Tag Archives | 3d animation

There Might Be Scrum-thing To This

“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
Working software over comprehensive documentation;
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation;
Responding to change over following a plan.”
-    The Agile Manifesto


In every sense of the word we are a growing company. Though we’re reaping the returns of our hard work, external growth outpacing internal growth makes it more challenging to manage projects. Our workload is steadily increasing but our team members still haven’t learned how to clone themselves or how to survive without sleep. The widening employee to project ratio exposed aspects of our project development process that were becoming counterproductive, essentially creating additional hurdles for us to jump over. Hiring employees en masse is not a realistic solution but taking a new approach to project development is.

We knew there was a method out there that would leverage our capabilities with our potential, mitigating the increased workload and increasing our efficiency. The issues we were having stemmed from using the waterfall method to build our projects. Waterfall is strict and compartmentalized, which allowed for unforeseen challenges. We don’t have an overabundance of team members to tackle the challenges that arose on one project while continuing to build other projects. So we decided to investigate an agile project development method called Scrum.

Scrum is structured to support complex project development and correct inefficient steps. It’s adaptable and collaborative framework minimizes both the number and the size of mistakes and prevents lengthy delays from happening. We thought it was our best bet at simplifying the development process and improving our efficiency.

Scrum Framework

It is a given that to turn a concept into a product, a project development plan is essential. However, to turn a concept into a functioning and valuable product, an agile development plan is a necessity. The reality is a concept doesn’t always translate into a good product just because the plan is good in theory.

Scrum emphasizes that effective team collaboration, rather than going through the motions of an unexplored yet concrete plan, uncovers the value the actual process of agile development brings to a project: empiricism. It is within the small steps of Scrum that observations lead to ingenuity and innovation, which enhance the project and enable it to evolve into a turnkey product and solution. Scrum doesn’t force the project to adapt to the development plan; the plan adapts to the project.

Scrum can make our previously counterproductive issues become productive and proactive steps, which is something our growing company will really benefit from. Changes, additions and challenges can occur at any point during the production process without it feeling like a wrench was thrown in the gears.

You’re going to build a better, more quality project when you go through the development process, gradually building the project step-by-step. Scrum puts innovation, collaboration and creativity back into development, making it easy to build a product that not only functions, but truly works for the client’s business and enhances the way they do business.

This has always been our goal on every project we do; we just needed to find a method that enhances our ability to do that. We always say that we work magic. Well, we needed a magic solution to optimize our potential, improve our efficiency and promote future growth without needing to immediately expand internally. And that solution is Scrum.

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Burnie & Earl: Can You Dig It?!

Recently, Softway Solutions had the privilege of creating a coloring book for the up and coming animation stars, Burnie & Earl. The idea for Burnie & Earl originated from Kid Energy USA. The purpose of Burnie & Earl is to educate adults and kids regarding how much oil and gas related products impact our lives. Burnie is a flame-shaped character, while Earl looks like an oil drop.

Background Story of Burnie & Earl

Burnie and Earl originally lived under ground. Unfortunately, both of them have been pulled out of their homes and have been placed above ground in a new city, exposed to the modern world of a working society. In this “new world”, Burnie and Earl will be going on different adventures while conveying the message of the usefulness of oil and gas.

Development of Burnie & Earl

Kid Energy USA decided that “811 Call Before You Dig” would be the first way of bringing Burnie & Earl to mainstream America. The “811 Call Before You Dig” project was developed because PCM saw an immediate need to educate the public about 8-1-1, a hotline where people can call and get information about the location of any gas pipes or lines. Often, this info is requested by construction companies or even home users when they plan to dig into the ground.

Kid Energy’s USA idea is to inform children about 8-1-1 through the cartoon characters of Burnie & Earl. In turn, children would bring the knowledge and materials from school or daycare centers to parents, thereby also informing their parents of 8-1-1.

Softway Solutions and Burnie & Earl

Shortly thereafter, Kid Energy USA asked Softway Solutions to develop promotional material for the “811 Call Before You Dig’ campaign. The first piece that Softway developed was a coloring book. Our Houston 3D Animation team was able to bring to life the adventures of Burnie & Earl through stories and activities contained in the coloring book.

The project, which included all concept design and the coloring book, took about a month and half to develop. Currently, the 3D Animation team is working on a cartoon/animation project of Burnie & Earl which is scheduled for completion July 1. For this first leg, we had nine people working on different parts of the Burnie & Earl project; however, we plan to expand the number of people on the project once the things take off.

Future of Burnie & Earl

Kid Energy USA and Softway Solutions are working together to expand Burnie and Earl into a series of short shows, cartoons and toys for children.

