N.E.mation! 8 Production Week 2 - Do Not Disturb! Hard work in Progress!

Image courtesy of N.E.Mation! Facebook page

If you haven't realised yet, I had the honour of being appointed as one of the 5 blogger ambassadors for the N.E.mation!8 Final 10 Teams. Read up on what teams Hashtag and WayneStarkCo were up to on week 1 of production week here.

On Tuesday evening, I headed back to Nanyang Polytechnic after work to check on how my teams were doing.

All the 10 finalists had been working hard on their animation videos for the past week. I can only imagine the stress and anxiety of trying to complete a full animation clip from scratch, in the short span of 3 weeks! Only 1 more week to go teams! Push on!!

Now let's check on their progress...

Team Hashtag: #NE8C04

Last week, the boys from team hashtag were busy filming their LIVE action sequences with their hired talents and blue screen setup. As I mentioned in my previous week's post, most of the time, we are used to hearing people doing recording on the green screen. Are you wondering why Team Hashtag are doing it on a blue screen instead?

Well, we know that when humans do filming on the green screen, the intention is to replace the green from the green screen with some other background. But it sort of doesn't work when the talents that you are recording have to wear green uniforms as well right?

Erm... There seems to be something wrong in this picture

Yup, you guessed it! In line with the theme of Total Defence, team Hashtag is doing LIVE action sequences of a guy going through his national service in our famous pixelated green uniform. So if they used a green screen, you we would probably only be able to see the head and boots of our soldier in green. Therefore, they had to swap the standard "green" screen for a fresher "blue" screen.

When I visited last week, there was another team using the blue screen recording "studio", so we didn't manage to take a look at it. Luckily, the "studio" was unoccupied this week during my visit. So, of course we had to go take a look right?

Our very own makeshift green screen recording studio!

The "studio" was actually converted from an open area right at the end of the Lounge. No expenses were spared for the recording studio, as there was even professional lighting and recording equipment set up around the studio. And as you can see from the picture above, there was a "blue screen" backdrop, which they would put up when they were doing their recordings.

There was even a changing room at the side of the studio for the talents to get changed without having their privacy invaded!

They really go to far away places to get the best costumes...

And what's more, they even had a mirror in the changing room for the talents to make sure their outfits were ready for the screen! Impressive right?

Mirror mirror on the chair, who is the lamest one out there?

There were also lots of army props, including the uniforms, field bag, SBO, helmets and even physical training attire [they are actually REAL army equipment] that they used during the recording sequences, which they literally had to beg, borrow and steal [Total Defense teaches us that stealing is wrong] from their friends in order to make it happen.

Since there was nobody around, I suggested that we do our own mini photoshoot with the green screen! You can really tell from their tired faces that they have been working hard throughout the week to get their animation ready for the release date.

Well, the shot was good, but we seemed to be missing the theme here. How about getting the boys to feel what it would feel like when they themselves have to serve national service in a few years time? It's time to suit up boys!

I see 4 totally different kinds of soldiers in this picture...

So anyway, back to their production progress. It seems like the boys from team Hashtag were keeping up with their schedule [Hurray!] despite facing some minor setbacks and uncertainties. And how do they make sure that they are on schedule? Well, they have a big piece of A3 paper plastered onto their workspace that details the items and tasks to be done on each day of the week.

And if you read the timeline carefully, you will notice a little pinch of humour in many of the comments on the timeline. Don't believe me? Take a look for yourself.

"would be nice if this is done by today"
"Finish up if not"
"Finish up whatever"

Oh, and last week when I said they each had a white tent to work in, I suppose some of you might be expecting something like this:

Image taken from google search

But not to worry, the organisers of N.E.mation! 8 have not been ill-treating our students by forcing them to work in extremely cramp conditions. Each of the teams have a huge "tent" that is more of like a room. They even get to have "closed door" discussions by just closing the curtain of their tent!

2nd home away from home for the past week or so

In fact, the guys have been coming here so often that they have even begun to treat it like their home. Joshua is so comfortable with the place that he even walks around barefoot!

They even have a stash of mineral water tucked away somewhere safe in their tent. [Which they kindly offered me a bottle from]

So what have they been busy with this past week? Well, most of their LIVE action sequences have been filmed, and they were just getting into the animation bit. This is where they had to piece the LIVE recordings together, and after that, add in the backgrounds and animations to the video.

Sounds tough? You bet. Take this shot for example. Each of these guys were filmed jogging separately, and the team had to layer them one in front of the other to make it look like they were jogging side by side. What's more, after making them look like their are jogging together, they had to add the background and make it scroll just at the right speed so that it doesn't look like they are in a slow-motion film or are brothers of The Flash.

Next up, they had to make the "tears" [or crying "tears" as pronounced by Ben] in the background, so that it looks like a moving paper mash-up.

Cool effect right?

At first I thought that they just used the eraser tool on the image editing software to "erase" parts of the picture to make it look like paper tears. But I was shocked to learn that to make it more realistic, they actually took photos of real torn pieces of paper and painstakingly pieced them together on the image to get a realistic paper tear effect!

That tear effect in the picture above is made up of more than a hundred real pieces of torn paper pieced together! I give them A for determination. If it was me, I would probably give up halfway through.

