Blaming Software

At the moment in my teaching I am introducing a class to a whole bunch of new stuff to do in Maya, and like clockwork I have noticed the little comments starting to creep in about the program preventing the students from getting the work they want.

This kind of thing makes me wish we could lock students away from all computers for the first few years of their animation life. Not because I want to save them from the frustrations of using software, but because I want them to realise that their short comings have nothing to do with software and everything to do with experience.

My first animation job was at a completely digital free studio, everything drawn by hand, photocopied onto cel, painted with real paint and shot on film. Even the line testers used video editing stations.

Just as I am introducing my students to new things, those teaching me at Disney were pushing me way out of my comfort zone. And just as my students are discovering, I often found that my work lacked the polish, precision or appeal that I hoped it would. But because I and all my peers and teachers were only using paper and pencils I had no one to blame but myself. Its pretty hard to blame your lightbox for a bad drawing.

Its normal for your work to be sub par when you are trying things for the first time (or even 10th time), its been that way since long before computers were around. If you can see your work could be better that is a good thing, it means your eyes are being opened to the potential in a situation, that you will be aware of ways you can do something better the next time. That is of course as long as you accept the responsibility instead of blaming some external factor.

Make no bones about it, every time you blame a program for poor factors in your animation it is a lost opportunity to learn. Every time you blame something else you give yourself permission to blunder on the same way a bit longer, instead of asking how you might improve your approach or frame of mind next time. When you sidestep the responsibility  you also sidestep the changes that have to happen within yourself if you are going to grow and develop as a creative individual.


Frank said...

Blaming computer hardware is also noted.

A bad day with the computer seemingly non-compliant can dull any animation inspiration.

Getting back to drawing. Freeing oneself to draw anything and everything with all intentions of throwing away the scribbles is a great way to regain the mojo.

Ian said...

For this particular issue what I take from the process of drawing is that I still have so much to learn. 20 years after starting my career I still don't think I can draw as well as those teachers I had in my first job. Everyone says its ok to 'fail' at a drawing, but for some reason expect different of themselves at the computer.

So its a double standard for me to expect I will be able to animate with a particular program as well as people with more experience than I have.

Its amazing what you can find people wishing for. Really what you are saying is that you want the computer to bridge that gap for you, to do your work. Thats the last thing any of us want isn't it? :P

When computers can do that we might as well all go home and become accountants :)

So just like you give yourself permission to do a rough or even poor sketch as part of the journey, allow yourself to do some rough wabbly bits of animation with the program, learn from it and do better next time. Embrace the journey, that's why we are here!

How sad it is to see people complaining about the specifics of that journey, I bet Frank you would love to go back to being a student full time so you could relive that experience, I know I would. EMBRACE THE JOURNEY! :)