Obstacle Course Project – Post Mortem

The obstacle course project started over a month ago, just before I created my research analysis into the movement of Chun Li from Street Fighter. While I didn’t completely finish my animation, and overall fairly disappointed that I didn’t, I think it would be best to leave it as it is and move on to study new things as I go into my holidays. I will be discussing fairly simple topics such as what went well during this task, what didn’t and what I learnt, much like I did in my previous blog post about my interdisciplinary project.

What Went Well In The Project?

The project had quite a few positives, while not as much as I wanted to have they were still there. One of the biggest positives, and as corny as it sounds, is that it was a lot of fun. I had quite a fun time animating Chun Li, and the way she jumped around fluidly and blew the box with a kikosho (invisible but it was obvious she did something). While time consuming it was cool being able to make her move in what would be my biggest animation project to date.

Another thing that went exceptionally well and that made it as fun as it was, was my research analysis blog on Chun Li. The research was an undoubtedly a huge helping hand, and was what I needed to get some of the extremes poses I had in key frames, and more often than not timing too. I also thoroughly enjoyed writing the research blog and even got carried away, talking about everything as I was excited about it. Posing and extremes also went fairly well as the animation that I did have was smooth and flowed really well, all thanks to my study into the different types of Chun Li animations. For example for the jumps I used sprites for my research and reference, however for the special moves I used the later 3D games that have been released over the past few years. This blended well together and allowed for me to create a really nice animation, even before taking it into the auto tangent stage.

Another note on what went well was taking the time to make a good planned out storyboard of the obstacle course. By drawing the key frames below and planning out how Chun Li would navigate the course, I was able to constantly refer back to it if I needed my memory jogged on how to pose her in a certain spot. It helped choreograph the whole animation and definitely helped the workflow tremendously. One thing that helped it even more was the fact that I focused and did two different iterations of one course, instead of one for each course, that way I had a more focused approach to the project and I could see the second time around drawing of what would work and what wouldn’t work as well.


What Didn’t Go Well and Why?

The things that didn’t go well is a fairly consistent problem of mine, and that is not getting things done on time. I started by not doing my research blog on time, and from there it kind of snowballed into having a late project as a whole, and therefore only getting about halfway through the obstacle course. Time management is a serious problem, and maybe the biggest problem with it is distractions. Instead of time management it is more probably the fact that I have such a short attention span and get distracted stupid things such as Facebook and games. They all tie into time management so as a whole it really didn’t go well.

Another thing that didn’t go well was trying to learn the Maya UI and controls, especially coming from 3DS Max. While I did have this down pat by the end, and think it is really good, coming from 3DS Max it is hard to manage how you rotate around and pan as they both have different methods. When going in between the two especially I found a constant confusion and kept mixing them up just because my muscle memory was going out of whack.

The final thing that I didn’t do well and could of done better was my inbetweening. I spent a lot of time using a straight forward method of animating some things, to the point I was even animating on ones which is a pretty big no as a whole. I wasted a lot of time in the first jump as from almost start to finish I had animated it frame by frame, which while it looked smooth, was not nearly necessary as I could have gone back later with software such as TweenMachine.

What Would I Do Differently Next Time?

Next time around there are few things I would do differently, not just to improve my own bad habits but also to improve my workflow. Using Tween Machine earlier on is something i’d definitely take advantage of, as it is an extremely powerful piece of software. It’d help time everything by key framing inbetweens and overall save me a lot of time. I had a fiddle around with it near the end and really quickly I was able to smooth quite a bit of my animation just through adding fifty percent inbetweens. Another step that I would take to do things differently will be to fix my approach to work.

This problem lies much deeper than this project as it is something that translates over everything I do. I need to focus on my work and not get wound up by what other people do. I also need to practice a lot more so that I can create something that I am proud of and not be disappointed constantly. Working on this problem will begin by trying to organise myself a bit better, but this time actually put my methods into action. For example if I make a detailed schedule, actually follow the schedule instead of just kinda ignoring it. What I would do differently next time mostly boils down to practicing more, managing my time better, and trying new software that can help increase the efficiency of my workflow.

What I Learned About Animation During This Project?

During this obstacle course project I learnt a few things about animation that will help me improve as I continue my study. Before this project I knew quite a bit about 3D animation, thanks to previous courses/study. One thing that I feel I really learnt a lot more about this time around was extreme poses and key frames. Prior to this my animations lacked the exaggeration needed to make it look aesthetically pleasing, and thanks to the obstacle course project I have gained a lot more experience and practice in making extreme poses look good. Another thing that I learned would obviously be Maya, which is an amazing tool for animators and just feels right. I haven’t tried out all the other software but for me I find that Maya currently trumps the other 3D programs I know (Blender and 3DS Max) when it comes to animation. Trying to go back to animating in 3DS Max was a bit of a nightmare, and just felt weird, especially when getting confused between the two user interface controls. Overall I got good practice on quite a lot of animation techniques thanks to this obstacle course and that kind of experience will definitely help me when I need to do things such as time an animation properly, or do an extreme pose for a character.

Final Thoughts

Overall I really enjoyed this project, while disappointed that I didn’t have as much quantity as I wanted I feel I hit the mark in the quality department. Over the next few weeks I plan to ramp up the quantity of things I make rather than the quality, and practice while having fun. Looking forward to hopefully having something I can proudly show to others by the start of my next trimester at SAE Quantm, and hoping I can continue from there.


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