EOYS : Final Planning & Preparation

In the running months to the EOYS, I was part of the EOYS committee and assisted with Planning, however most of our plans ended up undergoing heavy alterations once actually faced with the space, boards and number of projects we had.

The past week has been a mixture of cleaning and painting and some panicked attempts at printing.

This brings to problem 1 encountered.

Generally, I’m not a fan of giving negative reviews to any business, but seriously, when I place an order for about £100 worth of prints, I don’t want to get an email back 5 days later saying that they can’t get our prints to us til Wednesday a week after the deadline.

This seems to be a commonplace situation, where the printers in Belfast had a backlog of online orders, or were not actively printing anything over the weekend, or bank holiday of the deadline.

As of writing this, I haven’t yet gotten a single print ready, though I am supposed to be collecting a number of the vital pieces at around 10am, giving just two hours to set things up. (It’s important to note that these were ordered on Tuesday the 22nd).

Initially our plan looked like this:

We had a small selection of ideas of how our stuff could be layed out, however upon seeing the actual space and where we would be positioned – some, rethinking was needed.

Looking at the space, we layed out what we thought might work.


However, we felt that we needed more to show and to have our poster exhibited as well, to help direct people towards us.


This was the rough idea we had, which we briefly highlighted in photoshop.


The actual content of the wall can be seen below, in it’s unprinted formats.

Vignette Renders to go on the Right hand Side.

Pseudo-Wireframe Renders of Key Characters.

Original Environment and Tonal Concept Art.

Info-pages with relevant references to our roles.


Concept and Texture Board.

And then taking the center piece.


The Poster.

In addition to this we had 3 bunnies with some dandelions as our ‘feature’ to help tie the area together.

Upon printing everything at Windsor Prints, and sticking everything up with Velcro, which allows us to make minor adjustments to angle to help straighten things out without too much effort, it looked like this.


On the right we are displaying the short film, with showreels playing side by side on the right.

CV’s were also attached, and placeholders for the Business Cards that are yet to be printed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Reflection on the End of Year Show.

Part of the difficulty of preparing materials for the EOYS was the fact that as a small team of two with limited resources, and external priorities, was that we couldn’t afford as much time or money to getting the things we would have ideally had access too.

This wasn’t just extended to the quality and quantity of prints themselves, but also the amount of additional pieces we could include, 3D Prints, tablets and the like.

Despite this, I’m pretty pleased with what we ended up getting, albiet a few minor hiccups along the way.

Rebuilding our showreels, websites and CV’s also ate into our time, and putting together a showreel on a dying laptop was a challenge, one that was thankfully relieved however just a few days before the deadline.

On the topic of my showreel, I do feel like I need to add more to it, including re-rendering some of the Zbrush Sculpts, which simply did not output with the quality I expected. I suspect this was due in part to a choppy conversion from .mpg to .mp4.

Aside from the contribution and reflection of my own stall, most of my contributions happened during the earlier months as part of the EOYS committee, before we began divving up the roles as the date approached and our plan became more secure.

One of the main things we did was try to ensure that larger teams took on the larger jobs, as they had more people, and therefore more time they could spare from their projects.

This backfired for some of us, as it meant we did not have a solid or set role to work on during the EOYS preparations.

In the end, it boiled down to doing what we could, more than anything else – cleaning, painting and moving furniture becoming about the sum of it.




Portfolio Post #1: Contribution List

The Short Film Storm within was created by myself and Anna McCraith, whilst Anna handled the Character Animation and Compositing, as well as Texturing of characters, I dealt with the 3D Modelling, Rigging, Environment Layout and 3D Effects that you see in the film.

A brief bullet-point of my contributions broken down by scene is below.

