Szabolcs Sinka – CG Sup.

Interview with our CG Sup.

Back in 2018 I had the chance to work on Metro Exodus for Platige Image. That was not the first project from them, and since then I did various jobs on other projects too.

Most of the work was basically animation, MOCAP cleanup, and my role was to support a small team of animators to do that. It was an interesting experience, from many standpoints.

Every company works even if slightly, but somewhat differently. Tools, folders, assets, naming they can differ wildly and also the methods for tracking the work.

Platige gave for the project an account to the tracking framework they used and they expected daily updates. Most of the previews, and communication went over that and emails. They also gave us tools to help, and we had to follow guidelines, how things had to be done.

I write and use more and more custom tools for work, organization and tracking. Since that was not the first projekt for them, I had already begun to develop scripts to handle the incoming assets, shots they gave out, and to meet the required formats they expected to get. It helped to work on our own way, but without breaking things if we have to give them back. I helped to set up the workflow.

Basically I could automate the import of the assets to our own framework, and set up everything for the animators. That came handy later on a different project with a lot more assets. If you work with someone else more than once it makes sense to develop for it to ease. On latter projects we had methods for most of the things that could come up.

Most of the work was done by the animators. They had to learn the usage of the rig assets that were provided, and I gave support for them when something went wrong, or they needed something. There was the case of changing rigs, bugs, but also changing mocap data, that had to be transferred sometimes. We had automatic backups, and versioning internally, for safety but also against file corruption, mistakes.

At daily and weekly sessions, there were internal meetings with the animator and technical staff I’ve worked with, to discuss and clear up things. Our animation director, and lead animator reviewed the progress and gave feedback to the animators. We spoke about problems, or questions, suggestions. I did a couple of small tools over the time I worked on the project to help out with some tasks. From project management, help with rigs, recovery, or even preview video generation, with proper letterboxing, watermarking etc..

We used an inhouse tool I helped to develop for the project management so we could follow the progress. We could track the feedback we got from Platige, and also everything internals, on artist, task, shot, asset and project level. 

There was the difficulty that even if I could, I should not always fix things, especially rigs. For example if a provided asset broke, I was not supposed to fix it, since it can cause problems, even if I give them back to Platige. The asset may have had a lot more versions internally since we got it, and many more reasons. As someone who does rigging but outsourcing too, I can definitely relate, it is better to do it centrally. Offen what I could do is give as good a feedback as I can. They were always really helpful.

To work with another company can be challenging, but also interesting, and you can learn a lot, even from communication or from expectations you have to meet. It was a good opportunity for me, and I did really like to work on the projekt.