I decided to put an entry in for the Red Bull Canimation contest as it looked like it could be fun, and I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do. However, I also realised that by the time I decided I was going to enter the contest there were 7 days left. I needed to throw on some inspiring music and work fast...
I started by story-boarding out my rough idea. I'm not going to put that up here as it looks like a man with no hands drew it, suffice to say it was rough but at the very least gave me an outline to work with.
I then moved on to my character, who I knew was going to have to be as easy as possible to animate and set-up a rig for as time was ticking. My design ended up taking a lot of inspiration from my favourite mechanical characters from games such as Wheatly from Portal 2, Dog from Half Life 2 & Claptrap from Borderlands.
I originally planned on giving him a fully black eye, but didn't like the look:
So he ended up with a white and black eye:
The wires were dynamically animated with his movements using the following very helpful tutorial: http://www.creativecrash.com/maya/tutorials/dynamics-fx/c/creating-a-dynamic-telephone-cord-using-maya-hair and all the materials were mia materials to avoid the need to spend time unwrapping and texturing, the rigging was also entirely done using constraints on the model to speed things along. It was around day two when I finished the character.
After this I moved onto the environment and props I'd need, which consisted of a Red Bull can (textures provided), a vending machine, a room and a the internals of the machine with gears etc. a lot of which I could fortunately build from an existing library of textures and models:
I originally had brighter lighting with more bloom than I finished with, which looking back I now wish I'd kept as having such dark renders played havoc with my comping and encoding, so lesson learned there - start light and darken in comp!
The final look of the lighting:
And the gears:
That took me till the end of day 3 and a bit into day 4 to tweak till I was happy with the look. Before starting on animation I actually worked on my render pipeline for the project, making sure that I had all the passes I would need already set-up and working in a template file. My pases were: AO, beauty (including shadows and reflections), eye glow, motion vector, vending machine glow and Z-Depth. This gave me enough basic control over the comp without adding to render time, or being over complex to work with.
Once the template file was created I could work on each scenes animation separately without having to worry about setting up any render variables or textures. Animation took until close to the end of the 6th day, to complete, however I'd been off loading any completed scenes onto the render farm at when they were finished to help spread the render time away from the crunch at the end.
By the last day of the project all the renders were completed, so all I had to do was cut the piece together, and comp it in After Effects, edit the music, render out the final version and upload it. Done by lunchtime, had a nap.
And after all of that, here was my entry (that fell at the first hurdle of the competition sadly, but hey - it was fun!):