What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday

Apr 11, 2012 by     5 Comments    Posted under: DotNet

Apologies for a slightly existential tone to my latest blog post – I was reading the excellent blog by Maya TD Hamish Mackenzie, and it did get me thinking. It’s a strange conclusion to come to when you realise that the thing that you were learning to make your life as an animator easier ends up taking over and stopping you from doing something that you love.

But that’s just one side of the argument.

In order to get to that stage, there is a choice that is made over which discipline to focus on. You have to be serious because there is no short learning curve in 3D. Any choice you make about career direction has to be for the same reason that you started anything in this industry to begin with – because you love doing it. Perhaps, part of the consternation is the idea that programming isn’t quite as glamorous as a more signposted artistic discipline. But there is no doubt that a TD requires a balance of logic and creativity that is difficult to find, as they are not natural bedfellows. Not only are they difficult to find, they are harder to draw the line between. Are you an artist who codes, or a coder who does art? Sometimes you are both of these. Your brain will tell you if you’re straying more towards the side you dont want to be. Hamish wrote in his post :

…doing animation is something that I think is really important for me as a technical animator.  Using the tools I’ve written, working through the workflows I’ve helped define, having to deal with all the bugs, shortcomings etc of the work environment I’ve helped create puts me in the shoes of my users and forces me to see and understand the implications of my design decisions.  And I think thats really important.

I’d have to agree – I certainly can’t think the same about animation in the way I may have once. I am too hardwired to see bottlenecks and tool potential with any process to allow me to spend the single minded application necessary these days. Hamish said it perfectly :

But the other big thing is the fact that its hard to stop thinking about the technical side of things while I’m animating.  Its been such a part of my mental process for so long that its really hard to turn it off.  And I think this is the biggest thing.  So many parts of the animating process have the potential to be improved, sped up, optimized, made easier etc…  And when I’m animating, all these thoughts are running through my head.  So just pushing those thoughts aside – or at least shelving them for later – is hard.

Many years ago I graduated with a degree in Sculpture. The notion that 10 or so years down the line I would be figuring out custom event delegates in C# wouldn’t have been in the forefront of my mind.  It’s just ironic that you’ve ended up becoming the thing that you wouldn’t actually choose to call yourself. So essentially, us lot are a strange breed. We live in code and dream of drawing. We camelCase shopping lists and hate the fact that we now spell colour, color.

I guess the important thing would be to make sure that you never lose your creative side, and channel that into your new trade.

Be Deep Bop De Doop 010101 #!-$Z#!

 

5 Comments + Add Comment

  • avatar

    Quite a nice post Pete, and while i also sometimes do some System.Reflection pointing to the same assembly i gotta agree with Rotem, the coding demon is just too strong and it may just be my inability to accept wasting time making art that pushes me to waste time developing tools to speed it up.

  • avatar

    I’ve fallen victim to this kind of thing most of my adult life. I spend so much time developing tools to help me do what I do… I never get to do what I do! Well… I guess I don’t do what I set out to do 🙂

    Great read. And great site. Thanks for the resources.

  • avatar

    Thanks Rotem, Alex – nice comments. ‘Filling up the art meter’ is a good way of summing it up.

  • avatar

    I find it very easy to relate to what you’ve written, as I’m sure many TDs do. There’s always the question in the back of my head that is wondering “Is this what you signed up for? Aren’t you supposed to be making art?”, but then it’s quickly silenced by the other voice going “PROGRAMMING! FUN! YAY!”.

  • avatar

    Well said – it echos so many thoughts of mine. After 10 years of technical art I am having trouble getting away from all the ‘baggage’ that our sort of work generates – feature requests, support, documentation, etc – and actually finding time to USE mmy own tools and CREATE something that fills up my art meter.

    Nice post!

    ~Alex

Got anything to say? Go ahead and leave a comment!

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>