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Inside an award-winning animation

By 3dtotal staff

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Date Added: 19th November 2013

3dtotal: What software did you use to create the animation and what were the advantages and disadvantages you encountered?

Reply: We made the short in Maya, as it was the main program we were taught at the university due to its heavy usage in the industry. Alongside it, we used other programs such as ZBrush for modeling and sculpting - it's becoming such a powerful program that some of the beans were actually made entirely with it.

Photoshop was used for the majority of the texturing and the 2D paintings in the short. We rendered in mental ray, which had its pros and cons, and while we did consider other options like Arnold, we had a lot more licenses for mental ray which was important for getting it done in time for the deadline.

A modeled version of Julio, the lonely busker as featured in The Ballad of Julio animation

"Another lesson was that no matter how much planning we did there were always errors and things that needed fixing"

3dtotal: The project took you all "7 months and a lot of sleepless nights” to complete. What are the main lessons you learnt along the way?

Reply: We learnt the importance of caffeine. Also how important the story is to a film. We learnt the hard way at the start of the project how pivotal a good narrative is to a short animation, and it lost us a bit of time, but in the end we put a lot of thought into the journey the audience takes with our characters and I think it paid off.

Another lesson was that no matter how much planning we did there were always errors and things that needed fixing - making an animation is just as technical as it is creative so it helps to be good at problem-solving.

A full color render of Sleepy bean, one of the five starring magical beans in the graduation animation

3dtotal: As you come to the end of your course at The University of Hertfordshire, how have you found your time at the University? Do you feel it's been beneficial to your future career paths?

Reply: Without a doubt, a few of us from the group came to the university with almost no knowledge of 3D, and it's crazy thinking that 3 years later we were able to create a piece of animation that we are all really proud of. We had the constant support of the lecturers and classmates which is good if you ever have questions, and seeing the great work your peers are doing is always really motivational. Sure there were a lot of late nights and shouting at our computers, but it was all worth it in the end.

A still shot of Julio from the graduation animation movie: The Ballad of Julio, showing the texturing and lighting used in the scene

3dtotal: The Ballad of Julio won the Audience Choice Award at the Canterbury Anifest 2013 and has been selected for the UK Film Festival. With the successes you've had so far, will there be a volume 2 of Julio's adventures or are you all starting new projects?

Reply: It's certainly something we've considered! We've talked about exploring how the beans got into the can and we've got plenty of story ideas not involving Julio too. It's great knowing that it's been so well-received by people from around the world. For now though, we've all just started working in the industry but who knows what the future holds!

The Ballad of Julio animation by recent University of Hertfordshire graduates

The Ballad of Julio animation by recent University of Hertfordshire graduates

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