Thankfully, quarantine hasn’t stopped me from working on In-Depth. Since the start of isolation, I learned to animate through online courses that my dad purchased for my birthday. I am currently focusing on 3D environments and exploring that area in-depth, because my biggest animation course surrounds that topic and I can work on it at home. I spent at least eight hours learning about environments since the break, and continue to work on it every few days. A benefit to having work online in a course is that I can choose to accelerate my learning and progress fast without needing to wait for the rest of a class.
While I worked in-depth on one area of animation, D exposed me to a new area that I haven’t explored: character creation. In our meeting on Sunday, she taught me how to create a character from scratch. I was really excited because character creation is something I have looked forward to for a while. We worked for about three hours, completing the legs, torso, arms, and neck. Because the face is more complicated than the rest of the body, we will create the head and rig the character (give the character a skeleton) next meeting. Included with my environment course, my dad also bought me a character creation course, but I haven’t started it because if I progress too far in that course, D wouldn’t have enough to teach me and I wouldn’t need her as a mentor anymore. Once In-Depth is over, I can use this character course to reinforce the learning that D taught me.
To have our meeting, we used Zoom. I used my main laptop to follow along with D’s lesson and create my character on Blender. At the same time, I hosted our Zoom meeting on my TV, where I could see D’s shared screen and follow her visually as she also made a character. Despite not being in the same room, this worked effectively because I could visually see her work as she taught me, and we could still talk about any questions I had. If I encountered any problems, I would tell her, and we would switch over to share my screen instead of hers so she could visually see the problem and effectively help me out. Rather than just telling me to do, she gave me feedback that would guide me to make good changes, and we would work through the problem together as a team. Some aspects of character creation were more difficult for me so having her to help me was great. I struggled the most with the hands, because they were one of the more complicated parts to create.
When asking for feedback, I would be specific in my phrasing. Because we weren’t speaking in person, many communication mistakes could arise so I focused on speaking clearly. For example, when I struggled with shaping the neck area, I would tell her the specific problem about the shape. Sharing my screen was helpful because if I wasn’t clear enough in explaining my problem, she could see it for herself and help out.
Before we even started the lesson, she showed me an example character she created before. This was effective because it gave me a vision of what my end product will look like. When creating the characters, we built them from the feet up, using different actions like extruding, scaling, and transforming to build the best proportions. I always asked questions right away if I came up with them; if I made a mistake on the character and moved on, I would have a much harder time fixing it later or I’d have to delete everything up to the point of the mistake. When creating the model, we looked at it from different angles to make sure we got the proportions right on all sides. Here’s an example of what I mean:
During the meeting, I stayed focused because I was having fun and I didn’t want to miss anything important. Since the task of refining the proportions was long and tedious, we talked a lot to keep the work fun. We talked about TALONS, adventure trips, quarantine, and made jokes. I also learned about D’s plans for after high-school and how she wants to take a program at UBC. I like that we get along well, because the tedious parts of animation wasn’t so tedious when I had someone with me to make it fun.
Despite the change to online school, my In-Depth project is going well. My original plan was to create a 90 second 3D animation as my final product, but as I move forward in animation I realize that it isn’t much of a reasonable goal, especially with the limited time I have. My plan for quarantine is to continue working on my animation courses and decide how big of an final product I want to create at the end of March. I will still create a 3D animation, but maybe shorten it so I can focus on quality over quantity.