Shot Assignment (SA)

Please refer to FOL for assignment weighting and due date.

Shot Assignment (production shot code or _01/_02 etc.)
    Assuming you are participating in the collaborative group project, this will be the bulk of the work that you do. In some cases, you will have storyboards or an animatic to guide you, in other instances you will have nothing more to start with than a broad description of the action needed. Some of the initial questions to ask your director:
  • How long is the shot? (scope)                                ~5 char sec.
  • What character(s) is/are in the shot?                      The character you created
  • What happens in the shot?                                      Make up something cool
  • Where is the shot located?                                      The sci-fi bar
  • Are there multiple camera angles and cuts?           depending on action, 1-4 shots 
  • What happens before this animation? After?          different vignettes
    You will be responsible for producing approximately 5 character seconds of animation (120fr) every 3-4 weeks (this will vary depending on complexity, numbers of revisions etc.). You can work in a group of up to 3 students total, but each of you will be responsible for ~5 char seconds of animation.

    For this animation, you will use the character you have modeled, rigged and textured. In your first week, plan your scene with boards, thumbnails, or video reference. In the second week, Block in your first pass keys and breakdowns, with rough timing. In your third week, have a 2nd pass and in the fourth week, polishing. Planning is a critical step to pitching your idea, so don't skimp on this part.

    For best success: show up to class and show your work in progress every week. I'm grading this!
Featured principles: Staging, Timing, Posing (Solid Drawings), and Appeal

Double-check the properties of your movie file
like ratio and resolution before submitting
Hand-in file parameters:
  • Movie file type must be .MOV  or .MP4
  • Either H.264 or MPEG4 compression
  • 1920 x 1080 resolution 
  • Animation controls, resolution gate hidden
  • Frame counter (current frame) visible
  • File size must be less than <250 MB
  • File must be named as follows:
       <Your last name>_<Your first name>_<assignment code>.<file type>


What I'll be grading on this assignment:

- Staging and Tech (layout, camera animation, resolution, file naming, submission requirements)
- Posing (Silhouette, Balance, Line of Action, Asymmetry, Structure, Flow Lines, Rhythm)
- Timing and Mass (Ease In/Out, Changes in direction, Believable)
- Polish (Arcs, Detail, Cycles of Revision, Organic movement, Face, eyes, hands, feet, etc.)
- Feedback Applied? (Showing work in progress and effectively making revisions based on feedback)

A logical workflow improves efficiency

Part 1 - Planning
    First you need to pitch your idea, planning it out enough that it's clear and understandable. Storyboards, thumbnails, or a video of you acting it out are all effective methods. A rough 3d pawn animatic can be helpful for planning camera moves. Think especially about the timing of the overall story and how to make it clear for your audience. Get director feedback and sign-off before the next step.

Part 2 - Block In
    If the idea is approved, it's on to rough blocking. Aside from your golden keys, everything else should be a rough first pass. Just Keys and Breakdowns, rough timed. 10-15m per pose maximum, just enough to see if the idea works. Get feedback.

Part 3 - Animation in Progress
    Take a second pass at your key poses, refine those breakdowns for offset/overlap and arcs. This should start to look 75% of the the way there to complete. Small adjustments in timing to 'punch it up' or smooth things out. Make sure you've worked out any kinks and fixed any notes from feedback. 

Part 4 - Polishing
    Playblast your work, make your list of fixes (in order of priority) and apply those fixes. Then repeat as many times as your schedule permits. Polish, polish, polish. Pick the low hanging fruit first: fix balance and weight shift issues before you refine the fingers. Tighten up character eyeline before fiddling with the toes. Where should your audience be looking? What will they see first? Let that guide you. For a reminder of polishing workflow check this familiar image:

You have all the skills you need, now it's time to apply them. 

 - Dave


 Now some context for how Class will run. 



Brad understood that nothing is more destructive
than a very entitled person who doesn't get exactly
what they want, right when they want it.
    H/W/F/A (help/work/feedback/all good)

A quick way to triage artists at the start of the day to improve productivity. (please: in order of urgency)

"I need..."

1. HELP. I'm stuck and cannot proceed due technical issues or need of instruction. (not feedback) 
2. WORK: I have completed all assigned tasks and have literally nothing to work on.
3. FEEDBACK: I have completed all my notes and want a review of my work.
4. ALL GOOD. I'm 5x5 and am working on something cool to show you soon.

    The expectation within production is that you will show your work regularly,

Artist Responsibilities and Expectations

  • Log changes in Shotgrid.
  • Respond promptly* to emails, IMs and Shotgrid notes.
  • Be clear, concise and thorough in your written messages.

