Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Red Pill

It took me 3 career path changes and some major soul searching to finally figure out that 3D computer graphics was my calling. It's a very “soul-mate” type feeling now, violins in the air and white doves everywhere; but it wasn't always like this. CG and I shared a long love-hate relationship. Mostly me loving the output that it was capable of producing, but the software hating me.

I remember the first time I saw the work people had done in CG - I was blown away and I just had to be part of that group. I had some rad ideas that I just couldn't wait to start putting into play. But, I figured out the hard way, that imagining what you want an output to look like and actually working on getting it there in reality, are two wildly different things.

The first time I opened a 3D software I ran out of the room screaming - well almost. Most 3D softwares are fairly overwhelming to look at for a first time user. (My theory: The 3D community does this to weed out the faint of heart.) After a week of staring at the software I finally got the courage to start making something in it. Of course what I wanted to make and what I finally ended up with, mildly put, were quite apart from each other. I learnt early enough, and that's tip No. 1, as a beginner its important to take baby steps. Thinking I could create an 'Optimus Prime' model in my first week was a fool's errand. So I started small, I thought I'd make 'Wall-E'. Lets just say I had to go smaller.

The second most basic step – getting the concepts and cracking the software. The thing that helped me through my teething phase with CG was working with my fellow mates. Nothing bolsters confidence like seeing your counterparts struggling just as much as you – which makes one realize that it’s not you, CG takes some effort to master. There were 3 of us kindred spirits who realized early on that three heads are better then one. Like soldiers at war, we decided that we would crack the software or die trying. The good news is we're still alive and kicking. That's tip 2- Work with friends. For two reasons - if at any point you feel you want to give up, you have people to pull you back from the brink. Also, anytime I understood a concept I would explain it to the others and vice versa; this works amazingly, as teaching others builds your confidence and hammers the concept in your head even more.

The other trick with CG is spending time with it. The more you try, the more you stumble, the more you learn. The software is just the tool and the more time you spend with it, the more you get your hands set on it. The really important bit is understanding the concepts. Visualizing in 3D is a developed art. After spending time 'thinking 3D' you'll feel like Neo in the Matrix. Everything starts to make sense. Like Neo seeing his environment in code after taking the red pill, after working in CG for a while, every object, building, person you look at, you start seeing loops and faces and vertex.Long story short, practice DOES make perfect when it comes to CG. So don't let up and do the right thing.. Choose the Red Pill.

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