Project 1 — Reflection

For our first Project we worked interdisciplinary with animation. There were a lot of complications with this project, mostly due to misunderstanding and lack of communication, but surprisingly enough the final product turned out to be good, and our collaborators were happy.

Going into this project I was rather hesitant about creating anything as electronic music is quite foreign to me, however my group members Taylor Gosens and Morgan Girle were very familiar and experienced with it, so that was definitely a bonus as they helped me a lot and taught me a few things. When we watched the project pitches from the animation students Taylor and I found three groups that we were interested in doing some audio for, however unfortunately when we got in contact with them they had already found a group for audio and didn't need anyone else. This was a little but of a set back as we couldn't find anyone to collaborate with, and we desperately needed to find someone, this is when Taylor came into contact with a previous SAE animation student Romy Lauder, who was collaborating with a game designer (Miriam Dixon) and looking for some audio for a game. The game hadn't progressed very far at the stage we had contacted them so we only had a story board for the title sequence to work with, however this was enough for us to work with, so we went ahead with it. Romy and Miriam hadn't discussed the type of music that they wanted exactly, but they gave us a reference track and asked for something energetic, upbeat, funky and able to loop.

Our first steps in the making of our song was figuring out who made each part. It was clear from the reference track that we needed to created a thick pad sound with strings, a plucking lead and a bass that moved in energy from bright to gloomy. We worked together and created our own synthesisers and Taylor communicated with Romy and Miriam to make sure we were working towards a sound they wanted.

Road Blocks
Communication had to be our biggest let down in this project. In the first weeks we had a lot of face-to-face meetings before our classes on Mondays and Wednesdays about individual progress, this of course helped us a lot as a group but slowly we started being unable to have those meetings due to our personal lives interfering with our time schedule. Taylor was our group leader (unofficially) so any questions and issues went to her, this was good because Taylor is really great with organisation, communication and managing work, and so I found myself mostly communicating with her and not so much with Morgan. This was because Taylor saw that I was struggling because I have little to no experience with creating music in Logic Pro X, and Morgan had experience and didn't need the help. This also meant that it affected my progress more than it did Taylor’s or Morgan’s when we changed our project more than once (We thought we were each creating a song in the beginning, then we thought we were creating one song together, and then we ended up making two songs, Taylor and I made one and Morgan created his own.) Our communication method was Facebook and email and now that we look back on our communication we agree it was a dumb idea as some days it could take hours to get a response from someone, and this was really bad when we had important questions or issues. We had all agreed that through our next project will be using Slack, Trello and text messaging to keep each other in the loop. It would have been really great in the start of our project to have had a strong production plan and time schedule that we could stick to, this would have helped us out a lot with the production of our project instead of creating our sequences based on ideas being thrown in the air.

The other let down in communication was with our collaborators, because Morgan and myself didn't know Romy and Miriam it was Taylor who talked to them and got feedback from them on our progress. Since the project had started Taylor had been effectively communicating with both Romy and Miriam on our song but unfortunately she struggled to share that communication with Morgan as it wasn’t until two days before we presented our final project that Morgan had sent Taylor his song. Reflecting on our communication with our collaborators it would have been really effective for us to have had a group chat somehwere on social media, that way Morgan and I would have been able to talk to them as well and receive feedback first hand. Why we didn't do that in the first place I’m not sure, it was just easier at the time for Taylor to be the communicator as she knew Romy personally. Its quite obvious that these were our biggest road blocks on our project and I can say now that we have all definitely learned from it. Overall I believe that if we extended our level of communication between our group and our collaborators we could have had a better project outcome and experience.

Workflow
The other road block that we had to over come was our project merge with Logic Pro X. Once Taylor and I realised the mistake we had made with the amount of songs we were creating we had the issue of importing each others sequencing and melodies into one song and trying to make them sound great as one, whilst still sticking to our collaborators needs. We did obviously over come this issue with the short amount of time we had left. Although this problem did throw us off track quite a bit Taylor and I managed to keep each other in the right head space and our workflow remained efficient. While our project plan was seriously effected and had to be rearranged our groups project file management was well organised and we never had an issue with creating the songs elements and sound effects through these issues.

Planning 
Romy gave our group a scratch track and a reference track for the title sequence. Taylor drew up a time schedule with milestones for the project after our first group meeting as we each had personal commitments, such as work, to schedule around. Although our time schedule did become entirely disregarded by the end of our project due to confusions, issues and personal life problems, we still managed to get our work sorted and presented on time.

Effective Qualities
I feel that as a group we each had great qualities that made this project easier. Taylor has a really positive attitude with a lot of motivation and great management skills while Morgan was always coming up with a lot of ideas for the group and is also a great musician. When it came to this project I felt as though I personally lacked great qualities and skills that I could contribute because of my lack of experience with creating EDM, however I believe through out this project that I was able to deliver strong feedback, criticism and ideas for our Project whilst creating sequences and melodies that formed our final piece.

The animator and game designer were both very happy with final product that Taylor and I produced for them. Our track was very energetic yet mysterious and dark with many dimensions of different sounds that were panned effectively and built a lot of tension throughout.

Conclusion 
Our entire group project was a great eye opener and very valuable to the things that I learned and experienced. It is unfortunate that this Project outcome taught us more of what not to do, however I see this as a win-win scenario as I’m glad that it was our first project that had its issues, sometimes when a project goes smoothly you have nothing to learn and build on as a team and as an individual so this project was a great experience. I know as a group we need to work on communication and planning ahead for road blocks. In our next project I would like to have Slack and Trello set up immediately before project developments starts so that we are able to avoid any confusion. I would also like to accomplish this by planning and having more face-to-face meetings so that we can look at each others progress, discuss the content and give each other feedback on our work. Lastly, for any future projects I would like to improve on risk reduction and contingency planning, as we should have been more prepared to encounter difficulties regarding health and personal commitments throughout this project. Overall it is really clear to the group and myself that there is significant room for improvement when it comes to project management and team work and I hope that in our next project we are able to eliminate all of these issues.

Things that worked well:

  • Problem solving issues
  • Work Ethic and efficiency
  • Positive attitude towards production and achievements
  • Creating a product using a brief outline
  • Adaptability to collaborators feedback
  • Learning from criticism and feedback

Room for significant improvement:

  • Communication between team members and collaborators
  • Working collaboratively as a team
  • Sharing equal responsibilities as a team
  • Encouraging others for ideas, criticism and feedback
  • Setting milestones for significant improvement with time management
  • Documenting progress
  • Critically analysing team members work and providing feedback