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Saturday, September 1, 2007

T-Minus how long???

16 days.

T-Minus 16 days, and counting...

That's how long before Flashpoint: The Academy of Media Arts and Sciences is open for school! There is a lot left to be done, but it will all get done. The excitement is carrying us all through the long hours and the craziness that happens when anything new and groundbreaking is started. It's part of the fun, and it wouldn't be the same without the craziness.

To a degree, the intensity makes all creative and groundbreaking endeavors not just "bearable" but actually thrilling. Like when I made my first visual effects shots for a real movie. At the time, what we were doing was groundbreaking. No one had done digital effects at the price point we were doing them, on the schedule we had, for the producers we had. And to top it all off, we had never done this before. No, I don't just mean we hadn't done visual effects for movies (we hadn't), I mean we were doing creatures (we had never even attempted those on our own), sky replacements, rotoscoping, particle effects, morphing and the list goes on. Read today, that isn't really scary. But for a bunch of guys who only made animated logos before, this was like being given the keys to ILM, but with no one there to run the place. We had to figure it all out for ourselves.

And we did.


But that is the best way to learn something. Just do it. Anyway you can. Even if everyone else (including yourself) thinks you can't. Show them (and yourself) how wrong that is. Prove it. Learn how to do it by doing it, making mistakes, changing strategy, and doing it again.

A wise old puppet once said: Do or do not. There is no try.

What he forgot to mention was that trying means "thinking about it". When you do something, even if it isn't working, you are still doing it. If it doesn't work the first time, do it again. Don't "try it again". DO IT again. Eventually, you will do it right. And when you do, you will have learned the "how" in the phrase: "How it's done". The phrase isn't "How it's tried".

If you fail, you've learned something. You've DONE something.
Eventually you will win.

If you try, you're still just thinking about it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Like a Frankenstein movie I tell ya!

Wow. That's all I can say. Last week, when we had those insane rain and storms throughout Chicagoland and Northern Indiana, I was driving back to my apartment, heading towards the Sears Tower and - - - - - - BOOM! A bolt of lightning hit the antennae on the top of the Sears Tower like you wouldn't believe! It was SO intense, SO bright and SO gigantic that it honestly looked fake. Like it was a bad effects shot from a Frankenstein movie! I have never seen lightning like that in person, and it was such an amazing sight that rather than being afraid of the storm, I eagerly looked around for more lightning. I wanted to see that again, but it wasn't going to happen. While completing my drive to my apartment that night, I began to think about something that has always been funny to me... Sometimes we, as artists, try so hard to replicate reality, that it ends up looking kind of homogenized. We try to make it have JUST the right color and JUST the right shape and JUST the right motion. Then, when we see something real, we are surprised, because it ends up looking FAKE! It's not, of course, it's just that our limited view of the "real" world is always filtered through a set of things we profess to know based upon past experience, and when something comes along that doesn't follow that past experience, we are thrown for a loop. I spend a lot of time people-watching. But equally as much time world-watching. It's such an amazing planet, Earth. The things we see (when we aren't huddled in some darkened room in front of a glowing monitor) are more amazing than anything we can currently recreate with the sticks and stones we have for making computer graphics. We have so much further to go until we are able to recreate reality, if ever. And when and if we are able to someday, it will still be limited by a filter known as "life". If we haven't experienced enough of it, then how are we to know when something looks real, or looks like an old Frankenstein movie?