Submission and Evaluation

RSA Submission 


This was my section of the submission



intro write about our ideas

This unit has probably been the unit with the highest workload so far, but that is probably my own fault, taking on too much work even when advised against it at the beginning of the term. But how will I improve without increasing my work load. Overall it has been a good unit, I’ve enjoyed finally getting to learn some real animation skills and I have seen my animating skills improve over the duration of the unit.

We wanted to take this unit as an opportunity to re enter the RSA after we sadly didn’t win last year. We had a point to prove and hopefully with a year to improve our skills we have produced something that has a possibility of winning. We tried to take on board what the mentioned last year about the work being too confusing, so this time we tried to produce something that had a clear story and purpose. I think we achieved that by creating a very visually appealing piece with a short story that an audience could follow. We wanted to make something a bit different compared to other videos that all follow the similar motion graphics / info graphic style. We wanted to make something that really stood out, which is what I think drew them to our piece last year.

The RSA entry was heavily influenced by Pixar, with all our characters taking reference from previous Pixar characters and the whole piece has a very Toy Story esq. to it. We did this because we know how iconic Pixars look is and know it is an effective way to create emotional stories that audiences can empathise with. Empathy was a big part of this topic and creating animations that audiences can empathise with is key to making an impactful video. I think I have achieved this, especially with the grandfather/grandchild relationship of Walter and Cody.

I decided to do this project as a group because the work load would have been far too much for just one person. I worked well with Dorota last year on this project and it was both of our intentions to enter again this year. We asked Emma to work with us as we thought we would be able to get more done when there were three of us. Sadly towards the end of the project Emma was having some personal issues which meant she was unable to complete a lot of the work she had been set. This set our work back a lot because it meant mine and Dorota’s work load increased and sadly it caused us to, in my opinion, not produce a product that was up to my standards. This increased workload to a toll on the other jump and modelling projects. I was unable to fully complete either of them, firstly, because the RSA hand in was earlier meaning I had to leave the other projects until after the hand in and secondly because of the issues with Emma I was extremely stressed from working and not sleeping for a week, I had lost a lot of my motivation.

Another problem we had was, because we were using Vray, the other two were not familiar on how to use it, this meant a lot of my time I shouldve been working on the animation, was spent trying to set up the scenes for the other two to render. towards the end Dorota got the hang of using vray was able to render without my input. However because of their unfamiliarity with the program some of our shots came out looking slightly different. This was also the issue I had when Tomas rendered a couple of the scenes for us. I tried to match the colours in nuke as much as possible but it is still noticeable in my opinion.

On a good note I was extremely pleased at how my renders came out. Lighting and rendering is becoming another area that I am really interested in, aside from dynamics, I really enjoy the outcomes I am producing and see my self improving all the time. I think the depth of field really sells the toy like nature of the piece, close up to the toys has a large depth of field and when its far out in the room it has a low depth of field. I also feel my animation skills have greatly improved over the course of the unit.

I am disappointed in myself for not completing the jump or having the time to create the IK/FK switch on my arm rig. I know i am capable of completing both to a high standard but the work load for for was just too much. I now know for the future not to take on too much and really focus refining something fully before trying to take on anything else.

In conclusion it has been rather up and down this project, there has been some things I have been really pleased about and others that have really dampened my mood for the whole unit. I still intend to pursue improving my animation skills and intend to finish all the projects to a higher standard over the Easter break as i think all of them would be fantastic additions to my show reel.





RSA Animation

Here is my dissection of the transcript of our audio file. This is to better help us understand what is really being said in the excerpt.


Story Development:

Here is our initial storyboard drawn up by Dorota


Character Synopsis


Cody lost his parents when he was young, they mysteriously went missing before he could remember. He has, since then, lived with his grandfather Walter, who he loves like a father. Cody is a fun loving; care free child, with a cheeky streak that is always getting him into trouble. Although he may be troublesome at times he is still the sweet child at heart, which he takes after his mother, as his grandfather knows all to well. Full of energy and humour Cody is always up for playing even if his grandfather needs to rest, he can be likened to Labrador puppy or monkey swinging in the trees.

