Every project has different steps you need to follow in order to be successful. The order in which you proceed through the steps to reach the final result can be called the “workf low” or “pipeline.” In this chapter, you’ll learn about the process you will follow throughout the rest of the book to create a character from scratch. You’ll gain basic knowledge about how you can divide any project into stages and execute it. In the next section, you’ll learn about the three main stages that a project goes through.
The Three Stages of a Project
Usually, any project in 3D, graphics, or video goes through three different stages: preproduction, production, and postproduction.
Preproduction is everything that happens before the actual production of a project, such as preliminary sketches, ideas, designs, and planning. It’s probably the most crucial stage of any project, and a lot of amateur projects fail because of the lack of good preproduction. (Some projects don’t have any preproduction at all!)
When you plan and organize what you will need to do to complete a project, chances are you’re going to be better prepared for what’s to come. If you skip preproduction and jump right into production because you can’t wait to see the results, you’ll likely encounter unexpected problems and issues you didn’t anticipate. You’ll have to redo a lot of work and lose lots of time or, in the worst-case scenario, you’ll give up.
Good planning allows you to anticipate any possible problems before they actually happen and this way you can prevent them from occurring. If you run into something you don’t know how to do, you can make some quick, basic tests to find a solution before you get far enough into the project to discover that it doesn’t work.
As a result of this preparation, the actual work during production will be a lot faster, easier, and straight to the point, as you’ll already know how to proceed. Keep in mind that even with a good preproduction stage, you will still run into issues. Thisis how it goes, but at least a lot of those issues will be handled before they become bigger problems, so the more preparation, the better.
There is another important advantage to preproduction: it can motivate you during the production stage. When you think about everything you’ll have to do and then define the process step by step, it suddenly gets easier because you don’t have a big project before you, but instead you have a list of small and manageable tasks. You’ll go through this list, keeping track of your progress, and you’ll always know what you have done so far, what you still need to do, and what may be missing.
There is a popular phrase that sums up preproduction pretty well: “Think twice, work half.” A great result doesn’t come from working harder, but from working more efficiently. You need to think of efficient ways to work. Usually, you’ll discover them only after you’ve done something wrong, but that’s when you learn and gain valuable experience!
Once you have everything planned for a project, it’s time to start with the actual job, which is production. In a movie, for example, production would be the stage of the project in which the sets are built and the scenes are filmed with the actors and props in place as planned during preproduction. Thorough preproduction will help you complete production more easily and in a more straightforward process.
Production is probably the hardest stage of a project because it’s the point of no return. After production is completed, it’s very difficult to change things. Let’s say you’re building a house; during preproduction, it’s very easy to change the design of the house using a computer or an architectural drawing, but it’s really difficult and time-consuming to make changes once the walls are in place!
That’s why preproduction is crucial: it helps you make sure you’re not going to make mistakes while you’re developing the final product. Production is difficult enough; there are a lot of challenges and it’s impossible to predict every possible problem that might arise until you’re actually making the product, so any preparations you can make to smooth out the process helps a lot.
Postproduction is everything that happens between production and the final result. It’s like putting the finishing touches on a new house with details such as painting the walls and adding interior decoration. In a movie, it would be the stage in the process in which you add the final visual effects and retouch what was filmed during production.
Depending on the project, postproduction can be easy or hard, simple or complex, and it can involve just minor details or something really important. Postproduction is when you actually decide how the finished project will look.
Suppose you film two actors having a conversation inside a room. During postproduction, you can color correct the scene, switch it from day to night, change what will be seen through a window, blur things out, zoom in, or even add a new character! The possibilities are endless and they will define what people will see when you release your image, video, film, or whatever your project may be.