3D World Magazine Issue #31 page 22
More and more I find that animation students are clamouring to learn particular 3D applications. The inexorable rise in the power of the desktop computer, and the equally inexorable fall in the price of both these PCs and high-end effects packages, seems to have resulted in a tendency in education to shift the focus away from learning the art and craft of creation in favour of managing and running the tool.
With the diving price of 3D software, people get the feeling that the animation industry will become a booming place for them to hang their carpal tunnels; that jobs once reserved only for the likes of ILM will soon be within everyone's reach. And so they rush to learn the applications so that they can land a cushy job with an up-and-coming effects house, bursting at the seams with movie and television work.
This unabashed appetite for learning often leads to proficiency, but only of a superficial kind: one confined to a single software program, which will more than likely go from being the big thing in Hollywood to the $9.99 bin at Electronics Boutique in the space of a couple of years. After that, the unfortunate students will again find themselves at square one in an industry as fast-paced as a hummingbird on amphetamine and as fickle as a contestant on Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?.
What sustains companies, what sustains artists and craftsmen in this industry, is a deep understanding of, and appreciation for, the creation of motion and style - a solid foundation in the craft of design and the art of animation. And far too much of that gets left out in the education of tomorrow's animators in far too many of our training grounds.
This is not entirely the fault of the student, who is eager – if not impatient - to learn and move ahead. No, quite contrarily, the bulk of the blame lies with the schools, which pride themselves on the speed and efficiency with which they teach software skills, when they should be painstakingly teaching art, design and motion. It ought to be the responsibility of the animation school to encourage and even require the development of the design sensibilities, while simultaneously enriching the mechanical abilities.
It is easy to show a student what button to push. And although it is infinitely more complicated to show them *why*, that must be the measure of a school's stature: not its equipment, and certainly not its software or technique. But unavoidably, a school's survival lies with the satisfaction of its patrons, the students. So it becomes incumbent upon the student to stand and demand. To seek out comprehension of the essence of line and form, of shape and colour, of fluid and mechanic, and then to take on the intricate task of learning to *apply* the software to that form, to that line. It is infinitely better, albeit much more difficult and more frustrating, to learn to fit a tool around art and form than to fit art around the tool.
With animation schools putting forward what amounts to a curriculum of quick and dirty software instruction, thinly cloaked with artistic skills, personal expression is stifled. The means become the ends, nullifying the journey of education entirely.
It's up to the student to set out his or her own patient path of education, and demand no less from their schools than they would from themselves and their futures. The animation industry will always welcome the artistic and diligent, no matter what moment in time.
Printed by 3D World Magazine Issue #31
Copyright © 2002 by Dariush Derakhshani. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 Apr 2011 18:48:04 -0800 .