    "You're part of a team"
  • Help your fellow artists: answer their questions, direct them to useful resources.
  • Use Discord to stay in contact (Shotgrid = task specific note keeping)
  • At all times be professional and courteous with your teammates.
  • Share suggestions with your teammates where appropriate (see "Stay in your lane")

    "Pay attention, take notes"
  • There will be documentation to read, tutorials to watch, emails and chats. Please read everything thoroughly.
  • When you receive feedback, write it down. Use doodles where helpful.

    "Show regular progress"
  • Show work at all times, not just "when it's ready'.
  • When you're unable to show work, be sure to let the team know. (see meet your deadlines)

    "Ask questions"
  • Be sure you understand what you're doing and what your objectives are.
  • If you don't know your deadline, ask.
  • Know what's happening before your shot and afterward.
  • Let the leads know what you'd like to work on.
  • If you're having trouble, seek help and guidance
  • When you're ready for feedback, submit your work.

    "Always have stuff to do"
  • The moment you're idle, you are responsible to communicate that to the team.
  • Find a task needing done and offer it as a suggestion.
  • Try to have at least two things to work on at all times.
  • If there is something blocking your progress, 'flag' it and shift to another task.
  • If you're waiting on feedback, work on something else.

    "Respond promptly and effectively to feedback"
  • Remember that the goal is to serve someone else's creative vision.
  • The work isn't done until you've addressed all the notes.

    "Stay in your lane"
  • Ask a supervisor before you do work outside your assigned role.
  • Only work on the tasks you've been assigned to.
  • Don't 'direct' your fellow artists and don't create material on their behalf.
  • Creating extra material, tests, or funny takes only happens when you're 'off the clock'.

    "Meet your deadlines" 
  • Know when your work is due.
  • Manage your time effectively. 
  • If you need more time and you can't hit a deadline, communicate it early.

    "Follow the pipeline"
  • Stick to approved workflows, methods and tools: other people inherit your scene.
  • Everything named correctly, in the right format, in the right place.

Supervisor Responsibilities and Expectations

    "Create a positive, growth-oriented environment"
  • Know strengths/weaknesses of your team and assign tasks accordingly.
  • Help your artists develop their abilities.
  • Be positive, encouraging, patient. Inspire and coach.
  • Don't micromanage, don't coddle

    "Be a good Manager"
  • Don't play favorites. No politics, no games.
  • Don't pass the buck.
  • Set reasonable expectations.
  • Solicit feedback and be open to critique/suggestions.

    "Communicate clearly and frequently"
  • Give regular, scheduled feedback.
  • Drawings are worth 1000 words.
  • Showing is better than telling: demonstrate, give examples
     "Know what you want"
  • Have a plan in place before an artist starts to work.
  • Understand the project as a whole and how each part fits.
  • If you change your mind, be clear that's what you're doing.
    "Be honest"
  • If an artist is underperforming, let them know how to improve
  • If work doesn't meet the project standard, 
  • Keep the team informed on what's really going on. 
  • If you make a mistake, own it.

Advice I shared on being a team leader:

1. You don't have to respond immediately. Give yourself time to think and digest before you comment/respond/decide. You can even say 'hmm I need to think about this for a moment" (see 4)

2. Try to start with questions. This gives you more time to think, (see number 1). It also gives you more context and insight while providing others opportunity to share their perspective. 

3. Stay positive. Encourage your artists. Speak first about what you like, what is working, etc. Even when there are issues, focus on what the next steps are to move forward. 

4. Be transparent. If the work is looking rough, be honest that it's below expectation. If an artist is not pulling their weight, let them know what is required. If asked directly about information you have but cannot share, you can say '"I know a bit, and will share what I can when I'm permitted"

5. Conversations work better than email. So much can be lost or misinterpreted in written communication. If you need a written record, have a chat, and then follow up with an email that summarizes what was discussed.

6. Stay humble. You don’t know everything, and you never will. If you know this, you’ll always be able to learn more.

7. Give credit. If someone is doing great work don’t miss a chance to acknowledge it, especially with senior staff.

8. Accept responsibility. Don’t pass the buck. Own your missteps and learn from them.

9. Know your limitations. It’s ok to take on new challenges if you’re honest about your current abilities.

10. It only works if you delegate. While it’s sometimes easier to ‘do it yourself’ it’s not scale-able and you’re preventing others from developing necessary skills. 

Terminology for Animation.

Tools and Tech

SHOTGRID (formerly Shotgun) 

    This is the standard tool in animation production for tracking and organizing the work of multiple artists. Communication is a huge part of a professional artist's role, so start these habits early and make them a part of your everyday activity. 

    We'll be using this tool less as we start to use Shotgrid more. Occasionally when video markups and draw-overs are needed the tools here cannot be beat. Most feedback info needs to stay on Shotgrid so that everyone involved in the project can see the feedback.