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Eklectique
05-12-2009, 09:06 PM
Hi! I already had an account here, but I guess it must have been erased because I didn't use quite a lot... Anyway, It's good to have a new one and I would appreciate it if you people gave me some advice.

The situation is this:

I'm currently studying a mayor in Moving Graphics (not actually a mayor, I live in Mexico and this is kind of the equivalent). We, pretty much study 3D production and animation. Some graphic design, Audio Visual production and little to none 2D animation. We study pretty much a little of everything there is to know about moving graphics.

We've learned some Maya, Some 3DsMax, Some Zbruh, Some Animation Master, Some Pro- Animator, Some Phontographer, Some Flash, some Toon Boom, Some Clay animation, Some sound production, Some physical visual effects, etc...

The problem is:

I feel like I know nothing at all! I'm desperate, I feel like all three years I've spent there have been in vain. I see the work of other people and compare it to my own and feel frustrated. I'm not a great anything and I have no impressive work to put in my portfolio and, today, I decided I want to change that.

Please advice on:

What can I do? What books can I read? What online courses can I take? What do I have to practice first?

I can't leave school, as much as I'd love to, I'm almost over there and I do want my degree. Is this normal? What's your specialty and how did you become good at it?

I personally want to specialize in animation, both 3D and 2D but 2D character animation is what I love the most.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.

Kanga
05-13-2009, 01:50 PM
Your complaint is not unique, there are many students all over the world that feel the same as you. Most courses are an introduction and nothing more than that aside from being very good for making contacts, they will show you a big area and then allow you to choose later. My best students are the ones that do study on their own time. In holidays or on the weekend they are making things not for marks but because they simply love it. These are the ones that will succeed.

Like stop motion, 2d animation will alway be sought after regardless of how popular 3d has become. There are many websites (forums) that are dedicated to 2d animation. Flash animation comes to mind even though it is one technique.

Join these forums, do tutorials, make your own projects and formulate a port folio website to advertise and document your work. Then sell sell sell.

Goodluck
Chris

Eklectique
05-13-2009, 05:00 PM
@Kanga

Thank you. Yes, I do practice on my own time and try to learn as much as I can outside of school.

More than anything, I just feel a little frustrated because I wish school gave me more. And now I want my own, independent, study to give me more instead.

It is good, though, to know this is not just me and, therefore, I assume I can become good regardless. In that you did help me and I'm very grateful.

If you know of any such forum please let me know.

MrPositive
05-14-2009, 12:47 AM
Kanga is absolutely correct here. There is no doubt that having a knowledgeable and enthusiastic instructor is very important. However, in the end it comes down to your own effort and talent. In my own courses, we've had students go to just about every company and genre of 3D (film, games, broadcast, architectural) possible. But no matter how hard I try, the majority of the students do not live up to my or their own expectations. Just decide that you won't be one of those students.

Saying that, I'd also advice doing some training outside of the classroom. Here at IUPUI, we've purchased and created a library for the students of over 200 DVD's that specialize in 3D training. You simply cannot learn everything in the classroom, though that 1 on 1 time is immeasurable. We mostly buy from Gnomon and Digital Tutors. Also, try and sign up for some local traditional courses. We advise students to take life drawing, painting, and clay sculpture. Most local courses are relatively cheap, around a couple hundred bucks. Of course that's in the US, as I'm not sure about Mexico on pricing.

taxguy
05-14-2009, 01:02 AM
Yes, it is the student that determines how much they learn. HOWEVER, the professor can set the bar to a very high standards and see who rises to the occasion.

My daughter is studying Digital Arts at the University of Cincinnati. She is a workaholic. However, she has to have the work in order to be a workaholic. She get a HUGE amount of work to do under the theory that the best will rise to the occasion. She has pulled a number of all nighters and burned the midnight oil on weekends. Even when she gets stuck with a dud group who don't do much, she ends up doing a lot of the group work especially the coding. As a result, she is developing some very strong skills.

If you don't feel challenged enough, perhaps it is partially the fault of the professor in not raising the bar enough. Ask your professors for more in-depth work. Seek out more projects so that you can develop a good demo reel.

