Professional Project Evaluation

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.


What I want To Do In The Third Year

Through the first two years of the course, I have tried to find a certain field within Digital Media that I feel can push myself into new areas of design and one I can progress into a career. Over the last year, I have pushed myself into the 3D field of design, focusing on the modeling aspect but with no clear goal as of how I’d like to develop this technique into a career, more as the basis of the project I had to do at the time and it’s what I knew how to do.

When I was offered my client for the Professional project at the end of the second year, my work in Maya increased tenfold and I began to understand more about the programme, and have a better idea to what a career in that field would endure. As the project progressed, I enjoyed working with the programme, learning new techniques and progressing as an individual. From this experience and piecing together all my experiences and opportunities over the last year, I would like to progress my 3D techniques into either game modeling or modeling within advertising.

While I plan to advance my 3D production, I will mainly focus on the modeling of the objects, briefly picking up the technique of rigging and texturing beyond what I know already, in order to allow the process of animation to be a bit easier than I foresee. With my professional project, I felt that I progressed to more intermediate standard of 3D modeling, especially from what I created in the first year, but with the specialist project, I want to be able to push this to at least the early stages of a professional standard of work, at least from a visual point of view, as animation isn’t something I intend to focus on within my career.

For my specialist project, I want to incorporate all elements of 3D production, looking at areas of work that I haven’t focused on before, whether it’s been planning or post-production. Building small, simple things is content enough once in a while but I want to create something to be proud of, especially as a proper starting point for my portfolio.

My three ideas that I’m still working on within pre-production for the specialist project are as follows; Co-working with another member of Digital Media Production, we want to create two sides of a artists’ comic series called, ‘World War Robot’. We each create our own ‘short army’, combine the files into a major project and animate each scene accordingly; On my own, working on a similar brief, using the concepts of ‘World War Robot’ but with my own design, I’d create a short sequence, showing these humanoid creatures working together, preparing for battle; I’d create my own form of robot identity and place it within a small world, grouping together as an advert to advertise a product or object which means something to me but has never been given proper product recognition, or indeed create my own product around the character design.

Before I find my career path after the course, I plan to travel to build up my influence through parts of the world that I have never seen before, whilst working and extend my portfolio. So using this third year, I want to really push all my techniques in 3D, possibly push beyond Maya and really begin to build up a portfolio that I wouldn’t be afraid of showing a potential client or employer.

Learning Agreement – Professional Project


Learning Agreement


Name: Sam Dubery

Course: Fda Digital Media Production         Level: level 5

Unit: Professional Project

Synopsis of study

As part of my professional project, I’m aiming to extend my knowledge within the 3D Profession. Over the last year and a half, I’ve worked several times with 3D, using programs such as Autodesk Maya where I’ve focused on building models using simple polygons and textures but now I feel that I would like to push this knowledge and technique, not necessarily in a new direction but further it so that my models have a new element to them, creating a more professional and somewhat realistic nature to them, especially when creating organic creatures.

After various and early planning stages, I will be working in a group of three with Mark Cunniffe, creating lighting and Production design for a performance outside the Yerevan Opera Theatre in Armenia. Having seen Mark’s work with Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” DVD and his projections on St. Paul’s Cathedral, the standard of production is clearly high and planned accordingly, and it will be a privilege to work with him on such a project. My role within the project will be to create a replica model of the Yerevan Theatre, using collected resources’ and then using various plug-ins within Autodesk Maya, create a replica show of the Lighting display and artwork projections for the clients of Mark’s clients.

Having taken a closer look at the Opera House, there are various ways we can project lights and animations for as many as sixty artists and animators as the building holds three tiers to its’ outer structure, opening out into a courtyard so the options seem endless, but it’s what we can do within our time period and within both our and Mark’s budget.

Having initially taken the project of the Yerevan Theatre, Felix and I will also be working constructing the lighting structure of University House at AUCB. Mark had also been commissioned to design and create the lighting structure for the reception building at the University so we will be creating a highly detailed model of University house, where scale and texturing are key, which will consequently enable us to crate a lighting structure and show how these lights will vary throughout night and day.

