Yes, I know, this is the first thing on most everyone's mind.
The first answer is: if possible, don't miss the deadline. Send in a rough version, or even just a bare outline of the character. If you want to send in just a pencil sketch, I can take the image file. Anything that can get us an idea of the diversity of the whole character set. You'll be able to fill in more detail later (see below).
Second, you can just slip the deadline. I'd prefer to get at least a pencil sketch or something to stick in the gallery, but if you really can't send anything, that's OK too. We won't punish you.
2. How does this work?
Make a model in AM98. Add a pose to the model that reflects how you would like to have them posed in the gallery. Add any poses you need for constraints, and so on. Package that together with any texture files (if you've been that industrious) into a single file. That's your submission.
If you want to be extra nice, you can also create a public model, based off of the same skeleton as your real model. This will save me the time of doing so. Alternately, you can just say that the private model can be made public: probably what I'll do for my personal model... I'm just not that secretive.
3. Where do I send the files?
Send them to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I can take file attachments. I can also download the model from a web page, if that's more convenient for you. Whatever.
4. How detailed must the file be?
By preference, the file should be detailed enough that when we ask you to start animating, you'll be able to animate with that file (i.e. I won't hear people saying "Well yeah, I sent in a file, but it's not ready to animate"). That's the goal. Of course, you can fall short of that (see question #1), but that's the goal.
What does "ready to animate" mean? That depends on you. For many people, all it means is that the model -exists-. They're happy to do all sorts of things in muscle mode. For me, it means that the model is fully boned and constrained. That's just me. Whatever you are comfortable animating with, that's the goal.
5. Can I add detail later?
Absolutely! Very few people are likely to texture these first models. Also, there will be plenty of places where folks will want to go in and add more detail later. This is not a problem. When you make changes, you can just package them up and send the new file to me. I'll re-render for the fighter's gallery, and your new character will be put into the project.
6. Can I add bones and constraints later?
The basic issue of changing the character is this: The previous animation in the project should still work. If you add a bone which would break previous animation (pretty hard to do, but possible) then it's up to you to go back through that animation and correct the faults that are introduced. Other than that, the sky is the limit in terms of changes.
7. Will my character look bad in the beginning of the movie, and then suddenly look better from one frame to the next?
For a little while, we might well just tack on new renders to the old video, and that would create the effect listed above. However, on a regular basis (depending on the pace of changes) we will be re-rendering the entire project from start to end. Every time this is done, all of the changes that you have entered in your figure will retroactively be included in earlier actions: so your character will look new from beginning to end of the movie, just as if you'd done everything before starting the animation.
8. If I miss the deadline, how will my character be integrated?
If you miss the deadline, in that you don't have an animatible model, there are two ways you can integrate the character: your choice.
First, the character can be added to the project on the frame that we're working on when you're ready. Maybe the character steps out from behind a tree. Whatever. This means that you only need to start animating from the frame we're working on: no catch-up.
Second, you can play catch-up. That is, you go through the project from frame 1 to whatever frame we're working on, and you produce animation for your character. Then, when we re-render the project (See above) your character will get integrated, like that Forrest Gump movie. Magic, eh?
9. What should I provide for the Fighter Gallery?
My preference would be that you send in just a pose: the character should be standing (or whatever their closest equivalent is), roughly facing the camera. Beyond that it's your choice.
I will then render out three pictures of the character. One will be a small image, under normal lighting, to include in the gallery (a combined image of all of the fighters that will figure prominently in our banner page). The second image will be just like the first, except that the lighting will highlight the fighter. This will be what the user sees when they roll their cursor over your fighter. Third will be a substantially larger picture which will be included with the character dossier. The user will get to the character dossier by clicking on your fighter.
If you really want, you can provide up to three different poses. The most obvious elaboration would be to have a subtly different pose for the high-resolution picture. However, you could also have a different pose for the highlight: maybe your character wants to take up a more aggressive stance when the cursor is near them.
10. Can I provide my own settings for the normal and highlight?
For the moment, I want to control the lighting effects. This is strictly so that the banner page will look consistent as a whole, and so that the highlights will appear similar, not jarringly different.
After I've put your character in the gallery page, and you see what I'm aiming for, you may well think that you could do the lighting better, with more attention to the character. That sounds great. Go for it. Send in either the lighting setup, or just the plain images, and I'll integrate them. All I ask is that you be patient enough to see what the overall appearance is.
11. Can I provide an animation for the Fighter Dossiers?
Yes! (I'll bet that surprised everyone!) If you are willing to host the information on your server, and just let me link to it, I'm willing to integrate absolutely anything you want to include (as long as it's not kiddie-porn or something stupid like that).
12. What should I provide for the character dossier?
The one bare minimum requirement that you must provide for the character dossier is a character name. No exceptions. If you can't think of a good name, look in the phone book. It's just too hard to talk about the project if we have to keep saying "Jodie's draconic kung-fu guy".
Otherwise, any information that you feel is relevant, we will be happy to integrate. I'm thinking of giving these dossiers the rough look-and-feel of an intelligence agency report: after all, with all of the trouble these characters are going to get into, somebody is probably keeping tabs on them. So, something like "Employment: Pizza Delivery" is easier to integrate than "I deliver pizza for a living". The closer the text is to an intelligence report, the less editing will have to be done (and therefore the closer to your original intent the end-document will be).
Of course, if you want a running monologue in your character's voice (or that of some other related character), it can be included as a quote taken during interviews, or wire-taps, or whatever.