Kanga and Mr Prositive are both right about one thing: if the professor doesn't rise to the occasion by giving out more demanding and sophisticated work, it is up to you, the student, to formulate your own projects. I do, however, feel that professors should always raise the bar and demand sophisticated work of high quality.In my opinion, that is what a good school and good professors do!

Kanga
05-14-2009, 01:32 AM
Yes, it is the student that determines how much they learn. HOWEVER, the professor can set the bar to a very high standards and see who rises to the occasion.
Well in my college they would all be left behind. If you keep putting the onus on the education system and the educators you are going to be sorely disappointment. I have addressed you about this on a number of occasions. This biz is very much a two way street. Read what I wrote and you will understand it is not about point scoring but about skill. School can be a valuable introduction. Actual practice is essential. What you have to show from your practical work in actual product is inescapable.

Unless one is going for a teaching position :)

For crying out loud, stop telling people they are not responsible for their future man! If you give them someone to blame they will hide behind that. In this day and age of limitless free resources and knowledge (google is your friend) at the push of a button, one is truely the master of ones own freakin destiny. There is no excuse, only apathy.

What we are trying to do is motivate. Pointing fingers helps noone at all.

Crickey.

taxguy
05-14-2009, 01:43 AM
Kanga, that was a bit venemous , wasn't it?

Wait a minute, I never said nor implied that students aren't responsible for their futures. In fact, I said it is the "student that determines how much they learn."

Are you saying that because you, "addressed me about this on a number of occasions," we can't have an honest dialogue on these boards?

I do believe, and admit that it is my opinion from teaching, that a professor should have a fairly high bar. They should require sophisticated, good work, although some kids won't meet this standard. Does that mean that we should water down the curriculum?

Is anyone doing a service to a student to not demand sophisticated, high quality work? With a profession that is tough to enter, shouldn't professors start weeding out those that aren't really determined and talented? Are schools doing a favor to the rest of the kids that aren't determined or talented?

There was a guy named Escalante who wanted to teach calculus to poor innner city kids and expected a high passing rate on the AP Calculus exam. Many people, including his principal, thought that he was crazy. Many staff members thought that Escalante would lose the vast majority of his class, yet, he was able to achieve among the highest passing rate on the AP Calculus exam in the US!

Yes, art and design isn't Calculus. However, by having a high bar set, kids will grow by reaching for the bar. To me, and it is solely my opinion, it is the job of a teacher to set that bar fairly high so that even if students don't reach the bar, they will stretch themselves in trying for the bar.

If as you say, that in your college they would all be left behind, then maybe teachers at the school need to have a lower bar than the top schools or maybe this is a reason why kids should shoot for the top schools,which will have a higher "average student". Maybe that is why some schools have strong reputations and some don't.

I also don't think that focusing on software to the exclusion of traditional skills does anyone a service. The OP seems to have had that problem, although I am not sure exactly what was covered by his/her curriculum or what school he/she is at.

Finally, I am NOT just a concerned,uneducated parent. I was a top rated professor at several universities. Maybe what I taught wasn't art and design,but my kids loved my approach and loved my "real world" level of teaching. My secret was NOT to give them just an introduction to the course but to provide intensive real world skills. Yes, some dropped out of the class and didn't meet the challenge. However, the vast majority LOVED my approach, and I still get letters many years later lauding my class. I can't believe this approach can't be done in art and design. It just takes a professor who is willing to rise to the plate and demand excellence.

Lets just say that we agree to disagree and leave it at that. :)

Kanga
05-14-2009, 01:56 AM
Lets not leave it at that.

I believe you are looking at this as A/ a parent and B/ someone who has little idea of what this profession entails. 3D and teaching 3D.

I find your views demotivating for students, that is why I don't appreciate them. I would much prefer you had something positive to contribute to these boards.

Incidentally, I am not bound to agree to anything.

