During this project our group worked through messaging on Facebook and getting in contact through phone numbers and mutual friends.
During the first few weeks of the project we moved forward efficiently. The ideation process went very well with a lot of different ideas from everyone.
We at first decided to use an idea involving a mouse in space.
The team also came up with a fun way to generate random ideas as part of our ideation process called, ‘The Post it note Game’
To overcome problems with timing of transport and our physical distance from each other we tried to schedule meetings for times when everybody could get into university and by working electronically. Sometimes we encountered difficulties and this did tend to disrupt our work a little despite our best efforts to make a plan to address it.
We used the Facebook chat we set up, as our main base for communicating and sharing ideas and helping with the development of our animation, in that one member of the group would post ideas and the others would give feed back and we would discuss how to develop and improve our work.
At times it was difficult to find out what was being done and there was some obvious group dominance emerging. We tried to avoid this developing into too much of a pattern by asking directly for response feed back and input.
We discovered a trend in our team in that some members would produce outstanding work with little communication with the others in regards to what was being done. At times this was very useful as it meant the work was completed and looked good with a minimum amount of fuss. However it also resulted in duplicated work.
When we were presenting our idea for the Space Mouse to our lecturer, he said he preferred an idea we had on the wall behind us which we had come up with during the ideation process but had previously disregarded. We went back to re think and decided to do some development of this idea to see where it might lead. This was quite productive ands we liked the ideas which began to flow.
This is how we started in on the Critter story process. Feedback about each others work became a fundamental part of the development process in our team when the change in our project came about.
The majority of the group gave some form of feed back or another as we tried to develop an amusing circumstance and story around Critter.
As we developed into 3D other areas of research became more important to look into such as cameras in animation which Mehe researched.
Backgrounds became much more important as well as I was building the set for the animation.
And sound for our animatic.
It was approaching this point that we began to notice some of the communication difficulties in our team.
I had begun building the location and back grounds in Maya at this point in the project with help from Jess who was beginning to develop plants and scenery.
We were hoping to have our character rigged at this point in the project but, as we were all still learning how to do rigging and experimenting with Critters’ design to some extent we did not have a rigged model for the deadline we had set ourselves.
There were some examples made at this point showing how parts of our model would move once rigged which were very useful and looked wonderful. Mehe had created a blinking eye in Maya which helped the rest of the group to see the potential for movement and character in the animation.
While Mehe and Aidan were developing Critters shape and modelling him in Maya, Jess and I were still working on the landscape and looking for potential aides that would improve its appearance.
The development of the landscape took up a fair amount of my and Jess’s time but there was a pay off as the landscape became a very attractive set of geometry which appealed to the rest of the class when we asked for opinions.
The rigging was taking the boys longer than they had anticipated to meet the project schedule.
As Jess and I were developing the landscape together and we wanted to include the whole group in the landscape process so we posted all of our development and resources on our chat.
As my main goal was to develop water for a more damp, swamp-like landscape I devoted a lot of my time to this.
I didn’t get a lot of feed back from my team and noticed that Mehe and Aidan had stopped messaging and did not come in university so we did not get a chance to talk face to face.
Mehe and Aidan had not left Jess and I a rigged version of Critter to work with and even though they offered to send him to us we never received the model.
Aidan and Mehe did not send the rigged version of Critter. We had a meeting with our lecturer who gave us useful advice about how to alter Critter to be more appealing. I began to use the geometry the boys had left to create a model for Critter which matched our lecturer’s feed back on how we should change the design so that we could start animating and Jess began to work on the fly which Critter would eat. The picture below shows the original Critter which we were adjusting to reduce the size of the teeth, make a more shapely tongue, round the body and introduce wrinkles to the skin surface so that it would follow the original drawing more closely.
Jess and I worked on these areas of our animation and developed them so that we could begin rendering as soon as possible.
One of the group experienced a bereavement and this affected group communication negatively at this point in the project.
At this time we became a bit more anxious about the state of our rigged Critter so I began working with more focus on a version I had been using as a shade to fill the space where we hoped Aidan and Mehe’s rigged version of Critter would go once they brought it in.
After 2-3 weeks, which included the Easter Break we became really concerned about the state of Critter’s rigging.
As we were approaching the end of the project it became clear that we had created two versions of Critter to be used, one by me which Jess and I had been using as we practiced different ways of animating Critter with in the scene and the one which Aidan and Mehe had worked on whilst absent.
Even once there was confirmation that their version of Critter was finished they failed to provide it so that we could animate with it which caused further difficulties in the animation as we were not sure what the Critter they had made looked like.
The boys did not confirm whether or not they were happy with us doing these parts of the animation or if they were going to provide the Critter they had for us to work with. So we continued to use the version I had made as per our lecturers advice.
We received the version of Critter we had been waiting for on Tuesday the 6th of May. We had six days before the deadline, at which point we had already completed the majority of the animation with the alternate version. However we realised the importance of working jointly towards a final outcome and sought to incorporate the boys contribution into a combined product.
Jess and I had begun to render the scenes we needed to have done for Monday as unfortunately the version of Critter Aidan had left on the computer did not open in Maya as there appeared to be some sort of error, so we were unable to animate with it. Once the two members of our team who had been absent during the day returned to work with us we all began to animate the small details which needed to be done to improve the quality of the animation.
In the group we felt that work on the animation needed to be spread out more among our members so that there would be an even distribution of animating done by everyone.
We also refocussed on the sounds in the animation to see how we could make it more amusing and appealing to the audience.
As our deadline is gets closer and we run into a few problems with rendering our animation. Mehe and Aidan have not been replying to messages. Jess and I become increasingly nervous over the state of our group and the work we are producing. We continued to use Facebook to send messages and we also contacted their house mate and asked him to convey a message to the boys to ask them to contact us. We wanted to get input from the boys because we understood this is a team project and we need to try and manage it in such a way that we get the best out of all of our members. We also realised that the boys contribution might well be strongly creative and that we needed to try and harness that in terms of the final output even if that does not fit easily with the more structured side of the process to reach a final outcome.
On Thursday afternoon, we discovered that the reason there had been no contact from half of our team was that they had begun work on a separate animation, using their rigged model of critter. As we felt that the animation would look better if we used the rigged version of Critter rather than the version I had made using Blend Shapes we decided we should try to combine the best parts of the two animations into one which would look wonderful when put together as the background the boys had created was somewhat sparse and did not reflect the Swamp-like landscape we had developed early on in the project.
At this point however the boys decided it would be better if they simply went ahead with what they had as they thought including the water would increase the render time too much.
As this project is now drawing to it’s finish we have decided that because the rendering has been very slow Jess and I are going to work on a PlayBlast of our animation, edited and interspersed with the files which have rendered so that there is some evidence of the work we did, Just in case the final product is not rendered in time for our deadline. This group project has been an interesting experience. I found Jess to be more communicative than the boys. The internal dynamics of the group seemed to be unnecessarily competitive and some team members seemed to hide work they were doing rather than work with other members of the team or produce the work they had done on or even near agreed deadlines. On the one hand objectively good creative work was delivered by everyone. On the other hand lack of communication from some team members meant huge amounts of duplication within the project in order to be certain that there were not gaps. Our understanding of what was intended to come out of a group project seemed to be very different from theirs. If I was in a professional, commercial situation and running a production operation I would probably be trying to minimise the negative effect of lack of communication and delayed inputs and trying to obtain the best creative input to the project at minimum cost financially and in terms of the negative impact on the team.
Having worked through this project I realise that timely communication and combined activity and generous sharing is important not only to get the very best out of every member’s talents but to ensure good working relationships and a healthy sense of self worth for everyone in the team.