This personally is the project I had the most fun with this trimester, in which 5 of us set out to create the aftermath scene of a steampunk experiment gone wrong. I get to be a lot more positive going back over this one. To begin:
Documentation and Planning
I like starting with this point, as it’s where we start. Right from the get go we had this project largely sorted in regards to planning, asset assignment, arrangement and scope. All team members were very clear what they were bringing to the table. It made things easy.
One of the first things we did was make a Trello group to arrange tasks. This was used quite heavily through the first few weeks of the project and seemed to really help keep things on track. I’m not certain if just having a visual representation of what you have to do makes it easier to get on with things, but it seemed to keep people moving with tasks.
From the start we laid out fairly straight-forward naming conventions. As shown below, no-one in the group followed them in exactness, partially because the quixel automatic naming conventions on the exporter are a bit different, though the model files were also handled a bit differently. In most cases however it was just leaving out a version number or such, which when compositing was a bit of a non-issue given most objects only had one version uploaded to the drive in the end, but it’s probably something we can all work to keep more consistent in future.
Each week in class tasks could be updated or reassigned as need be, as we agreed from an early point to operate via an agile-scrum style workflow, operating via frequent updates over our professional social platform (slack) and beginning each class session for the project by updating the group to where we were all at.
As the project wore on and we moved into the later stages with few items remaining to be done there weren’t as many updates made to the board listings, but it was less an issue if at all at that point due to good team communication and few assets left to manage. Speaking of…
Rarely if ever do you get a group (in my experience at least) that keeps talking to each other openly throughout the project. This time it actually worked (to a degree, but I’m hardly complaining about a couple of disagreements, you sort those out by talking). Slack has the potential to be a pretty excellent tool when everyone is on board with it.
Everyone also (for the most part) stuck to the documented outline for submitting assets, which made things very straightforward for scene assembly (or maybe Simon is just very good at sorting through people’s stuff).
Pipeline, Production and Work Ethic
Asset pipeline was made fairly straightforward, following for most assets as model, unwrap and if need be project and bake normal maps for high-poly variants in 3DS Max, take said model and maps into Quixel Suite for texturing then export all as .fbx and PBR ready maps for use in Unreal 4. Oh, and I got to use ZBrush for part of the scientist model, that was fun.
Though we wound up having to cut a few of the smaller pieces we’d wanted as clutter due to scope later in the project all had fallen firmly within what we defined as ‘desirable’ in our initial documentation anyway. Overall it was pretty impressive the amount of assets we’d managed to produce in the time we had, to which I personally attribute to how well everyone took to the pipeline, even with several people not having much experience with some of the software (hell, I think we all learned Quixel on the fly). I know I personally picked up a fair bit of knowledge on PBR mapping from the project, and really got to learn a lot about lighting from the second pass I got to do on the revision.
So yeah, when all was said and done we did some good work. Thanks to Simon, Ancel, Che and Vicky for making this one of my favourite uni experiences to date. Here’s the final product:
…oh right supposed to put something for the ‘not so good‘. Uh…
I regret that I didn’t get to put bad likenesses of all of us dead in the scene in time, and I’m sorry to Ancel for not consulting him more on the lighting.
Things I made for this project: Beakers, test tubes, walls, the walkway in the larger room, roof in the larger room, the ‘Haegler Labs’ Boiler, the scientist (that I did a crap job of making as handsome as Ancel).
Also the second pass of the lighting, which was made far easier by having something to build on.