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Part 2 – Grate Expectations

That’s G-R-A-T-E Expectations also by Edmund Wells… -Monty Python

Challenge: How to create reasonable budgetary expectations for your management team when you don’t know what you don’t know?


There are roughly 3.15 billion steps (+-) getting from the starting line to the finish line when creating a 3D animation and each of those steps has roughly 900 options. In this class, I will cover some of the high level steps that will enable you to create a nice 3D animated visualization. I hope that it will inspire you to delve deeper making your visualization more complex, more immersive, and more mind blowingly awesome. For now though, you’re just starting out. How can you possibly try to justify a budget to your client when you don’t know what you don’t know? Let’s look at one scenario.

Right, so you’re sitting there in your client’s office and everyone is making WHOOSH like sound effects while excitedly waving their arms and talking about all of their favorite scenes from Avatar, Tron, and the Project X video (shameless plug). The energy is high and the atmosphere is aglow with ideas of pipes, steel, and equipment seamlessly animating together in visual harmony when the client asks: “How much is this going to cost us?”, “When can it be ready?” or “How many hours do you need?” You know you’re the person for the task but you also don’t want to scare anyone off with what you fear may be the real number (billions of steps!). You don’t want to sell yourself short either. You could:

  1. Lie

  2. When you’re on the spot, “two weeks” is a common ‘panic’ answer. The upside is your client will love it and probably approve the project immediately. The downside is that two weeks later your answer will still be “two weeks” and your first 3D animation job will not only damage your credibility hurdling you into a downward spiral of hopeless despair from which you may never recover but will also be your last 3D animation job.  Don’t lie, it can only hurt you plus its bad karma.

  3. Be 100% Transparently Honest

  4. On the flip side, being 100% up front about how many hours you think it will take to cross the vast, dark void that is currently the great unknown of 3D animation (remember, billions of steps!) could cause your project manager to use manager like words such as “re-evaluate”, “re-prioritize”, or “Put a pin in it”.  I liken it to when you really like someone who then tells you that you are a great “friend”.  In both cases, it’s game over.

  5. Do the Math!

  6. The only way you are going to be ballpark is to outline the big picture steps involved in the project, and how long you think it will take to create each one based on the time you spend testing workflows in your micro-environment. But to know how many or even what those big picture steps are, you have to get inside the mind of your client to find out what they really want.

The Rest of the Story