Producing Pixels (Part 3 of 3) – Assembling the Dream Team for a successful CGI film.
Now that we’ve got software and hardware considerations out of the way, in this article, I’ll share the general composition of a dream CGI animation team, the considerations for assembling such a team as the individual’s strengths/weaknesses and goal alignment. Lastly, I’ll touch on the dangers of having more than one director on a film project.
The General Composition of a CGI Team
In any CGI creative film project, there needs to be one director, one art director, a few CGI generalists, and as a huge bonus, a storyboard artist and an editor/colorist.
The director looks after the overall messaging of the project’s output, taking into consideration visual, audio, and how the medium is consumed.
One who assumes this role pushes the visual styles of the film and directs the team to arrive at very high-quality visuals to serve the overall message.
Also known as 3D Generalist. While being generalists, they have their own inclinations to either the start, middle, or end of a production pipeline. For instance, one is inclined to do 3D modelling and rigging, while another is interested only in Camera, Character Animation. And yet another is primarily interested in Lighting, Rendering and Compositing. There are inevitably some overlaps and that’s great because it makes the team cross-functional in times of need.
Editor + Colorist
Is one of the final quality control of how tight the edit is, whether there is a cohesive sound/audio interplay. He/she works close with the director to ensure that the film’s colours are cohesive from shot to shot. And that it’s the best it could be presented temporally.
A storyboard artist has the ability to draw either very quick sketches or elaborate expressions to very quickly communicate a story point. They usually work very closely with the director to envision the film in its first visual form. This storyboard then serves as a blueprint for the rest of the team.
Strengths and Weaknesses of CGI Artists
As abovementioned, we need our CG generalists to have a good mix of interests, in various parts of the pipeline. While it’s healthy to have some overlaps, their interests should largely be spread out so that we can tap into each other’s strengths and weaknesses when we work on a project.
If you’re in school, starting your group project, and assembling your team, you should make this a very huge consideration. Else, you’ll end up with a film that’s lopsided in its development.
Goal Alignment amongst CGI Artists
Once again, if you’re in school, you should also be very sure of each other’s personal goals with the final year project. At work, you may not have the luxury of choosing your teammates.
But it doesn’t mean you cannot have this conversation up front to lay down the expectations. At least, over the course of the project, we will know which tasks people are happy, or conversely reluctant to do. We will have the opportunity to establish that some tasks are a necessary evil, so we’ll all share the workload.
It’s far too common that artists tend to bottle up their true feelings because they don’t want to appear as bad team players. None of us wants to appear as a bad team player. So have the conversation at the beginning, and encourage an honest exchange. This effectively prevents any team member from feeling disgruntled over the course of the project
Just One Director on a CGI Creative Project
Too many cooks spoil the broth
This is a classic issue. And it happens more often than we imagine, even in a professional setting like Masonry Studios too. This is sometimes due to undefined roles, an interplay of ego, individuals wishing to take credit etc.
Another instance of this happens is when a director hands over the project to another director, but is unable to let go of creative control. When there’s a handover, there needs to be a clean break, and all the decision-making should then be left to the new director. It’s very detrimental for a production to have two directors, with two visions floating around. Confusion ensues.
Truth is, both directions will work in their own right, but if the team is to consider both directors’ inputs, they can easily get confused and the output of the work will reflect that; a confusing film.
Now, Go Assemble Your Dream CGI Team
This ends the 3-part series for Producing Pixels. I hope this has helped you gain some insight into assembling your dream team. While I wanted to cover more production common mistakes in this series of articles, it is getting a little lengthy. No hurry. Let’s take the time to unpack more common production mistakes we’ve faced over the years in future articles.
Thanks for sticking to the end here, and if you find the information helpful, agree/disagree, or need to seek clarification on some points, please reach out! My email is ronald[at]masonry-studios.com. Keep creating, keep rendering!