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jeric_synergy
01-28-2016, 01:07 AM
Oyyy, the pain of learning a new app. Struggling thru some C4D tute, my head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop for the night.

It's JUST short of being physically painful. It's not helping that the Maxon supplied tutes are in "wall o' text" format, with few breaks to make it flow for the newbie. I have no doubt that an experienced user would whip thru these, but that's not really the best design for a tutorial, is it?

I've found my best bet is to C&P the text into a text document (OO Writer in my case), and add spaces and extra lines to make the 'narrative' clearer. I will say there is an adequate number of screen grabs in the document, so kudos for that (BeeVee, take note: a screen grab can clarify a lot of text.). But really, numbered lists/steps are Very Good for tutorials. Regular prose just makes it too easy to miss a critical step, both for the user and IME for the writer as well.

:cry:

djwaterman
01-28-2016, 02:29 AM
Try Youtube, and start with something simple like some text animation, just anything that takes you from nothing to a rendered result. I reckon it's just doing that first completed exercise no matter how naff that gets you started.

Or these.

http://greyscalegorilla.com/intro-to-cinema-4d

https://vimeo.com/channels/bestofc4d/152579137

http://greyscalegorilla.com/tutorials/cinema-4d-for-absolute-beginners/

pinkmouse
01-28-2016, 02:34 AM
You think C4D's bad, try Houdini. Brilliant s/w, but a learning curve like the north face of the Eiger :)

Danner
01-28-2016, 03:11 AM
Sounds like Zbrush, Brilliant software, alien interface.

Kinetic Shapes
01-28-2016, 03:13 AM
Once you get used to Cinema 4Ds work flow you will find it fast and intuitive for a lot of things. You can setup nice fancy text motion graphic animations in a half hr that would take a whole day in LW. LW surfacing nodes and renderer is still nicer :)

I recommend signing up to Lynda.com or Digital Tutors (now Pluralsight) to get decent well designed tutorials to get you up and running. It worth paying the small subscription for at least one month to get up to speed quicker.

prometheus
01-28-2016, 03:28 AM
following youtube vids is probably the fastest way to get going, or subscribe to lynda or digital tutors maybe.

I decided to try blender ago again and just recently overcame some initial thresholds..and I also had youtube running constantly to help out where I got stuck.

Think I have tried cinema4d some time ago..but I donīt think it was that difficult to learn.

Surrealist.
01-28-2016, 08:52 AM
No pain, no gain. Does that apply here? :D

There is absolutely nothing more painful than bad documentation.

I find it painful to learn most things.

I try and mitigate that by taking it very basic at first and seek out good simple tuts. Digital Tutors, I can recommend for the tuts that break things down to their basics.

If a manual is well written, I prefer snuggling up to that with a cup of jo for a few hours every day and take things at my own pace.

Ma3rk
01-28-2016, 09:21 AM
Been going through the same issue with 3D Coat. Hideous on-line docs but fortunately hundreds of vids on YouTube. Making progress anyway.

But there's something very Sysiphusian about learning in general. Or is is Roadrunner and Coyote? Ya just about got it figured and then a new version & features comes out, or an entirely new program to do something better, quicker, or even at all with what you have and so there's yet another new tool set, & interface, & hotkeys, lingo, etc. to cram into the already over stuffed brain that frankly could use some servicing itself. Then again, maybe that's why we keep pushing on that boulder & thumbing through Acme catalogs.

M.

jeric_synergy
01-28-2016, 09:29 AM
Surrealist, you were on my mind as I bashed my head against the keyboard.

Actually, it was MORE like someone kept slipping me shots of whiskey: nodding off, burning eyes, thickness of brain....

Thanks for the suggestions, all: I usually prefer "printed" (really prefer printed, but that train has left) because they are static and easily referred back in. I loath backing up in YT, although now that some places have the "Rewind 10 secs" button, it's a lot better.

Really, for a starter tutorial, they did a ridiculously complex thing: I usually started my students on "make a picnic table", 100% rectangles, not "compound Boolean combinations" <----not exaggerating.

Ma3rk: no kidding: the 3dCoat vid tutes are actually good IMO, but the interface has changed so much in the interim that it is VERY confusing.

