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finegrit

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So this is a bit of a spin-off discussion from the debate about Grey Scale Gorilla. I have no interest in keeping that debate going. But there is something that a couple people said during the debate that have kept bugging me, so I'm going to raise it:

 

First, the idea that creativity, or maybe artistry, is synonymous with secrecy.

 

The crux of the argument is the fear that people coming up behind us will steal our ideas and pass them off in a diluted form for less money, thereby undercutting our position. It's a real concern. Every success breeds imitators in any art-form—remember all the post-Nirvana grunge bands. And today, it is so much easier for information to spread; the imitations seem to come fast and furious. Like inbreeding, each generation seemed weaker and frailer than the last. This is a frustrating situation. Not a new one at all, but still frustrating.

 

There is one response, which is to turn inward and guard ever more preciously our ideas, techniques and knowledge. But I'd like to suggest that we lose more than we gain from that response.

 

I've worked with top artists in design and film. I've worked with some who are insanely possessive of their work, who work alone and are very guarded about their work whether in progress or past work. But most of the artists I've worked with have been very gracious with their work. They enjoy educating and passing along knowledge. They enjoy helping younger artists on their way up because someone helped them as well.

 

First, because technique is not the same as artistry. In art fields outside of technology, there are very few new techniques. There are very few new ways to play the guitar and yet, there continues to be new and exciting music being produced on the guitar all the time. Helping those around me learn the craft of playing is not the same thing as creating new works of music. I can't teach you what you say with your art, I can only help you say what you want to say more clearly. Our work is much more connected to technological innovation, but I still believe the same rule applies.

 

Second—and really the point of all this—I think even on the creative level, we gain more from a sharing of our art. The great movements in art that always inspired me were always communities of artists who inspired and challenged one another: the impressionists, the Russian futurists, the Coppola/Speilberg/Murch/Lucas generation of US filmmakers. The internet should make it easier for us to learn from each other's work, to share ideas, and to challenge each other.

 

Does this open us up to imitators? Yes. Does it open us up to animation factories in China? Yes. But I still think the benefits outweigh the risks.

 

I would encourage more artists to make their process public. I'd love to see more rejected boards, sketches, failed ideas on people's websites (mine included. a new site is in progress). I'd like to see more people make their project files available to the public. And I'd like to see more people picking apart each other's work, making it public and seeing who can top what I've already done.

 

I'm sure that there are those who don't agree. Fine. Don't participate. But we'll miss you :)

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I concur. It's smart to point out that there are risks, but I agree that the benefits outweigh them. Where would we be if Roger Corman hadn't helped the likes of Scorsese, Francis Ford Copalla, etc? What if Paul Rand hadn't met Kyle Cooper? Communities, small or large, definitely play an important role when it comes to growing as an artist.

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I think we've reached the stage that every other creative field has reached at a certain point. When any monkey could do desktop publishing in the late 80s, oldschool designers balked. When video editing became available to everyone, film editors were upset. Photography, webdesign you name it. And now motion gfx. Any monkey can copy tuts by GSG or Video copilot, or buy an AE template and type in their client company's name. Ultimately all it does is put a bigger trench beneath low-end work and high-end work. Depending on your clients and position in this field, that could be good or bad.

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I have done my best to share whatever I can.

 

In the beginning, I used to do it to payback a debt (as I had learned so much through the generosity of others).

After a while it didn't feel like a debt anymore... I simply did it because I enjoyed sharing observations about space/motion with other artists.

 

Now... after about 5 years of giving away my "secrets"... I can't recall one instance in which I didn't benefit from it.

 

1) Other artists are incredibly grateful (the vast majority at least)

2) My income has never suffered (I actually get called by way more studios).

3) New ideas are often cultivated by the process of sharing old ones.

4) Other artists/designers/programmers are more eager to share their work with me.

5) You make more friends.

