This post contains all of the finalized documentation for my BFA project.
My project, The End is Near, is approaching the final stages of its development. The interactivity it in place, allowing the user to navigate from one point of interest to another. Additionally the viewer has the option to select each point of interest, revealing a brief description of the object and its significance. Some points of interest also include a rotatable 3D model that gives the viewer a closer look at the object. I’ve also added a border around the events taking place within the scene. This border suggests that the viewer is seeing the events of the scene through a screen using technology of the future. There is also a UI element added to assist the viewers understanding of which buttons to press to cause certain actions to occur. I also added a music track to aid in setting the tone for the piece.
I received some valuable feedback from my professors during the review that I plan to implement over winter break. One thing I am planning on changing is the UI element that indicates which button should be pressed. I plan to move the arrows to both sides of the screen to aid the viewer in understanding the use of the right and left analog stick to move from point to point. Additionally I plan on using the full controller layout to show which button does what on the X Box controller. I also plan to include a version of the mask that is rotatable in the final product, which will be placed on the screen that describes the masks and their purpose. Additionally, I will alter the dialogue to sound more like what an archaeologist might say for every point of interest. This will include using more scientific language for the descriptions of each point of interest. One thing I am also considering based on the feedback I have received is to include a version for each object of how that object looks today. There is an implication that the viewer is seeing the objects how they were when they were pristine and new. Giving the viewer the option to toggle how it looks in a more decayed state would imply further that the object should be viewed from a historical context. I plan to implement these additional features based on the feedback I received over winter break.
Here is an image of how a viewer would interact with the work in the gallery. The work would be projected on a screen and be controlled by the viewer using a game controller.
Here are some screenshots of the work in its final form.
Today I met with my BFA adviser and discussed the interactivity of my project and how I can go about making it function properly. This was highly beneficial as it helped me iron out a lot of the details for how I could code the remaining aspects of The End Is Near. We discussed how I might use different coding strategies to achieve different outcomes with my project. After this conversation I feel more confident in the interactive portion of my project.
When presenting my work to the class I received some feedback that I will take into account while constructing my project. Some of my peers inquired about what kind of sound I would consider using for my project. One suggested using a ticking time bomb to go along with the nuclear fallout theme. I may implement this idea, although I have an idea for some soft music that might work for what I am envisioning. At this point I have established how the experience will begin and end. The End Is Near will begin by showing the nuclear explosion that will end the civilization/character being depicted. The camera will then zoom out and reveal the reflection of the character’s eye lens to their mask. The viewer will then receive full control over the project. When they are finished with their observations of the character they can end the experience by “unfreezing time” and letting the nuclear explosion destroy the character. This way the project has a beginning and end that viewers can experience.
Another point of feedback that I received included my camera angles. Specifically, where my camera angles were pointing. I was told that where they were currently pointing was not an effective composition or interesting in the least. The camera angles I chose were actually just test spots just to make sure my interactivity was functioning. That said, this dialogue affirmed that I must be careful about the camera angles I do end up choosing for the final piece.
Over Thanksgiving break I produced the beginnings of the models that would become the first 3 objects of interest on the character’s person. I am currently not happy with their designs as they seem lack personality. I used reference images of wallets, cell phones, and wrist watches to sculpt my models, but I believe the references I chose were not very inspired. To remedy this problem I plan on using new reference images that will aid in giving the culture and character depicted to be more visually interesting to view. I also want to use stylized objects to add to the fantasy element of the piece and spark the curiosity of the viewer. The stylization I wish to employ includes visuals from steam-punk fiction and Industrial Revolution-era technology. I feel that these visuals will blend nicely with the design that is already in place for the character. I am excited to begin work on spicing up these assets to make them more interesting.
I also got a little done with the interactivity of my project over break. I can now smoothly transition between two different sample camera points, which is the first step to making the interactivity of my project work.
On the week of 11/12 – 11/15 I realized I would need to remodel some of my character in order to achieve higher quality texture maps. While this did add time to my project, it payed off by producing clean texture maps that allowed me to better organize my workflow. At this point I have decided for sure that I will focus on one character and go for quality over quantity with my project. I wish to ensure that every asset I develop for this project meets a high standard of texture realism.
