HURTLING BACK TO NORMAL!
Well, as normal as ATC gets, anyway. We’ll be there in short order, and by “short order” I mean next week or October depending on how you count things.
The next page has been drawn and shaded – I rendered 3.34 and 3.35 and drew and shaded both in parallel. I completed interior renders for the chapter around 02:30 this morning; pages 3.36 through 3.40 are now ready for line art prep. Page 3.41 was ready back in May and should finally be drawn this week or next. Getting five pages rendered in three days is awesome – while a non-trivial number of panels are not the rec area and were already rendered, the rest of them – the stuff I rendered this week – are the rec area, and were ground out at speed. When I was rendering this page I discovered that the only real difference between the usual Mental Ray sampling setting of 4/16 and a setting of 1/16 is that the shots render roughly four times faster. The bits that need work still need work at 4/16 or 16/64 and so far the only tangible difference has been the aforementioned speed boost. This doesn’t change how long line art creation and shading takes, and likely won’t provide any measurable benefits to the pace of updates until the next chapter, but hey! September is in the bag and October is just about ready to draw. Another week or two of grind and I should have the time I’ll need to finish the assets required for the end of the chapter. Then I can move on to the script for TV.4 and a new revision of the website.
After losing several weeks in mid-summer to flashback brain-freeze and contract craziness things are now back on track – on schedule if not slightly ahead of schedule. That’s not going to last so I have to make the most of it. I’d prefer not to burn any bridges in the process, though it’s clear that in order to get through the next few months without damaging my career I’m going to have to make it known to all that I don’t do non-ATC work on weekends. It’s very clear that “weekends” seem to be “pet project time” for a lot of people – I’m no exception, and I value my project as much as you value yours. The time available to work on it is sacrosanct. My work hours may drift around quite a bit but my work days – the days that proposals and paperwork are a part of – do not. The kind of stuff that’s been intruding on weekends is the kind of day-to-day office grind that makes up most of an hourly wage; the kind of stuff freelancers can’t directly bill for. While I have a number of issues with the concept of non-billable work I find it a lot easier to deal with during normal office hours.
Speaking of work, I should be just about done with a really cool contract I’ve been working on. At this point it’s down to paperwork; after that’s dealt with I intend to take a short “ATC Vacation” in which I draw the current stack of rendered pages. I’d love to get October done in September. It’s a lot of work but I’d sooner turn a Week Of ATC into six weeks of updates than battle to keep six weekends free, especially when weekend things are rearing up to fill some of them. This thing seems to get worked on in spurts anyway – a few weeks here, a few days there, weeks of nothing… I’m fine with irregular production so long as it results in regular updates.
The end of this chapter is finally in sight, which means it’s time to get serious about planning for the next one. I had a little more advance time with the last chapter – the final scene was longer and required the major new asset earlier. In this case I’ll be blowing the dust off of an asset I haven’t worked on since March of 2009, and I won’t need it until the very end of the chapter. Hence the “rush” – the less calendar time the next several pages require, the more time I’ll have to finish that asset. End-to-end asset development takes roughly two weeks – if those two weeks are in mid to late October I’ll then have November to work on the script for TV.4. While it seems unlikely at this point I’d like to start production of TV.4 this year, with as little downtime as possible.
Next week: More of this! The final appearance of Thad’s apartment! SOUND EFFECTS!