RockstarKate
05-14-2009, 02:58 AM
If you compare yourself to the amazing artists you see on this site and others like it, remember that it took them much more than 3 years of schooling to get as good as they are. It took countless hours of personal time dedicated to perfecting their craft. Maybe some of them had some schooling, but that isn't what makes a person amazing at this stuff. The only thing that can do it is a lot of time, dedication, and IMHO some natural born artistic talent. And I will guarantee that every amazing artist on this site looks to another even better artist and wonders when they will attain that level themselves.
There is no finite end to learning. If you're really cut out for this career, you will be learning for the rest of your life. You're going to have to do a lot of it on your own, so you may as well get used to it now. Keep trying, keep improving, you'll get better. No point in blaming it on your teachers, they are with you for a very small portion of your journey anyway.

eldee
05-14-2009, 03:16 AM
Kanga is right. In addition to everything he's said I'd like to add this:

Use the resources you have available to you. Work on personal projects, post WIPs on forums such as cgtalk, 3dtotal, wherever, and get feedback! Be open to harsh criticism and learn from what people tell you. Even someone who has no artistic training can tell you when something doesn't look right, so don't ever write off other people's opinions. Just keep practicing, keep talking to people on forums, and keep getting better.

I mean, no offense- but you've been in a CG-related study for three years and you just now decided to post on cgtalk? All this time you could've been posting your school projects and getting feedback from industry professionals. Your work will only be as good as the time you are willing to commit to it, so take this disappointment as a minor setback and get back to work!! I hope to see some WIP's from you soon, good luck

Lunatique
05-14-2009, 07:15 AM
I think it's dangerous to paint every school and every student with a broad brush, because all situations are different. There can be good and bad teachers, and there can be good and bad students, and there are good and bad schools. I think a smart and hard-working student with talent will do well even if the teacher is bad, because he will try to fill in the gaps that the teachers leave behind, and he will work on personal projects as labor of love when the school assignments are badly designed.

In today's age of the internet, there are really no excuses anymore. You have the whole world at your fingertips, and all you have to do is to absorb all that resource--most free and don't cost a penny (except your internet connection and computer). And if you want to spend a little money, there are so many instructional videos and books out there. There's absolutely no reason why someone who is motivated can't become every bit as good as students who are paying tuition and going to art school.

A lot of schools teach you how to push buttons in a software, and they don't teach enough about the foundations of visual art, and the schools are only partially at fault. Many students who go to school for CG are totally misguided and they just want to "make cool stuff" and refuse to take the foundation classes seriously--most even hate them and avoid them. It's mind-boggling how many don't even see themselves as artists--they just want to make fun stuff explode on screen. It's that mentality that spawns hundreds and thousands of bad demo reels every year--the ones that stacks up on art directors' desks around the world--the ones that gets thrown into the trash.

I absolutely agree that one must be responsible for one's own destiny. Learn to use your ability for critical thinking, make concrete plans for your growth, set clear goals, assess your weaknesses and address them, learn to be resourceful and hunt down the information you need, and pay your dues. Most importantly, learn how to learn smart, not just hard. Don't just spin your wheels going nowhere, repeating the same mistakes and doing things you already know how to do. Address the things you can't do yet but want to do, and be always alert about whether something really has any merit in helping you grow. Also don't avoid things that are hard because if you don't master the hard stuff, you'll never become good. The foundations of art are the most important things that any visual person could ever learn about their craft. Buckle down and study composition, color theory, lighting, perspective, camera movement, anatomy/figure, the basic rules of animation, visual storytelling techniques...etc. Which buttons to push in software is not the main focus--it's all about the creativity and the foundation knowledge.

Eklectique
05-14-2009, 07:30 AM
@eldee

Thanks, from all the posts so far I think this one is the more concrete. And you're right, I should have started posting here a long time ago. To tell you all the truth, I didn't think people here would take the nuisance as a good thing and I really didn't want to bother people around the forum.

I do, however, post some of my work on Deviant Art. There's nothing really good there though, and I kind of feel ashamed to even show yet...

Kanga
05-14-2009, 02:33 PM
In today's age of the internet, there are really no excuses anymore. You have the whole world at your fingertips, and all you have to do is to absorb all that resource--most free and don't cost a penny (except your internet connection and computer). And if you want to spend a little money, there are so many instructional videos and books out there. There's absolutely no reason why someone who is motivated can't become every bit as good as students who are paying tuition and going to art school.
Thank you for writing that Robert.
Here the how and why about schools is way less important then 'gettin good' which was the original question. Well said.

