Monday, April 18, 2011

Workshop 3 Notes

Just finished Workshop 3, and it took me a week to recover from it. It has been a challenging experience as it was focused on acting, especially on the face, and it required a big change in my way of thinking. I feel like I've learned a lot but also that I've only scratched the surface.

Apart from the subject matter, another difference I noticed from the previous workshop was the composition of the class. Most of my classmates were already working professionals, most of them with quite a bit of experience under their belts, attending iA to finese their skills further. As far as I know, only three out of ten of us were pure students, the rest are already working in the industry. iA doesn't impose as many entry barriers for working animators as they don't have to start the program from the beginning. They can plug directly into the workshop that best suits their skill level. I believe this is the main reason why we have such a high percentage of working pros and alumni from other schools. This was an added challenge because I felt like I had to push harder the whole time, just to keep up. It was great having all these people with experience around, it helps a lot when one's classmates know what they are talking about but it was a bit intimidating as well. I guess everyone would react differently to it, but because of that, and despite the generaly more relaxed approach of the school, I felt a dose of self imposed pressure throughout the workshop. I think all people have a degree of competitivness to them, some more some less, and we can't help but keep comparing ourselves to our peers, consciously or subconsciously, and strive to do better. I had to be out of my comfort zone a lot but I can't complain because I feel that I've learned from the work of my peers almost as much as from my instructor.

One practical issue that I encountered was how much the lighting can change the perceived mouth shapes and the lip sync. Normaly, I wouldn't worry about lighting and rendering my shots, I would just playblast them. However, my playblasts are usually done with the default lighting in Maya's viewport, which doesn't cast shadows and falls pretty much straight on. As soon as I would change the direction of the light, the combination of shading and shadow would change what my mouth shapes look like. What I ended up doing is submitting my animation as a playblast as well as a fully lit and rendered sequence, to ensure that I get notes from the instructor on what the shot will look like in its close to final form. It could be just me, but I feel there is a progression of the level of detail that I can detect in motion, going from a normal playback in Maya's viewports, shooting playblasts and rendered shots. With each level I am able to notice more and finer issues with my shots. So now, I make sure to test-light and render everything, to try and flush out as many issues as I can before I finish my shots.

Assignment 2:

Assignment 1:

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