Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Looking back at the Xmas Exhibition

Towards the end of last year we hosted an exhibition to showcase the work we created for the Game Art and Machinima module. I wanted to get involved in planning the exhibition - this was our first time showing our work to anyone beyond our own course, let alone the general public, so I wanted to help in making sure we were shown in our best light.

Different people were given different roles in planning; some focussed on naming the event, some on organising refreshments, creating name tags, etc. I thought I'd put my Photoshop skills to use and make a poster/flyer that could be displayed around the college and also given out to passers by.

(I think I actually changed the font of the address in the final iteration in case it was difficult to read)

I decided to showcase all of our models together in the poster; to do this I had to gather as many of them as I could from the class, put them together in a Maya scene file, and render out an image against a plain white background. I thought it'd offer a glimpse into how our course covers a wide range of genres/styles but ultimately our focus is on creating and giving life to interesting and charming characters. I couldn't get the scaling of some of the models right, which is why some of them seem disproportionately large, but I didn't think it would be too noticeable.

I also, with the help of my tutor, printed out a large banner to place on the walls at the event, this time showcasing the characters in a long line so they could be looked at individually.

(I had to take some of Wisdom's photos as I have none of my own!)

The unique aspect of a DFGA exhibition is the interactive element: as well as showcasing prints of our models and concept art, we had a laptop connected to a projector which showed both interactive character turnarounds and Unity-based playable environments that the guest could 'walk' around in. I think this was the most interesting part of the exhibit to people who maybe aren't familiar with the process of 3D modelling and animation, and I think in future exhibitions it would be beneficial to place more of a focus on this part of our medium as it offers something novel and enjoyable as opposed to just having pictures on a wall.

There were a few hiccups for our project - our final cinematic which we gave to the tutor for showing at the event was missing the soundtrack, so it was just silent, which robbed it of some of it's impact. Tabitha's model's normals were also showing the wrong way in the interactive turnaround (which was my own fault - I should have properly reversed the normals instead of just applying an occlusion shader). Regardless we got some positive comments on our work, and it's always exhilarating seeing others looking at and enjoying your creations, especially when it's the result of so much hard work and stress.

I felt a little concerned about the location of the venue. It was fairly difficult to find, and was far from the town centre - many people weren't sure how to get there even with the address given on the flyer. I also found it fairly dark and unwelcoming as the entrance was a tiny, slightly dishevelled looking door and the gallery space looked a little worse for wear. It was also a freezing winter's night and definitely not the greatest weather to attract a casual audience who maybe aren't sure what our work is all about - the cold put a bit of a damper on my mood, so I probably wasn't as sociable as I should have been (as usual!). On top of all this I also think we didn't leave enough time to advertise the event properly, meaning many potential guests probably weren't even aware of it.

As a result of all this I worried that we would get next-to-no guests, and I think in the end the majority of the guests were students' friends and families, but even so it still turned out to be an enjoyable evening - it was good to be in the class' company somewhere outside of college as it always helps develop friendships. It was also definitely a good introduction to showcasing our work professionally somewhere outside of the computer - everything from mounting our prints on card, to being there in person to explain our work to onlookers, was a new experience for me. I now have a better idea of how I'd like my work to be presented in this sort of space, and of how I could attract more guests to a future exhibition.

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