Editor's Note - The Quest for Learning
Issue: Volume: 30 Issue: 9 (Sep. 2007)

Editor's Note - The Quest for Learning

Karen Moltenbrey Chief Editor

September is here, and with it comes the start of a new school year. Turning back the clock (for some, myself included, this requires a few extra revolutions), most of us can recall getting ready for our elementary years, shopping for school supplies and our new lunch box—the metal sort, with images of our favorite television show or superhero. During our pre-teen and teen years, we knew that summer was winding down when our parents bought us back-to-school clothes that we weren’t allowed to wear until that early September morning (perhaps this was a bigger event for girls than it was for boys). In high school, summer seemed to end in July, as August was reserved for all-day practices—band, cheerleading, football, soccer, and so forth—as teams readied themselves for fall sports.

Today, Sketchers have replaced penny loafers, backpacks have replaced book bags, and stretchable book socks have replaced paper book covers. Yet, the quest and need for learning has remained the same. We are taught early on that education is important. In elementary school, we must learn to read and write. In junior high, we expand our knowledge of the basics and venture into other, more unique subjects. In high school, we prepare for college or a trade. In college, we prepare for “the real world,” which means a professional career. But, what happens then? Does the pursuit of knowledge stop when we obtain our diploma? For some, the answer may be “yes.” But in the digital content creation realm, such a decision could lead to career suicide, particularly in today’s ever-changing electronic age.

In the early days of computer graphics, digital artists were 90 percent computer programmer/10 percent artist. While there are exceptions, most digital artists and animators today have advanced their skills at an art school or a university specializing in CG techniques. For those who require a non-traditional classroom setting, online schools, such as Animation Mentor, are providing students with the appropriate knowledge and skills required to obtain a job in the DCC industry. Yet, when this initial round of learning is complete, there are a number of alternatives for expanding one’s knowledge.

Of course, there are countless books available to teach the art of modeling and animation. Additionally, a plethora of publications detail how to use a particular tool—XSI, Maya, Photoshop, and so forth. There are also a number of non-traditional alternatives. Facilities like 3D Garage and DV Garage offer digital training solutions that allow artists to extend their skill sets into other areas of CG, whether it is modeling, compositing, texturing, or animating. Recognizing the need for CG artists to become proficient at using a variety of tools, Digital-Tutors, Class on Demand, and others offer programs for mastering just about any type of commercial CG software. Vendors such as Autodesk and Softimage also provide training centers, training materials, and books detailing how to use their products. Even animation studios like DreamWorks hold classes to teach new hires to use their preferred tool sets.

We at CGW also recognize the importance of education, and as a result, we have launched our Knowledge & Career section, with the goal of providing our readers with information that will enable them to advance in their careers.