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daveglanz

workflow and managing 3D projects

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Just dealing with a bit of a crazy week here, and thought I could get some perspective from fellow mographers.

 

To give this some context, I moved into a new house on Tuesday, and have been busy at nights moving, cleaning, etc.

This week I was given a 10 second animation to complete in C4D - full HD + a 10 second lower 3rd to accompany it....by Friday.

 

I started that on Monday. I moved on Tuesday, and got back Wed to find out that another 10 second (but admitedly simpler) animation was due Friday. I managed to get both animated, get wireframe previews approved, but found that the renders were taking a lot longer than anticipated due to some changes in the scene at the last minute.

 

When asked what I could deliver this week, I told supervisors that the first 10 second animation was reasonable, thinking that I was leaving room for error. And of course, there were errors - glitches with fonts, passes rendering incorrectly, etc.

 

I suppose my question to you guys is...do you have a system, a checklist, or anything that helps you anticipate how much time you'll need to get something done (regardless of the off hours craziness)?

 

*edit

Also when it comes to leaving room for error, how do you approach this? Is it reasonable to ask for a 2nd set of eyes, or does that make you look like you lack attention to detail? Do you guys have project briefs before each job?

Edited by daveglanz

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Well it totally depends on the job I guess, some are straight production numbers where you can get the time right to the half hour, the creative stuff has the 'scary valley of despair' component, where you thrash around for days on end churning out crap renders and clichés trying to find the answer, trusting that eventually it will come. It usually does of course, but when and how long it's going to take are much less predictable. As a novice I'd always underestimate that time, trying to impress a new producer or whatever, and burn through the nights trying to deliver the work to the deadline I'd foolishly promised. I've finally learned to gauge the project and adjust time accordingly, and I've found the clients much more understanding about this stage than I'd expected.

 

These days I'm very reluctant to commit to a deadline until I'm more than a third of the way through the job, at least in my head. If they demand specifics I'll over-estimate to an amount that verges on insanity.

 

Soooo, the short answer, no checklist but you have to have a sense for how the brief feels, which is something you can only develop.

 

Good luck finishing the move ;-)

Edited by ChrisC

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if something is taking too long, fix it and make it work with the deadline.

 

If you cant make it go faster, send me an email, that's what im here for :D

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Is it reasonable to ask for a 2nd set of eyes, or does that make you look like you lack attention to detail? Do you guys have project briefs before each job?
I always try for a 2nd set of eyes. Feedback is crucial but not gospel. Project briefs before? I assume this is standard practice, unless you have a relationship with your customer, in which they trust your creativity implicitly. And yet I'd still go for 2nd set of eyes.

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I always try for a 2nd set of eyes. Feedback is crucial but not gospel. Project briefs before? I assume this is standard practice, unless you have a relationship with your customer, in which they trust your creativity implicitly. And yet I'd still go for 2nd set of eyes.

 

agree, sometimes other point of view bring you the light to your project/work.

I guess the most difficult part could be the creative idea of the project and is this part where I need more time to.

If u dont have enough time to renders as happen so many times to us you can always use renderfarms.

(hating deadlines)

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Yeah this is something i really struggle with too. I haven't ever really found a solution, I sometimes need a little pressure to get the best out of me!

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I don't have any real system since all projects are different, but here's a couple suggestions:

 

First, on quick turnaround projects especially, I like to spend some time early on in the project nailing down render settings with full resolution render tests. It seems a bit counter intuitive to do this before the design and animation are fully formed, but it can really save some heart attacks later. There have been times where I've shown these tests to the client early and told them specifically what cannot be done within their timeline (GI, blurry reflections, motion blur, whatever) just so there are no surprises. I can't tell you how many times over the years that I've done the last minute panic turning off render goodies to hit a deadline, and this method has helped avoid that problem.

 

In quick turnaround projects like yours, I always try to keep the total render time less than a full work day, so I can fix mistakes or deal with client changes on the same day. If your render takes 14 hours and you're rendering on Thursday night for a Friday delivery, you are cooked if anything goes wrong, or if the client throws one of those changes at you that seems easy to them (just make the elephant a Jeep and we're done!) but requires a full re-render.

 

Aside from that, I think being extremely proactive about what's expected, what's possible, and when you need final feedback really helps a lot. A lot of times you can see the train wreck coming days in advance, and you can head it off with a simple email. If you're nervous about the due date, there's probably a good reason for it. Let the client know right away and set some reasonable boundaries that will keep the project from going off the rails.

 

P.S. I just had an idea for another thread (assuming it hasn't been done): Things that can kill your render times, and ways to work around them. Anyone?

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We have a shared server that sucks at work. Is there a way to sync certain project to my local drive and then to the server. So I can work locally but have all my files sync to the server. Does anyone know of a software for OSX that will do this?

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P.S. I just had an idea for another thread (assuming it hasn't been done): Things that can kill your render times, and ways to work around them. Anyone?

 

 

Count me in on this.. my only input would be that I avoid GI almost completely.. Can often get just as nice results at a fraction of the expense with a a little more time on the lighting setup. Most Pixar films don't use GI actually, they just manually set up area lights where they want light to bounce off etc.

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^ What James said. I'd avoid GI and use lighting tricks to pull back on render times. See how low of a setting you get away with.

One trick I like to do if I need Ambient Occlusion is to render it out on a separate pass with low settings and just blur it some in AE to get rid of the noise.

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Yeah, a lot of this is trial and error and experience. But the biggest single thing I require of anyone working with me is that every night when you go home you set a full resolution render. This is true for 2D compositors as well as 3D guys. Every night, no matter how far along you are, when you finish for the night, set a render. First thing in the morning we check it together. But the basic idea is you don't wait till the last minute to try a full res render.

 

I can't tell you how many times this catches little glitches early; font mismatches on the farm, corrupt textures, plug-in mismatches, problems with object buffers, forgetting to turn on depth of field, there are so many on every project. So that by the time you go to set your final render, you've hopefully already worked out the glitches over the preceding days. It also gives you a good sense of how long renders are going to take and again you adjust as you go and not at the last minute.

 

I used to work for a photographer who always told his assistants: "I don't get surprised. Things go wrong. That's fine. If something goes wrong I want to know early, not at the last minute." It's good advice.

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