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3D Animation Services for Softway Solutions Clients

Client: CLS Industrial Purification
Starting Date:  September 2011
Completed Date:  November 2011
Project Title: CLS 3D Animation Video-Phase 1

3D Animation Client

CLS manufactures custom-made absorbent systems that are implemented into one reactor charge. A reactor charge is made up several layers of variable zeolytes that remove chlorine and sulfur. As business increased for CLS, they approached Softway Solutions for a creative 3D animation video. CLS’s goal of the project was to demonstrate to potential clients the benefits of using their services and also to display these services in an unconventional manner.

3D Animation Production

Through the extensive technical and artistic experience, the team at Softway Solutions produced an educational and entertaining 3D animation video to accomplish CLS’s goal. Using Autodesk’s Maya Software, the 3D animation video consisted of various characters. In addition, the use of Digital Audio Workstations helped develop sound effects and voice-over-recording. Softway Solutions composed and produced all three pieces into one final product.

The complete finalized 3D animation video demonstrates CLS‘s chlorine readers absorbing chlorine from streams. The video starts with a corroded pipe and narration. Then, the video takes you through refineries and stops at a reactor bid introducing different types of molecules.  The 3D animation video concludes with a theatrical version of CLS’s services. To see the 3D and Character Animation video please visit Softway Solutions YouTube Channel.





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Talking about Storyboarding and Animation

Lauren Feehery is an expert in Design, 2D Animation, 3D Animation, and Web Design. She has been with Softway Solutions for two months and has already started sharing her knowledge about storyboarding. Lauren, Softway Solutions’ 2D artist, gives some insight on storyboarding for 3D projects as she becomes the newest member of the talented 3D animation team at Softway Solutions.

Do you like to outline a project in a true written outline form before you begin storyboarding?

Lauren: Yes! Typically I have a script to work off of when I storyboard, plus I take some notes for my own personal use. Writing is the quickest way to get my brainstorming down on paper, THEN it’s time to draw.

What do you have to do before you put pencil to paper?

Lauren: First, I try to gather as much information as possible about the project. If I don’t understand something about the subject matter, I do some research. If I have to draw something that I’ve never drawn before, I get visual references together. If I have a better understanding of the project at the very beginning, I can create a clear vision of what needs to be done, and then things will go much more smoothly in the long run.

Once you have started drawing, how do you make sure that the characters and scenery are drawn the same throughout your storyboard from sequence to sequence? Can you rely on programs to maintain uniformity?

I just use my artistic eye! The characters don’t have to look 100% similar in every single frame as long as it’s clear to the animators which character is which. What is most crucial is that the positioning of the characters and environmental features stay consistent. Computer programs do create some handy shortcuts, however. If there is a reused shot, for example, I can just duplicate the image digitally and make some quick changes to that instead of drawing the same image all over again.

Is it crucial to make sure that you get everything you need on paper so that you don’t have to animate things that will be cut out later from storyboarding?

Lauren: Yes, it is very crucial that everything is communicated clearly on paper before we start animating. We can run into a number of problems if there are communication barriers between pre-production and animation – we may have to reanimate certain sequences, cut out sequences that are unnecessary, or quickly animate scenes that are missing. If we get every shot down on paper, it saves a lot of time and money in the long run.

Do you prefer storyboarding by hand or using a 2D storyboarding program?

Lauren: I prefer to draw the storyboards by hand. There are storyboarding programs out there that eliminate the drawing step and just let you drop clipart into a shot and position it however you want to, but I feel that I have the most control when I am drawing from scratch.

How do you prompt creativity personally when storyboarding? For example, do you like to listen to music, or do you prefer quiet when you draw?

Lauren: It varies! Inspiration can’t come from nowhere, so I have to incite it by doing something. Whether that’s going for a quick walk to get my thoughts together, looking at videos and pictures on the internet, putting my headphones on and shutting the rest of the world out with music, or bugging my coworkers with questions and ideas, I have to actively pursue creativity. I can’t just sit around and wait for it to come to me. Caffeine also helps.

If your firm needs any kind of animation, whether 2D or 3D animation, rest assure Softway Solutions can provide the creativity needed to reach your goals. Please contact Softway Solutions for additional information regarding animation.

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3D Animation and Illustration for Accident scene recreation

We were asked to work on a litigation animation showing the environment that this accident occurred. Since actual enactment of the accident scene in not permitted to be shown to the jury, we were asked to recreate the conditions and the actual accident scene. This is a very intense process since each small detail matters in the litigation in assisting the case. We recreated the accident scene from client photographs and blueprints of the area. Once the initial model is created we provide several illustrations for the each of the camera angles. The final product ends up being a smooth 3D Animation with detail lighting and textures closer to reality. We are in the final steps of the 3D Animation process and the litigation team is happy with our capabilities and what we can do with the resources and information that were disclosed to us.
Some other services that we provide for Multimedia projects are
3D Graphics
3D Character
3D Illustrations
Video Production with Special Effects
3D Animation videos
Voice Over Services
Character Design and Animation
Architectural walkthrough animation

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