Are internet forums dead?

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  03 March 2018
Originally Posted by Scott Ayers: 3D is for kids that don't mind pissing into the wind and fighting a loosing battle competing against the big studios with endless resources.

You have a lot of point in this. I'm sure we soon hit a wall where only big players will have a huge role, whilst others will have small crumbs.
I was making game models 10 years ago. And it was fun and easy: diffuse\bump\specular, around 6k 1 vehicle. Then around 5-7 years have passed, and now you have like 50 thousands polys for one model, and yet have to prepare normal maps, corresponding to hundreds of photos. Now it's albedo, normal, shininess, reflectivity, metalness, hell knows what else. Texture resiolution quadrupled. I felt like my head will explode and totally exhausted making just one model for a month. Not that I wasn't learning all along, quite the opposite. I think I'm one of those few, who learnt a lot, and many artists just stayed in casual gaming. I learnt zbrush, normal map generation, quixel suite, mari, xnormal. All the necessary tools for the job. And what I got? I got 1\3 less income from the same employer, shouting at me at the telephone that he will kick my ***, as he paid less money for more complex models.
I luckily switched to character modeling, escaping this. The pay didn't become more in my country, and definitely complexity of assets is growing. I understand making characters today is the heydays, which will pass, as passed the time of easy game models with moderate pay.
Now that we have new Incredibles on the way to be released, there's no wow-effect any longer. People say "it's just another incredibles cartoon?" Yes, and what did you expect? A miracle? We have passed the point, where 3d was new and fresh. It's just a tool in the toolbox, nothing more any longer. So you have to think strategically, as in 10-20 years a guy of the tool will be easily replaced.
Expect realistic characters generators with realistic clothes. Like, thousands of it. With half an hour of work. Also for cartoony characters. It all can be generated.
Substance already replaced a lot of manual labour for texturers. We were painting it all by hand, now it's generated within seconds.
So either being strong at art, or programming, but not tools master.

Last edited by mister3d : 03 March 2018 at 01:57 PM.
  03 March 2018
Originally Posted by cookepuss: Yeah. Apps make certain tasks a LOT easier. However, all things considered, artists today have to know a whole lot more than they did 20 years ago.

Back then, you were pretty much all set if all you knew were PS and 3DS back in 1997. Quake 1 models, iirc , were in the neighborhood of 200 polys and used a single 320x200 texture map. The most you had to worry about is not using a reserved color or whatnot.

Today, you have to worry about countless map types that can easily hit 2K or higher. Then there's UDIM space. Realtime poly counts can easily blow past 10k now too. As an artist, you don't have to simply know standard poly-by-poly or box modeling techniques. You also have to know a whole lot more about actual sculpting. The shear breadth and depth of what's required of an artist these days is magnitudes greater. I would compare it to being a garage game developer back in the 1980s to studio game development in 2018.

IMO, you usually can't just get away so few apps at your disposal either. That's especially true when, as you suggest, we have specialized apps designed to make our lives easier. How many apps do you typically work with? My personal pipeline includes:

- Blender (C4D or Maya for other tasks)
- ZBrush 4R8
- Marvelous Designer 7
- Headus UVLayout
- Substance Designer
- Substance Painter
- xNormal
- Marmoset Toolbag
- Unreal Engine
- Photoshop

That's nearly a dozen apps and doesn't include plugins or animation specific tools.. I could make the list much, much shorter, but that's what happens when you try to pick the right tool for the job.

Back in 1997, you basically had one choice for 2D app (PS) and only a handful of choices for 3D apps; Alias or Discreet if you had deep pocket or cheaper stuff like trueSpace if you were an average schmuck. No cloth sims. No map generator. No specialty UV or sculpting tools. Nothing. Create a cube, cut, move some points, and slap a PS painted texture on. Done. (At least on the modeling end.) It doesn't get simpler than that.

I think, big picture, it's sort of hard to argue that 3D art has gotten more complex. The apps do a lot of stuff that we once had to do ourselves, but that just means that we now get to focus our energy on other more pressing tasks.

Given how much we have to do to see a piece through to the end, the amount of time we can devote to forums is much shorter. I think that's why the hit and run madness of FB works so well these days.

(FWIW, film VFX has also gotten magnitudes more complex, but I didn't think that it was worth mentioning because it's always been a bit of a beast - relatively speaking.)I u
I use just for characters:
3ds max
vray for baking lighting and reflections
mari for texturing

Marvelous designer and Quixel suite, and Hairfarm I don't use on this project as it's not yet needed, but I know them.

Also I learnt along the way Corona renderer, Fusion for compositing, Modo Fusion, Rhino for nurbs, as I enjoy product viz. I've been also learning speedtree, world machine, Realflow, though briefly, more task-oriented. So yes, I know what this madness means. I also spent last year learning rigging basics. Will this ever stop?

But being frank, which of those programs are really hard?
Zbrush (half a year to properly master)
3ds max (many years to master)
Mari (2-3 months to master)
Rhino (1 year to master, nurbs is hard to learn)
Fusion (compositing theory required)

The rest can be learnt in weeks. The theory though takes months.

