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pixelpusher

Learning from high end AE/C4D Project files

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Hey guys,

 

I've seen a number of very talented mograph artists say that they learned the most through breaking apart and scrutinizing the project files of other artists. Obviously this doesn't replace the fundamentals of design, but as far as learning professional techniques for the application of these designs, it makes a lot of sense. The problem is, most high end projects will never be released for various reasons. Neither the client nor studio wants copycat work out there (the Andrew Kramer phenomenon) and even further, the studio or artist has spent huge amounts of time and money accumulating these techniques and often they form part of their unique style. In short: unless you're friends with them or work next to them, you're probably not going to learn many of their big secrets.

 

This thread was actually spawned by looking through a couple of the Monkey's C4D project files - the isometric town was especially useful. Just things like economic shader usage, material stacking workflows, artful lighting and so forth I don't believe you usually get from the average tutorial site where the artist is far less skilled (a teacher not a doer).

 

In my mind this is a fantastic way to learn, but for reasons mentioned it's not really in peoples' interests to share this stuff. How could we make this work? One way that might work in my mind is for an artist to create an impressive and varied piece of work, then apply the 'ransom' business model whereby he/she won't release the project file until say a thousand people have paid $50 or whatever to preorder the project file. No support, no instructions, just the opportunity to browse a talented person's work.

 

Sure the project file will be leaked and torrented, but at least the artist has earned some money and if it's done publically enough the copycats will be pretty obvious to spot.

 

Keen to hear other peoples' thoughts on this...

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It's less about secrets and more about talent and technique - developed over time with many mistakes and pitfalls along the way. Sure you can reverse engineer a project file, but ultimately you are only simulating a solution to that particular problem, and not necessarily the problem at hand.

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It's less about secrets and more about talent and technique - developed over time with many mistakes and pitfalls along the way. Sure you can reverse engineer a project file, but ultimately you are only simulating a solution to that particular problem, and not necessarily the problem at hand.

 

I absolutely agree that deconstructing one project file doesn't release all the skill that went into it, but I would say that in a single varied project you can learn a lot about technique in seeing how different materials are designed, lit and arranged, for example.

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wouldnt learning how to do something the way 1 person did it, create potentially hundreds of people doing it that same way. i dont see any benefit in that. as it is if you look around at some peoples vimeo pages, its all just copycat work from last weeks newest tutorials. how many more reflection, flourish growing objects, modynamics 2.0 etc etc do we need out there? theres a lack of innovation in it that i dont see being useful to the masses. its the creative ingenuity behind the 'high end' projects that make them special.. not just the technical know how.. imo

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I think you hit it on the head somewhere in the original post.. you learn things from people. Not their project files but the actual person, whether it's here or more importantly in person at work or as friends.

 

On a contradictory side note.. I missed monkey's isometric town, anyone got a link? sounds nice

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While I agree there is value from learning how others did it, there's also the already mentioned pitfalls. Most people don't have the sense to not copy something one for one, and a lot of people would probably just rip the elements from the project files and not even bother to deconstruct them and learn the underlying technique, etc. In the end it's just a matter of experimenting, R&D, and time. I've come across a lot of techniques by just messing around and stumbling upon something cool. Juts file it away in the memory banks then apply it when the time is right.

 

As for learning from other people, especially when you don have the opportunity to work with top talent, I think FXPHD has done a good job of filling that hole. They have some excellent C4D classes taught by Tim Clapham, and currently they have a few AE classes taught by a guy from Shilo, Tom Green I believe his name is. You get all the project files and instruction from talented people.

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in the AEPDX group we are trying to get artists to come in and present their projects via the After Effects/3d files. For the December group I broke down concept through keyframes on my two Cut & Paste spots. I showed pretty much every nitty gritty detail and the hows and whys, even if I thought it was boring or redundant. Those two projects were chosen partly because I completely owned them and wasn't giving away any client's IP.

 

I think this method is a great way to teach/learn and we are working on lining up other artists willing to do the same. Very often I've had huge "ah-ha" moments simply watching someone else do something differently than I would have approached it.

 

I'm not really worried about other artists stealing my techniques. I think one of the bigger things that sets an artist apart or gives them value is the quality of their ideas, not their ability to keyframe. Of course the nuts and bolts skills are hugely important, but you don't stand to lose much if anything by sharing the AE love.

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...

 

I think this method is a great way to teach/learn and we are working on lining up other artists willing to do the same. Very often I've had huge "ah-ha" moments simply watching someone else do something differently than I would have approached it.

 

Agreed, I think seeing those projects being broken down are way better than just seeing a tutorial for an effect. Like you explained, it's cool seeing how someone else's thought process works.

 

On a loosely related note, here is a quick quote from a random VideoCopilot post - I sometimes read that stuff purely for entertainment.

 

That stuff is great deal you will make your money back from it…..if you a claim to do motion graphics and you do not have it…then you do not do motion graphics at all …suck …that what you do

It's like if Will Ferrel did a movie about Motion Graphics or something. Ridiculous.

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