John Henry’s Hammer Productions: An Overview

My placement at John Henry’s Hammer Productions lasted until early September when we were suddenly told that working with this company would no longer count towards our total placement time. We were then left with a choice of remaining with the company to work voluntarily, or leave to find another placement.

In my time working at John Henry’s Hammer Productions, I went in hoping to learn more about 3D character animation, and came away with not only that, but with a better understanding of how to organize a large project with many people working on it.

 

The animation was a fascinating process. I spent a lot of time animating the face of the character since the initial animation was motion capture and had no facial animation. I learned a lot about subtle facial acting as there were very limited controls with the robot character and it was a challenge to convey emotion when the only thing you could control was the character’s eyes.

We were also given a whole new bunch of controls to learn, such as a custom plug-in controlling the image plane in the background containing the live-action footage that were were to animate over, which was slightly buggy and a bit of a pain to work with if you weren’t technically savvy. It was an obstacle to conquer, along with the other custom company plug-ins allowing us to update the rig and change the model complexity at will without messing up the scene.

The biggest benefit to working at the company, however, was learning how they organised such a big project using the websites Slack and Shotgun.

Slack was an incredibly efficient way of communicating with either individuals or members of a team (etc animators, modellers) or even the entire group, which also notified each member with an email if they received a message. It was hard to miss a Slack notification.

Shotgun was the most impressive site, in my opinion. It was slick and very easy to use. We mostly utilised it for finding out what shots we had to work on, and not only that, but you could see what shots everyone was working on at the same time, so you never lost track of what scenes needed to be animated/lit/rendered.

 

Overall, it was a fascinating experience, and I am glad I got the chance to work there.

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