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View Full Version : 3d Animation: impossible or difficult to learn?



scrubjay
07-21-2004, 07:23 AM
Greetings All,
I am a professor of animation, and am running a panel on the teaching of 3d animation at SIGGRAPH this year. I am interested to hear about people’s experiences with the learning of 3d. Notably: What was the hardest thing to learn how to do? What parts of your education in the field were most valuable? What were the least? What could be done better to teach it today? What is the best way to learn? Tutorials, Trade school (Fullsail for example), 4 year art school, other? Please feel free to respond directly to my email [email protected]


Sincerely

Francis Schmidt

Professor of Art

Bergen Community College

lesterfoster
07-21-2004, 07:54 PM
Originally posted by scrubjay
Greetings All,
I am interested to hear about people’s experiences with the learning of 3d.


I have been making videos for almost 10 years now. And have spent over $20,000.00 in equipment and training so far. I have made less than $1000.00 in that time at it. That works out to be something like just less than $100.00 per year. I have produced something like 50 video productions so far. Witch includes 3D animation.

How do I make a living doing what I love to do?:confused:

ericsmith
07-21-2004, 09:25 PM
video production can be very finacially rewarding if all the pieces fall into place. I'd like to know more about your situation, and maybe I can give you some pointers.

- do you have a demo reel?

- where are you located?

- do you have a storefront, or do you work out of your home?

- what have you done to try to market yourself?

There are a lot of factors to consider, but with a professional hardware setup, experience, and a moderate level of talent, you should be able to find plenty of good paying work. (I know plenty of self employed editors that charge anywhere from $90 - $150 an hour, and are very busy doing so)

Eric

Hervé
07-22-2004, 01:15 AM
Dont worry LesterFoster, I am in the same case (boat) .... hardcore I know....

I'll guess not more than 20 to 30 % of all the LW licenses (and in 3D in General, maybe less with Softimage...) are making any money or so small amounts, or nothing on a steady basis....

I bet 50% of us are going to disappear or to stop before 10 years.....:D

....but who said it should be simple... it's hard, I know but as the life....:cool: ;)

faulknermano
07-22-2004, 03:22 AM
Originally posted by lesterfoster


How do I make a living doing what I love to do?:confused:

i suggest making a living while doing what you love to do. :D

js33
07-22-2004, 03:34 AM
Man you guys just aren't trying hard enough. I make about $50k US dollars a year working part time with LW and most of the time I just sit around and goof off on the net :D or do my own projects.

Cheers,
JS

Hervé
07-22-2004, 03:51 AM
I guess it also depend where you are located Jester....

when talking about 3D here, they think I am an alien or they imagine it's not for them (aka, 3D is for huge Nike, Coke Co's, and it's not for us...)

That's OK, I'll survive...:D ;) :cool:

@+

pooby
07-22-2004, 04:37 AM
If I buy some paints how much money can I make being an Illustrator?

Hervé
07-22-2004, 05:48 AM
:eek: You're right, I've never thought of that.... I suck big time in 3D, ..... ok, I'll open a gelateria then.... he he:D

no but seriously, you're right, if I was good with LW, jeeez I'll be rich by now....

Note : that's why I said a big part of us will disappear from the 3D arena once the trend is gone....

On my part, I 'm still hobbyist for 99 %.... fact is also, there is just no market for 3D where I live... or maybe a couple of static logo for $100.... that's barely it....

(no offense to anybody)

badllarma
07-22-2004, 06:07 AM
Originally posted by Hervé

On my part, I 'm still hobbyist for 99 %.... fact is also, there is just no market for 3D where I live... or maybe a couple of static logo for $100.... that's barely it....

(no offense to anybody)

No one build houses there? No one engineer around there? no body build golf courses, new hospitals, have crashes, build web sites teach people anything???

There are lots of ways you can practice the skills of 3D and sell your talent it's just a case of finding whats near you (if that is important) otherwise get on the web and look further a field.

The only real problem I find is TIME, I work in my paying the bills job 40 hours a week on nights more hours during summer periods, the only killer is having time to do a showreel or look for all the work.....but I can say if you look hard enough the work itself IS there. :) (no offence taken :D )

Hervé
07-22-2004, 06:22 AM
Well to disapoint you... nothing like that here, no main companies, 2 golf courses built a long ago, and all $budget arch-viz comes from Germany or Belgium, small houses dont care, only factory is GoodYear.... and they have all they dream of.... well that's it.... AND on top, People are prety much retarded here when it comes to new stuff....

Dont worry for me, I for the moment have a rich wife....

My best friend lives in LA....he said if I was available there, I'll work 24 hours /day if I want....