Having initially planned to use Cinema 4D for the project, we have managed to convince Mark to let us use Autodesk Maya so that we can achieve a higher level of detailed modeling and renders to provide both Mark and his client’s organizing the event, with high-quality animations (renders) of the entire structure, as well as smaller sections to justify the point of the lighting and production for that area. This way we inherit any problems or techniques in Autodesk Maya that we need to improve upon but also further our technique and hopefully, achieve a high-quality piece of work of the Yerevan Theatre.

Action plan/time plan

The time plan to produce the renders and animations for Mark will be done in various stages:

  1. Studying the model and planning initial thoughts of how and where to create the light and design production etc.
  2. Build a suitable structure of each tier of the Theatre, refining its’ pillars and depth within its’ structure.
  3. Bring the tiered models together and begin to add the animations and artwork.
  4. Bring the lighting set-up into the model to emphasize the animations and create final renders for producers.



First Impressions – PPRD2

Having passed the first year where I wanted to finish with a 2:1 , I had various different directions that I wanted to go in for the second year, my main focus was to extend my knowledge and efficiency using 3d and Autodesk Maya. Having tired to start this with our first project, “Future Cinema”, It seemed to refresh my memory rather than adding anything new to my technique but nevertheless, the experience  was beneficial in the fact that could get back to where I needed to be with 3D and gave me an incentive to keep pushing that skill.

I’ve began to create and model further outside of our course projects, in a n attempt to build more organic and ‘technical’ creatures, such as a rough attempt at a human body, despite the first project I built outside of the course projects was a battle robot, filled with simple, extruded polygons and NURFS! Although I didn’t get to push these 3D elements into our ‘Performance video’ unit at the second half of the first semester, I still came away, developing my technique in Adobe Illustrator, and believe it or not, Adobe After Effects, despite a unstable relationship with the program, but I guess once I learn how to do certain aspects of effects and animations quickly and more effectively then this won’t be a problem.

Starting the beginning of the second semester with the ‘Professional Project’ and ‘New Perspectives’ units, I not only want to concentrate on expanding my 3D technique, but also; create a better level of knowledge and techniques in other programs, imparticular Adobe programs such as After Effects and to create more professional and mature narratives and meaning behind my work.

Idea 4 – 8/16-bit Aniamtion

My final idea was to bring either 8-bit or 16-bit animation into an interactive element. I’ve never actually played a great deal of games created in 8-bit but I’ve always liked the graphics as a form of art and presentation. I’m not quite sure how I’d go about it but I’d like to put the animation into some form of visual performance! Whether I would have to go down the route of hacking into a games station and recreating a song using animation and Mario Paint, or not, I’m not sure but it’d be nice to bring this sort of animation intoa visual performance that isn’t necessary a game

Idea 3 – Drum Trigger

As a possible extension to my Didley Bow band idea or as a separate idea, I was considering trying to programme and create drum triggers and do a series of short performances, as demonstrated below;

Whenever I’m sitting down and listening to music, I tend to tap my hands and feet along to the music so it just seems like a perfect idea to use as a performance! Again, it would take a bit of practice to avoid a rhymnless noise being produced. It’s easy enough to hit drums and make a noise but to make it sound like a real piece of music, it’d take a while to get it right but as the videos above demonstrate, it can turn out brilliant.

Idea 2 – Didley Bow Band

Based on my experience with instruments and my habit of loving random sounds that are a break from my traditional music taste, my other main idea was to create some form of band performance using scrap materials, forming instruments such as the didley bow! The video, featuring Jack White below shows how a simple instrument (The didley bow) and he’s right, who needs to buy a guitar!

Building from this, using another combination of glass bottles, beer cans, planks of wood, well pretty much anything I can lay my hands on that can produce an interesting and loud sound, I would create rough versions of other recognizable instruments and record their sounds, and either create manually or perform a composed song. The main catch with this idea is that the sounds have to be constructed properly so that the performance actually sounds like a composed song rather than pointless noise!