Dear prospective student,
This semester was my final Animation Studio course. The fascinating thing about these courses is that they are different every time. What you do is guided by what topics you are interested in exploring or the skills you are interested in developing. The courses are a reflection of your passions, and like all mirrors lead to self examination. This semester started out continuing with a project that I had been working on previously, making still 3d frames based off of character models I worked on last semester for a short story I had developed.
I worked to make a setting for the characters to exist in, added some colors and simplified textures and set out to start making these shots. The work was slow and tedious as I found myself encountering a variety of issues grandfathered in from my previous work. Character models had several topology issues, which I took time to correct. Character designs themselves seemed to possibly be problematic as I found myself focusing on fixing problems I had created for myself instead of building on what I had.
I have always enjoyed the challenge of 3D art, but something was missing this semester so far. After several weeks, I figured out what it was: connection. The studio is great for two main reasons. First, it allows you to explore things that you are interested in. Second, it gives you the opportunity to connect to other people with those same passions. Without consciously realizing it, being part of something bigger has always been a vital part of the studio for me. For example, working on Animation Studio projects for my first couple of years gave me the opportunity to learn new 3D skills while working with others. The challenges that arose and the issues that needed to be fixed were always in service of a project greater than any one of us. That purpose made me excited to tackle those problems, and prevented me from getting in my own head as much. I realized that this semester had, so far, been missing that connection.
Luckily, an opportunity arose to work with the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at MIIS to model and texture an Iranian Safir Rocket.
This was the perfect opportunity because it connected me to something greater. On top of that, it was even more exciting because it connected me to something outside of the Middlebury animation studio community. It was invigorating to know that there were people out there interested in my 3D skillset. The weekly meetings to talk about my progress were great because they helped me learn about what CNS does and also for them to see what I was capable of making. I was now getting immediate feedback on how I was doing from the people who were going to be using my work. It felt great to see my work validated by people outside of the studio.
It is important to remember that one of the best things about the studio is how it connects you with other people and organizations that value 3D animation, art and design. It is easy for many artists to want to isolate themselves and work on something that is completely their own. Realistically however, at least for me, it is almost always necessary to have some connection to other people or other projects.
Connection to a bigger project, or other artists can be a form of constraint that focuses your work. Remember to tap into that and your work is bound to flourish.
Sol Manuel Garza