I was illustrator for university/college books and I worked for a Co. called GTS graphics near LA, the money I was making was incredible for a european like me, I would have made 20 % of the amount for the same job here....

so when my wife is going to be tired of me, I am just a fly away.... zzeeeee !:D

lesterfoster
07-22-2004, 06:37 AM
Originally posted by ericsmith
video production can be very finacially rewarding if all the pieces fall into place. I'd like to know more about your situation, and maybe I can give you some pointers.

- do you have a demo reel?

- where are you located?

- do you have a storefront, or do you work out of your home?

- what have you done to try to market yourself?

Eric

1) Yes ! I have lots of demo reels.

2) I live in Edmonton AB Canada.

3) I work out of my home.

4) Just word of mouth.

I started doing videos with a DPS EditBAY. But now I use the VideoTOASTER with SX-8 breakout box for live editing. And LightWAVE 3D for animation. I have almost every thing that NewTEK has to offer.

I started back in about 1981 by shooting stills of PRO Wrestling for Stue Hart. And doing the odd wedding from time to time.

With my editBAY and my toaster, I keep to music and wrestling for the most part. I know I could make lots of money by doing weddings, but I do not enjoy weddings. So I avoid doing weddings.

I had a accident about a year ago with my toaster. on the way to a wrestling show, my toaster fell over in my buddy's van and the front panel got cracked. Than on the way back home, my toaster fell over again do to my buddy's bad driving. This time the front panel fell off the computer, I had lost my RADE drive and my USB ports. I have not tried to shoot a show since that last one. And have no plans to do any more shows antell I get my own transportation. And a new team to help me.

Now I have only one more payment to go for my toaster. So I am looking forward to getting my car on the road, and than I well start doing live shows again.:)

meshmaster
07-22-2004, 07:01 AM
I'm broke... spent a ton of money on 3d apps, and not making money (yet)... got Lightwave, Motionbuilder, trueSpace 3, 4, and 5.1, photoshop le, a scanner, a digital camera, and a massive amount of other apps installed off of magazine cd covers, etc... and thus far have made roughly 30 dollars on turbosquid over the last year and a half or so for a few of the digital texture photos that I have there... nothing else has been made on the digital frontier...

I have a bfa degree in painting and just by picking up the brushes again a few months ago I have made more in a local gallery selling little 1'x1' acrylic paintings than I have made with all the thousands of dollars spent on 3d and 2d stuff that involve the computer...

Ah well.... it's been fun...

but anyways, back on topic...



Notably: What was the hardest thing to learn how to do? What parts of your education in the field were most valuable? What were the least? What could be done better to teach it today? What is the best way to learn? Tutorials, Trade school (Fullsail for example), 4 year art school, other? Please feel free to respond directly to my email [email protected]

Hardest thing to learn is rigging... including but not limited to setting up weight maps, setting up bones, setting up hiearchy, setting up morph maps, etc.

Next hardest thing to learn is particles... Modelling and texturing is pretty easy to pick up if you have any exprience drawing or sculpting at all...

One thing that's hard to remember sometimes, especially when working with a high res photo that you are modelling from is that more polys do not necessarily mean better rendering...

I have a BFA in Studio Art, emphasis on painting, and a minor in Theater... the lighting drawing classes, painting classes, sculpture classes, makeup classes, scene setup classes and lighting design classes have helped enormously in my understanding of 3d.

I personally learn best visually... I think that more resources like the VTMs over at http://www.3dbuzz.com are very useful tools to learning the trade...

also, I think traditional art schools are the way to go... It's bad to learn software GUIs at schools because 9 times out of 10 the GUI will change a lot in a year or two after you take the class to learn it.... I was in college from 1994-December 1999. Had I taken a design degree instead of a studio art degree, like I was tempted to do, but didn't (thank God that I failed the prerequisite - typography - mainly because half semester was hand calligraphy and I suck at that sort of thing done by hand), I would have learned all the ins and outs of Photoshop 3, Flash 1, Fireworks 1, HTML 3, and a lot of other stuff like that that is now all information that is massively out of date... instead I went the traditional way, learning painting, costume design, etc. all of which is stuff that is actually useful and that is knowledge that I can still use today... Painting's been pretty much the same sorts of techniques for hundreds of years... even back in cave man days they used a form of airbrushing! (spit charcoal at the wall, etc)... you can't say the same about the sofware related arts.

Trawler
07-22-2004, 10:36 AM
I think the hardest part of 3D for me to learn has been texturing. I have some background in drawing and sculpture, so I had a base of knowledge for learning modeling. And I have some background in video and film so lighting and camera work in 3D have come pretty easily. But the concepts of 3D texturing are just so foreign to anything in the real world, that it's been tough to get my head around it. UVs, Specularity maps, procedurals; it's just a whole different group of concepts than I've ever dealt with.

