Senior Thesis: Final Project Proposal Summation

For my senior capstone project, I am producing a 3D animated short film. In summation, the story revolves around our main character, Myra, who has just lost her best friend. Wanting to sulk, she ventures off to a nearby park to be alone and to reminisce about her friend while looking at a picture of the two of them. Everything is calm and quiet until a huge gust of wind whisks her picture out of her hand, away from her forever. She continues to mourn the loss of her friend in silence once she realizes that he is really gone. In the scenery, initially unbeknownst to her, however, a firefly appears. This firefly is unlike any other firefly: it possesses the ability to bring inanimate objects to life. Once the firefly notices Myra and sees how miserable she looks, it makes it its mission to make her happy. Myra, not wanting to be bothered, shoos the firefly away upon their first interaction. The firefly will not stand for that, so it grabs her attention by using its power to make flowers bloom and trees come to life. Myra is absolutely enticed and is momentarily happy until she feels emptiness inside of her; she does not have her best friend here to enjoy this fantastical scenery with. The firefly, still on its mission to make Myra happy, flies away in search of her missing photograph. It returns moments later with her picture. This makes Myra inconceivably happy, and she is able to enjoy the moment once again, with her friend by her side. Although she has lost her best friend, she has gained a new one in an unexpected place.

I was inspired to create this animation when I went to a park two years ago in the summer and saw hundreds and thousands of fireflies light up the night sky; it was like nothing I had ever seen before.

This piece is viewable to audiences of all ages, but my intended target audience is young people, including children from young ages to college students.

Because I am working by myself for my thesis, I am responsible for the entire pipeline production of this animation, from pre-production to post. Thus far, I have completed everything in the conceptual stage of pre-production: character and concept design, environmental asset creation, storyboarding, an animatic, and a good portion of modeling. All of the conceptual creation was done traditionally, with reliable pencil and paper. Once those designs were finalized, I was able to move into Adobe Photoshop to create more polished images, i.e. reference images for character modeling. Getting into the environmental asset creation meant going completely digital. I used Autodesk Maya to model my main environment asset, my Japanese Maple Blossom tree, and I was able to download two public domain models (a bench and a lamp post) for the rest of my scenery. The last parts of pre-production include modeling, texturing, and rigging my characters (Myra and my tree). All of that will be completed over winter break, allowing me to begin animating by the start of the spring semester. Modeling will be taken care of in Autodesk Maya, while sculpting details will be taking care of between Mud Box and Zbrush. I am able to use Photoshop to create textures and bring them into Maya, but I also own a texturing program, Bitmap, that I may try to use for the texturing process.

Going forth into the production stage of the pipeline includes character animation and lighting. This will be completed during the spring semester, and all of it will be done in Autodesk Maya.

The last stage of the pipeline is post-production, which includes rendering and compositing. I will be rendering my entire animation not in any of Maya’s rendering engines, but Pixar’s Renderman. The finish of renders done in Renderman looks much more professional, high quality, and realistic, so I will only use the best equipment for the final product. For compositing all of the renders together, I will be using Adobe After Effects. As far as I am concerned at the moment, I will only be using After Effects to edit all of my images together; if I need to color correct or add any special effects I will have the ability to do so within the program.

This project is going to be an incredibly difficult, taxing, but worthwhile one. It will also serve as a portfolio piece that I can add to my demo reel.

For the complete version of my project proposal, please click the link below:

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