I feel there is a lot wrong with the course where I teach part time. Considering budgets, low awareness of the subject etc things are what they are and will improve over time. That is the worst part of the work. The best part is when the students return from break and show things they have made in their own time. I like to think I have a small part to play in that. I try to direct them to all the available elements you put down so well in your post. Including pushing students who I think will make good concept artists to take life drawing, even if I am only a digital cowboy :)

Cheers Chris

RockstarKate
05-14-2009, 03:18 PM
@eldee

Thanks, from all the posts so far I think this one is the more concrete. And you're right, I should have started posting here a long time ago. To tell you all the truth, I didn't think people here would take the nuisance as a good thing and I really didn't want to bother people around the forum.

I do, however, post some of my work on Deviant Art. There's nothing really good there though, and I kind of feel ashamed to even show yet...

This forum is kind of intimidating, I think. Have you tried Threedy forums? That's where I posted for the first couple of years. There seems to be a larger group of beginners and a smaller community so it is less frightening and you get more comments. The Speed Modeling challenges there helped me a lot. Then once you're comfortable with that, you'll be ready to try a Hardcore modeling challenge here. I always thought of it like 3D Total is high school and CGSociety is college.

eldee
05-14-2009, 07:27 PM
I say the more intimidating a forum is, the better feedback you will get. Don't be afraid to embrace your destiny, no matter how much it hurts! No offense to any DA users- but deviant art is a hive of ass-patting in my opinion. No matter how bad something is, it always seems to get rave reviews because nobody wants their feelings hurt. That's not to say everything at DA is bad- far from it, it's just the "playskool" version of art critique.

Post your stuff here, get the solid feedback you need and want, and use it to improve.

Lunatique
05-14-2009, 08:08 PM
You will learn far more from brutally honest critiques than you ever would from any other kinds of critique. (Brutally honest doesn't mean degrading or mean-spirited--It just means in total honesty without sugar-coating.)

MrPositive
05-14-2009, 09:55 PM
One of the largest leaps we made as a program was taking upon myself to force the students to look at the CG Choice images for a half an hour on cgtalk, then watching Siggraph Animation Theatre movies for the next hour on the first day of class. I then force all my students to sign up to the site. Lastly, I end by saying, "that's your competition", and not the local crap that you think is good. At first, they were frightened to look at such high quality work, but then it subsided eventually. If you don't know where the mountain top is, then how can you achieve it? Most schools set the bar so low, that the students have no clue what a professional piece even is (I know because I've now taught CG at 3 separate schools and most places are simply atrocious in the instruction department). The job of a good instructor is not just to exponentially quicken the speed of learning, but to also create appropriate expectations for employment (a high bar), and lastly to expose them to the best materials. One advantage our students also get is they have access to over 200 DVD tutorials from Gnomon/Gnomonology, Digital Tutors, etc., every single 3D World magazine, and the best computers within 500 miles and a render farm (aka 'things they simply cannot afford'). Several of the 'artsy' instructors also somewhat forced a merger with the art school, that we will be starting next year. I'd definitely also like to think I've had some part in our major success stories, as no other school at least in our region is having as much consistency of employment. Obviously, in the end, it eventually comes down to the drive and talent of the student however. We can't walk anybody to the finish line, but we can give you the red pill at least. Shrug. :)

Eklectique
05-14-2009, 11:52 PM
@RockstarKate

I want to think I'm ready for the "college" level of critique. But yeah, This forum is quite intimidating o_O.

@MrPositive

I shall, I'm just about to post a WIP of a character refference sheet I'm working on...

Actually, let me post it before I post this so I can give the link...

... Done, here's the [link] (http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?p=5866411#post5866411) and I know I'll be torn to pieces... oh well.

And I agree, You never get harsh critique from DA.

Rebeccak
05-15-2009, 12:16 AM
Though the focus is not primarily on animation, you will get good suggestions on specific ways in which to go about improving your understanding of human form here:

Personal Anatomy & Sketchbook Threads (http://forums.cgsociety.org/forumdisplay.php?f=200)

I moderate the forum, I promise you'll get friendly and constructive feedback. Everyone has to work hard to get to where they're going - school is a starting point, but not an ending point. Use the existing free resources as many have and you can only improve. As inspiration, check out razz's thread (http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=200&t=352287).

Eklectique
05-15-2009, 12:26 AM
@Rebeccak

Thank you very much, that really is helpful!

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