Project V is an immersive VR training simulator. This was the first professional project I managed completely from start to finish. It involved everyone on the team from programmers to animators to audio designers. As one of my largest projects managed, it remains a point of pride.

Duties

- Planned initial production schedule and determined scope for launch.

- Identified risks and determined mitigations and back-up plans to fulfill client needs.

- Directed leads in programming, art, and audio to meet project needs.

- Directed storyboard development.

- Managed UI development between art and design.

- Troubleshooted rigging and animation hurdles and found creative solutions to solve problems efficiently.

- Led QA in identifying and documenting bugs.

- Adjusted scope dynamically during production according to production progress while still achieving the client's needs within their schedule.

 

Unique Challenges

- Rigid Needs: This project was different from everything I'd done before because it was my first team leading a project for an external source. In past projects, if we weren't making enough progress on a particular feature or if we didn't have the resources needed, I would adjust the scope of the project to something we could accomplish. In this case, the client needs were not flexible and while they were very specific they were not always clear. At times, necessary adjustments were not clear until the feature was complete and we had to go back and make changes. This was mitigated by creating flexible systems within the project that could be easily changed. There were still more client needs that came up outside of the systems we'd planned for, so in extreme cases, I communicated clearly with our CEO on the precise crunch needs to meet milestones.

- Character Animation: Being a small VR team, we rarely require character animation. The player character is the actual player and we've avoided NPC animations in favor of performance. Consequently, we don't have a dedicated rigger or animator on our team. On small teams in particular, we have to wear many hats, so one of our tech art leads dusted off his rigging and animation skills. We started with readymade character models that fit our needs. The ones we found had rigs already, but they weren't optimal for VR and they were incompatible with Unity. After fighting this for a few weeks, we completely redid the rigging and skinning with a basic auto-rig that suited our needs. We still encountered some skinning issues while animating later in production and we decided to avoid going back through the rigging pipeline to fix it directly. Instead, we used textures to hide flaws in the rig and it worked perfectly.

 

©2017 by Gwendolyn Stickney