I have decided on the objects that will begin to define my character and their culture. The few that I will begin to model include a wallet with family photographs, a communication device (like a cell phone or pager), and a wrist watch. I feel that these objects will give the viewer an idea of what kinds of items the citizens of this society found important enough to carry around their person. These objects will also inform the audience about the kind of technology this culture was capable of producing. Finally, the family photographs will make the viewer aware of some of the specifics behind the character’s day to day life.
After discussing my concept and progress with my small group I am a bit more confident about completing my project on time. I received some good advice about how I can improve my texturing workflow to expedite it without sacrificing quality. Additionally I received reassurance that if I focus all my efforts into one character my concept can still be strong. Because of this meeting I have a more clear idea of where I want to go with my project for these final weeks of wrapping things up. I’m still slightly concerned about how much time the interactivity might take me to complete, however I am more confident and motivated to do my best to complete my given tasks within the time that I have.
Week of 11/5: (Interactivity – Camera moving around points of interest on character, Rotating 3D Objects)(Character Rigging/Posing)
Week of 11/12: (Model, UV, Texture Objects on character – belt, pockets, wallet, etc.) (Intractability – Make interactive points selectable, bring up rotatable objects)
Week of 11/19: (UI) (Model Surrounding Environment)
Week of 11/26 onward: (Revise textures and models/add more detail)
In attempting to flesh out the interactivity of my project I have come across a few flaws with the way the piece is currently projected to become. One thing I have an issue with is that the concept’s strength relies on the written word I choose for the piece. As a visual artist I would rather it be the case that the visuals communicate the message I am trying to get across. I also have a problem with the message itself as it seems to be convoluted to a lot of people and I am struggling to make it more clear. I proposed that I change the concept to resolve these issues to one of my professors and they agreed that it would be a strong move forward. My new concept retains all of the assets that have yet been created, but “re-brands” them to be used for a different purpose.
My new concept is now centered on the idea of viewing a 3D character the moment before they meet their apocalyptic demise. The viewer will have the chance to dissect key points of interest on the character including their posture, clothes and the way they wear them, and items on their person. Each will be revealing of their personal identity in addition to revealing of their role in society. The concept is largely inspired by the eruption of mount Vesuvius in Pompeii and how the magma froze citizens in their final moments. Archaeologists study these characters to find out more about the society and day to day life of citizens at the time. My proposed project will offer viewers the opportunity to learn about a fictional character, their fictional society and their role in it, all based on their appearance and personal belongings. The viewer is meant to ask themselves: If the world were to end right now what would my appearance say about me and my role in today’s society?
The entire model has now been textured using the workflow I discussed with my adviser. The base color for the mask has been revised to be more detailed. I plan to achieve the same level of detail with the remainder of the textures, but for now I plan to move on to rigging and coding interactive elements as the texturing has reached a reasonable level of detail to continue.
I had some problems getting my textures to work properly. Before the mask looked too dark, and too much like metal. After I discussed the problem with my adviser, I had a better understanding of how to approach the problem I performed some experimentation with the materials and arrived at a satisfying result that should make the remainder of my texturing workflow a quick and mostly painless process.
My small group critique brought some things to my attention that I plan to implement in my process of creating my BFA project. The group commented that there was a more efficient way for me to make normal maps for my character. After explaining the method, I feel I have a better understanding for how to complete this process and achieve better results. Additionally, the group gave me some tips on how to make the menu system for my project more visually appealing and more intuitive. This included making some of the buttons smaller and finding ways to draw attention to their importance in other ways, such as through color. These are all things I am taking into account as I move forward with my BFA project.
Today I had a discussion with my adviser and BFA professors regarding my project. In my conversation with my adviser we figured out a schedule for what point I should be at by the end of the week. We agreed that I had spent too long on character 1 and needed to move on. Since there are tasks that need to be completed for character 1 I am dedicating the remainder of the week towards completing character 1. My discussion with my professors aided in me further developing my concept. I was told the aspects of my concept that our lacking, namely the story of the journalist. In this dialogue I was able to explain my concept better than I did in my presentation, and have a discussion about how it could be improved. Both of these conversations have made me feel a bit more confident about my project overall.
