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Taking this MSc I was specialising in animation from Fine Art but really I was opening up a whole new industry I would need to specialise further into. So that's why I thought taking this course and creating a film to go through the whole pipeline would give me an idea of what I might be drawn to specialise in. However since the course began I struggled because there were so many things to do and so many routes to go down with the production of my film, I just wanted to do it all.


It wasn't until the group project that I really knew that's what it was, an interest in wanting to see everything grow together and orchestrate the assemblage of it all.


In terms of finding where I am drawn to in the industry, the Going Living project particularly helped with this. Directing and production managing my group project was extremely fulfilling. Seeing the whole production and getting people active and excited about it was so amazing, and I knew it was definitely something I would love to do again.


After completing the project and doing more research into production management and production roles, I feel that it is a perfect route to pursue going forward.


Throughout this term have been researching this role and how people have moved up into it from assistant to coordinator to manager to producer. I have made particular good finds on LinkedIn, viewing people’s profiles to see how they moved up in their careers and what companies they worked for.


I have also been researching more studios and keeping my eye out for production assistant roles. I believe my experience with the pipeline this year will give me an edge in applying to these roles and I will continue to network and use this year’s experience to support my future career.


As well as keeping in touch was those at Wild Child Animations from the group project, I also have been reaching out to a few of the people I found on LinkedIn and some suggested by Susan. There are a few that I will be chatting within the next coming weeks.


To expand my people skills I have been researching through TedTalks, videos and will be signing up for a Screenskills Experience and Training Leadership workshop in September.


I have also signed up to attend my second Animated Women networking event in a few weeks time, so I hope to continue building up my network through that and gaining more and more knowledge on the industry.


As well as production role interest I have also been picking up more art commissions and freelance illustrations. This will be a great way to keep my creative juices flowing as I test the waters with production, I'll always have artist roles I can work to take on.


I recently completely redid my CV in preparation for job applications:




Videos I have found useful for Production roles:


https://youtu.be/-M-7L9u2s1o - How to be a production manager in the animation industry (Screen Skills)


https://youtu.be/LnJwH_PZXnM - How not to take this Personally (Ted Talk)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP0vKkbUN-I&list=PLmKhvxp3sFaghgvuk18vnFmIDIQc_dQQ_&index=14&ab_channel=ACCESS%3AVFX

- Production Management - ACCESS:VFX Meet the Industry

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIXP7kLHlLM&list=PLmKhvxp3sFaghgvuk18vnFmIDIQc_dQQ_&index=9&ab_channel=JaidenLlanes - How to Get Hired as an Animation Production Intern: Q&A with Althea Rapio (Part 1)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3bo2f7wZNI&list=PLmKhvxp3sFaghgvuk18vnFmIDIQc_dQQ_&index=10&ab_channel=NickelodeonCartoonUniverse - Getting Organized with Production Management | Animation 101




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The main thing I am going to be making textures for in the environments is the boxes. A lot of the rest will be blocked out with colour in the toon shader. I was tempted for a while to leave the environment textures as this toon shaded single blocked out colour, but to have a variety of them. However I was worries the character, with his more detailed texture, would stand out in an odd way. So I thought I'd try out texturing a box in Substance Painter to try and get that painterly style I was interested in, and see how it looked. I ended up really liking this and so decided to mix a few different textured boxes amongst amongst the blocked colour boxes.


I created UV maps for 3 different boxes, these were easy to map in the UV editor as most created a classic box net if you cut the seams right.







For the box mountain scene I didn't think it would work as well to have the different textures mixed in the boxes, there would be to many to go in and individually individually reassign the various textures to each of the visible boxes. There were also complications in doing this within MASH as the instances will copy the exact textures and make it too obviously a repeating pattern.


I also experimented here by trying to supplement the texture with some effects with an Ambient Occlusion tone map mask. This is what s creating the dark grain in the image below.