So anyway, texturing for me has been the toughest to learn. Hope that helps.

Wade
07-22-2004, 11:36 AM
Two classes at a local community college - one modeling the other animating was all I needed to get the ball rolling. I did need these classes at the time to get me rolling as I am not sure I would have made much headway on my own. They were teaching using LW 6 as it had just been released.

This was maybe three to four years ago now, and I have been self taught since.

Two years prior I got into LW I picked up Photoshop with a teach yourself Photoshop book in 24 hours which was a great book at the time (Photoshop - 4) as It let me know what could be done with the program I would almost jump up and walk around the room I was so enthused with many of the lessons. 3D could be done this way 24 ++ short lesson to teach the basics maybe.

For sure having someone answer questions and keep a learner moving is of high importance so the do not hit wall give up and walk away but instead keep moving along.

Short lesson that can be done in an hour’s time or less would also be very helpful so a person feels like they are learning and moving ahead….

Just some quick thoughts.

Wade

Cobalt
07-22-2004, 12:06 PM
Associates Degree in Graphic Design 1987
B.S. in Art (Painting) 1989

90-94 Active Duty with USMC / $30K
95-95 Kinkos / copy specialist - destop design / minimum wage
95-96 Hart Graphics / pre-press tech - graphic artist / $21K
97-98 DeRoyal Industries / graphic artist / $25K
98-99 DeRoyal Industries / multimedia specialist / $34K
00-01 Glasgow Media / mulitmedia developer / $65K
01-04 U.S. government / multimedia producer / $70K

All multimedia skills, particularly 3D, were self-taught over several years through books, videos and outstanding web forums like this one.

Keys to successful and challenging employment over the years: artistic talent, solid design and composition skills, hunger to learn new toolsets, motivation to feed family and support software/hardware acquisition.

Jamel
07-22-2004, 02:48 PM
Originally posted by lesterfoster
1) Yes ! I have lots of demo reels.

2) I live in Edmonton AB Canada.

3) I work out of my home.

4) Just word of mouth.

I started doing videos with a DPS EditBAY. But now I use the VideoTOASTER with SX-8 breakout box for live editing. And LightWAVE 3D for animation. I have almost every thing that NewTEK has to offer.

I started back in about 1981 by shooting stills of PRO Wrestling for Stue Hart. And doing the odd wedding from time to time.

With my editBAY and my toaster, I keep to music and wrestling for the most part. I know I could make lots of money by doing weddings, but I do not enjoy weddings. So I avoid doing weddings.

I had a accident about a year ago with my toaster. on the way to a wrestling show, my toaster fell over in my buddy's van and the front panel got cracked. Than on the way back home, my toaster fell over again do to my buddy's bad driving. This time the front panel fell off the computer, I had lost my RADE drive and my USB ports. I have not tried to shoot a show since that last one. And have no plans to do any more shows antell I get my own transportation. And a new team to help me.

Now I have only one more payment to go for my toaster. So I am looking forward to getting my car on the road, and than I well start doing live shows again.:)



****! is it that hard to find a job in computer animation ( i hope i dont have to rethink my career goals)

lesterfoster
07-22-2004, 06:41 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jamel
****! is it that hard to find a job in computer animation ( i hope i dont have to rethink my career goals) [/QUOTE


Yes and No.

I know that I can get lots of paying gigs. I just prefer to pursuer the non paying stuff. I love doing live shows, music projects and wrestling. Witch is stuff that I hope well be played on TV

But I hate weddings. witch I know is good money but well never be played on TV.

I want to make a name for my self. And am uninterested in making money at this time..

There are other things that are holding me back from making a living at this.

1). Lack of transportation.

2). having to relay on others for help

I advise that you have at least twice as manny people to help you than what you need.


P.S. Do you have an entire VideoTOASTER or just LightWAVE?]

LFGabel
07-23-2004, 02:05 AM
Originally posted by lesterfoster
[QUOTE]I know that I can get lots of paying gigs. I just prefer to pursuer the non paying stuff. I love doing live shows, music projects and wrestling. Witch is stuff that I hope well be played on TV ... I want to make a name for my self. And am uninterested in making money at this time.
Lester, you started in this thread asking how to make a living at what you enjoy doing, yet you are uninterested in making money... I don't get your logic. Lots of people make a living on live shows, music projects and wrestling or projects like that.

If you don't set a value to what you do (i.e. doing stuff for free), people will not see value in what you do. It comes down to confidence. Set a price for your services and stick to it. If people like what you do (for fun), they will pay for it. Sorry, if I sound overly harsh, but that'd be my suggestion for making a name for yourself.

meshmaster
07-23-2004, 02:21 AM
I think someone once told me that in the artworld, for every 2 artworks that you give away, you will see 10 sales.

lesterfoster
07-23-2004, 06:45 AM
Originally posted by LFGabel

If you don't set a value to what you do (i.e. doing stuff for free), people will not see value in what you do.