These are the real pieces of torn paper that the team had to literally piece together piece by piece

Well, you can say that team Hashtag definitely embodies the theme of this year's N.E.mation!8, where each person in the team contributes a little to help the team achieve their goals!

Remember to vote for team Hashtag by liking them on the N.E.mation!8 facebook app. Also, do follow them on their social media platforms listed below to keep updated on the latest happenings! Part of their overall results include public voting so let's get to it!

Hashtags of Team Hashtag: #NE8C04 #HashtagOffHashtag

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TeamHashtag_NE @TeamHashtag_NE
Instagram: http://instagram.com/hashtagne8

Go! Go! Team Hashtag! Only 1 more week to go!

Team WayneStarkCo: #NE8C10

Time to check in with my wacky girls from WayneStarkCo!

When I arrived, the girls had just returned from having their dinner at the KouFu food court just below the Lounge. [They also said that there was a Lion and a King Kong running lose in the food court. Can someone please tell me more about that?] Oh, and did you know, each team is provided with $180 worth of KouFu vouchers to cover their daily meal expenses?

That's $6 per meal for lunch and dinner every day! It seems like the organisers of N.E.mation!8 really took good care of all our student teams. Hmmm... If only we could swap them for real cash instead...

We are [voucher] rich!

Last week, we saw how "talented" the girls from WayneStarkCo were with their computer drawing skills, where they did an impromptu sketch of me with the team. Well, if you don't remember, here's the art piece:

That's me at the center-bottom of the page by the way

Ok, so it wasn't a Mona Lisa, but of course, it was all in the name of fun! And this week, we are here to do some justice to the girls' drawing talents! Here's a picture of the real talents the girls have when it comes to cartoon animation drawings!

Don't you dare question the drawing talents of Team WayneStarkCo!

Have you ever wondered how animations get brought to life on the computer screens?

Well, first, they have to draw all the characters into the animation software using simple shapes and lines. [I can never understand how they can turn simple circles and squares into a cute little girl]

Next they have to identify and group every single movable part of that character into a movable element.[Yes, every single movable part] Just take a look at how many parts this animated little girl consists of!

Kinda reminds me of a song: The Ear bone's connected to the, face bone. The face bone's connected to the neck bone. The neck bone's connected to the, rib cage...

Not only that, they also have to use the same shapes and lines to draw out all the elements in the background and make sure those elements are in the correct perspective to the foreground characters.

And only after that can they start the tedious task of animating the moving parts of the characters. And here's the thing, each moving part has to be animated one by one! Here's a shot of Yams hard at work on one part of the team's animation.

As you can see, each of them is provided with some kind of tablet PC to work on. It isn't really a touch screen that responds to human touches, but you can use a special stylus included with the tablet PC to draw and click on the screen.

Similar to team Hashtag, team WayneStarkCo also had a schedule to help them make sense of all the deadlines throughout the production weeks. However, the girls from team WayneStarkCo even had individual schedules for each of them, that listed down the tasks that each on of them were required to complete.

The girls said that this looks more like a prison row photo. Well, if it was, they are definitely the happiest prisoners I have ever seen.

Oh, and if you noticed, Megan's schedule is like twice the size of her other 3 team members. They say that it's because Megan is the pro-est [no such word in the dictionary kiddos] and therefore she was assigned the most work to do. Whereas Megan just says that it's just because her eyesight is bad from too many hours staring at the computer screens.

In fact, sometimes I feel bad for having to disrupt their work time when I come over to visit. The girls are always so friendly and talkative that they usually don't get any work done during the whole time when I am around. And knowing that the girls are slightly behind schedule doesn't make it any better either.

Well, in times like this, what do you do? Panic? Jump around? Roll on the floor and cry? Nope. When we are stressed, we go for a Milo break!!

First we need to refill our energy and then we can get back to work and complete whatever needs to be done! Remember girls! We are going to prove that fun fact that is stuck on the fridge wrong! More Milo and more Hard Work! Woohooooo!!

After our milo break, it was time to get back to serious business. When I asked them what was one of the hardest tasks they have faced so far, they agreed that one of the toughest animations was getting an old man to walk right.

Kids these days...

This was because as an old man, he had to walking very slowly. And this was a huge challenge as the animation could not be too fast, but at the same time, it could not be too slow such that the old man's legs seemed to be jerking instead of walking.

The girls said that they had to do this animation frame by frame, just to make his slow walking look natural. That means adjusting the leg movements ever so slightly within each different frame. For an animation that runs on 25 frames per second [FPS], that's like 75 frames of manual animation just for a 3 second walk. Phew, talk about hard work.

But all in all, I think the girls from Team WayneStarkCo have already done a great job. After understand what they have to go through just to get a little cartoon girl to move on screen, I have gained a new-found respect for animation specialists.

They have to put in hours of blood and sweat so that this:

Can be turned into this:

Take a look at this short video of some of the animation works they did for the past week, which will become part of their final animation video!

And as always, remember to vote Team WayneStarkCo by liking them on the N.E.mation!8 facebook app! They need your support as part of their scores depend on public voting!

You can also keep up with the girls by stalking following them on their twitter account: https://twitter.com/waynestarkco_ @waynestarkco_ [remember to put the underscore!]

Ok! that's it from me this week! Tune in next week to have more sneak peaks into what their final production would look like!

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