2nd year / Final exam

2nd year / Final exam

Camille Lecour
by swipzette on 15 Jun 2021

In this post I'll show you all the steps that lead to the production of the 11 seconds animation short I had to do for my final exam in second year at ESMA Lyon. Before the 3 weeks exam we had to write the story, do the concept art, do the storyboard, modeling, shading and lighting of the facade.

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Here is the final product first, you will see afterwards all the process that lead to that.

The first step was to find a concept for the facade. I started with buildings but since nightclub entrances are often ugly, I thought of doing a barge nightclub, which could lead to more opportnities for something believable and visually appealing.

I worked on shapes and details in them. 

Afterwards I needed to make the 2d shape into volume using perspective. It was the first glance at what would become my final exam main reference.

Then I worked a bit on the textures for the concept.

We had to give back two different moods, could be night and day, midday and sunset, ect. I decided to do day and night since these are the two main facettes of a nightclub and I started to add storytelling in it. The day version would be a bit sad, kind of abandoned when the night version would be full of life and give the urge to dance.

The final version of the concept.  I was a bit upset because my drawing skills are limited and I felt like my concept was not that great. The lighting is very dull and not logical for the night version and overwall the drawings look childish I think. But I needed to move on for the next step.

The first step was modeling the facade. I tried to be as low poly as possible to save disc space and render time later on. I also used displacement to add details where modeling was pointless.

The first rendering of the facade in full view. I worked on the textures, shading and lighting, but again, the overall look is not that great. Hopefully, I will be able to make it look better in compositing.

For this little compositing exercise that wasn't really used for the final animation, we had to take our realistic renders (which I tweaked a bit since I changed the tent shading) and turn it into a cartoony / non realistic aspect. It was very funny, specially the part where I search for ways to achieve my ideas. I finally had a view of my facade I started to enjoy (too bad it wouldn't look like that in the final short). 

For the exercise, I decided to turn my facade into a watercolor aspect. We had to do a bit of animated parts so I made it look like it was hand animated (thus the flickering effect).

The final step before starting the animation was to do the animatic. We used blender in order to draw over our modeling. That way, we could move the camera, do the framings and composition we wanted and we coudl later use the same camera in Maya. We also did the first pass of sound design.

Now the 3 week production for the animation started. I first had to setup everything for the pipeline and also adapt the given rig for my project.

The character rigging was given by the school and I added the bandana, the walker and the different clothes, since I needed them for my story. I did a few mistakes when thinking the rigging (having the bandana follow the hand and not the inverse for exemple) but I was still able to animate easily with what I did.

Then it was time for animation. Here is one of the last versions, with the editing (since all the different shots were animated in different scenes). I only kept the parts of the facade I needed for the animation. It was tricky since we have to make the animation fit within 11 seconds (and 23 frames, before the 12th second can appear), so each movement was calculated almost at the frame. At the end, I counted the part where we see the title as the intro and gained some time for the animation, which allowed me to make some poses stand more and the animation more understandable overall.

After a lot of compositing and rendering, I was able to deliver my animation. I also did the modeling, shading and rendering of the intro and the sound design of the short. I am very glad with the final result, more specially on the colours I gave which add even more soul to my project in my opinion. The animation could be a bit better but there is always a moment when it ends.

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