighting the processes and services Double Jump provides.

This change would enable us to keep on working and developing the visuals of our project without requiring or relying on a script from Double Jump whilst maintaining a continuous connection of feedback and development.

As a result of the brief change we had to go back to the drawing board to think of a way we could effectively convey all the processes in a shorter time however, across 3 videos.

We came up with the idea of the all the processes existing together on a cube world, in an attempt to keep our environment simple and confined.

Rough Sketch by Paul McGrath

Rough Ideation Session in Uni.

the main influence of the cube world idea was the end of the ‘Play with Oreo video’ where it reveals that all the sets had existed one one large Oreo shaped island. (seen Below)

oreo

We thought this would also help keep our transitions from process to process simple.

Continuing on with the story boards based off our new concept, I tweaked the previous storyboards I drew up, to match the brief and the feedback given previously.

  • Added a joke into the creative concepting stage, (slaps sense into unresponsive TV Bot)
  • Decreased the number of TV bots from a room full to a small group.
  • Updated the set design to fit the new brief, cube work concept.

As the idea developed further we came up with the concept of the scene consisting of a vertical chain of cubes, where each process would sit top side on it own cube, complimented with mini processes happening around it. As illustrated by Paul’s concept below.

Double Jump’s response was really positive! and suggested to make things easier by simplifying each sting to three cubes each.

Below are some quick story boards I drew up addressing a potential Scriptwriting,post production and video shoot, focusing on closer and more focused shots and angles to potential look into. I also developed the set dressing slightly to something a bit more interest in an attempt to convey Double Jump as a Busy factory like environment.

3

Although I prefer the set dressing for this one, I think the transitions would be difficult to pull off. Also the whole ‘pipe carrying the brief to the script writer’ idea doesn’t really work to the same extent any more with the cube world concept.But thats something that’ll be addressed with feedback! looking forward to it!