Having received an email from university requesting that we write an evaluation of our Film Room group projects, I thought I had better write something a bit less wishy-washy than my last post. There is a lot to say and I should have made it a blog post in it’s own right in the first place.
At the start of this project I had my obligatory panic, and ended up getting wound up over what was ultimately very unimportant. I had no-body to work with (I wouldn’t want to work with me!) and because I wanted to just get on and do the damn project I got rather upset and eventually found a group with Jonah, Lewis J and Lewis G. It was, for me, blunder number one. I should keep calm at the start of a project and not actively search for a group of people I want. I’m not going to be able to choose my team in industry or gallivant off as soon as we’re told ‘go’ to do our work. Our Asset Swap project worked really well for me because we were thrown into groups and left to sort our our roles, and I wish we’d been allocated groups for this project, even if the final project outcome hadn’t been as good. I need these team-building skills.
Blunder number two was going off in our own separate directions to choose potential Film Rooms. I reckon we should have had an evening sat down together to do this. At the time we were all a bit over-excited and had our own room ideas which we tried to impose upon eachother, and it ultimately set us further back. The weekly reviews with tutors were priceless to our success- had we continued with our first choice of Harry Potter’s Great Hall, we would have failed. Miserably. That room is just way, way too much. Not to mention the fact that the room appears in different movies in different outfits and we’d have to choose one of those on top of choosing the room itself, and then the still we liked.
With The Aviator, there was one room we chose that appeared very exclusively in the film, and there was only one shot that actually showcased the whole room with enough assets for us to do as a group. Job done. We allocated our assets using a spreadsheet which we revised multiple times. Again, we went off on our own, and though most of us were in labs together most of the time, there were still occasions where we could have done to meet much more to keep our scene coherent and make sure mistakes were kept to a minimum. There are a lot of things I would really like to go back and fix with our final still that could have been avoided. That being said, I do feel that we had a good amount of scheduled meet-ups to (almost) compensate, but we should have put more emphasis on checking assets and textures. Some stuff had to be seriously re-jigged once it was in engine, or when it was too late to fix.
Here’s a general visual analysis of how I felt we could have improved with more time. I’ll come back to the time thing.
Trying to get everything to line up was also a painful process, not helped by some of the misshapen assets and the awkward Unreal camera. Some assets were altered in engine using the scale tool, others were re-modelled entirely. Some were just left because we ran out of time. ‘We don’t have time’ or ‘ we ran out of time’ was something we said a lot. It was a frustrating issue that needn’t occur had we just planned time better and worked together more. When we set up a time frame for our project, I remember thinking we’d allocated too much time for texturing and that I would be done much quicker. I didn’t say anything though, figuring I would just do other things in this time. I’ve learned now that I should speak up when things like this happen, because this oversight ended up pushing us for time towards the end of the project, which I hadn’t foreseen. We needed more time for evaluating assets and putting them in engine. We had the time there, we just allocated it inefficiently.
I think I need to develop more confidence to tell someone what I genuinely think of stuff too. Not jumping on people and going ‘that’s crap, do it again’, but more constructively guide people and give up my own time to help improve other people’s work. After all, it is a group project and it would have saved time in the long run rather than having to re-do assets and textures later in the pipeline. I was beginning to run out of patience in the last few days, and it meant my quality control really slipped because I wasn’t caring so much. This wouldn’t have happened if I had addressed problems when I was feeling more excited about the project.
There was a lot of unnecessary stress and late nights towards the end of the project. Something which I’ve never had to deal with before and don’t want to deal with again. I always try to leave about 3 days at the end of a project to go really slow and mess about with it before hand-in, and I think I will encourage my next group to do the same. This project definitely taught me a lot and has left me with more to think about than I thought it would. It was a reality check and I’m very grateful for it. Having all these things I want to do differently has got me excited to do the next group project, rather than dreading it with every fiber of my being. (A handful of fibers still are.) Time management is the key lesson I’m going to take from the Film Room project, and hopefully I’ll successfully draw on that lesson and improve future projects.