The educational value of getting your hands dirty

I have yet to properly introduce myself here, and I'm not sure what sort of impression I'm making with these somewhat impulsive posts. Today I introduce you to Veronica, the deceased ostrich, and Mike Taylor, the scientist who is getting to know her. Mike is a paleontologist, meaning he researches extinct animals. I introduce you to him here, because of a specific quote and a general energy that I feel is essential to learning

I have yet to properly introduce myself here, and I'm not sure what sort of impression I'm making with these somewhat impulsive posts. Today I introduce you to Veronica, the deceased ostrich, and Mike Taylor, the scientist who is getting to know her. Mike is a paleontologist, meaning he researches extinct animals. I introduce you to him here, because of a scpecific quote and a general energy that I feel is essential to learning

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In response to an enthusiastic reader calling him lucky, he replies:

Anyone can do this!  You don’t need qualifications, or even experience; this is how you get experience. Seriously, I’ve learned ten times more about dinosaur skulls in the last week from playing with Veronica than I did in the last five years of feeling guilty that I never read any head-related papers.

This quote hits a chord with me. Learning something implies that you're moving towards something unknown, and most people tend to have an ordinate amount of respect when doing so. Mike encourages you to shed a bit of that respect and just do it. As do I. 3D technologies often impress students... there are these complex environments and complicated arrays of parameter options. The respectful approach is to follow a tutorial or instructor, learning established processes. This is valuable, no doubt.

But the industry is young and processes are constantly evolving. Diving in and getting dirty is a valuable addition to follow-the-steps type learning. If you want to get a feel for the universal concepts and invisible potential of your toolsets, get your hands dirty and pull things apart. Animate it wrong, model it atypically, push it in different directions. Or order an ostrich head and dissect it. Or a monitor lizard. Or a pig. As Mike says, you will learn vast volumes in relatively short amounts of time.

But be prepared - you'll need time. And you may well end up with nothing much to show for your efforts. We're a creative industry. We need to allow ourselves time to explore, without worrying that we might not get something for our reel out of it. That will come in the next project.

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