This professional Project has had its fair share of highs and lows, where each step was about pushing myself to new limits and arriving at a result that’ll I’ll be proud off regardless of the final result. For me, this project was about exploring new grounds with 3D modeling and/ or Maya as a programme, but above all, create a piece of work that met a professional standard. Despite the fact that it took a while to get under way, working through several briefs with other potential clients, once we met Mark Cunniffe and discussed potential ideas for projects, the path for our professional Project was set.
When we first met with Mark mid-January, he had produced several pre-productions displaying his intended lighting display, using Cinema4D, a programme that I haven’t yet had the courage or pleasure to learn but never the less, early impressions suggested that he wanted us to learn and use that as the primary programme.
With such a beneficial and prestigious project, I would’ve happily learnt the programme, but since we at least had a basis of technique within Maya, we demonstrated what we were capable of within the Autodesk programme and he was more than happy to allow us to work in Maya. So the Cinema4D learning curve was off the table but using Maya to produce a higher standard of work, which consequently allowed us to improve our approach of such a project, which created a professional atmosphere in itself, and techniques used within Maya whilst experimenting with new methods, such as lighting and 3D particle systems.
Having request from the client was also beneficial because it simply said to us that they want this, we don’t know how to do that, so let’s go and learn it! When learning new techniques, I’m someone that prefers to be shown what to do, and then replicate it myself, but with a person, rather than a machine so I’ve never made effective use of online tutorials. This project gave me the chance to make use of what’s available to me, as it could only benefit my ability within Maya.
A problem that I’ve always had when approaching projects is planning. When working on my own work for my portfolio, I aim to use pre-production drawings and notes more effectively. This project gave me the incentive to continue that technique, simply because of how beneficial it is. Whilst planning the modeling for the University House, we were provided with the blueprints for the building layout (so we could build the model to scale) but the number of location shots, notes and on-site visits showed how much planning can benefit the actual procedure of the project.
With Everything I learnt from the project, I could do nothing but benefit from the experience. From having an external, professional client base to setting up projects in Maya the correct way to creating models that are made to scale, rather than your own design all formed the base of a professional atmosphere that I hope to experience one day as a full-time job for a gaming, design or advertisement company. Working both in groups, even if there were just two of us, as well as working from home with a intermediate of household distractions, mainly TV’s and housemates etc. also added to the professional atmosphere but from the point of view of a freelance artist, which is a career path I have considered, whilst pursuing other interests as an alternate career.
As any professional standard project involving a 3D programme would at this point, every feature of this project was beneficial. I enjoyed working with an external client and in a group, but I would like to try a similar scale project by myself so I don’t have the temptation to sometimes rely on other members of the group to push me to learn about 3D particles. By no measure am I discrediting either my own performance or any member of my groups, but for my own benefit, I would like to try and work alone on my next professional standard project. If I need external help on certain aspects then I won’t be afraid to look for it, either from a tutorial or other course mates, but I would like the main learning curve of the project to be my own.
As with any project, you expect to encounter various problems and set backs that hinder the progress of the project in many ways, and this project was no different. The first problem we crossed within our project was sharing folders and backing up our work! The simplest answer with regards to backing up your work is obviously save multiple versions, backed up with another version on an external hard drive. Believe it or not, this wasn’t always enough!
Within the earlier stages of the project, especially when we were first getting use to working as a group with the Yerevan Opera Theatre, various machine and devices seemed to pack up simultaneously. The major problem I encountered was I didn’t back up my work as often as I should have when we started the project. After one of our early meetings with Mark, Felix and I worked on a model with Mark for around five hours, changing simple but effective features that created a better replica.
This version was saved to my laptop but as horrible luck had it that my laptop’s internal hard drive malfunctioned as I was walking home. Luckily for me, it was external wiring, rather than the internal hard drive that failed. To resolve any further issue like this, I later saved a version to my laptop, a version to my group’s shared drop box account for all to access and carry my external hard drive with me to ensure that I have multiple versions that I can work from should anything go wrong again, with regards to the efficiency of my file.
The other problem I mostly came across throughout the whole project can only be described with one word, ‘Difference’. During the project, I experienced several concepts of ‘difference’ with my client, Mark Cunniffe and my group. It was never anything severe, more difference of techniques and experience. Felix and myself have both worked in Maya for over a year, but we both work within projects in different ways. When it comes to certain features within the programme, such as layering, we work in different ways. This came up a few times, when it came to keeping files in order and layering parts of the model. We could only resolve this by one of us taking charge of simple concepts, such as layering and creating the file as simple and open as possible for the other to use, but it didn’t disrupt our work flow.
When it came to ‘bouncing’ ideas with Mark, it was slightly more of a challenge to find ‘even ground’ quickly. Again, this never disrupted our workflow throughout the project but it raised issues we had to address as a team. As I mentioned in my learning agreement, Mark originally planned for us to use Cinema4d, but after we persuaded him to let us use Maya, we had to educate him as we went along. At the end of the project, Mark wanted 3D fog particles added to the lights to give the animation more depth, but as we had to explain, features in Maya aren’t necessarily the same as they are in real life. In order to get the correct angle of lighting for our piece, the were at a different angle to the specifications. This meant that the fog particles were out of line, so we had to render several versions to demonstrate why he had to listen to us in order to reach the final animation, but trust our reasoning so that we could get the correct and most efficient effect on the model.
When I finished this project, I wanted to come away with as many benefits as possible and make sure that they were worthwhile and remain with me, so that I can apply them to every project I face within my career. As a person, I’m quite shy so being able to sit within meetings with a client and speak my mind and press the method that I feel will benefit the project was a main learning point for me because it gave me the confidence to be more vocal for the sake of the project and express myself as an employee/ designer. Approaching new areas in Maya, using online tutorials, rather waiting to be shown what to do really improved my approach to projects and learning new techniques that could only move me forward within a 3D career, although I’m still yet to find a way to keep my inspiration fresh and motivating where I can work on these projects day in, day out, whether it’s designing or modeling, but with this project, I’m still working at least four hours per day within Maya.
Finally, If I didn’t learn anything from this project, yes, it would’ve been very disappointed that it didn’t challenge me but a key outcome of this project is that I can say that I have my first piece of work at least at a intermediate level, a piece of work that I’d be happy and confident to put into my portfolio and show any potential employer.