Why 3D education isn't working - 3DWorld article online

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  12 December 2008
I'm in a multimedia course myself - a 3 years diploma, and the situation is exactly as described in the article. Its funny, we get 4 "3D subjects", totaling up to 250~ hours of class - yet 10% of the class has the teacher tell us to model x or reading tutorial y, with the other 90% just "self-directed learning".

Whenever I have questions on modeling/texturing etc and I approach my 3D teacher, the response I get is basically "there are a lot of good tutorials online", which translates to "I don't know/can't be bothered to teach you". Same teacher says he has worked in the industry before, even though it was the broadcast/advertisement industry, tells me "a walk-cycle can get you a job" and "in a demoreel, put your earliest work first and your most recent/best work last - so that you can impress the recruiters on your development". Did I mention that he is the Section Head?

We aren't taught anatomy, topology, texturing techniques/theories, principles of animation, lip synching, lighting theories, etc. We are taught how to use extrude, insert edge loop, change render settings (a.k.a how to use maya), "make it all quads", setting up a basic character rig (contained in a tutorial, without facial rigging), and a walk cycle. I'm basically paying the school for their teachers to teach me how to press buttons in maya, and I am somehow expected to produce "work that looks good to the layman". (said by a non-3D teacher in the course, but still...)

In short, the course is a big waste of time. To quote the article, one of the biggest problems with diploma/degree level courses is this:
Quote: In the majority of cases with CG courses the tutors just arenít qualified to teach the subject. Iíve seen it over and over again where the tutors are just one step ahead in the lessons they teach, where they leave vital areas untouched, or just flat out teach pure tripe to the students.Ē

--------

Nearing the end of my diploma course (now), I find a local 6 months part-time course, with similar amounts of hours spent in class, that produces industry-ready students in their own specialization. Double Negative is in good relations to the course's trainers, and has said that they find the students to be "well trained and highly motivated, being able to solve problems that they face on their own." (not the exact words, but you get the idea)

At the end of the day, most regular degree/diploma courses focus too much on "academic" stuff like grades, complusary documentation of anything and everything, etc, and tries to bite on more than they can chew on by having unqualified teachers teach a subject like 3D animation. And when the students graduate and ends up being unable to land a job? The more passionate ones spend time honing their skills and creating demoreels from scratch, while the less motivated ones just use the diploma/degree they get to land a regular office job. I don't disagree with the self-taught approach, but when you get into a course and the teachers do almost nothing BUT tell you to "learn on your own", something is seriously wrong.
 
  12 December 2008
i'd rather not learn 3D in a college. i've found that i learn more when i WANT to learn than when i'm being FORCED to learn.
 
  12 December 2008
I used to believe that self-taught was the best way, but in recent years I have come to realise that education - in the right areas - can also be beneficial.

My advice is to buy a good PC(or Mac) and software to practice on. Then take on smaller courses(evening college or something) to learn the basics - a few art and photography lessons for example.

Use education to build a strong foundation, and let experience, through practice, build on it further.
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  12 December 2008
I would also add that the bigger firms tend to hire people with good technical skills which are often missed out in a lot of 3d courses. At the last firm I worked at 90% of the juniors hired had degrees in computer science.
 
  12 December 2008
surely thats totally dependant on the role they are hiring for. eg you wouldnt need computer science for an animator role.
 
  12 December 2008
Quote: In the majority of cases with CG courses the tutors just arenít qualified to teach the subject. Iíve seen it over and over again where the tutors are just one step ahead in the lessons they teach, where they leave vital areas untouched, or just flat out teach pure tripe to the students.Ē


I've seen many schools here that would take their graduated students which failed to find a job and hire them as teachers

There is a shortage of industry-experienced teachers.
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  12 December 2008
Great article.

It makes a point out of the flashy commercials, the popular image of this industry and the profit many 'educational' organisations want to make out of it. While this sort of implies it, the article doesn't say anything about the admission requirements from students. 3D animation (or games, for that matter), combines creative and traditional art skils but also requires the capacitity to be able to understand this rather complicated medium.

Whether there's proper education or not, some people just aren't cut out for this field, so the requirements for students are just as important as the requirements for the teachers, perhaps even moreso. A small group of talented people will always achieve more throughout their education than a large group where some people stand out and constantly bitch about the extremely low level of education this composition of such a class automatically dictates. Just look at many of the threads on this forum.

I also don't think schools should try and be 3D software instructors, because that's not something you should attend a school for. At the school I attend, we've had all the basics of 3D in the first 1,5 years to a level where we could theoretically make a short film (along with some traditional classes), but not nearly to a high enough level, that's something they expect us to teach ourselves. Our most industry-experienced 3D teacher hardly ever teaches us anything technical but strangely enough teaches us most about how everything can be applied.

