Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Pendulum of My Life

I'm a self taught animator and 3D modeler (until I went to AM, that is) so most of my expertise comes from the trial and error I had to go through while reading every book I could get my hands on. I had such a desire to learn that I wanted to absorb an idea, focus on how to master that tool or technique by constantly using it in my work and then continue the process with another book or tutorial. It seemed to work, but then I also found myself trying areas of the programs just to see what it did or how I could maximize it's potential (to this day I love using procedural textures over texture maps for this reason!). Many years after the fact, I started to recognize a trend in my work from this type of experimenting - the pendulum.

I started to notice objects that I built (rarely did I animate since it intimidated me) very much resembled a pendulum to me, figuratively speaking of course. Thinking of how a typical pendulum works, lets say, in a grandfather clock, it swings back and forth, left and right, each time hitting a peak and reversing direction. As each project was completed, I would start at the peak of the arc (few polygons and low resolution texture map, lets say) and then a few projects later it would swing the completely different direction (tons of polygons and gigantic texture map). I would create every nook and cranny in something that would be 200 feet from the 3D camera with texture maps that were 40 megabytes in size! That's INSANE! So, back the other way I would go, but I wouldn't swing all the way to the extreme peak this time.

Slowly I started to find my sweet spot as I would work on each object (over months and even years, mind you) until the pendulum slowly started to come to the center. I learned what was good for close up objects and what you could do to make something believable when it only occupied a small amount of screen space. Polygon numbers became reasonable. I experimented with object resolution depending on camera distance (snooze-fest for the non-geeky, I know). Anything to optimize my work.

By 2008, I really felt like the pendulum was moving so minutely, it was almost invisible. I had found the sweet spot for my work and was pretty darn proud.

So, what's that have to do with Animation Mentor? A lot. Every piece I do here is a huge swing in my pendulum of working through my learning process. I'm going to over animate a lot... then I'm going to forget about all sorts of rotations and movements just to start another project that I'll over due again, but this time I'll learn not to put so much in to the hips or something. So, you see where I'm going with this. It's the little "failures" if you will, that I'll discover and realize that they aren't wrong, just not tuned yet. Stuff's swinging all over the place, but as I polish my skills, the pendulum I finally animate in a few years will be so badass that it will be a trophy of my travels through learning animation.

No comments:

Post a Comment