What would a senior project be without challenge? Well, not senior project, to put it mildly. Clearly a senior project has to be challenging in some way, if not many ways, in order to show that the group can push their skills to the max to complete something in 9 months. Since Digital Media is such a broad topic, we all have many skills to pull from. Even though that makes our project exciting, it also adds to the challenge. For our group, there are specific aspects that will challenge us and require a great deal of our focus and attention. These include coming up with alternate forms of storytelling, conquering character development, planning a full animation pipeline, maintaining a well-updated online presence, gaining fans, and overcoming various technical challenges.
Unlike the projects any of us have done before, our content for our senior project involves a continuing storyline revolving around two characters. One of our most fearing challenges is coming up with short funny scripts to use throughout our project. Much like newspaper comics, and their derivative webcomics, our story will be identifiable to people at any point during its lifespan. To make that work, we need to devise a way to tell a contained story in around three panels, with some animation. Since it is a comedy, timing is everything, so we’ll all need to pull out all the stops when it comes to planning our comics’ storyboards and scripts. Same goes for the animated shorts. Since we have class experience for that, it won’t be as daunting (although still requires effort). This brings up a challenge closely tied to the previous one, which is creating likable, identifiable characters who can stay interesting for theoretically many years. No project any other us have worked on has required this much character development, and especially not for the format of presentation in question. We’ve already gotten feedback on our original ideas and realized that we might need to overhaul our characters. At the same time, we can’t stay in that character production process forever. Clearly, developing characters is and will be one of our top challenges, as the characters can make or break a comic.
Of course, the challenges of actually creating the content for our project from a CG standpoint could have their own post, but for now I’ll touch on a few things. First of all, we need to create a comprehensive asset lists. This means our stories must be ironed out, before we even start creating our scenes. Building the assets is not that big of a challenge, but both characters must be rigged and textured before we start animation as well. On top of all our CG and 2D assets, we also must have story ideas written, storyboards settled, and in many cases, animatics created. As you can see to fit in with our self-imposed production cycle, massive amounts of pre-production are required. Not to mention the challenges of potential cloth simulation and liquid simulation being used throughout the project, we will need to unleash all the technical skills we have learned throughout college as well as storytelling skills.
Last but not least, we aim to spread our “comic” series not only to our peers at Drexel, but to people all over the world. We all want strongly to entertain people, and to prove that we can do that. We want to gather fans for our project that will legitimately enjoy following it. However, gaining publicity is a notoriously challenging prospect. We will need to use social media, personal connections, media news, word of mouth, public events, and perhaps viral marketing to spread the word to the most people (yeah, that’s a lot. We know!). Not only that, but we need uploaded content regularly, stay consistent in quality, and maintain interaction with fans. The benefit of this approach, at least, is that we can continue gaining fans while working on the main project without distracting ourselves too much, but if we slack off at any point, the entire purpose of our project will be lost.
As you can see, we’ve got a lot on our plate for the next 9 months (almost a year since we are starting early). Storytelling issues, lots of pre-production to do, lots of actual production to do, technical hurdles, and gaining a fan base are all on the agenda by next June. Can we do it? Yes, we definitely can, or else we would have picked a different project. Will it be at all easy? Oh lord, no.