After my midterm defense presentation I had to evaluate the direction I wanted my project to go in. It was clear from the feedback I received that my concept wasn’t coming across to viewers and that I needed to do more research to develop my topic. I believe I made in error in my choice of words when describing my concept due to lack of research. For example, I used the term “Fake News” when I really meant “Sensationalized News.” I aim to further develop my project’s concept as I create the assets that will go into it. I also aim to increase the communication between my adviser and professors regarding my project and any issues I may come across. Additionally I need to be producing assets at a much faster rate. Character 1 should be complete by 10/22 and I should begin Character 2 the following week.
Sept 17 – 30: Environment Block-out
Oct 1 – 19: Character 1
- Model/Sculpt Character
- Retopologize/ Reproject
- Texture PBR or Cel Shade
Oct 20 – Oct 28: Interactivity
- UI Design
- Navigation of Interface
- Voting System
Oct 29 – Nov 12: Character 2
- Model/Sculpt Character
- Retopologize/ Reproject
- Texture PBR or Cel Shade
Nov 13 – Nov 30: Finish Environment
- Place in Unity
After coming back from the Computer Art Club trip to Ottawa, those who attended met within a small group and received feedback from one another. A few comments stuck out to me regarding how I can improve my project conceptually. Upon discussion I realized the initial resolution I had planned for my piece would likely be overly convoluted and thus hard for viewers to get invested in. As I further develop the ending(s) for the dialogue trees for each character I will try to keep things simple for the player and visually clear for those watching. Additionally the resolution for the player character should match that of what resolution for a journalist would be, as that is the profession they are acting out throughout the piece. Another comment that made me reevaluate my project was that I had a lack of female characters in my sketches. While I did have one, that was a minority to the 5 characters I had that were either intended to be male or gender neutral. With the theme of my project being heavily reliant on a diverse cast of opinions from relatable personalities, it is crucial that the many different people are represented within the experience. The problem with this idea is that due to time restraints I may only have time to finish 2 to 3 characters. While I would like to have 4 to 5, that still isn’t a high enough number to represent every demographic that I would like. This discussion made it clear to me I need to be careful about which demographics I pick so that my larger message is being communicated through characters that are relatable to multiple demographics of people. These are the two big take-aways I had for this discussion. I found it beneficial in thinking through some of the details of my project as a whole.
My trip to the Ottawa International Animation Festival was beneficial to my planning process for certain aspects of my BFA project. One panel in particular, which focused on the production of the Wes Anderson film: Isle of Dogs, helped me in developing my world building process. Isle of Dogs shares a similar tone within its visual and spoken language that I wish to achieve with my piece. For starters, the time period of the piece is a hypothetical future with post-apocalyptic imagery and themes. Despite the dark tones that come from such a setting, the timing and dialogue of the film inspire a sense of humor (A very dry sense of humor, but a sense of humor none the less). This is something I hope to achieve with my piece. I fear if I make the tone too dark the characters will become unrelatable. While I want the characters to have rough situations that are indicated by their visual design and dialogue, I want these situations to have lots of personality that is unique to their character that may include some dry wit that perhaps comments on the metaphor they represent in a somewhat meta way. In Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson establishes a future that progressed from the 60s, from the perspective of what people in the 60s thought the future would be like. This is something I am considering for my project as well. I want the technology of the world have parallels to how things are today, however to also have a more analog feel. Much of the inspiration I am arriving at comes from steampunk which combines technological imagery in old fashioned looking ways. The people in the world of my project don’t consider themselves to be in a post-apocalypse, so while they wear gas masks to filter out toxins this is just considered the norm for them. The Isle of Dogs panel gave me a lot to consider regarding the world building of my project.
Here’s some reference sheets I’ve put together for use when modeling some assets.
Here is a stop motion character I made in my principals of animation class. He is serving as one of the main inspirations for the character design for this project.
I gathered some pictures of fans to help with establishing detail on the masks for the characters.
I gathered numerous images of gas masks to aid establishing the overall shapes and designs of the character’s masks.
Here are some images of goggles and other forms of technology within the style I want to the technology of the masks to look like.
This is some reference I gathered for the attire for one of the characters. Each character represents a different socio-economic situation and this one is a recent college grad in an intern position.