 

This whole idea that we should feel threatened by an army of monkeys (that's for you firemind)... I just don't see it. The jobs those guys will get are not jobs I would want anymore. The clients that would hire aforementioned monkey army... I don't want them anymore either.

 

When all is said and done... YOU will benefit from sharing more than anyone else.

I promise you.

 

-m

 

 

*On a side note, this phrase "REAL Designers" that people keep throwing around (I forgive you Binky)... it's a sign of something else. It has a certain similarity to the GOP talking about REAL America. What they mean is the America they approve of. In the 90's I was really into to synths and sequencing and I can't tell you how many times I was told I was not a REAL musician. The phrase "REAL ______" is just a way to elevate one group over another by putting someone down. It doesn't really solve anything.

Edited by the_Monkey

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Amen?

 

I like this new thread a lot more.

 

lets just say positive things here :lol:

 

btw, Real Forum posters are better than everyone else. because we are nice and we share =)

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I have done my best to share whatever I can.

 

In the beginning, I used to do it to payback a debt (as I had learned so much through the generosity of others).

After a while it didn't feel like a debt anymore... I simply did it because I enjoyed sharing observations about space/motion with other artists.

 

Now... after about 5 years of giving away my "secrets"... I can't recall one instance in which I didn't benefit from it.

 

1) Other artists are incredibly grateful (the vast majority at least)

2) My income has never suffered (I actually get called by way more studios).

3) New ideas are often cultivated by the process of sharing old ones.

4) Other artists/designers/programmers are more eager to share their work with me.

5) You make more friends.

 

This whole idea that we should feel threatened by an army of monkeys (that's for you firemind)... I just don't see it. The jobs those guys will get are not jobs I would want anymore. The clients that would hire aforementioned monkey army... I don't want them anymore either.

 

When all is said and done... YOU will benefit from sharing more than anyone else.

I promise you.

 

-m

 

 

*On a side note, this phrase "REAL Designers" that people keep throwing around (I forgive you Binky)... it's a sign of something else. It has a certain similarity to the GOP talking about REAL America. What they mean is the America they approve of. In the 90's I was really into to synths and sequencing and I can't tell you how many times I was told I was not a REAL musician. The phrase "REAL ______" is just a way to elevate one group over another by putting someone down. It doesn't really solve anything.

 

Could not agree more with every single sentence.

 

Giving away techniques is a surefire way to push yourself to evolve and constantly develop new techniques, and you always get back so much more than what you gave up. Anyone I have ever worked with who has been any good has shared their process without a second thought.

 

I just had one of my clients go to one of the afformentioned tutorial monkeys for a job, the client ended up coming back to me and offering me double my rate to fix the job that was botched, so this monkey actually helped raise my perceived value not lower it.

 

When I think of what I do in a day actual software knowledge maybe accounts for 10% of what I do. Even the mograph part is only probably 50%. The other half is really about organization, business skills, interpersonal relationships, marketing,storytelling. There is so much you need to know to be successful in this biz that it's in all our interests to keep on sharing all we know, the lazy tutorial junky is never going to be a threat because there is just too much to learn and someone who is satisfied just copying a tut clearly doesn't have the motivation to learn it.

 

Bottom line for me is I'm too busy working on my own stuff to really worry about what everyone else is doing. I may or may not be a "real" designer by someone's definition but as long as I am booked with projects I enjoy working on and I am constantly challenging myself to get better who cares.

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Hence I said "Depending on your clients and position in this field, that could be good or bad." Someone has to do the church booklets, bakery websites and used car commercials.

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On a side note, this phrase "REAL Designers" that people keep throwing around (I forgive you Binky)... it's a sign of something else. It has a certain similarity to the GOP talking about REAL America. What they mean is the America they approve of. In the 90's I was really into to synths and sequencing and I can't tell you how many times I was told I was not a REAL musician. The phrase "REAL ______" is just a way to elevate one group over another by putting someone down. It doesn't really solve anything.