You're never going to teach everybody everyhing to a high enough level, and you're never going to sustain a course where all different disciplines can be taught to that level. What a school should do is provide a stimulating environment by asking relevant requirements, give you all the basics and design a program (to whatever degree of specialisation they can afford) which forces you to learn the disciplines you're most interested in in depth, and provide guidance accordingly. Like the article quotes in the beginning:

Quote: ďThe most successful schools are those that strike a balance between the two, with students utilising whatever academic and production mechanisms work, including collaboration, to achieve the academic and production goals of create a senior year short and the career goals of a job reel.Ē
I wouldn't want the focus exclusively on creating industry ready students though, as I think there should be room for experiment, but that's just yet another choice schools have to make.
 
  12 December 2008
surely thats totally dependant on the role they are hiring for. eg you wouldnt need computer science for an animator role.

true ... Animators don't really get grouped into the need for technical skills but I didn't see many junior animators hired. Lighters are still expected to have a very good technical ability. The point I am trying to get across is companies want those technical skills and if you can show them your going to stand a better chance of landing a job

Last edited by mr Bob : 12 December 2008 at 04:19 AM.
 
  12 December 2008
My high school tries to teach animation/game design, its pretty much a joke, the teacher is a failed Photoshop artist that got put into this job cause someone else left. We work with maya 2008 on 5 year old mac pros, and of course it freezes a lot. We never learn about edge flow, to keep mesh as quads, nothing about render passes. Our projects are thrown together massive projects, (our last one was model, texture, and light a science lab, it needs an animal, and 5 dyamics, dialogue that says pull the switch, and a switch, you can animate the animal, or not) We don't even learn how to properly UV a character. I don't feel like anyone there has a real future in 3D beside me and 1 or 2 other students.
 
  12 December 2008
Originally Posted by Zac-Donald: My high school tries to teach animation/game design, its pretty much a joke, the teacher is a failed Photoshop artist that got put into this job cause someone else left. We work with maya 2008 on 5 year old mac pros, and of course it freezes a lot. We never learn about edge flow, to keep mesh as quads, nothing about render passes. Our projects are thrown together massive projects, (our last one was model, texture, and light a science lab, it needs an animal, and 5 dyamics, dialogue that says pull the switch, and a switch, you can animate the animal, or not) We don't even learn how to properly UV a character. I don't feel like anyone there has a real future in 3D beside me and 1 or 2 other students.
I don't think you should be complaining, my school doesn't have any 3d related courses, nor animation or film courses. You're lucky enough to get a period in school where you can work on 3d projects! If I was you, I would get my assignments done quickly as possible, even if it means shoddy work, and then work on your own projects and assignments. Don't waste precious time.
 
  12 December 2008
The problem is I'm a perfectionist and I want to do everything the right way, and I don't want something shitty in my portfolio, so I end up spending so much time on these projects. Plus I anyone that works around me, their work looks x3 as good as the other students (due to be giving them a bit of help and suggestions), I find it funny, most students barely go beyond basic changes to the primitives, they automatic map everything, shove lights anywhere to brighten up the scene, and use basic shaders, and just use the default and premade everything. And this is their 3rd year in the program.

Last edited by ZacD : 12 December 2008 at 05:21 AM.
 
  12 December 2008
Originally Posted by Zac-Donald: I don't feel like anyone there has a real future in 3D beside me and 1 or 2 other students.


That's OK. You have a chance to get started now. Later, you'll go to college, and everyone in your department will be the 1 person from his or her high school who was really into 3D. After that, you'll realize that only some of the people in your department at college are really good, and if you're one of them then you'll eventually work at a company that only hires the really good ones. Eventually you'll get sorted in with other people in your skill level. Until then, set your own standards high, try to get a lot of experience in different types of projects and situations, and try to make work that's front page quality when posted on cgtalk instead of dumbing-down your standards based on the place you're currently studying.

-jeremy
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  12 December 2008
Quote: The most ridiculous courses I've ever seen are indeed game design courses.


Ohhh boy, yes indeedy.
 
  12 December 2008
I went to an fine arts school to study cg. If I could do it all over again, I would have gotten a degree in painting, illustration or sculpture...and teach myself the CG.
Half way through my degree I realized that I was learning more on my own, so I just ramped up on my fine arts classes. I took as many fine arts as I could possibly squeeze in to my schedule.
I think that a fundamental issue with degrees in cg is that this is a constantly evolving industry. If you are teaching full time, and not making the time to keep up to date with techniques and tools; its gonna be difficult to prepare students for the industry. Also, if you are not a practicing cg artist...well standards have been raised since 1990's. I am really not trying to knock on anyone teaching CG. There are some excellent CG teachers out there. If you are a good teacher that really cares about your students, you probably are keeping up with whats happening.
If a department has 12 professors teaching the whole curriculum, and 6 of them are full time; chances are you will experience what I have just described to a certain degree.


~Ilan
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Last edited by Wick3dParticle : 12 December 2008 at 10:34 PM.
 
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