I think that you got it right. and that is one big reason why I have not made a production in the past year. How ever I only have one more payment to go on my VideoTOASTER, and after that I plan to get my car on the road. Than I will be going to the schools in my area to find some good students who are interested in making videos and start over with a new team.

I have always paid my help before I pay my self. If I don't get paid than I still pay my helpers out of my own pocket. I am not interested in making money for my self. I am interested in making the best production with a good team, in the hope that a TV station well see me as a good team player and hire me for there team. And than I can quit my present job as a aircraft welder.

To sum it up. I want a new job at a TV station. Do you have any advice on how to get a job at a TV station. After getting a new job. I still plan to do my own independent productions in the hope that one of them well end up like the Blair Witch Project. It cost something like $30,000.00 to produce, and made something like 100 million dollars

lesterfoster
07-23-2004, 06:56 AM
Originally posted by LFGabel
Set a price for your services and stick to it. If people like what you do (for fun), they will pay for it. Sorry, if I sound overly harsh, but that'd be my suggestion for making a name for yourself.

It is not that I don't charge to do a production. Its just that after paying my helpers and other things like video tapes, batteries, gas for the van, and other cost. I end up with very little for my self. At least it never costs me to do a good live production.

SplineGod
07-23-2004, 08:15 AM
lesterfoster,
I think its great that you look after the paid help first. You see a lot of people get ripped off in this business because people dont put the hired help ahead of themselves. :)

Also in my experience, working at a TV station would be the last place I would want to work. Most seem to not pay very well unless its a very large production facility and even then sometimes...

You are in a great position at the moment. You have a job and can take your time to learn this stuff and learn it right. Work on producing a great demo reel. Instead of shooting for work at a TV station you might set your sights on something a bit higher up the food chain. A lot of people are in a position of having to create a demo reel while not having work. :)

ericsmith
07-23-2004, 10:01 AM
Lesterfoster,

Larry's right. You should definitely broaden your horizons as to what work you look for. There is a TON of corporate video production work to be had. You just have to find them. I've done projects including educational videos on how to do root canals, four 12 minute interview style talk shows for a local internet marketing company, and a 15 minute promotional video for a computer security software company with Kate Mulgrew as the spokesperson. These projects ranged in price from $25,000 to $90,000. We had crew to pay, but there was plenty left over to make a good living.

Some were really fun, some weren't so much. But with every project I do, I work hard on creating the best production quality possible. I make my clients very happy, which builds my reputation, and brings in more, better work.

Eric

LFGabel
07-23-2004, 11:44 AM
Originally posted by lesterfoster
To sum it up. I want a new job at a TV station. Do you have any advice on how to get a job at a TV station. After getting a new job. I still plan to do my own independent productions in the hope that one of them well end up like the Blair Witch Project. It cost something like $30,000.00 to produce, and made something like 100 million dollars
I agree with Larry on this part, but what job at a TV station do you want? I understand CHUM is in a bid to buy A-Channel, and that could open up new doors for you. Be persistent, like every day persistent. By the way, I think it's admirable that you pay your crew before yourself, but think of it this way. You're the boss, the one who secures the jobs. If you can't pay the bills, because there's nothing left for you, then your crew are going to suffer when you "go bankrupt". At the very least, pay your expenses, then split the profit equally among you and your crew.

That Blair Witch movie was a fluke, too. It's hard to reproduce a fluke. I don't think the filmmakers ever expected nor planned to make 100 million dollars.


Originally posted by meshmaster
I think someone once told me that in the artworld, for every 2 artworks that you give away, you will see 10 sales.
Only if the fact that they were freebies stays a secret... otherwise people will expect the other 10 for free.

lesterfoster
07-23-2004, 11:09 PM
Originally posted by LFGabel
Only if the fact that they were freebies stays a secret... otherwise people will expect the other 10 for free.
I believe that this is true. If you start out doing them for free. You well end up doing them for free:confused:

jamesl
07-26-2004, 02:17 AM
If you're a fireman, you go to where the fire is. If you have talent, you will be busy and well compensated where animation is being made. I moved to LA almost 10 years ago. I don't like it here. But this is where the opportunites are. Now, I plan to leave at some point, and go somewhere that doesn't have an animation industry per se. But hopefully, the experience that I have gained will allow me to eek out a living in local broadcast/commercial production. Maybe even architectural visualization. But while I'm here, I'll sock away the cash and learn as much as I can.

I should have listened to my parents and become a doctor. Hmmm... maybe medical visualization? :)

j

Hervé
07-26-2004, 02:27 AM
no James, trust me, you dont want to be a doctor..... :D