Finalizing the Set
The set ended up being much more time-costly than I would have liked. It takes a lot to make a set like an apartment appear lived-in and so more and more effort went in to providing those details in order to sell it. Probably my biggest blunder in the production of this MSP assignment was splitting the animation up between two scenes. Because of this I was forced to move back and forth between the two scenes every time I made a change to the set in one or the other. Perhaps it's possible to have instead exported the Malcolm character animation into an updated scene at the very end, but I've had trouble with the export feature in the past in regards to preserving constraints, etc. -something I plan on figuring out on my own time for sure, in the meantime, lesson learned.
Another major time-consumer was lighting. I really wanted to look at creating a lighting scheme that gave the scene a more natural, cinematic feel than what I've done in the past. Not only did this mean researching what lights and corresponding settings to employ to achieve this look, but also which to use in order to cut down on the rendering time, as that factor is quickly affecting by how complicated -and consequently realistic- your lighting setup is. This was probably one of the hardest things to weigh out: render time vs. quality, especially because of the length of the project and my further ambitions for it. Consequently, I feel both the frame size (HD720) and lighting/shadow attributes will have to be reconsidered for my final showreel, but for this project, I think the focus is really on how much I do with the character animation, so I'm trying to produce as much of my concept as possible before deadline :/
Ultimately both of these consideration was worthwhile, I think, in terms of advancing in Maya. The set and the props demonstrate how such choices can contribute to characterization, and in the world of cinema these qualities are often better shown than told. Not only that but it has been good practice in materials and textures. The lighting I see as the first real stepping stone to a greater understanding of how to achieve a more polished, naturalistic and ultimately cinematic look in my animation production.
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Richard Cunningham - IHM Founder