Thursday, September 19, 2013

'Ask Ethan' Launches!

Hello CGA&A.
I'm Ethan Shilling, and not so long ago I was a student on this very course. So you're probably wondering what I'm doing here right? Well, I'm creating a new strand for the CGA&A blog called 'Ask Ethan'!

For many of you, you will be learning a lot of new software, and will need to pick things up quickly; Autodesk Maya being the main 3D application. So I am here to help with all things Maya related (and possibly some other stuff too).

So a bit about me; I actually came to the course already familiar with Maya (having learnt the basics at college), but with a particular interest in learning about 3D character animation. However during the course I also discovered that I was good at using my creativity to overcome the other more technical challenges. Suddenly it wasn't a case of, 'These are my skills - I can do this for my project.', but instead, 'This is what I want for my project - how can I achieve this?'
Put simply, If there was a better way to do something, I would be finding that way out, and that is what I find most enjoyable about CGA. The journey, discovery and controlling everything!

This is what I achieved for my final project. A short animation about a lone monk who lives in his own world, storing / returning the 'lost' things, which fall out of the sky. Entitled - The Place Where Lost Things Go.

While in collaboration with two fellow students Jordan Buckner and Ruben Martins, we created the animated short - The Final Chapter.

For more of my work, you can visit my own blog at -

My various uni projects can be accessed from the sidebar.
So that's enough about me.

Now, the 'Ask Ethan' strand is going to be a helpdesk of sorts; you come to me with your software related questions or problems, and I answer them.

For now, Maya will be my primary focus. I will be covering the majority of its features therein, whether it's dealing with the interface and shortcuts or rendering, rigging, effects etc. I can advise on the basics of After Effects, and really basic Photoshop, but they're not applications that I use intensively enough to be able to give detailed advice on. That said, it doesn't hurt to ask.

Within reason, you should be able to ask any question and I will attempt to answer. So while I wont necessarily be providing step by step instructions, what I will do is provide advice and guidance by pointing you in the right direction. It could be as simple as, 'the toolbar has vanished, how do I get it back?', it could be by forwarding some links to tutorials which might be useful, or to explain how something is working etc.

So that I don't miss a question, here are some guidelines to follow when setting up the post.

  • Always preface the title of the post with 'Ask Ethan - '
  • Always preface the page with the Ask Ethan logo provided here (you can load directly from the URL to save re-uploading).
  • Describe the problem or question as best as possible.
  • Providing images always helps, but are not mandatory.
  • If you want to provide a Maya scene file, make sure it is in .ma format! (NOT .mb)
  • Don't forget to say who you are! 
  • Don't forget to label the post with 'Ask Ethan' (plus any other related topics).
  • And don't be shy!

I will be watching this space regularly (at least on week days), and will try to answer promptly.
And of course, anyone else is allowed to chip in as we are still a community. Just remember that as long as you follow the above steps, you're (almost) guaranteed an answer from me!

 So any issues, just Ask Ethan!


  1. Thanks Ethan - and welcome aboard. Wonderful to have your talent, experience and expertise in the mix :)