Sunday, July 6, 2008


In the past few days I've been following and contributing to the comments for a post Kevin Koch made on his awesome blog, SynchroLux. During that conversation I had an idea.

Sounds great hu? Well the problem is that the idea calls into question the existence of my own Blog, the ARC, at least in its current form.

To save me from repetition myself I'll start by copying and pasting my last comment from Kevins Blog.....

I think that the explosion of information about and for animators on the net over the past 3 or 4 years has been amazing, I’m based in Australia and when I was a student over a decade ago I remember being very frustrated that I couldn’t find any information about what was going on in the big US studios I loved so much. How did they work? What was life like for them? What mattered to them in their work? Outside of what I learned in The Illusion of Life I could only guess.

Now there is so much its mind boggling and wonderful. Its reached to a point where there isn’t anything technical I can teach in class that isn’t on the net, I’m fond of telling my students and employers that educators can’t act like they have all the information locked in a cupboard any more, what we can offer is structure, feedback, guidance and encouragement.

But one issue for students is knowing where to start. Take this post for example. I think it would be healthy for a student to read this post quite early in their education, a reminder that as they move forward they always need to be keeping one eye on the big picture. Recently there have been quite a few great posts across the net about polish, but these would be more useful to a student after they have got the fundamentals down. In one 11 Second Club Ecritique you might learn about the fold of skin under an eye and in another you might learn about fundamental character posing or layouts.

I’m always preaching to my students that they should get stuck into all the amazing on line goodies and gobble them up, but surprisingly I meet a fair bit of resistance. There may be several factors, I think they can take it all for granted because they don’t remember a time when you couldn’t pop on line and see how Victor Navone uses a graph editor and so on, another thing is that many just wont read (spoiled by too much instant media junk (eek I’m sounding old)). But one thing I think that’s daunting is knowing where to jump in, imagine stumbling across this post from the great Flip Blog when you are still working on your first sack of flower or bowling ball scene. Its an interesting post, but you can imagine it scaring the pants off a beginner.

I wonder if there could be a web site of blog that divided up and linked to information across the web based on the level of animator it was targeted at? A kind of road map for on line animation resources set up so that new people entering into the whole thing can find information at a relevant level for them. It would obviously be a big job, not to be entered into lightly, there is also a level of subjectiveness that could be awkward (different opinions on when students should learn different things), but its an idea that wont stop rattling around in my head.

So there is my idea, an animators road map, or a true on line Animation Resource Centre (ARC), it could link to articles, interviews, examples and tutorials from a broad range of sources divided up into categories. Those categories could be listed in a suggested chronological order and subdivided into levels of complexity so that new and or more established students of animation (ie all of us) could find information relevant our circumstances. It could be a blog, a web site, a wiki or something else.

It would have to be a constant work in progress, always being updated, which is why I think if I was to do it, it would mean and end to the ARC in its current form. If I'm right and the massive wall of excellent animation info on the net is starting to become impenetrable to beginners, then the current ARC is just adding to the problem anyway. Especially when you take into account that my thoughts and instructions are being thrown out there in amongst the thoughts of others I consider to be in a whole other league.

This has had me musing over some big picture issues as well. The internet is a kind of collective brain, we all move around it and many of us throw in our two cents here and there (Deviant Art for example seems to have a near hypnotic power over many of my students). But who s keeping an eye on the big picture, or can anyone keep an eye on the big picture, who would you want in such a role anyway. I was given no choice but to look to The Illusion of Life and Preston Blair when I first started getting interested in animation, I found that frustrating at the time, but with hindsight it may have been a good thing. These books were written by the best, now there are opinions from every tom dick and harry, we tend to fall into a “more is better” frame of mind, but is it really?

There is also always the possibility that I'm not the first think this stuff. There could already be something out there that covers this ground. Let me know if you think there is, it could save me a lot of work :)

So for now I'm not sure what to do, I guess I'll just have to kick the idea around for a bit longer. If anyone has thoughts they would like to share then please comment.

Click HERE to comment.

Click HERE to return to the ARC.