What I tell myself everyday.

To all the people watching, I can never ever thank you enough for the kindness to me, I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask is one thing, and this is.. I'm asking this particularily of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen." - Conan 'O'Brien

February 24, 2011

Thoughts on the local animation industry in Singapore - Short courses

Previously on this post, I talked about the problems with the education model for animation in Singapore.

"The most critical flaw with the current model of having specialised courses just so that the students can get into Lucasfilm, D Neg is heavily flawed. Because all you are churning out students who are one trick pony following tutorials and step by step in doing a prescribed way of working. They are severely limited by the skillsets that they have. "

I want to add that the problems actually go down deeper.

vished posted a link from the online citizen website last year.

The part that stood out was "An individual whom I know on a professional basis recently graduated from a private animation school in Singapore under a government-funded diploma program. He was scathing of the standard of teaching (by a former graduate of the same course). It’s easy for me to criticize competitors but a specific claim this school makes is its faculties are current industry professionals. Clearly this is not the case but who’s going to complain?
The person I know said everyone passed their course and received a diploma when some clearly deserved not to. One of the reasons I believe what I have heard from this individual is because I know how the scheme providing the grants works. If the student doesn’t pass the course, the school doesn’t receive their fees from the government. If that happens, it’s bad for business."

Incidentally, this was a post written by the boss of another animated school in Singapore who also happens to run their own production studio. (loads of animation schools in Singapore eh?)

  Discounting that fact, what is said does make sense. If the biz model is that you get paid for each student that you pass then where is the incentive to fail bad quality student and producing quality students?

  Think about it, if the school fails a student, it doesn't get paid. There is no incentive to actually have any quality control. When these students do not get a job, its easy to say there is no demand for the job rather then their work sucks.

  I am all for short courses to upgrade a artiste's skillsets and ability. In fact I view them crucial to the development of the artistes.

  But I question the the materials and also the qualifications of the lecturers and that are teaching the course. It is one matter that the course materials are written by people who might work at the big "overseas" studios. It is another matter of who is teaching them.

  Do they have the practical experience to have actually done it for a professional company? There are professionals who teach on the side to supplement their income. There is nothing wrong. Especially with the pay locally so low and cost of living so high.

  But the schools should be forthcoming about who is teaching the courses and their background experiences.

  Even the school themselves need to be checked. Its very to claim its endorsed by the Govt and by EDB/WDA etc.

Some of it is common sense but do your research if not you are the one losing out.

Secondly, teaching students who prior have no animation or cg education only a particular skillset is a HECK of a shitty idea.

Computer Animation is a craft, I do not care how talented or gifted you are. To learn and to even get to an acceptable employable level takes a lot of effort and most importantly time. Time for the brain to absorb the sheer amount of information and translate that to completed work that display your ability.

And worst of all, it is actually detrimental to the long term future of the industry locally. Currently the industry is overwhelmed with one trick ponys. Or I suppose graduates from these schools who call themselves "ahem" modellers, animators, clowns or whatever the fuck they self proclaim themselves to be. Only to be completely shocked by the level of work that is required to be hired.

  Modellers who zbrush or mudbox are dime in the dozen. Really. Fucking loads.

  Download some evaluation software. Some online tutorials and you can sculpt away in a few hours. It is just sculpting in the computer. But to master it takes an aesthetic eye and also technical knowledge of edge loops and also how anatomy and muscles work during animation. And that is something that needs understanding of different disciplines and also time to understand and apply.

  Even those who just want to do animation only, unless you are a born and talented animator, the chances are that the quality of work that you have done on your short course won't make the grade.

  Every year there are so many of these cg "artists" that go into the industry with the impression that with a modelling reel of turntables or just pure animation reels, they can find a job. And I will bet 70-80% of them will not have a paying job at all because there are already too many of them out there. And there are more coming out.

  The good thing is these short courses are spring boards or a spark for those that are driven to have some understanding of the different aspects of animation. And decide that this is something that they can do. But the percentage of those are small.

  And for the rest that after a course realises that animation isn't all that they thought it would be, will move on to do other stuff without sacrifacing 3 years to find that out. Unfortuntely, most of it will be taxpayer's money going into the pocket of the schools that conduct these courses.

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