  • Writing
    • Original Concept
    • Major Villains (Conceptualization of the Wolf, Hawk, Snake and Chimera)
    • Potential Environment Planning
  • Character Modelling
    • Rabbits
      • The Main Character, Alan – Modeled based on original concept art by Anna McCraith
      • Fat Rabbit’s – Modeled and adapted from the Model of Alan.
    • Snake
      • Modeled based on original concept art by Anna McCraith
    • Hawk
      • Modeled based on Silhouette Reference.
    • Wolf
      • Retopology and Model Adjustments to Zbrush Sculpt originally made by Kerry McCormick.
    • Chimera
      • Model ‘bashed’ using previously listed models.
  • Environment Models
    • Trees & Shrub Pseudo-3D models based on 2D Textures by Anna McCraith
    • Rocks (27 Unique Rocks arranged into 3 Clusters)
    • Reeds (Used in original Animatic)
    • Brambles
      • Attached Thorn Models
  • Rigging
    • Rabbits
      • Alan the Main Character Rig & Paint Weight Corrections
      • Fat Rabbit Rig & Paint Weight Corrections
    • Wolf
      • Rig & Paint Weight Corrections
    • Hawk
      • Rig & Paint Weight Corrections
    • Chimera
      • Rig & Paint Weight Corrections
    • Snake
      • Rig & Paint Weight Corrections
  • Environment Layout
    • Meadow Scene
    • Stream Scene (Version 1)
    • Stream Scene (Version 2)
    • Snake Lair Scene
    • Snake’s Run Scene
    • Hill Scene
    • Hill to Ocean Scene
    • Log Ocean Scene (Version 1)
    • Log Ocean Scene (Version 2)
    • Underwater Scene
    • Underwater Memory Scene
    • Final Step-Off Scene
  • Lighting
    • Scene Lighting
    • Character Mesh Lighting
    • Volumetrics
    • Reflective Lights
    • Film Colour Sequencing
    • Tonal Planning
  • 3D Effects
    • Lightning
    • Water
      • Stream
      • Hill
      • Ocean
      • Underwater
    • Grass Effects
      • Reeds
      • Shrubs
      • Plants
    • Highlight Smoke
      • Snake Eyes
      • Wolf Eyes
      • Chimera Eyes
      • Hawk Wing Trail
  • Rendering
    • Wrangling
    • Set-Up
      • Cloud Render Management
      • As-Needed Correctives
      • Shot-By-Shot Assessment
      • Colour Correction (partial)
    • Organisation
      • File Fixing
      • Sequence Set-up
  • Compositing
    • Shot Assistance & Planning
    • Credit Sequence Planning
  • Additional Contributions
    • Sourcing and Laison for Music Production
    • Sourcing Sound Effects
    • Primary Research Gathering


Rendering : A Breakdown

The process of rendering the short film was a drawn out, difficult and often troublesome process, that seemed at times to rely more on luck than any effort of planning.


As Anna finished the animation in shots, I took them, set up the environment scene references and textures – and began the process of lighting and test rendering.

Most test renders turned out something like this however, until eventually I hit the jackpot.

Generally the animation process took some time, which afforded me the opportunity to work more on lighting and set up.

As can be seen in the plan below, some scenes required a constant shifting of assets and the occasionally keyed set of lighting. This was particularly prevalent in the shots with lightning, which had to not only be created, but rendered on a separate layer whilst still having it’s accompanying lights timed to work in tandem with it.


Zync was a blessing and a curse when it came to this, we had to use multiple accounts, amassing approximately £3000 worth of rendering, if this had been something we paid for out of pocket, this film would never have gotten completed. Fortunately, utilizing the free trials available to us and rendering layers on efficient settings, we were able to cut down dramatically the cost and time needed to render.


Shots frequently errored out during the rendering process, or came back with problems that seemed to be temperamental in the fixing. Often, simply closing and opening a scene and re-starting the render fixed it, or simply hiding a cube somewhere in the scene.

This has convinced me that Cloud Renderers, while vital, clearly have some anger issues.


Renders often came out like this, with the light not casting as defined shadows or appearing too dark, whilst this could be corrected in post, it was much easier to compensate for it directly through lighting.

This meant having some layers ‘overlit’ whilst others had to be underlit. This is mostly down to how Zync dealt with the colour output management.

