The year is 2073X: Humanity has escaped the desolate reality into a virtual utopia. A new virus, Neoshin, shakes the world of main character Ayuko. This is the story behind NEOSHIN, a student project of the same name, for which Ramon Schauer assumed the role of the Technical Director.
Keep reading to learn more about the super cool cyberpunk inspired project and why studying Technical Directing is a pretty awesome idea.
What is NEOSHIN about?
Ramon: NEOSHIN is our diploma project here at Animationsinstitut. We're telling a world that's in the cyberpunk genre: In our version of the future, technical inventions will make it possible to freeze oneself and live in a virtual parallel world in order to stop the process of aging. At the same time, global warming and massive environmental pollution caused the real world to be no longer worth living in, making the virtual world more and more a place of refuge for people. Our main character Ayuko gets infected with a virus through the music of the band NEOSHIN and is excluded from the virtual reality.
The project is a hybrid between an animated film series and a music album: The band NEOSHIN is both a supporting party within our story and a real existing band that creates the music for the film. Each song corresponds to an episode that continues the story.
What is your role as the Technical Director (TD) of NEOSHIN?
Ramon: The tasks as the TD of NEOSHIN are very diverse.
Besides the general TD tasks like keeping track of the pipeline and workflows, my tasks focus mainly on our main character. I actually do almost the entire workflow: Supervision of the 3D scanning session of our main actress, modelling, texturing and shading of the 3D model as well as blendshape creation and rigging. In addition, I also work with motion capture and face capture to give our animators a good basis for their work.
It was very important to me that i would not only to work on purely technical things, but also to take on artistic tasks while working on NEOSHIN.
What has been your biggest challenge in working on NEOSHIN so far?
Ramon: Besides the general difficulties with every project like brainstorming and animatic, the most challenging part is definitely our claim to have a convincing human character. There are a lot of small details that need to be considered - from the smallest details like skin pores to the deformation of facial expressions. Often it is very difficult to find out which aspects need more work and requires a lot of research and very good references.
II. About Technical Directing
Why did you decide to study TD?
Ramon: I decided to study TD for several reasons. After my bachelor's degree I didn't want to start working straight away, but to take a little more time for my own projects and experiments, for which the Filmakademie offers the perfect setting. I also wanted to go a little further in the direction of VFX, as I had mainly gained experience with games before.
I decided to study TD because I wanted to learn more about the technical background of the workflows and at the same time still take on artistic tasks. Since a TD is practically a mix between artists and programmers and the Filmakademie also offers a lot of freedom in terms of content, I chose the TD course.
What did you do before your studies at the Filmakademie?
Ramon: I studied Animation and Game at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences until 2018, where I learned the basics of 3D, programming, game design and storyboarding.
Before my studies at the Filmakademie I concentrated more on games and the artistic side, but at the same time I had always been interested in the more technical facets of game development and also in how film and game productions become more and more similar.
What practical experience did you gain before and during your studies?
Ramon: During my bachelor studies I worked as a 3D Environment Artist at Deck13 Interactive on the game "The Surge" for almost a year. In addition, I occasionally work as a freelancer on smaller projects and currently give a workshop on photogrammetry at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences.
What do you enjoy most about your studies as a TD? Which topics do you find particularly exciting?
Ramon: I like the versatility of the studies. Since Technical Directing is an incredibly large and sometimes not clearly defined field, there are always new things to learn. Even among us TD students, everyone does completely different things. I'm mainly interested in topics like realistic people, 3D scanning and real-time rendering.
I find it very pleasant to have very few strict guidelines. Instead you work on projects
What's your study routine like?
Ramon: Everyday life can be very different, depending on which phase the current projects are in. Usually the day starts with a few meetings to plan things and discuss the current state of work. After that, I work at my workplace on the current tasks - but this is usually interrupted by further short meetings, workshops, etc. Since TDs are often responsible for finding solutions to current technical problems, communication with other team members is a relatively big part of my studies.
What has been your highlight regarding your studies so far?
Ramon: It's difficult to choose a single "highlight" - but all in all the people you get to know during your studies and the general working atmosphere are the best aspect for me.
In addition, it is of course always very exciting to attend workshops and get feedback from very experienced people from industry or to try out new techniques.
Any advice for people interested in applying at Animationsinstitut?
Ramon: Probably the best thing is to concentrate on the things that really interest you and not compare yourself too much with the other students or applicants. Since the specialization of TDs can be so versatile, you will always find someone who is much better than you in some areas, which can be very intimidating. In general, it is important not to be too impressed by the entrance examination and simply to show what one's strengths and interests are.