Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More on ...Being the Pedagogue

Whew! Raised a small storm with that last post!
The number of comments to this amazes me! Thank you thank you to all of you who replied, commented, I even got a couple of phone calls. Must have touched a nerve.

It deserves some elaboration.

Again, I have to say, I love teaching . The time at Sheridan, truly, it was time well spent on the whole. And there are many good memories; were some very rewarding moments. There is nothing like seeing the light on over someone's head, or opening a door .

Re: the Frustration I voiced - I realize that not everyone wants to be or can be a good layout artist. I can't expect that 100% of you will eat this up. I know i can't take it personally if someone may not be interested in environments or staging as much as performance or storytelling.

But you have to give it a shot.

As Woody Allen says, " 80% of success is just showing up."

I tried to make it exciting, tried to keep it from being too pedantic. I tried to instill the classes with a sense of peering into the crystal ball/ revealing the secrets of the universe. I tried to show how perspective can be fun. I made you get me coffee if you were late for class.

But when I think of the ones that I saw failing , the ones who beat a hasty retreat out of the room before I could stop them and say, here lets just draw something together, see how easy it is?... it just breaks my heart.

Was I too harsh about student performance? Maybe.
Perhaps I was holding you to professional standards, which you are not yet.
But there are MANY examples of student work out there that ARE of a professional level; we all have bookmarks for these people. As I said in class more than once, those are your competition. If you aren't as good as they are, then you better do something to get there, or have a hard talk with yourself.

I didn't expect everyone to do perfect AfterEffects tests right out of the gate, but I could tell when someone was trying, and that's where the good marks come from.

Sometimes with assignments, when marking them, it was clear that someone misunderstood the assignment, but there was no chance to catch it early. The thing to do is make sure the work is reviewed before it goes too far. We did do some interim review, but again, I am only able to look at the work that is brought to me.
Unless I chase you down one at a time, and go over it all. But that's extra time; how much extra time do we give? There is the rub, where does the professional begin and the kindly teacher end? It hinges on your definition of professional.

I will apologize for one thing: there were emails that did not get answered.
I did my best to answer all that I recieved, but something strange was happening with my Sheridan Access account; as it turned out there were two and I was not aware of this, and some things fell between the cracks. I should have been on top of that.
There we also a few problems with setting up the hand in areas on the server, it was not always clear where work was to be submitted. But it wasn't THAT hard to figure out.

Now, where I saw some very good work being done was in the examples of life drawing and animal drawing that get regularly showcased - good sense of movement, energy, and a nice sense of expression laid over factual information, though sometimes the cartoon elements got carried away. Kudos to The instructors in this stream for getting good results from this type of work.

Look at the difference in the upper and lower pics.

Now how to infuse layout with the same excitement and sense of fun?

To be continued.....

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

teaching this year

I love teaching.

By now some of you who follow this blog, and are students out at Sheridan, will know that I am not teaching this year.

I think I owe you guys a bit of an explanation.

The main reason is just that I got another, full time job and its just plain financial sense to go with the bucks.

But I also became frustrated with some of the craziness going on out at the college.

The teaching isn't bad, really, dollarwise, the hourly rate is pretty good.
And where else can you just stand and spout about what you love and they pay you?
But the thing that happens is that the 10 hours I get paid for turns into 20 hours , sometimes 30 if there is an assignment to be marked, and thats just not good business.
As I have made plain in the years I was there, a large part of your education is becoming a professional and getting used to doing stuff like the pros. That means, no work for free. Not even your mother!
We all do it - all the pieces done for good causes  - fundraisers, friends, galleries - but as a pro you should be compensated in some way for what you do  - it is your intellectual property!
 We don't call it mercenary - just smart.
So, sorry, Sheridan, enough free time.

It is also a boycott. I am not in favour of the recent hike in admissions up to 150.
The college is watering down the brand.
As it is, too many are admitted that are in truth just not ready, that trend will be reinforced with even more numbers.
I'm sorry, there are too many of you. You should not all be there, you should be given a heart to heart talk, then go and do the work necessary to be properly prepared for first year.
Besides, it is killing the faculty.
We can't deal with the numbers as it is; we are not able to spend enough time with each student for them to to be able to understand what we are saying, to learn what they need know. More, to practice it enough to get better at it. Animation is a master /apprentice craft and to teach it properly there must be teacher /student interaction. Too many of them are left to slip off the edge of the raft and disappear into the frigid night of frustration and disappointment.
So, I refuse to spread myself that thin.

Part of it is your fault. There were too many absences, too many assignments not handed in or worse, dashed off at the last minute and handed in, expecting a mark. There is too much of a climate of entitlement. I didn't go through the last 30 years working for George Lucas and  Disney and Bluth and Brad Bird - and believe me, working for those guys wasn't a piece of cake - and reach the level I have in the industry, just to get dissed by a bunch of students. If I had me as a teacher, i wouldn't miss a class. I put a lot of work into presenting the material and expect the same in return. You gotta be there and I mean all there. After all, It's your time and money, you shouldn't waste it - as i said in class, at least let me know if you aren't going to show - again , be a pro!

So, theres some of it anyway. There is more, but that's enough for now.

I t's not that I don't like teaching, but from now on, it has to be on my terms.
I will miss you, when it worked, it was the best.

If any of this sounds unfair, let me know - I am more than happy to discuss it...

But I do love teaching.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Composition Revisited: Symmetry!!

Some time ago, I did a layout class at Sheridan for the second years, pointing out the use of Symmetry and One Point Perspective used by Stanley Kubrick in his films. (Maury White was showing 2001: A Space Odyssey as the Friday film that week and I wanted to drum up some some attendance for it).

Well, look at this!

Kubrick // One-Point Perspective from kogonada on Vimeo.

Mind you, I think this completely ignores the editing rhythms of the original films and hence the reason the shots had the power they did...and Mr. Kogonada should have used a piece of music from a Kubrick film... not what sounds like a recent trailer!

Here's one of  the examples I did for the class; not nearly as slick, but still makes the point I think!

The analysis went along these lines: symmetrical (or nearly so) setup, but then the action within the shot - the rotation of the space station outside the window and its size change - as an element it becomes larger and a more important piece of the composition - diagonal lines of force are created from the center towards the  four quarters of the screen. 
Not to mention those cool readouts on the small screens in the spacecraft cockpit!