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3D DIRECT • April 24, 2000

Eternal Truth of the Moment

Crossing the Gap

by Swami Rendananda

For many years, computer-graphics artists have separated their work into 2D work involving Adobe Photoshop and After Effects (www.adobe.com) and 3D work involving modeling and animation. This has traditionally been based on people's strengths—2D artists create great mattes and texture maps, while 3D artists create animation and models. 3D artists render the work, 2D artists composite the work, and everything is great. While some cross the line between the two, most artists stay in the area in which they excel.

This line may become impossibly difficult to distinguish in the near future. As the worlds of 2D and 3D collide, our work as artists will become both more complicated and simple. The complication stems from the fact that very little computer-graphics work will come from either 2D or 3D work alone; the work will include scanning, matchmoving, motion capture, texture imaging, and more. 2D artists will have to know what will be needed in the 3D world and vice-versa. There will be nowhere to hide. The simplicity actually arises from the same sword. Because everything is mixed, there will cease to be the issues of integration that are now prevalent.

Who will benefit more: 2D or 3D artists? Neither. The bottom line is that great thinkers—people who are not attached to their platform, applications, or past—will be fine. Artists who allow themselves to be distracted by these transitory things will suffer the unavoidable pain that always follows attachment to details instead of the art itself. This is the same in any art and in life. The key will always lie in the artist's ability to see the context in which he/she is working. The question will not be whether you can do it the old way, but can you do it efficiently and compete with newer options, which is much more risky. Traditional 3D animators will be challenged to compete with motion-capture artists (not the performers, but the artists who know how to deal with keyframing and motion-capture data) in a production environment. Modelers will find 3D scanning tools and NURBS conversion tools increasingly challenging their space. Matte creation will require the understanding of 3D elements.

The key will be to remain fluid and engaged in the art form of content creation. Artists will have to carefully look at what is being asked for and what tools and techniques are available to achieve it. This concept may seem obvious, but that is the nature of its elusiveness. It is always difficult to give up what you know for what is possible. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is where success and true growth lies. You must be continually willing to move to the next tool, while remaining centered in your core competencies. The exterior tools we use will change constantly; understanding their transitory nature is the key to not being unsettled by their movements.

It is important to realize this integration is inevitable and that attachment to old concepts of segregated CG will make it difficult to earn a living. But the development of CG as an art form depends upon those who are not distracted by the medium and stay focused on the message; they will embrace the new tools as vehicles for communicating what they have to say.

Swami Rendananda is the resident online mystic for the 3D Direct Newsletter. Write to him at [email protected].