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Thursday, 14 November 2013

Going after the unattainable – Allan McKay

Going after the unattainable – Allan McKay

This is a really long article, a very well written story of veteran visual effects artist and supervisor, on how he started out on a seemingly impossible goal, but through dedicated, focused, consciously directed effort, overcame all obstacles a step at a time, until he finally attained the goal he set out to do.

Through this journey, he shares with us how the majority of the people around him tried to tear down his resolve with hurtful words and scorn. However, he also clung on to every little bit of encouragement from those who believed he could fulfill his dreams.

It is not just about computer graphics, visual effects, or even an artist's career. It is the story of believing in yourself, holding on to your dreams, constantly taking directions and doing reality checks to guide yourself straight towards your goal. Also it reminds us to appreciating the people who believe in whatever we are doing, and how it will help strengthen our resolve in the darkest moments of our journey.

As a fellow artist (visual effects, musician, and composer), another thing that is so familiar to me, and I believe is common to all artists, is his dedication to his craft.

To all my students (past and present), and everyone who is on a journey of acquiring a skill in general. The only way to get good in your craft is to throw yourself unreservedly into learning, and improving.

N number of hours in class (half-listening, dozing off, day-dreaming) is not going to cut it. Even if you focus all your energy in class, but do not practice, experiment, research, or meditate on the subject, there is no way you will even get to a level where you can be hired.

I have seen too many students thinking that just classroom time is enough to infuse them with all the knowledge they need. In the real world of visual effects and the arts, learning is a life-time process. There is never twice the same challenge in any project. The stronger our foundation, the better we will be equipped to take on a new challenge.

Do a check and compare yourself with the dedication and determination of this extraordinary example of Allan McKay. How much are we lacking?

I used to literally tremble slightly and rubbing my hands in anticipation seeing the splash screen of 3D Studio Max loading up. I get excited seeing the empty viewport staring at me after the 3D application loads up. It is inviting me to create. It is like looking into the stars, looking into the horizon, looking beyond the clouds. The viewport can be whatever you want it to be. The software is telling me, "You can create anything. If you can think it, if you can use me to do it correctly, it can be done."

No I am not going crazy, this is just the surge of passion going through my veins.

Do something today, inspire yourself, keep the passion and creative excitement going. Learning is not a chore, it is not a burden. It is an adventure.

And that is how we approach it.