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Legendary animation director, Ralph Bakshi at ComicCon 2008.
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Can you make a living making independent animated movies? Ralph Bakshi thinks so…Martin Hash thinks so…I think so too!
This speech generated a lively discussion on CGTalk.
sundialsvc4 posted the following astute observations on CGTalk:
If you (say, “today”) were to compare any THIS_PROGRAM with any THAT_PROGRAM, then you will always find one-or-the-other of them to be seriously lacking. (Even “lame” or “100Z3R.”) But here are a few things that you just might need to consider…
- You’re looking at the programs today. But CG projects often take many years to produce!
- “Time marches on.” Guess what will happen to ‘the most state-of-the-art whiz-bang today’ … in the next five years? So, do you seriously intend to wait five years to get started on your new project? Didn’t think so…
- When a software developer comes up with some absolutely-brilliant new innovation… “I am torn.” On the one hand, I absolutely want to be able to take advantage of it “as soon as possible.” But on the other hand, I cannot afford to run the slightest risk of disrupting my many-years-in-process IT-PAYS-THE-RENT workflow. I therefore need to integrate the old with the new. I know exactly what I am doing, and why.
- In a project that does take “many years to produce,” what’s more important? That I could do it faster if I were starting-over today? Or that I am able to exactly match work-product that I generated four years ago, so that I can still make the release-deadline that’s just six weeks away? Yep! “Your future-self, five years hence, will need to be able to reproduce exactly, ‘five years hence,’ what you’re going to create (for the first time) next week.”
- Wouldn’t your future-self prefer to use the same version, then, that you’re using now? Sure (s)he would! Duh-h-h-h-h…
- Is (s)he going to regard the “state of the art tool” that you are using today … as being still state of the art, five years from now? Duh.
- Studios have to make decisions and then stick with them, because “those digital files” represent millions of dollars worth of salaries already-spent. Once a workflow has been set up (and remember, it was set up many years ago…), the work product is really what is the one-and-only thing of value. After all, we haven’t sold a single ticket yet. The investors are getting antsy.
- Not a single studio, big or small, is actually “clueless!” Per contra, all of them make it their business to remain on-top-of every single new development. You can be quite sure that they are, in fact, very much aware of all of the technology that is out there. But “the computer is an abstract and ever-flexible thing … and dollars are not.”
- Every studio is different, and none of them are going to change their ways to suit you. They can’t. (They shouldn’t!) So you… just need to be flexible and adaptable. Human beings can change their spots; computers cannot.
- Nothing that you could possibly say or do in a CG forum is ever gonna change that. So… the threads are doomed to go nowhere. Vigilant moderators cut them off, and establish “sticky” policies against them.
Martin Hash, the creator of Animation:Master boils it down pretty well:
….The 3D market boils down to two segments. In the professional segment (which is actually quite small), the clear winner is Maya. They won that position with a good product and an endless supply of money. Products like Max, Lightwave and Soft Image are going head-to-head with Maya. Maya is a wrecking machine. They’ve been willing to spend BIG advertising money at the same time as they give their product away. Who can compete with that. It’s like competing with Microsoft.
The weakness of Maya is it’s market. It’s designed for people who spend money. Flexibility, in the arcane sense of endless parameters and specialized operation, is what their customers want. To turn that ship to a consumer market is both very difficult and threatening to their existing customers. Even if they were making a lot of money, it would be a risky proposition.
Animation:Master serves the other market segment: everyone else. The customers who use A:M must be jack-of-all-trades: modelers, riggers, animators, lighters, and everything else it takes to make a movie. For most of our customers, A:M is their first 3D product. Our job is to make sure it’s their last 3D product too. The only customers we’re willing to lose are the ones who move on to the mercenary world of Maya. Even customers who get discouraged and seem lost: we want to encourage them to come back. Our focus is to make it possible for everyone to make an animation……
The software has matured to the point where it is hard to see to reason to upgrade year to year–Adobe KILLS me with Creative Suite (Has Photoshop REALLY changed that much year to year [no]?)
I think even Martin see’s this, has retooled his company towards being a PRODUCER of animation, rather than of Animation software. The software is now subscription-based and expires every year. You CAN still buy a CD version that doesn’t expire, however (and this is what I recommend).
As you gather the tools for your animation production, forget about upgrading them. Just USE them. The time spend learning newer software is better spent in more practice with the software you have.