Yeah, I'll admit that sounds a little elitist. My understanding is that there's a spectrum of skills out there. Some of those skills are useful in the practice of design, those being problem-solving and storytelling skills of all sorts. Designers are people who have those skills or are working to acquire them. But there's a whole set of people who aren't concerned with those particular pursuits, and I would say they're effectively non-designers. Whether by naivete or by choice, their pursuits are along other lines. Maybe they're lookin to spice up a skate vid with something flashy, or to fill a background with "moving things", y'know? They're one step removed from using stock motion graphics. They may have a goal in mind for the stuff they're making/using, but the process by which they make it doesn't really fall under the definition of design. And I wouldn't say there's a judgement call to be made on that. It's all valid in its own context.

 

The issue finegrit is raising has more to do with the spectrum of skillsets that are out there and whether or not an individual's skillset allows them to sell a good or a service. Someone whose skills are actually a collection of techniques that can be followed like recipes has more reason to be covetous of his/her "secrets" which, like goods, are in finite supply. Someone whose skills are comprised of ideation techniques and storytelling know-how can generate NEW stuff constantly, so they can feel free to give away whatever they've discovered so far. So someone who has 5 tricks or "go-to solutions" if you will is really selling goods. Someone who is crafting custom solutions for each client is selling a service. Services can't really be resold or replicated the way that goods can. The general public will continue buying Coca-Cola because they like it, but Coca-Cola Inc. guards their secrets ferociously because their monopoly on that taste is all they have, really.

 

There are markets for both goods AND services in this industry, given the wide range of clients. I'd say design is a service, and I'd also say that people who are highly covetous of their own work are mostly selling goods. These two types, and everyone in between, are going to operate on different assumptions and working models. We get into these discussions about what EVERYBODY should do and what's best for EVERYONE, but the "everyone" we're really talking about is a pretty huge collection of people with a wide spectrum of interests and needs and goals. Motion graphics has become a catch-all term that describes some pretty disparate disciplines as existing under one umbrella, but we can't expect that to magically unite us as a nation of like-minded individuals.

Edited by Binky

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Coca-Cola Inc. guards their secrets ferociously because their monopoly on that taste is all they have, really.

 

its funny, how that's true. But an interesting fact on the topic of coca cola. There is only one factory in the world that produces the cola syrup. And its in Swaziland, which is in Africa. I'm guessing its one of those "for-life" jobs =)

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There are markets for both goods AND services in this industry, given the wide range of clients. I'd say design is a service, and I'd also say that people who are highly covetous of their own work are mostly selling goods.

 

They're both still services. I think it's just that some people are selling a service based on technical know-how or even their ownership of certain software and hardware, while the "real designers" are selling themselves as a service. Their brain, their thinking. I think it's obvious which approach gives you more career longevity although there is potentially a fortune to be made in the short term if you ever find yourself on the cutting edge of technical know-how.

 

Someone whose skills are actually a collection of techniques that can be followed like recipes has more reason to be covetous of his/her "secrets" which, like goods, are in finite supply. Someone whose skills are comprised of ideation techniques and storytelling know-how can generate NEW stuff constantly, so they can feel free to give away whatever they've discovered so far. So someone who has 5 tricks or "go-to solutions" if you will is really selling goods.

 

The reality though is that even great designers can fall into the "go-to solutions" mode of working from time to time for various reasons. I think some designers in their youth (during school, or an early formative job, etc) develop their own toolbox of tricks and go-to solutions that comes to define their personal style and which they continue to use throughout their career. The fact that they developed these solutions on their own (or absorbed/stole from a mentor or coworker) rather than learning them from a tutorial makes them feel like they're doing something more creative and personal. But the underlying process is actually similar.

 

I also think that the people who are in the business of selling their cutting edge technical know-how tend to sometimes overvalue the "r&d" side of the process. If a trick from a 5 minute tutorial is exactly what the project needs then why not use it? I think some people are too quick to jump into the custom, ground up solution, thinking that it somehow adds to the quality of the end product when maybe it doesn't.

