Cross-training for 3d Animation with infographics

542346_10102471971820471_1382604160_nThe summer is going well. I’m teaching a graphic design class, substituting for an animation class, and doing some web coding.

I’ve also worked on academic posters for two conferences. They’re really just big, text-heavy infographics. Even though the posters are 2d illustration and typography projects, I think they’re useful cross-training (does that count as a sports metaphor cliché…?) for 3d. Here’s why:

  1. Thinking like an audience member. Executing infographics can be complex, but the relationship to the audience is straightforward: Here is some information, organized and with graphical cues to help but complex relationships in context.
    This means you’re constantly trying to think like an observer of the work, and that’s good exercise. Building that objective judgment is incredibly useful for evaluating narratives, which is a great skill for a 3d artist to have.
  2. Organizing information is what content creators do. Getting information about a setting, a narrative, or an object to the audience is what 3d … is. Skillful parsimony in expression is what makes an infographic succeed or fail, and also what makes the creating 3d animation a manageable endeavor.  We are always presenting an edited version of a concept or vision, and identifying and organizing what information is most useful is something that’s critical in 3d animation andin designing an infographic.
    This process of curating information was of particular benefit to me because of its relevance to teaching. Evaluating multiple ways of presenting information is something I do every time I create a lesson plan or outline a lecture. Thinking through several methods of presenting information gives me several potential approaches to draw on when giving supplemental instruction.
  3. Working with a client who is a subject matter expert. Industry animation is almost always going to involve creating work about subject matter in which the animator isn’t expert, so working with a specialized set of information, communicating with an expert client, and winning them over with the presentation you’ve designed is key.

So, while building an infographic didn’t teach me a new shading network or a different way to model, between exercising general visual skills and sharpening the ones above, it felt like a good use of time.