Surrealist.
01-28-2016, 10:24 AM
We have some similar things here even.

I was just the other day trying to bring someone up to snuff in LW and, thought, oh yeah, "Quick Start" Section of the tuts on the LW site. What they meant to say was... "Quick Start... In..." As I was highly doubtful that a quick start tutorial on Bullet Dynamics was going to do any good with anyone opening up LW for the first time.

Sadly, and this is real sad actually, mostl software companies (Yes LW 3D Group that means you too, sorry) are completely clueless when it comes to teaching their user base to use the software they are inventing. I can never quite understand where the disconnect is. All all companies suffer from it in one way or another.

Even Autodesk which has great documentation, misses some of the most basic stuff all the time.

For instance, do a search on a particular feature.

What is the very very very first thing you need to know?

Where to find it on the interface of course.

Can't tell you how many times in documentation, I have stared at the page thinking. Great. I know how it is used now. But where is it?

And sometimes buried sompelace the end of a paragraph is the line... "The such and such tool can be accessed by...

When a user is looking for information on a feature he first needs to know.

Where is it
What is it
What does it do
How do you use it

In that order.

The reason is because if all you are doing is reading about something without your hands on it, it will give you headaches, if you do that a lot.

The very first thing you want to do is get your hands on it. It should not be assumed the person already has it in front of them.

Then additionally it would be nice if the docs explained...

Why/when or under what circumstances would you use it
What other similar tools might be better under other circumstances and..

Where are they
What are they... etc.

jeric_synergy
01-28-2016, 10:39 AM
Nailed it. I call this "reverse documentation syndrome", and I FREEKIN' AGREE, I see this all the damn time. I made a NAME for it, that's how often I see it.

Your words should be burnt into every doc writer's screen with a soldering iron.

Also, even ONE little example (especially for scripting) makes all the difference in the world.

Surrealist.
01-28-2016, 01:11 PM
lol yes we all suffer from, or are rather subjected to, RDS.

I find most of my effort in learning things is in fighting my way through badly organized or presented information.

Considering that large corporations spend millions in an attempt to understand the end user/consumer etc. With research teams, focus groups etc. There must be something to it.

It won't cost you anything however to stop and think for a moment about what it must be like to be the person on the other end of the documentation. And that is an easy one. All you have to assume is that they don't know anything about any aspect of the information you are presenting. Especially where to find the thing you just most beautifully described. ;)

jeric_synergy
01-28-2016, 05:55 PM
There's a classic, CLASSIC , sf story from the guys who wrote "Venus Equilateral" about the shortcomings of technical manuals.

To condense: nowhere in the magic power transmission device manual was stated the PURPOSE of the device.

hrgiger
01-28-2016, 07:12 PM
If you just sit down convincing yourself you're going to learn an application and know it for whatever comes along, its a recipe for failure. Figure out what you want to use it for, set out to accomplish a certain task and then just learn what you need to do just that. You'll pick up other things as you go along.

Surrealist.
01-28-2016, 08:46 PM
I find this to be partially true. I mean true in the sense that if you have no idea what you are going to use it for. True if you don't have an application of the information in mind. True that you can approach it that way. I have found it to be somewhat workable. But with a few key limitations. And I see people get tripped up with this method more than not. And it has tripped me up more than not which is why I try to avoid that approach if possible.

Because it is usually the case I am running into things I don't understand because I never grasped the basics first. And I see this happen all the time to people.

But you can learn an application end to end, if you discipline your self to do little tests to actually use the information you are being taught as you go along. And it is completely workable even if you have no idea when or where you will use it. But if you do something with the information as you go, you will retain it for the future.

There is a lot to be said for the discipline to learn something from scratch from A to Z. If you have time. If you don't, you have to take things on in smaller chunks.

There is nothing wrong with starting a manual at page one and going through it. But this requires a bit of trust in the people who wrote the manual.

And then what about the new student to 3D? Someone who doesn't understand anything from the beginning?

The best documentation is written with these people in mind. And this is why Autodesk gets it right most of the time. They are aware that they have a community of kids picking this up at school who have never touched a 3D app before. Or at least the lowest common denominator of student is one who hasn't.

