Moonlit Wings – Final & Evaluation

Introduction 

Due to various technical and time limitations/difficulties, I have been unable to create Moonlit Wings as an interactive webcomic. I have however been able to create an effective simulation of what it could look like as an interactive executable. Regarding vector-based images, Adobe After Effects does not support vectors, so the images I made in Adobe Illustrator I had to convert to PNG.

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An example of a vector based icon that I then had to convert into PNG

The finished product, representing what an interactive webcomic of Moonlit Wings could look like. If we are grading this on simply an interactive/animated version of the original webcomic, I’d call it a success.

Aesthetic Qualities 

I had designed the original webcomic around it’s use as an interactive piece, so everything worked well together. I just ripped the original assets from the comic and compiled them separately.

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A plethora of different PNGs, ripped directly from the graphic narrative for use in animation

However, being so accurate to the original it inherits the same problems.

Again, the graphics were certainly the strongest part without a doubt. Like the vast majority of my work, I put a disproportionate amount of effort in when it comes to making things look visually appealing, and it’s only augmented by the use of animation. As far as the animation itself is concerned, it’s very simple and I feel that it mirrors the art style itself.

Technical Qualities

All of the animation was created using basic keyframes, and then smoothing them to provide more organic movement.

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For the glowing elements of the animation, I simply overlayed a separate PNG and adjusted the opacity with keyframes. I used this effect on the radar, mast lights and red alert light.

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All of the animated parts in the video are created using these simple techniques. Overall, I found the whole process simple but time consuming and tedious. In the end though I got the desired result.

The final animation was exported as H.264 in MP4 using Adobe Media Encoder, with the preset set to Youtube 1080p. Creating the animation in 30 fps HD gave it a silky smooth look and everything transitioned well. I was going to include some sound effects to really help immerse the viewer, but I ended up having no time at all.

Time Management & Workflow

Time management for this project was absolutely atrocious. I spent most of the time trying to learn Fungus, only to learn a few weeks before the end of the module that it wasn’t necessary and I was forced to use after effects instead. This basically rendered all the time I’d spent learning the basics of Fungus void completely, and given me little to no time at all to get back into the swing of After Effects.

It was a disaster and a huge panic, but I managed to get everything out on time. And I’m actually pretty satisfied with the result, there isn’t much more I think I could have done given the time I had.

Conclusion 

At the end of the day, It’s a good concept. But that’s all it really is, a concept. If I were more competent at Fungus I probably could have created something interactive, but not nearly as to the same level of polish I achieved in After Effects.

I’m satisfied that it stays as true as possible to the original source material while adding some extra flair and immersion with the animations.

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Dragon Head Sculpts

My first experience of 3D modelling was with Sculptris, so it felt good to get back to my very earliest 3D roots.

After spending so much time hard-surface modelling, I found the entire process of sculpting and painting quite theraputic.  First off, I modeled a Dov, from Skyrim.

Dov

This was my first time actually painting anything I’d sculpted before. Though the painting in sculptris in very basic I was only going for a cartoon style anyway, so it worked out.

Dov3.pngDov4Dov2

I managed to export the model and UVs into Cinema 4D and rendered the model in there.

After seeing the sucess of that, I wanted to try another, this time slightly more complex. Using the same processes I decided to model Smaug from The Hobbit.

Smaug Final 1Smaug Final 2Smaug Final 3Smaug Final 4

A much higher quality model and textures lead to more realistic looking surfaces. Again, I was going for a simple cartoon style.

Smaug Notex.png

Sculpting is just something really nice to do every so often when I might get bored of hard-surface modelling.

Web Animation Sequence Planning

Stimulus 

Tall Story Studios has announced tat my graphic narrative concept has been selected to enter the next round of the competition.  As a result, I am required to turn my graphic narrative into an interactive web animation.

Web comics (animated or otherwise) have become increasingly popular over the years, with big names like VALVe and Blizzard choosing to expand their games with extra material in the form of online comics. Comics published on the internet also become widely available to far more people, as opposed traditional physical copies.

Ideas

The visual style of the project will have be exactly the same as the original graphic narrative, as to not cause a disconnect between the two. This will be very simple to do as not only is the graphic style not complex to reproduce, I’ll be re-using a lot of the original assets and simply animating them.

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Interactivity 

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For example, when the viewer opens this page they will see the bullets fly past the screen and the searchlight pan up and down over the page. Moving the mouse around on the page will also cause the aircraft to react, moving up and down and left-to-right depending on the location of the mouse on the page.

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In this frame for example, the viewer could be able to mouse over certain objects and click on them. An example would be the radar flashing or the dials moving. The horizon outside could also gently sway left-to-right, helping give the effect of a ship at sea. Of course not all frames can have interactive elements, but all the frames will be animated to some degree.

GN_4.png

In this scene, I would have to add something extra to enable the interactivity. There isn’t anything obvious to click on in this scene, so I’ll have to add switch or lever or sorts that turns on the spotlight. The red lights at the top could flash to make the scene feel less static.

Assets 

The assets I’ll use will be straight out of the graphic narrative, with some converted/redrawn as vectors (as the client requests at least some vector images to be used).

I created the assets with animation in mind, as a result the individual elements are all divided into individual layers and alphas for easy customisability.  For a more in-depth look about the asset art style and asset creation, see this post here.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

When it comes to copyright, the contemporary issues apply. As far as I’m aware (since these are designs dating back to the 1930s) copyright/creative license does no apply to the vehicles used. I will however be refraining from using company names such as Grumman, Kure Kaigun Kosho, or Mitsubishi to avoid any complications, as these names/brands are still in active use today.

Ethical considerations are always an issue regarding media based on war. As I said, to avoid any racial/ethical issues, I will not be portraying any disrespectful/negative stereotyping or have one country superior over another, even if these things did occur in history. This is simply not to offend anyone or limit my target audience by ways of discrimination.

Animation Specification 

The setting of the graphic narrative takes place in the Pacific Ocean, 1942. Unsurprisingly that period of time (1941-1945) remains a relevant subject in the minds of the public, especially in America. The war in the Pacific Ocean has lead to countless game, film and novel adaptations, notably movies such as Pearl Harbour and Midway, and games such as Battlestations: Pacific and World of Warships. Both aspects of the Graphic Narrative, the historical setting and the medium, are popular with the public.

The Webcomic will be posted online, and contain interactive animated vector-based images, as per the clients request.

What is Professionalism?

Being professional at something means that you display a certain amount of skill or competency at something that would be expected by someone who does the activity for a living. A professional is usually someone that usually gets paid and/or is employed to do that something.

Professional behaviour can be things such as; staying composed in stressful situations, presenting yourself well, and having proper manners in the work area.