Most of the testing was sporadic frames or short play-outs of how the lighting moved in the scenes.

Generally it worked out without problems once we got it set up, though occasionally we had some issues.

  • Floating Geometry
  • Non-rendering environment pieces
  • No loaded Animation

Generally, these were all easily fixed using alembic caching and baking the animation before exporting.

Most rendered shots needed minor colour correction, basically ensuring they all had similar tones and palettes per scene.

You can see in this pre-correction set of renders, that each character, whilst rendered with the same set of lights, came out with clear outlines and slight pops.

The Wolf had to be rendered brighter, with a purple texture to allow him to be more easily comped and have the effects that drift with him added.

In addition to the Zync system of rendering, we also set up a number of Mac’s rendering independently, and thanks to  the referencing system established, this went by fairly quickly, as a scene could be loaded instantly on any mac, with the render setting presets imported directly.

However, the Mac rendered out noticeably lighter than Zync with the same settings, which resulted in an interesting battle when it came to color correction.


Finishing the Film: Reflection & Blog Plan

First Shot Rendered (720p Version)

Having finally rendered the last shot, and prepped the last bit of compositing to be done, I’m able to now fully reflect on the events of the past year.

Whilst I had started the year with the plan to keep on-top of blogging and blog as I go, I quickly fell behind on that and ended up getting caught up in the breadth of work I had to do, running out of time to blog day to day.

Now however, I’m able to clearly layout and plan what I want to say. And whilst some parts may be brief or seem self-explanatory, I hope that the blog going forward will offer a clear view of the efforts applied to this project.

I made a rough plan of what I was going to blog about and how they fit each category.


  • Rigging
    • Rabbit Rig
      • Fat Rabbit Rigging
        • Moving RRRig to  FRRig, scale adjustments, reskinning
        • Research into  transferring attributes
        • Final Turntable of Fat Rabbit Model &  Rig
      • Regular Rabbit Rigging
        • Original Rig
        • Rig Adjustments
        • Correctives
        • Research into Quadruped Rigging
        • Research  into Rabbit Movement
      • Upright vs Quad Rigging
        • Considering two different rigs and models
    • Snake Rig
      • Coiling
      • Simple Rig vs Complex
    • Wolf Rig
      • Adapting  Quadruped Rig
      • Research into Wolf Motion
    • Chimera Fusion
      • Connecting Rig
      • Transferring  attribute parts
      • Rescale  and Restitch
    • Hawk Rig
      • Redoing
      • Original Test  Rig vs Final Rig
  • Lighting
    • Character Specific Lighting
      • Wolf, Snake  & Chimera Mesh Lights
      • Texture Choice
      • Back Follow Lights
    • Environment Lighting
      • Skyspheres
      • Directionals and Areas
      • Ambient Lighting
      • Scene Lights set up
      • Colour Scrape – Yellow to Brown to Purple to Red to Blue to Grey to Green.
  • Rendering
    • Arnold vs MentalRay vs Renderman
    • Zync Render Farm
    • Problems & Settings
  • Modelling Techniques
    • Zbrush Sculpt vs Hard Modelling
    • Retopologising
    • Environment Modelling
      • Trees
      • Layout
      • Brambles
      • Rocks
      • Image > Poly Conversion
  • Effects
    • Grass
      • Hard Poly > PolyScatter
      • nGrass effects
      • Paint Effect Conversion > PolyScatter
        • Additional Environment Pieces
          • Reeds
          • Flowers
    • Water
      • 2D Texture Map
        • Building the Ocean
        • Making the Stream
      • Bifrost
      • Wave Deformers
    • Fire
      • Particle Effects
      • Paint Effects
      • AE Comp


  • Rigging Tutorials
    • Quadraped Rigging
    • Blendshapes
    • Correctives
  • Lighting Tutorials
    • Arnold Lighting
    • Lighting in Environment
  • Rendering Tutorials
  • Water Tutorials
    • Bifrost
    • 2D Water Texture
    • Wave Deformers
  • Modelling/Sculpting Tutorials
  • Effects Tutorials
    • Particle Effects
    • Paint Effects