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since we are differentiating, can we also start discerning between the technical know how of people who just copy GSG tutorials and people who are more engineers than technical artists, like Chris Smith for example.

 

Im sure if he had just technical know how he would still be seriously valuable.

 

I mean, I am a sucker for the technical side, i just love it, but i don't have a bag of tricks, i just know how stuff works (through lots of experimentation and reading). And then combine my knowledge for whatever project comes up to produce it as quickly, efficiently and dynamically as possible.

Edited by vozzz

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I don't think any differentiation is necessary for my original point. I think it applies equally well to Designers, Animators, TDs, DPs, whatever. The importance of developing a community is not something restricted to people with "ideas" versus people with "technical know-how." I've learned a tremendous amount from the very talented TDs around New York who for years have shared their scripts and plug-ins free of charge to the community (I'm especially thinking of Lloyd Alvarez here, but many others as well).

 

I guess the original post was nothing more than a plea to spend less time kvetching about how we're being ripped off and undercut by people just blindly putting tutorials on their reels, and more time sharing ideas, process, and craft.

 

As a side-note, I think Nog makes a good point that people some people might have a rosy view of how they broke into the business. I'm sure others had a different path than me, but I can still remember my first reel. I sat at home and recorded a bunch of animations that Blur, the Diecks Group, Belief, Three Ring Circus and the Attik did (I'm dating myself here). Then I copied every one, swapped out different logos, put them on a reel, and went job hunting. At that time no one was hiring me for my brilliant ideas, they wanted to know if I could make stuff that looked professional (I did make clear that these weren't real jobs, just a showcase of my skills). It was good practice.

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I think community is absolutely vital, especially in art and especially in the incredibly complex and expansive world of 3D graphics. I'm just getting started in the industry, and if it weren't for people like GSG and the dozens of other artists who have made tutorials, given scenes, plugins, textures, etc, away, I would probably still be staring at the viewport in C4D wondering how to make a cube (well, OK, maybe not that extreme, but you get the point).

 

When I'm done with the tutorials, though, and when I've run through all the presets in the plugins, I entirely understand that I can't just take those results and slap them on a showreel. Doing something like that might endear you to some clients that don't know any better, but when it really comes down to it, using materials, ideas and tutorials from the (exceptionally good with sharing) C4D community allows me to produce some really awesome stuff by teaching me principles, by teaching me how the gears are working under the hood so I can go in and tweak them, or even change them completely.

 

So, all this suspicion and fear about giving stuff away and pulling back the curtains, I think, is a little unfounded...and even if some artists aren't OK with giving away their work or showing how it's done, that's OK for them to make that choice, but I don't think anyone should be criticizing anybody for creating cool stuff that they want to share with the public and make completely free...because, just like the artists who feel that they need to keep their work under lock and key, the guys who are giving away "secrets" are making a choice to do that.

 

And again, if I didn't have the resources and techniques that have been so generously provided to me from throughout the community, I would have nothing right now. So, thank you to everyone who has contributed.

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In the GSG AT&T tutorial (at least part II, the only part I watched) it sounds to me like Nick may be diggin into the nose candy. I have seen many musicians and designers alike fall hard from this, and I sincerely hope I'm not right.

 

-Ben

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...it sounds to me like Nick may be diggin into the nose candy. I have seen many musicians and designers alike fall hard from this, and I sincerely hope I'm not right.

 

-Ben

Bhahaha! I sinceeeerly doubt it.

Nick actually jogs... like in the morning.

I'm pretty sure he's straight as an arrow.

That dude is high (perhaps too high) on life.

 

If you're lucky enough to work with anybody who was in the industry in the 80's... take them out, buy them some drinks, and get them talking about how much cocaine was publicly available onsite. It's pretty mind blowing.

 

-m

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