Post Mortem – Daydreams

By Daniel Miltinan

Daydreams has been an awesome experience to sum it up. Yes there was good times and bad times. Over the entire 13 week period we went from concept to product, a lot easier said than done. Working in a group simulated what it would be like working in a professional studio. Who would have thought communication was so important.

 

So as I previously mentioned there were many ups and down, let’s focus on what went according to plan. During the early weeks of the project we brainstormed possible ideas to pursue. This was great, everybody was contributing and we were all getting excited about the future prospects of the project. It came to the point when we all needed to pitch and vote on the ideas we liked best. For whatever reason I was absent for the first half of the day when ideas were being pitched, not only does this mean i didn’t hear all of the possible ideas in detail but I also missed my chance to pitch any of my own ideas. I was disappointed purely based on the fact that I had some cracker ideas, but it was my own fault that I couldn’t make it to class. Moving onto the voting process. With the help of Phil’s input we managed to narrow it down to two ideas. Each idea had equal votes meaning I had the deciding vote. This put me in a weird position, I wasn’t really keen for either of the ideas. Both being very abstract. Jacobs idea seemed slightly kind of vanilla to me and it didn’t really have that ‘wow’ factor to it, that left me with Steve’s daydream idea. I wasn’t too keen on Steve’s either, maybe it was a mix between his struggle to elaborate and express himself or knowing what the trimester would hold giving him creative control. Obviously we did end up going with Daydreams and I can honestly say that I don’t regret the decision.
We did manage to hit milestones throughout the early weeks of the trimester but little did we know what was to come and that the project was slowly slipping from beneath our noses.   


Where do i begin. Many of the smallest tasks ended up taking longer than expected. As a group we were being too picky with small decisions for example the whale model. Alex was in charge of modeling it, and he managed to create three fabulous and diverse whales. But when he showed them to the class the directors weren’t happy with them. At the end of the day, the whale that we did end up going with had minor changes made to it, so few changes that I feel like would could have locked in one of those three whales and had been done with it. Alex was also frustrated because when he did ask for feedback on our slack channels nobody responded. No one person was to blame, but it made a mess of such a simple process. Now the model was completed our texture artist Daniel.W was able of producing the texture for it. I could go on about the textures for the whales, but honestly I just struggle to see how it took 8 weeks to have these textures finalised. It didn’t help that Daniel.W hardley attended class. Our producer should have been on top of him asking to see his work. I know that Daniel is a new addition to our class but this subject is meant to emulate a real studio, a real producer wouldn’t let that lack of effort slide.
Joel was working on the particles all trimester and in the final cut we only used particles in one of the five scenes. We didn’t utilise our resources properly, meaning the people working on this project. In the last few weeks we managed to get mila materials working properly, I know this sounds silly because applying mila materials is so simple. We kept finding heaps of bugs in maya that stopped us from achieving even the simplest of tasks for example applying our specular texture to a whale. Because we started with a master file we kept giving it to people to work on and then they would pass it on to the next person and so on, anything could have happened to this file that we couldn’t possibly keep track of, the easiest way of explaining this is by a classic chinese whispers metaphor.
Moving on, like I said we managed to get the mila shaders and lighting working but by this time it was already too late. Despite knowing that we wouldn’t have enough time to render out each frame in mental ray we continued to do so anyway. It wasn’t until Phil stepped in and told us to use maya software instead. We did end up making the necessary changes but it took us much too long to make these decisions. I think the director and producer were ambitious which is a great attribute to have in my opinion but also knowing when to cut your losses and move onto another plan is just as valuable. Week 12 most of the team lived at uni and despite our efforts we didn’t manage to have a completed film by the deadline. As a team we put in too little effort at the start and too much at the end. 5pm Friday 19th of August was our deadline for the film. A handful of us me included waited outside Phil’s office for the hand over. He took our usb and copied across the files to his computer. He gave us a quick pep talk and congratulated us for our efforts even though it wasn’t enough to get us where we wanted to be. I think we all were waiting for Phil to give us extra time and push the deadline back but this never happened. Really he had already done more than enough to help us out. That hand over was very emotional, especially for Jacob who i can easily say single handedly put more into this project than anyone in our team. All this aside and moving on we were given until monday midnight for an updated submission for the exhibition. We managed to pull something together, and watching the finished film for the first time was such an unreal experience. We had put of heart and soul into that film, countless hours late nights and stress. To see is takes its final form was indeed humbling and totally worth the pain we went through. I’m excited to test myself yet again in the trimester to come.  

 

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