  • Environment Style Choice
    • 2D Environment Pros & Cons
    • 2.5D Modelling and Layout
    • Invocative Meaning
  • Character Aesthetic
    • Soft Characters vs Hard Characters
    • Emotional Responsiveness to Design
      • Intentions
      • Feedback
  • Tonal Choice
    • Colour Palette
  • Comparison
    • Existing Film & Media
    • Between Scenes
    • Contrasting Focus
  • Narrative
    • Meaning behind Character Choice
    • Meaning behind Environmental Factors
    • Non-Verbal Story vs Verbal Story
    • Implied Danger vs Actual Danger
    • Anxiety Implications
    • Non-Violent Overtures


  • Blog
    • Division
    • Approach
    • List of Content
  • Time Schedule
  • Pre-Production
    • 3D Layout
    • Early Animatics
    • Content Planning
  • Post-Production
    • Render Time
    • Effects
  • Work Division

Creative Futures

  • 1000 Word Essay
  • EOYS
    • Display Plan
    • Business Cards
    • Leaflets
    • Final Film Presentation
    • Showreel
    • Website
  • Talks
    • Thoughts
    • Related Research


Workload Assignment Sheet

So, after submitting this week’s presentation on Blackboard, I realized I needed a more thorough way of keeping track what was done.

A simple enough Googlesheet’s assignment tracker would serve the purpose, with a few changes. If needed, I could expand parts later to accommodate more people and more complex projects. But at the very least it would give a clear view of what needed done for when, and who was doing it.


The Sheet is divided easily enough, into the four sections we are marked on, that way we could easily view what we were short on and what we had too much of at any given point, and adjust accordingly.

At a glance currently, it’s obvious we lack enough Technical work, but once we move out of the initial phase, that switches around and Technical Research and Workload becomes the bulk of it.


A Link to the Sheet below allows anyone to view what we’re currently doing and what stage of the work we’ve planned up to.

At the moment, we’ve only generally planned as far as Christmas, with Specific planning going every two weeks and being updated accordingly on the sheet.

Some parts of the project will continue ad-infinite however, mostly surrounding other forms of planning and research.


The Story


Bunny with leaf

Following on from Callum’s research, we decided to make our story about a rabbit, as they experience anxiety most closely to humans. We also felt that rabbits are very cute and likable creatures that the audience would want to root for. I myself had never actually held a rabbit until a few weeks ago and instantly fell in love with the animals.

Photo 25-09-2017, 14 58 33 I think about her all the time

Our idea for the actual plot of our short film is as follows:

A warren of rabbits is busy eating dandelions in a pleasant forest clearing. We see a smaller rabbit, most likely the runt, trying to squeeze through the masses of fur to get to the tasty flowers, but she’s not quite strong enough. Just as she thinks she might be able to grab a bite, the sentry lets out a squeak and the warren moves on. Our rabbit is…

View original post 1,366 more words

Why The Leaf?

An important part of our discussion surrounding the leaf, was that it added a semblance of humanity to the rabbit, using tools and an awareness of environment beyond just fight or flight, and gave the character more likability.

Anna created the Artwork above as an initial design for the Rabbit, and will be pretty much leading the charge with how the character’s aesthetic plays out.


Bunny with leaf

Since the beginning I was always really keen on the idea of our rabbit carrying a leaf. Originally this was just as a cute little accessory, but since we implemented the rain, we decided that it would be used as an umbrella.

After reading several articles (and from my own personal experience) I realised that the leaf umbrella would serve as a nice metaphor for a comfort item. 

Comfort items are very common and are used to help cope with stressful situations. As a child this could have been a blanket or a soft toy. Adults would probably find comfort in an item on their person. They would probably fiddle with their necklaces or twiddle their rings. A common comfort item in this period of time is a smartphone. A lot of anxious people usually find a small amount of sanctuary when they retreat to their mobile devices as an…

View original post 98 more words