Final Post – End of Year 1

Portfolio Reflection

I feel like my portfolio presentation went well, although I’m grateful there was some very constructive feedback given to me by the lecturers. I decided, after the December portfolio presentation where I spoke far too much, I would go for a “showreel” feel instead. I think this worked to my advantage, because everything could speak for itself and the lecturers  could pick out the parts they liked/disliked without me babbling on over top of the work.

Some of the criticism I did receive (hopefully I can remember the important bits and not misquote anyone!):

  1. The turn-table style for my models was a good idea, but the pivot points need to be addressed. It seemed like the objects weren’t turning on the best possible points, so it was a little jarring.
  2. More practice with UVs – a lot of my stuff since the 3D room project have been auto-unwrapped to be used in Substance Painter. I need to get into better practices of doing the unwrapping myself and not relying on Maya to do it for me.
  3. I should always use more reference for the animations, whether I find videos to look at online or film myself doing the actions. That will make my animations seem less solid and more life-like. Especially the tip-toeing animation, where Beefy’s upper body seems far too static.
  4. I need to continue referencing other peoples’ artwork to continue realising what’s good about mine. Why do I pick the concepts I do? What makes them better above the rest? How do other people present their concepts in the best possible way? By looking at other artists, I’ll get better at recognising my own strengths.
  5. With programming, I need to get to a point where I’m comfortable to sit down and good without having to rely on Google or looking up things as much as I do now. I think this is an excellent point and one of my summer objects – I need to step up my game to get very comfortable with coding before I could consider myself “industry ready”.

So, plenty to work on to better myself over the summer and things to take note of for next year’s academic success. With that said, I’ve really enjoyed my first year on the NextGen course and I feel like I’ve learned so much, including things I never really thought I could do.

Plans for Next Academic Year

Since I came on this course, I’ve known what I wanted to specialise in for the second year; this hasn’t really change, although it has expanded slightly. I’ve discovered a lot more about the various jobs in the games/movie industry that have opened up so many options I didn’t even know existed. I give a lot of credit to Animex for that, which was why I was very grateful for the opportunity to go – speaking with people within the industry reassured me that, just because you pick something as a speciality, you may evolve over time to find a different niche you never knew you wanted to do.

I’m still interested in doing programming and game design – that part hasn’t changed – although I would love to explore more about VFX. Doing particle systems in game seems very good, as well as when I learned about dialogue systems at Animex. I found out about Houdini – it can do things from lighting to rendering, from animation to particles. I know about LUA now, another programming language used in gaming (apparently the leading on) and I really would like to delve in C++.

Overall, I find weaving between programming and game design (which I’ll definitely have to research over the summer, especially since I bought some recommended books after Animex) to be very satisfying and I know I’m going to enjoy working on the synoptic project next year from that angle. However, if I could incorporate some of the things I’ve learned during VFX, such as composition, particles, layout, and aesthetics, I think I’d be very happy.

So, while I say programming and game design now, I want to explore the jobs and tools further to see what it is I may want to specialise in. Hopefully the summer and second year will help with that.

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