Lesson #2 – Creation of a 3D Project RECAP
The process to create a 3D Project (like a movie or a tv shows or a short film…etc…) is classified in 3 different stages:
When a concept, the idea of the project, is approved… we have the permission to move forward. This is a phase called Green Light!
So now we can start with the Pre-Production, this are the main distinct phases:
One or more screenwriters are in charge to write the script for the project.
In the screenplay we have the narrated story, the dialogues, the actions and the descriptions of the environment:
- (example beginning of a screenplay I made for my concept for a tv show for kids)
- Project Title (in this case it’s Puppet House)
- Number of the Episode
- Title of the Episode
- Scene heading (a short description of the location and the time of the day of that sequence)
- Action Description (a narrative description of what happen in the scene)
- Dialogues (name of the character and his own speech)
Character / Environment Design
It’s time to define the design, the aspect of the characters and the environment and props. The concept artists create illustrations and sketches with different design for the characters and everything that need to be defined in terms of design.
In this step the storyboard artist create a visual description of the entire project divided by sequences and scenes.
- Title or the logo of the project
- Number of the episode
- Title of the episode
- Number of the sequence (in this case this are all scenes of the same sequence)
- Number of the scene
- Number of the frames (the length of the scene)
- Visual illustrations (a detailed image that show the shot, the camera take, the character actions into the locations)
- Camera notes (for example in this case we have a track in and it’s represented in the storyboard)
- Sound effects note (for example, i the first shot we need the sound of the rain)
Let’s see the difference between a SEQUENCE and a SCENE:
A SCENE is a part of the story with a specific camera take, any time the camera framing change we have a new scene! So, until you don’t see a cut in the camera, is the same scenes. A group of scenes compose a SEQUENCE, this sequence takes place in a determinate location and time of the day. When we have a change in the location or time, we have a new sequence, but the number of the scenes is still progressive.
A cast of voice actor dubb the script so that we will have a voice track to use for the production.
3D Asset Modeling
The design is approved so we can go forward to create the 3D models.Using a 3D modeling software, the modeler start to literally sculpt the mesh, following the design based on the illustration of the concept artist.
3D Asset Texturing
In this phase, a texture artist create the texture, the surface that wll be applied on the character. He create this 2D image, for example with a software like Photoshp), after that, this image will be assign to a material which in turn will be assigned to the mesh.
3D Asset Rigging
Once the model are done, the rigger can start to create the skeleton, the rig for the character. He add chains of bones, joints attached to the mesh so that in the Animation phase we will be able to move the character
Thanks to the rig we can select the controls of each part of the body and we can start to pose the character.
The Animators start to test the rig and create some animations, like cycles or acting or expressions test, in this phase is important to choose and set the style of the animation.
Before start the production we need a planning to set the deadlines and the plan that will guide the team during the production. In this way we can decide the time that we will need to finish the project.
The production started!! Let’s see all the main steps of this phase:
Using the storyboard as reference the layout artist create a 3D version of the storyboard. So they start to create all the single shots, setting the camera, import all the characters and the locations that the scenes request and set the length of the scene. Sometimes the layout artist also create a rough blocking with some key poses in order to give to the animators a guide for the actions and type of acting they will must do in the animation stage.
Here we are! Starting from the layout and reading the script and whatching the storyboard to have as much information and inspiration as possible, the animators start to think how to animate the characters: what type of acting, emotions and actions are more appropriate for the shot.
The animation is divided into 2 different steps, BLOCKING and REFINE
During the Blocking step, the animators create some main poses of the characters, so that they can start to set the timing and the expression, the poses and the actions of the characters.
The curves of the blocking keys are create in “stepped” mode, in order to avoid interpolation between a pose and an other. If we play the blocking animation, this appears jerky, not fluid, it’s a pose to pose!
It’s far from the final result but it’s already enough clear to have a first supervision from the Animation Supervisor, cause the intentions, the timing, and the poses are all there, so is also a good way to save time in case we have to change something.
When the Blocking is approved we move to the Refine step. Here we take all the poses curves we created for the blocking and we switch the curves from stepped to “spline”.In this way our animation looks more fluid and we can go to polish the curves and finish our animation.
During all the animation process, the Animation Supervisor receive the shots from the animators and he gives them feedback or retakes (request of changes) for the shot and he has the last decision over the animations.
We need to place the lights in the shots. The lighting artist will do that. He will decide the illumination of the scene, the lights properties, the shadows and so on. Always keeping consistency between a shot and the others.
The last process of the production. The render artist will convert the three dimensional data into a hight quality 2D images. So he go to create sequences of bidimensional images, based on the shots we crated so far, with textures, lights, shadings and the characters set in the highest quality.
The last process, the Post-Production, it’s finalized to take togheter what we have done in the production and, basically, edit, cut, add effects, adjust everything for the final export.
This are the phases:
Using a compositing software, the compositors takes all the renders, he combines them together and starts to adjust colors, lights, adding vfx in order to deliver optimized final images of the project.
Now the editor proceed to finalized the editing of the project, adjusting the length of the shots, cutting scenes depending on the request of the director, adding fade effects and so on.
The same for this process: the sound designer fixes, adjusts, adds, and edits the audio, music and sound fx.
Now the project is done, everything is finished with the approval of the directors and producers, and we can export the final project!