Professional user groups for all types of digital content creation have been around for decades and remain one of the most popular ways to get immersed in a community. Within these groups are many creative souls-from artists and animators to engineers and architects-all hoping to be inspired and enlightened by the combination of technology and shared experiences. User groups can be found worldwide-from Houston to Hong Kong-and are easily located with a few swift Google searches.
Company-sponsored roadshows and industry events are another great way to interface with your peers and learn real-world techniques from qualified professionals. In fact, several of these events are under way this month. Alias, for instance, is readying for 3December. This one-day “global celebration of 3D computer graphics” covers three continents, placing the spotlight on imaginative professionals using Alias’s software to accomplish great CGI. Softimage is reaching out to its user community with the TD Love Tour, a series of in-depth seminars that feature notable production studios focusing on character rigging, scripting, modeling, and facial animation. If you’ve never experienced these types of events, consider attending. Not only is it great exposure to information, it’s a terrific networking opportunity.
Many groups, such as the Visual Effects Society (VES), the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), and SIGGRAPH focus on specialized communities. The VES calls its membership the Power Circle, and if your specialty is visual effects, this is a group you should get to know. The IGDA, on the other hand, is a non profit group with a mission of strengthening and effecting change in the game development community. If your interests lie in computer graphics and interactive techniques, SIGGRAPH, which is 7000 members strong, is likely a perfect fit.
“Inspired” communities such as the Pixel Corps (www.pixelcorps.com) and the Sane Society (www.sanesociety.org) offer vastly different approaches for artistic stimulation.
The Pixel Corps, spearheaded by a former ILM artist, has a primary mission of “preparing artists to participate and excel in today’s competitive and fast-paced digital media marketplace.” Members of the Corps not only get the experience of the collective community, they also get access to digital media software and online training resources. In addition, the Pixel Corps has work groups and teams in place that execute real-world production projects-short films and music videos to commercials and more.
The Sane Society, a “place of encounter between creators,” is an online gathering of artists, musicians, writers, painters, and photographers. Part creative showcase, part art gallery, part networking commune, The Sane Society’s mantra is “cooperating with the community strengthens the individual.”
These are but a few of the many communities that exist to help artists learn and grow. So, go ahead. Join in. Interacting with others can be fun and rewarding!