I think despite being quite broad field to explore, there's a limit of what you need to know. But sometimes I feel my life is too consumed with 3d. If I spent as much time in any other field, I would perhaps reach quite good results. What's painful though, is that those programs are just the tools, and I spent years learning them. But it gives me the job, for the time being.

On the bright side, Im sure you learnt a lot about sculpting, clothes garment, and other non-aging knowledge. So, despite a long journey, you became a better artist, no doubt about it.

Last edited by mister3d : 03 March 2018 at 09:10 PM.
  03 March 2018
Originally Posted by cookepuss: I'm one of the "old timers" in the online community, having once been a member of Planet3DArt some 20 years ago. In that time, I've seen many good forums rise and fall. Before that, I used to hang around the various chat rooms and BBS user groups for a good half decade or more.

I would like to think the 25+ years behind me has granted me a bit of perspective. From this vantage point, it would therefore seem that forums aren't dead per se. Every generation of CG users has its own way of passing along information and interacting. Forums are simply part of a larger evolutionary process.

In the early days, you might talk shop with your peers in a much more local fashion. If you were lucky then you might have been able to expand your circle by going to conventions or meetings.

With the advent of modems, these users could now address their concerns and issues via BBS groups. Got a question? Fire off a message to the group and wait a day (or three) for the chain of responses to pile up. All text, usually short, but it was better than nothing and certainly wider reaching than the guys in your office or meetings.

The modern internet changed the game. Forums allowed a newer and even younger crop of CG artists to go global. More over, it allowed them to share visually. With the restrictions of super slow dial up gone, you could even post long responses or tutorials.

The problem, as you might guess, is that forums don't really speak to today's generation. Shorter questions. Quicker responses. Live streaming. Real-time previewing. Post from your phone. Today's CG artist is on the go more than ever. On top of that, this new crop of artists is also chasing internet fame. It's all about the likes and the followers. Forums are pretty restrictive and don't allow as much of what the new generation wants.

Forums aren't dead. They're just too old school in the age of social media. Forums are to social media what Usenet groups were to forums. If it's any consolation, social media as the primary mode of interaction among CG artists is ultimately doomed to the same fate. At some point, sooner than you could imagine, something new will come along and replace social media for CG artists.

Your body may gray and wrinkle, but you need to go where the people are if you wish to continue to be a part of the community. IMO, you can't afford to get old if you want to remain relevant and informed. Gotta keep that finger on the pulse of the industry and community at all times.

Again, as one of the "old timers" here, I lament the current state and ultimate fate of forums. I just accept it for what it is. Forums aren't dead. They just don't speak to a different generation that demands more. Forums like this one hit their practical limit years ago. Social media offers a far more customizable and personalized experience.

I'm not saying that CG Talk is dead. It just represents a different, older way of interaction.

Forward. Always forward. Like it or not.
Great insight, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts.
As I'm from Ukraine, we didn't have the internet, and any videotutorial was at the price of gold. So human interaction was important. Also there were local shops, where sellers were keeping at the pulse of last events. There were books you could buy, but... wholeheartedly saying, they weren't too good at the topic. You coudn't learn much from it.
I think it sucked big time back then. But if I would have to learn as much as today, my head would explode. Thanks god I learnt it gradually, when normal mapping only started appearing.
Only when video tutorials started appearing, I felt my level started growing. Either you have to work in the enviromnent, or to learn from someone else. Good luck with help files. They usually reference materials, not the learning ones.
It's strange that best artists in the world made hundreds of hours of training, and now you can subscribe for like 50 bucks per month to get an unlimited access.
So add to:
immediate fame seek
interactivity instead of long reading
immediate response (or almost immediate) in smaller interest groups
likes pray
fragmentality of experience

a devaluation of human factor. Today internet people cost nothing, therefore why to value it? It's what Kojima predicted in MGS2 game, with everyone being "equal".

I think you have a point that forums just don't hold to the pace of experience. Once outdated TV is now repplaced with Youtube. Streamers are new stars.
I was from gamers generation. The same false, nowhere leading time-wasting. Before that was a TV generation. Before that books, as not all books were pure gold.
The new generation has its flaws, but I envy how much more sociable and self-promoting they are. I barely posted two posts in a decade on social media. I just don't see the point. But those people perhaps do have see something beyond of what I can due to being old.

Last edited by mister3d : 03 March 2018 at 10:05 PM.
  03 March 2018
I believe forums should adapt, I mean forum developers should adapt to the new way, instead of saying social media groups has this and that and forums lacks it, its actually pretty simple and easy to make forums adapt the new generation and the new ways of thinking.

The quality of people at forums are way higher than facebook groups, besides the indexing and future referencing, are primary advantages for forums, social media groups will never have, I think if developers start to think more about how to improve forums and add that "Real time" feel to it things can change, I believe people will love forums more, companies will love forums more, they are more customisable , brandable too, and can generate more money with good traffic.

So in conclusion I think its up to the developers to adapt or be completely disrupted.
Any ideas you guys have for what changes we can add to forums to make them adapt the new ways of thinking and communication?
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