Sunday, 29 September 2013

Minor Project: Reevaluating My Project

Reevaluating My Project

After my tutorial with Phil on friday, I left feeling the need to reevaluate my ideas and discover what I really, really wanted to get out of this project. I have a real problem of inflating my ideas to the point where they become unrealistic and unmanageable, and the purpose of this post is to begin to distill and refine the more appealing ideas I've got to work with.

What Do I Want to Get Out of this Project?

Being that this is the more or less the moment the last two years have been building up to, I want to treat it as so. By this I mean I want to create something that is both cinematically compelling from a storytelling perspective, as well as technically challenging, requiring me to adapt and learn new skills in order to achieve this. For more or less every project up until now, I've found myself conforming to a very linear, safe path, as a means of appeasing some non-existent entity I feel I must satisfy. I've had periods where my work has drifted from this path, but ultimately, it always drifts back. I want to force myself to break from this path and create something that I would enjoy watching, as well as enjoy creating. Its taken me two years to realise that after all, I'm doing this for myself and nobody else, and now is the perfect time to put this epiphany to good use.

What Sort of Project Do I Really Want to Do?

Taking into account what I want to get out of this project, I want to develop something with a strong narrative background, as well as something that really requires me to flex my CG muscles and generate something that I'm genuinely proud to have created. This proposed outcome tends to push me in the direction of an animated short, reinforced by a refined screenplay and an art direction that compliments the nature of the story, as well as my (somewhat vague) personal style. Going by my preferences and successes in past projects, I would ideally want to work on a project with my focus and attention spread more or less evenly across pre-production and production, with as much care taken with the story and design side of things as much as the CG aspects. In the past, my focus has fluctuated as a result of a waining attention span and impatience around certain areas of the production pipeline, especially if I'm struggling to understand what my project actually is (see my Adaptation project as a good example of this).

When it comes to deciding what sort of project I really want to do, I need to look back at the aspects of past projects which felt effortless, in the sense that I was so immersed in the project that it didn't feel like I was working at all. The projects that immediately stand out include our Pre-Vis project, hand drawn animation, the Uncanny and elements of the Narrative, Adaptation and Character Design projects. That sounds like a lot, but I've cherry picked the best bits to get an idea of what I think I'll enjoy most when it comes to working on this project.

With Pre-Vis, I had the most fun reconfiguring and rewriting my various story ideas, conforming to the restrictions of the three given elements. This project at no point felt like a chore to me, which came as a surprise to me when I mainly spent my time writing, throwing out and rewriting the same story over and over. Hand drawn animation was tedious and particularly crippling for my arthritic fingers, but the tedium was unusually relaxing. Getting to that point where everything falls into place and you can just work and work and work is something that I really want to get right with this project. My entire second year was inhabited by perpetual stress, because at no point did I feel as though I was heading in the right direction and that I had full control of my project. I want to avoid that sensation this time around. Uncanny was another project where stress was minimal. At no point in the project did it feel like a chore to me, it was just good fun watching this singular thing develop into something I was incredibly proud of at the time. It feels as though the projects where I'm having fun are the ones where the outcome is most rewarding. When it came to my second year, I was more or less constantly in a state of stress and anxiety. I never felt as though I had a grip on my projects, everything was just chaos. Although, there were elements that I really, really enjoyed, specifically when it came to character design and modelling. The entire process of character modelling, from concept through modelling and texturing, all the way to rigging and eventually animating, was fun to me. It was the only time I found myself getting up at stupid o-clock in the morning and actually cracking on with something. It was also one of the few things that could hold my attention for a considerable amount of time when I was working on campus, which in itself, is quite an achievement.

So, after that hefty analysis, a summary is in order. By the looks of things, my ideal project would be:

  • Story and Concept Driven
  • Linear in Its Development, Following a Concise and Manageable Pipeline
  • Built Around and Influenced by My Interests, But In a Way that Doesn't Destroy Them in the Process
  • Takes Full Advantage of the Aspects of Production I Enjoy (and Could See Myself Developing into a Career)

This reevaluated perspective will have an affect on the ideas I had already established, which I will address in a follow up post to this one. I aim to restructure the more prominent ideas around my new outlook, using the above summary as somewhat of a checklist to make sure the ideas will fit my newly established preferences. This restructuring may result in a complete change in format for some of my ideas (for example, shifting an idea for an animated short so that it is more focused and becomes more of a character design or environment modelling project, for example).

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