Appreciate your war buddies.
Slight hyperbole, but you’re going through a grueling three year challenge. It can be the best years of your life, but when it gets tough, your course mates will help you through because they are going through it too. I’d recommend living with at least one person from your course, it makes it bearable when you hate the sight of your computer, and they can share your indignation at the lack of work Fashion Promotion students are doing.
Try and fail to form a band.
Don’t forget your other leisure pursuits and aspirations, even if they never quite take off, or you’ll end up being defined by your job or your roll, without any other interests, an unwashed dishcloth of a human.
Don’t be precious.
If a model has taken nine hours but isn’t working or is no longer needed, save it, blog it, and then move on. There is no point in including something if it isn’t needed or isn’t good enough. It can end up on your blog as development, so it will never go to waste.
The same applies to writing.
Take an interest in photography.
Everything about it is linked to films and animation. Consider framing, viewing angles, aperture, depth of field, focal length etc on your camera settings in Maya. These are all factors with any SLR camera. If you can get the hang of it in real life, then you’ll understand it a lot more clearly in Maya. You can borrow a Canon 350d upstairs from photography at any time, it is worth getting one and having a play.
Buy a moka pot.
It’s a stove top coffee maker for finely ground coffee. If you’re staring down the barrel of an all-nighter, or you’ve been talked into Casino Rooms the night before and don’t want to waste the day wishing away all your sins on the sofa, a moka pot will make the strongest, best tasting coffee you’ve ever had, and will keep you up all night, or when combined with a resolve, obliterate your hangover, giving you back your afternoon. The best investment you’ll make in three years.
Ignore the television.
Read more books.
Everything, not just about your subject. Inspiration can come from everywhere, and there is nothing more diverse then the contents of the library. Even if a book on the Finnish Winter War isn’t going to help with your lip syncing, if you enjoyed it or learnt something then it was worthwhile.
If you can produce some strange projections for a fashion shoot, help with a green screen for model makers, or even just lend a hand to marketing students set build, it’s all experience, you’re working with other people, and it prevents your own work from getting stale.
All work, no play, ad nauseam. If you don’t fancy drinking away your texturing problems then do the gardening, go for a run, but don’t set fire to your recycling to save putting it out in the morning.
This sounds obvious, but as I never thought I’d be going into character modeling, I didn’t take on as much in the lessons as I could have. After graduating, the first freelance job I was offered was animating a B Movie style music video, requiring a three armed headless monster to run after a band. Luckily the animation had to be laboring and clunky, but to be honest; they wouldn’t have had a choice. I’ve had to spend a couple of months getting up to scratch to catch up on what I could have learnt in my second year. In conclusion; if you don’t think you need it now, sods law dictates you definitely will later.
Have a play with other software.
Remember it's CG ARTS.
Reflect on criticism before you react.
When you’ve worked till four in the morning on a model or idea before a crit or seminar, the last thing you want to hear is that it’s not up to scratch or it needs developing, and it can be easy to get cranky and argue the case. The only trouble with this is you usually end up sounding like a bit of a dick. Before reacting, go home and catch up on some sleep, then think about it, and then if it’s still bothering you, go and discuss it. No one is going to rip apart your work for the sake of it, as that would defeat the point of a crit. Also try to enjoy being proved wrong. If you were right about everything you discussed or argued about then you’d never learn anything.
Make your work your own.
Need a heavy footprint sound effect? Get a recorder and throw a brick into some mud. Earth texture? Take a camera for a walk into the nearest woods. It is a bit more effort than searching the internet, but it gives your work a much more original feel, and is a lot more fun, as well as a good excuse to try some stupid experiments (drum symphony recorded on kitchen utensils at midnight until interruption from neighbours).
Never feel stupid asking questions.
Pride can get in the way of admitting when there is a hole in your knowledge. I learnt how to use studio lighting by asking endless questions to a patronizing studio hand on the fashion floor; it made me feel a bit dim, but by the end of the shoot he’d told me how to work the equipment, and the next time I used the studio I didn’t need his help.
Don’t dismiss ideas.
These are personal recollections that I found helped me through three years, and continue to now. No doubt you’ll have formulated your own work methods and ways of getting the most out of your course. Quite simply though, if you know that you have pushed yourself and worked bloody hard, when you are on the podium at graduation, dazzled by Zandra Rhodes hair, you can be immensely proud that you’ve really earned the scroll that’s waiting for you at the bottom of the steps.
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