But even if you are not new to 3D, there is an issue with trying to pick up a new app in little bits and pieces. And that is there are basic things you need to learn about an application that apply to all things. And it is better to learn those things first, which requires plowing trough a lot of information you don't really know when or how you are going to use just yet.

But when you get through that, and on to actually what you need it for it is much more smooth sailing.

Additionally, you will be well grounded in that application and in the process of learning the basics. (the full interface for example) you will also learn where everything is and how to get to it.

That is my experience anyway. Both leaning and teaching other apps.

lightscape
01-28-2016, 09:14 PM
Google is your friend.
Since you use lightwave the fastest way to learn another app is to google the stuff you know in lightwave and find it in the other app. Test out how its done or how its used.
They are all pretty similar once you know the equivalent functions.

Doing is always better than reading manuals.

Surrealist.
01-28-2016, 10:23 PM
You need both in equal amounts. ;) I should say in the begining when you first learn.

And I can remember this profound argument years ago.

The person was trying to assert that he could get information all without ever touching the manual. Therefore manuals were useless. Interesting thing to try to assert when you follow it back, someplace someone had to RTFM to actually make a tutorial for those people who feel the manual is useless ;)

Interesting feedback loop.

spherical
01-28-2016, 11:45 PM
I never feel that manuals are useless. Tutorials, similar to a picture being worth a thousand words (and you have 30 of them per second), are essential in order to fully flesh out what the manuals state and still cannot within their limited realm of influence. There is only so much that a written text, even with still images, can communicate accurately and unambiguously. I forego the sequential reading of manuals, as there is just too much (at the time) irrelevant information to be able to assimilate. Without having object examples and solutions upon which to "hang one's hat" the answers to questions yet unasked are essentially useless. Instead, I choose a project that allows me to focus on pertinent goals, however limited at the time they may be in the big picture (compared to learning the whole application all at once), and make judicious use of the Manual Index to solve problems impeding my progress to completing this one task. Successions of these add up over time and I at least gain an overall successful approach to the entire application. Of course, if the Manual Index is essentially Borked (because the writer couldn't even get THAT right), so is my learning of the application. :D

jeric_synergy
01-29-2016, 01:01 AM
Once upon a time I made an outline for "A Graduated Approach to 3D Modeling", which set a graduated series of modeling goals, from the ridiculously simple (the picnic table) to unreasonably advanced ( supernatural humanoid ). I should look that up again. Trouble is, the actual content was LW, which I know, but the steps would probably be valid for many modeling apps.

A lot of my current problem is just with the lack of whitespace and the pretty horrible font Maxon used in the C4DL docs. IOW, design vs. content.

prometheus
01-29-2016, 02:12 AM
When a user is looking for information on a feature he first needs to know.

Where is it
What is it
What does it do
How do you use it

In that order.



true words, wish it could be as simple as starting with model tools, then texture surfacing, then render, then animate.
But one also needs to fight the UI..which means, how do I find myself around this environment, how do I navigate in this 3d space, how does the viewport work, the camera, lighting etc.
and within a model session that could mean different things for different apps, like understanding in what level you need to be in in order to operate the tools, object mode, edit mode like in blender..or for lightwave it is more straight forward with always in edit mode but with point,poly, edges mode to choose from...in houdini it getīs more complicated to understand that all things are nested in a container with nodes, though the tools are wrapped in that as a working tool..to use it with most power, you would need to enter the nodes.


Guess that is the workflow concept of a certain software that one needs to get a decent understanding of in order to avoid pain.

lightscape
01-29-2016, 04:22 AM
Tell me, I’ll forget
Show me, I’ll remember
Involve me, I’ll understand

Wise words. If you're too bookish, learning will be slow. You have to get into it and just do it.
I've never read a manual from page to page for learning. I read manuals for assembling stuff.
Experimenting and hands on experience is better for me. Practical exercises and samples help a lot than reading a description which usually is just jargon.

Surrealist.
01-29-2016, 06:31 AM
Absolutely agree.

I have never met anyone who reads a manual cover to cover for the sake of it. I don't say there are not those people. I just have never met one. And I know I don't.

I read a little, mock up an exercise for myself, experiment with the feature, or poke around on the interface in said explanation. Read a little more, repeat.