I didn't go with this in the end as it created too much of a busy, muddy look and with the toon shader lines also applied, this was a bit too much black. Whilst the toon shade lines could be adjusted for this the grain could not. If there was a clear way of doing so I would have possibly kept the effect.


Thoughts on Environment Texturing


This step and seeing some of the final look of the environment come together like this is definitely a step I find very fulfilling. Whilst I was able to texture a few boxes however, due to the style and subject matter I am working with in my project there wasn't much else to design and texture. The plan from the beginning was to try and keep the 3D modelling to a minimum so that I could focus on learning what I needed to complete the film. so I elected to make any other details of the scene to be 2D matte paintings, which I was already familiar with. Although I still believe there wouldn't have been time for this, I do think I would have enjoyed texturing more items. Definitely something I will try again in the future!

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After the character texturing was complete and the environments coming together I was excited to start testing some render settings, particularly with Toon Shaders.


A worry I had when I first started to test this was about how the shader would work with the texture applied. The first few tutorials I went through didn't explain how this could be done if a toon shader was already applied, so I began to worry I had misunderstood how this would be possible. Then I discovered that it must be done using the node editor, something I hadn't had much experience with. It was very straightforward and worked efficiently once I understood the nodes which didn't take long as the idea of node lays everything out quite nice and clearly,


The Nodes for both the Character and the Environment Boxes:


Here is one of the first toon shader tests that I tried with the blocked-out environment. It was interesting seeing how many edges would be picked up upon adjusting the Edge threshold settings.


The Character


Here is the render after correcting the colours and getting the painted texture onto the model. There is still some adjusting to be done beyond this, for example, I don't think the black colour for the outlines works very well. I will adjust this and a few of the other options available with the aitoon shader attribute options


Below is another render test, this time experimenting more with the toon shader settings. There are specific settings for 'Stylised Lighting' and 'Rim Lighting', here I was particularly focusing on rim lighting as I knew that would be something that would be present in my shots. However, with the settings all adjusted for it and the Directional Light from the open door behind the character selected, for some reason, the rim light was being highlighted on the wrong edges. As seen here on the mouth:

I will have another look at this when I get more into the lighting stage, for one leaving the rim light settings off and just using the natural lighting from the other lights.



After I had my blend shape expressions completed I tested the Edge Threshold options on the face again to see how far I could push this style. This would adjust how much of the model will be outlined, the smaller the number the more details would be picked up, and the higher the number the fewer detail outlines. The first image is with the threshold at 18 and the second is at 30. Whilst I like out 18 brings out the eyelids, I think it is a little too much around other areas like the nose and mouth.






The Environments


Something I experiment with when testing the toon shading on my environments was Ambient Occlusion, this is when shading is calculated from how much light is reaching the object. Below is a test I did with this having the slider turned to its absolute lowest, the effect of the ambient occlusion is the black grain texture visible on the boxes. It's quite an interesting texture and style, I thought it went well with my plans to eventually add more textures, like dust. But it also looks very dramatic and there didn't seem to be any ways to change the colour or control the texture more.


Deciding against Ambient Occlusion, taking it off the shader I noticed there was still a weird shading happening on the boxes created with MASH. This is also outside the render only appearing on the MASH instances. Looking on some forums I discovered this fixable by going through Mash Display and then Harden Edges.



Line edge colour


I did some experimenting with a lighter colour for the edge, I think particularly in the darker shots this works well. However it only seemed to be a more desaturated colour that worked with this. Adding something that was a slightly different hue was too distracting so I have found keeping these boxes monotoned to be the best approach.


Closing thoughts on Toon Shader


I mainly wanted to use this shader as an attempt to give my film a more 2D like style. I think it definitely gave a more satisfying style but not as flat as I was expecting. This was good however as there is so much dramatic lighting that would have not looked at good on a flat 2D image.

I think if I had a bit more time to experiment with the specific lighting settings I think I could have excelled the style even more.

It was interesting to learn how this works as it taught me a lot from node editor layouts to general texturing and rendering settings.

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