Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Digbeth Project- creating the final animation

The final animation is now complete! Currently, the video file is too big to upload, but I am working on compressing the file and shall post it as soon as possible.

As those of you who have followed my posts on this project will probably know, we always strived to have a dynamic 3D background for this piece. Though we considered many different techniques, we chose to ultimately construct our background using Adobe After Effects.

This was a steep learning curve for me. Prior to this task, I was completely unfamiliar with the program. Over the course of this project, I have also learnt how to animate in Photoshop. Learning to use new programs is always time consuming, though I certainly feel that I have a strong grasp of the basics now, in addition to some more advanced techniques, which have all been implemented effectively for the final piece. In all likelihood however, I am still just scratching the surface of what After Effects is capable of!

Unfortunately, I did also find out exactly what After Effects is not capable of; rendering a five minute animation with over two hundred HD assets in 3D space. Though the creation of the assets to make the 3D buildings was a lengthy process, it was relatively simple. I believe we spent more time attempting to render the video than actually creating the animations of which it comprised.

For a while, we considered using the same images seen on the storyboard for our final piece, though when enlarged the reduction in quality was noticeable. I always felt that, moving from a draft to the final animation, there really should be a dramatic step up in terms of quality- and so I decided to remaster all of the existing assets in 1080p HD, as well as creating new ones (such as the sides of the buildings) in order to create that 3D background we had always aimed to achieve.

The size of these image files, coupled with the sheer amount of them, caused After Effects to frequently crash. Furthermore, when attempting to render, the RAM was all but used up after only fifteen seconds. As a result, I had to render the video (weighing in at around five minutes for the 3D part, with a separate 2D intro to be added later) in fifteen second blocks. After every render, the program crashed, and needed to be restarted. This infuriating process alone set us back a good day or so from our target completion date, not to mention that creating the assets and animations took longer than anticipated, too. 

What was surprising about this project was that, despite working hard from the outset, and never really letting up our effort, we still faced a terrible rush to meet the final deadline. For weeks on end, we literally did nothing but work, eat and sleep; and for the last few days, work and eat (which was a horrible experience I hope to never have to repeat again. The point is, we were not running behind schedule for any lack of work early on in the module. If anything, we simply took on too much, our own drive and dedication resulting in a perfectionism that we admittedly did not really have time for.

All in all, I am very pleased with the animation, and particularly pleased with the new techniques that I have learnt. I'm sure you will agree upon viewing our final animation (when it's uploaded!) that the hard work and effort that we have put in throughout this module has payed off. 

As follows, I have posted a range of assets from the 3D background, as featured in our final animation. Why not save them and practice building Digbeth in After Effects 3D for yourself?

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