Doing one or the other/reading or doing exclusively can have equally bad results.

If you do only and don't assimilate data, you only train in bad habits and a general lack of context, and in the end hurt yourself by taking longer to do things that you should because of simple little things you missed.

Walked in to a uni the other day. These two kids I know were showing me some work. I asked to see the wires. They loaded the model.

Ooops, what's this? Large parts of the model were black. They knew what it was of course as did I. And they were embarrassed because they wanted to show me the model. I said, may I? I selected the model, Space bar to bring up the radial menu, Normals, Unlock Normals, Followed by Conform and then Reverse normals.

They looked at me and laughed. When ever this would happen in the past they were spending hours on hours trying to select the offending faces and reverse normals.

Wasted time.

No I am not some genius.

And they are not stupid. Just a product of what happens when you only do and experiment and learn by doing.

That can be fatal if it is all you do.

Knowledge is power. And a time saver. :)

Surrealist.
01-29-2016, 08:52 AM
true words, wish it could be as simple as starting with model tools, then texture surfacing, then render, then animate.
But one also needs to fight the UI..which means, how do I find myself around this environment, how do I navigate in this 3d space, how does the viewport work, the camera, lighting etc.
and within a model session that could mean different things for different apps, like understanding in what level you need to be in in order to operate the tools, object mode, edit mode like in blender..or for lightwave it is more straight forward with always in edit mode but with point,poly, edges mode to choose from...in houdini it getīs more complicated to understand that all things are nested in a container with nodes, though the tools are wrapped in that as a working tool..to use it with most power, you would need to enter the nodes.


Guess that is the workflow concept of a certain software that one needs to get a decent understanding of in order to avoid pain.

Yeah I would say that is accurate.

I do find that for most applications I can start out by learning modeling first. And then simply start expanding on that. But the first thing I always do is tackle the basics. And this is the part the AD folks have right. They have several chapters devoted to just the basics in Maya for example. And they cover all of the essentials so that you know where it all is and what it does.

A lot of my motivation has come from the fact that I had been getting paid to model. And one of my jobs I was just charging them flat by the hour. That one client I worked for over a course of about 2-3 years. And in that time I went from Blender to Softimage and then to Maya.

I would work all day and then do tutorials at night. And thankfully for me the work let up a bit and I was able to dedicate more time to learning he software. I did not need to learn another app to work for this client. That was my project on the side. And I kept it that way. And of course I did not have to learn how to model. I just needed to learn where everything was and what kind of tools I had available.

And my approach was the same each time. I spent my time learning my way around the "cockpit" and did some of my own modeling projects here and there. But primarily, done exactly as I have described. I went right to the books (and some tutorials, 'cause I do like the combo) and just prepped myself.

So once it was time to start the clock for the client, it was like sitting down in a cockpit after flight training for the first flight. A little nervous. But I knew where everything was and I knew how I was going to accomplish the task.

And of course there is where the real learning begins when you are in the hot seat. And after a few months of that, I could safely say I knew how to model in that app, from using it for work. It was something I forced myself to do to get familiar enough with the app to take it to other areas I was interested in. In the case of Maya, rigging and nDynamics. It payed off.

That is what works for me. Taking the time and dedicating myself to the very basic stuff in a very methodical, by the book method, so I don't miss anything.

And then spend a few months getting the things I missed anyway and all of the other tricks and so on.

So when I say "manual, cover to cover" that is the process I am talking about and how it fits in to my overall learning process.

Greenlaw
01-29-2016, 10:37 AM
If you just sit down convincing yourself you're going to learn an application and know it for whatever comes along, its a recipe for failure. Figure out what you want to use it for, set out to accomplish a certain task and then just learn what you need to do just that. You'll pick up other things as you go along.
I couldn't agree more.

The best way for me to learn a new program is to set a project goal for myself, that is other than just learning the new software.

I start out by skimming the manual so I have a general familiarity with the program and where to find info when I need it. If there are short tutorials provided, I may run through some of them to get a feel for the UI and workflow. By that point, I'll usually have a fun project idea in mind that I think I can create using the program. Where I really start to learn is by solving the many obstacles that inevitably pop up as I try to complete my project. Along the way, I typically wind up with a deeper understanding of the program than I would have by simply running through the official tutorials. The 'LGD' shorts are such projects.

