A blogroll on our efforts to create an 8 min (OPEN MOVIE) animation short on the absolutely free Animux pipeline.

A talented global team of working on a project part-time has its benefits and pitfalls. And we are learning the challenges as we move on this project and adapting. This is our first evaluation of the and some of the lessons we learnt.


Every team goes through 4 stages of team formation which are  “Forming (teams get to know each other and the project) , Storming (competing with each other), Norming (team members begin to trust the team), Performing (function as a unit)”. One of the fears was, with just 3 weeks to finish the preview project to be demoed at Siggraph 2009, how long it would take before the team get to performing.  This especially tough when a team interacts with each other only through IRC chats and emails. Strangely and suprisingly it has been going well with very little storming.  It comes down to having a very clear objectives and goals for each of members. This helped a quick Forming stage and prevented the whole storming process and head into norming and performing.  Also, making sure that each team sees the best of the new team-member (past work, accolades etc) before they come on board has eased the anxiety levels.

Here is an example of why I have great respect and confidence in the team. Because of a poor effort in our character design phase to get a final character mockup we had some ambiguity in the design/development direction on the peacock. This confused the heck out of the modeler in the direction. Identifying the problem at hand, Paula quickly created a character turn-arounds and we finalized that to be it in our IRC meetings. Once that was finalized the Filipe worked hard to complete the model in a record 1 day, ease the worries in some of the team members. There are plenty more example of how every one pitches in. Daniel with the storyboards and animatics. Once the team saw it, the concept become clear and get agreement to it. Eduardo came up with the color scripts just by himself as he knew it was necessary and created it before anyone could ask. Rexy-Craxy coaching each animator on SVN early into his morning. (ALL OF THIS IS AWESOME !!!)


The team spreads around in 4 continents (North America, South America, Europe, Asia). Trying to get all of them into a meeting at a time has been tough. This is an on going problem. Right now we are sending out the chat logs to the team member who is missing from the meetings. Thankfully for now it is  the project manager, who tracks the progress of the project and no creative decisions are put on hold. One of the first task we did on the project was to ask each of the team members to give us their time of availablity and their choice for mode of communication. This helps us better set up meetings for where majority of the team is around. We have had 100% attendance to our meetings. We also take extra care spacing our meetings when they are actually needed. (3 times a week at the most!)


We have to do a better job at this. One thing we have learnt is that the having a finalized mockup of the character design is a must. Luis has been very busy with his full time job, hence we had delays in it. Since the team is comprised people dedicating part of their free time on the project, we expected that. But in the future we will do a better job at getting it. This I think has been a very big lesson that was taught, but mostly because of circumstances rather than oversight. Siggraph 2009 was fast approaching and we could not wait on it. Paula has been able to fill the roll of character designer in Luis absence and we have been able to move along.


In the initial phase of the concept development, Flickr.com account has served us well. Especially as it only has a few characters. Also we could group the images together. All animators have access to the flickr account and they upload their work there. We are asking the animators to move their sample renders to flickr instead of SVN. The golden rule is that we are going to use SVN for files that will end up on the renderfarm to be rendered and nothing more in it. Our plan is also to move our project management docs onto google apps. SVN is our version control software, however, the plan is to move to Animation Digital Asset Manager (ADAM) as soon as possible.

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