Project Strategy??

Hey Guys,

I’m using Blender to put together a small 3D cartoon for a presentation in one of my classes. It’s got to be about 11 minutes long, and it’s going to have to have several scenes as well as actors. This will probably be rendered with a small subsurf on low polygon objects. Does anyone know any rules of thumb or guidelines or strategys for doing this undertaking?
this is my first 11 minute deal, and i don’t want to get halfway through it and realize that there was something i could have done to save me a day or two of work, but didn’t because i didn’t know how to start.

So, I thought I’d ask you.
Thanks Guys,

First off, how long do you have?

Here is a link to a site that has excellent info on animation:

Also, you will need to render in Targa, the extention is *.tga.
The reason being that so you can render in steps. If your animation is 50 frames, then you can render 25 frames now and 25 frames later.

What is your project going to be?

It says it in the link I gave you, but you’ll need to write everything on paper first. More for the reason of when you write something on paper, it’s easier to remember than for reference.

Planning, planning, planning… and because it cannot be stressed enough, PLANNING.

11 minutes is a long animated piece… especially for a first-time animation. From the little you’ve described, it sounds like you may have chosen something a little overambitious (multiple scenes, multiple actors, etc.). Simplify as much as you possibly can. Is 11 minutes a requirement or have you already scripted and timed it out? If it isn’t try to say the same amout of stuff in less time and fewer characters and scenes. How detailed do your models have to be? Can they be simplified without sacrificing quality or whatever it is you’re communicating?

Storyboard. And put timing information with each board you draw. This is part of planning… so definitely make it a point to do this. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw. Do stick-figure thumbnail drawings… but do enough that the idea, timing, and composition of the shot are all there… especially the timing.

Is there going to be any sound or dialog or music? Record that first. It will make the timing for your animation much easier.

Work in chunks… and do lots of tests (use the OpenGL preview rendering for this) to get your timing right.

Render in passes. If your background is static, only render a single frame of that and composite the animation over that in post.

Use matte painting where possible. If you can generate a background in Photoshop or Gimp, rather than model an entire scene, do that. It will save you time on renders.

Cheat or fake at every turn possible. If you have a character who’s just sitting still with no movement, just render them once and repeat the frame until they move again. If they’re sitting still, but reading, render the body once and just animate the eyes. Things like that will save you time in the end. Of course, pulling it off right requires - you guessed it - planning.

You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. Don’t get discouraged and don’t get caught up in details that don’t add much to the finished piece.

Good luck!

Yeah, this has to be 11 minutes or so, because it’s supposed to be a 10 minute comedy play made with animation. Thanks for the advice still.
One question: how can you possibly work with hundreds of targa files all rendered in one folder? and, how can you check to make sure that the scene looks good if you just have a bunch of targa files with now way to play them as a video clip? Oh and do you think it should just be a big long list of ipo changes manually inserted across the thousand or so frames? or, should it just be a few actions strung out with the NLA editor?

I guess that was more than one question. I know this is 101 stuff, but you guys are a big help.


What kind of timeframe do you have to make this thing? I’m telling you now, you’re in for a lot of work (you’re looking at between 16,000 and 20,000 frames of animation, depending on framerate). However, if you pull it off, there’s no greater feeling than that experience.

As for your question, you can view your targa (or png :)) sequence one of two ways. You can use the Blender Sequence Editor and import the images en masse and go through it there. Or, you can use a video editing app (assuming you’re on Windows, Virtual Dub is a good free one… commercial editors like Premiere and Final Cut also work just fine) and import the sequence there. This will become especially more important if you do decide to render in passes and composite the animation in post.

Regarding the way in which you animate, it really depends on the nature of the animation. Repeating character animation takes good use of actions. Just translating and rotating thing would be limited to IPO keyframes. Here’s a tip, though: you say you have multiple scenes. Break your animation into those separate scenes using Blender’s scene functionality or create a new blend file altogether for each scene. That makes your animation more managable and will make editing the final go a bit more smoothly.

I agree with everithing Fweeb said but I think he forgot to mention the important aspect of planning :wink:
A little bit more seriously, dale6998 for your test animations it is better (read simpler) that you render them out in a movie file (like avi or what ever) it is when it comes to your more finished animations that you should render them out in targa. Also, for your test animations, you should try to limit the objects you actually render out in the scene to those that are needed to what you are checking at the moment. That is if your checking an animnation of two people talking to each other in a cafe, only render out the two people, not any chairs, tables or anything in the background. Also dont use any subsurf in the test animations, just use things that are absolutely needed, do everything to cut down on the rendering time it doesnt need to look good in this stage, worry about that later.
For more full body animations you can try to only render out the armature, I don’t know how to do this in Blender (I’m kinda new to blender and haven’t tryed it yet) but most 3d programs this kind of screen capture type of renderer, when I used it in maya it was called playblast but its probably something else in blender. Maybe some one else van help out with that :wink: .

One reason not to render straight to video is that if you get to frame 15,596 and your system crashes then you’ll probably have to start at frame one and re-render and with any reasonably complex scene, that could mean days of rendering.

If you’d rendered out to images then you could restart the render at frame 15,597 then just composite those images in the sequencer which is much faster becaus ethe hard works done. It also means that if there’s one scene that really bugs you, you just re-render those frames, drop them in the sequencer and output to video again from there.

Blender has a playblast which is very useful for just checking general flow. Just CTRL-Click the small “scene” button next to the lock, next to the layers buttons. Be sure to choose camera view in the 3D window first. This will render accordin gto the options set in that window so you can render armatures, wireframes, shaded… whatever.