I also find Lynda or Digital Tutors is a good way to get a jump start on learning a program. I generally find Lynda has better 'essentials' training when I'm completely new to a program, and DT is better for learning specific uses and production techniques for a program I'm already a little familiar with. The nice thing about both websites is that you can start and stop your subscriptions without penalty, so I might use Lynda one month to learn the basics, suspend my subscription, and then activate my DT subscription the next month to continue my training.

Surrealist.
01-29-2016, 11:15 AM
I guess I am not a project oriented learner. I am a task oriented learner. I hate projects for the sake of projects and am amazed at how people can do that. Same goes for modeling challenges. Those are really hard for me to get into. I have only done like 2 now in all the time I have been here.

I consider the project to be work. When I set down to do something it has to have a purpose. Because it is so much work to do anything worth looking at I don't want to waste my time on something I'll never use. So I don't.

But what I do is rather invent small 5-10 minute tasks that challenge my understanding of a feature. Once I get it, I've got it and I move on. I am not interested in attacking that in the middle of work. I hate that. I like working using tools I already know. I hate having to stop and figure something out just to get to the next step. So I avoid project based learning and tend not to follow projects in tutorials.

But what I will do is watch it till they use something I don't know how to do, and then use the tips or ideas to try it out on something more compartmentalized so I know how that feature works. Then press play again.

But that said, it is impossible to know everything before going into a job. But what I do do when I encounter something I don't know, is I switch modes.

I really really hate doing this while working. I close my project and open a new one and start with a simple thing fresh and figure it out. Then get back to work. I like work to be a simple flow of doing things I know how to do. And I have no interest in wasting my time on large learning projects. Because they take time and I wind up doing something I won't use.

And if I have a project in mind that I will use. I never mix the two.

That's just me. I guess I have always been that way.

hrgiger
01-29-2016, 11:19 AM
yeah agree Greenlaw. I think it also depends on just how ADD you are, I tend to get a bit unfocused at times, jumping from one thing to the next, so learning something new usually has to happen in stages. I mean, Zbrush sat on my computer for the first year and a half when I first got it several years ago and I kept thinking I really wanted to learn this app. I saw how it was taking 3D to a whole other level and thought I want to learn to do that. But it wasn't until I got in with a specific project in mind where I had to dig for specific answers to specific problems, then it started becoming very clear. I went from one of those people who blamed Zbrush's UI as being terrible when the truth was I just hadn't takent the time to get to know it. Now I wouldn't want it much different if at all.

jeric_synergy
01-29-2016, 12:04 PM
So far it's the little things that have been tripping me up: vuport navigation, "where's the damn 'A' equivalent!?!?!?", why is THIS tab open when THIS tab makes more sense, and so on.

Also, mousing: I h8 anything that uses the MMB/MSW, because the scroll wheel is a terrible 'button'. Good for zooming though.

Also: seems cramped.

Ztreem
01-29-2016, 01:45 PM
Also, mousing: I h8 anything that uses the MMB/MSW, because the scroll wheel is a terrible 'button'. Good for zooming though.

Also: seems cramped.

Is it the software that is faulty or is it your hardware? You can buy a CAD mouse with three buttons and scrollwheel. Kind of hard to find 3D/ CAD app today that not use all three buttons on the mouse.

Greenlaw
01-29-2016, 03:31 PM
...I consider the project to be work. When I set down to do something it has to have a purpose. Because it is so much work to do anything worth looking at I don't want to waste my time on something I'll never use. So I don't.....

But that's exactly why I do this. The purpose of my projects are to teach me new skills and techniques, and as a bonus I wind up with a great show piece that brings me more of the kind of work I want to do. And, of course, the new skills I pick up can immediately be applied in my regular day-to-day work. IMO, personal projects are never a waste of time.

G.

jeric_synergy
01-29-2016, 07:14 PM
It's a vanilla, 5 btn Logitech wireless. I just don't like using the scroll wheel as a button-- it's too different from the REAL buttons. Luv it as a scroll wheel though.