All three of us all agreed that we want to create an animation that is heavily influenced by Pixar’s animation. Because of this we are drawing a lot of reference from examples of children we felt capture the essence of the character we want to make. Dash from the Incredibles embodies the cheeky fun loving aspects of Cody, he’s bold, gets into trouble at school and strives to do help when he can, all of which are apparent in Cody’s personality.



Mery is our main character, she will be the one narrating along with the animation. To try and have the character to be believable we have taken inspiration from the original speaker “Nathalie Spencer”. By looking into her online presence we were able to draw some broad conclusions about her personality, such as being very driven and optimistic; smart and forward thinking. We then combined that with traits that we felt would suit the character for the animation.

Growing up Mery was always the smart one at school, great for her grades but was never seen as one of the ‘cool kids’. But optimistic Mery never let that bother her, she was quite content being quiet. As she got older she began to realise that she could be more confident around like minded individuals, with the social politics of secondary school far behind her, she was able to be completely herself and focus on what truly matters. Being a health worker herself, she strives to help people to the best of her ability, putting their problems ahead of hers, some says shes inspiring and some say shes a true social innovator.



Walter has lived a long and, bar a few minor incidents, content life. The loss of his daughter a few years back really took its toll on the old golden ager, pushing him to the brink of dispair and depression. The only thing that brought him back from the edge was when Little Cody was left in his care, pulling back together the pieces of his broken heart, with someone once again to love and to care for he would do right by his daughter and raise the child as if he was his own. Despite his old age Walter does all he can to keep Cody happy; playing with him even though his joints firmly disagree and never staying cross at him long; because come on, who could stay angry with a kid like that.

Pixar is great at creating empathy with their characters, even more so with the senior people they create, already sweet in real life, the capture the essence that makes the audience’s hearts melt.

Im using Carl from ‘Up’ as reference here because of he too has lost a loved on his life and during the course of the film he re-finds his love for life, through the connection he makes with a unsuspecting child. The man he becomes at the end of the movie is where we draw most of our reference. At this point he has become revitalised and content with his life, he is no longer the miserable, grumpy old man.



Character Pose Sheets

Here are the character pose sheets that Dorota has drawn up for us. We can all refer to this and the character synopsis and reference to ensure that we all animate in a unified manner and make sure our character personalities are consistent throughout.

Primary Blocking:



Whilst working on my shots I worked in quite a fluid manner. Because I knew working on one shot from start to finish would become very tedious, I, at least for the beginning, worked on all the shots together. Towards the end when I was trying to finesse them I would work on them one by one. However for this reason there is no exact primary/secondary/finessing stage to my playblasts, so I am just going to include a few examples from each shot showing my progress and then the final rendered version.

Shot 1

Shot 2

Shot 3

We decided to change the camera angle on this shot because from the previous angle the audience was unable to properly see the animation so we wanted to zoom it in a bit.

Shot 4

Shot 5

Shot 6


The snowball effect was made using RealFlow a liquid simulation piece of software i have been learning in my spare time. We wanted to use it in this project because the snowball would look really weak if it wasn’t made using a simulation.

Shot 7




Rendering and Lighting

For this project I again used Vray as my renderer. I really like the ease of use and image quality when using this renderer. There is a wealth of information in the vray documentation that makes learning the plug in extremely accessible. I recently discovered that vray allows you to turn maya’s cameras in to ‘vray physical cameras’ this enables real world camera controls like ISO and f/stop which vastly improves the render quality and allows me to light the scene to a real world lighting. I was testing doing indoor shooting with my SLR camera to see what camera settings I should be using in Maya. Below is the process in images of my lighting tests. The scene consists of a sun and sky to get the light portal on the floor as well as various point and rectangle lights on the lights in the room.



Of course we needed to composite all of our work below is the graph network for every shot of our piece, first of all i tried to colour match each shot to each other. This proved hard as the scenes that were rendered on Tomas’s computer came out slightly different to the ones on mine. I got it as a close as i could within the time constraints. I then applied a universal grade to every shot and using a zDepth pass I was able to create the high depth of field look.