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SCOTT CAPLE / Concept and Design for Animation / Environment /Character / Layout / Storyboard / Pixar / Disney / Blue Sky / Aardman / Lucasfilm

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More on ...Being the Pedagogue

Whew! Raised a small storm with that last post!
The number of comments to this amazes me! Thank you thank you to all of you who replied, commented, I even got a couple of phone calls. Must have touched a nerve.

It deserves some elaboration.

Again, I have to say, I love teaching . The time at Sheridan, truly, it was time well spent on the whole. And there are many good memories; were some very rewarding moments. There is nothing like seeing the light on over someone's head, or opening a door .

Re: the Frustration I voiced - I realize that not everyone wants to be or can be a good layout artist. I can't expect that 100% of you will eat this up. I know i can't take it personally if someone may not be interested in environments or staging as much as performance or storytelling.

But you have to give it a shot.

As Woody Allen says, " 80% of success is just showing up."

I tried to make it exciting, tried to keep it from being too pedantic. I tried to instill the classes with a sense of peering into the crystal ball/ revealing the secrets of the universe. I tried to show how perspective can be fun. I made you get me coffee if you were late for class.

But when I think of the ones that I saw failing , the ones who beat a hasty retreat out of the room before I could stop them and say, here lets just draw something together, see how easy it is?... it just breaks my heart.

Was I too harsh about student performance? Maybe.
Perhaps I was holding you to professional standards, which you are not yet.
But there are MANY examples of student work out there that ARE of a professional level; we all have bookmarks for these people. As I said in class more than once, those are your competition. If you aren't as good as they are, then you better do something to get there, or have a hard talk with yourself.

I didn't expect everyone to do perfect AfterEffects tests right out of the gate, but I could tell when someone was trying, and that's where the good marks come from.

Sometimes with assignments, when marking them, it was clear that someone misunderstood the assignment, but there was no chance to catch it early. The thing to do is make sure the work is reviewed before it goes too far. We did do some interim review, but again, I am only able to look at the work that is brought to me.
Unless I chase you down one at a time, and go over it all. But that's extra time; how much extra time do we give? There is the rub, where does the professional begin and the kindly teacher end? It hinges on your definition of professional.

I will apologize for one thing: there were emails that did not get answered.
I did my best to answer all that I recieved, but something strange was happening with my Sheridan Access account; as it turned out there were two and I was not aware of this, and some things fell between the cracks. I should have been on top of that.
There we also a few problems with setting up the hand in areas on the server, it was not always clear where work was to be submitted. But it wasn't THAT hard to figure out.

Now, where I saw some very good work being done was in the examples of life drawing and animal drawing that get regularly showcased - good sense of movement, energy, and a nice sense of expression laid over factual information, though sometimes the cartoon elements got carried away. Kudos to The instructors in this stream for getting good results from this type of work.

Look at the difference in the upper and lower pics.

Now how to infuse layout with the same excitement and sense of fun?

To be continued.....


Dan said...

No, no Scott, you should be holding students to professional standards. Not only is it how we improve, but its also why so many had so much respect for you. It's not helping anyone if the profs are holding their hand through out their education because thats not how the real world works. I'm not sure I would have made it into the program if there were only 100 students selected each year but I do think there should be some...trimming of the fat so to speak. Say a yearly portfolio review to see progress. Anyhow I would like to keep in contact with you but drop me a line with your contacts, if you will. daniel.sprogis@umit.maine.edu. Thanks Scott!

Janice Chu said...

It was great that you were marking hard at professional standards, because that's how it is out there in the world. If you aren't good enough, there are other better who are willing to take your job! When a professor marks hard, that's when I enjoy the class!

Because of your class, that one assignment where you got us to draw the layout and props for the time era assignment was my favourite one of all. It reassured me that I really wanted to do this kind of stuff when I leave Sheridan. Long and behold I got an internship doing props and layouts and I loved it all!

Like Dan, Id also like to keep in contact with you, if you do't mind. janicechu89@gmail.com. Thank you very much Scott! =)

Pete Emslie said...

I feel like I need to weigh in with my thoughts about grading. Fact is, there's way too much importance placed on the numbers used to grade student assignments. The numbers really don't mean a damn thing, other than being a necessary way of keeping score.

Admittedly, I may very well be one of those teachers that grades on the generous side, as far as the numbers go. But before I enter those numerical grades, the fact is I obsess over it, hoping to give a score that somehow equates the relative merits of an assignment, even though I steadfastly maintain that art cannot be "quantified".

Instead, I believe in grading an assignment with written notes and, better still, drawn suggestions on how to make something stronger. Unfortunately, this takes far more time to do adequately, with each student's work taking approximately 10 minutes or so to get through. Do the math and you realize that 125 students times 10 minutes or more apiece tends to accumulate into 20 to 30 hours altogether in grading time! When I return an assignment, I tell the students to read my comments and learn from those, yet too many just glance at the score at the top, groan, and place their assignment face down without a further look, thus making my efforts to actually teach them something turn out to be all for nought.

From the sample of graded student art that Scott has posted here, I can see how he too has been trying to teach through well-intentioned draw-overs, yet I'll bet that many students don't actually take such constructive criticism to heart and try to apply it to their next assignment, instead just noticing the numerical grade and wondering whether they'll have over 50% by the end of semester in order to just pass. That's not the way one truly learns anything, in my opinion anyway.

Winona Janega said...

There are ways for students to get over the initial hurdle of a teacher who grades more seriously. Like you said, the best thing to do is get work reviewed prior to actually making the final piece, along with simply following the assignment sheets. Even if one can't produce amazing art because their skills simply aren't there yet, at least they have a willingness to learn and did what any professional would do when it comes to following directions. It's ultimately up to students to shape the success of their assignments, utilizing their teachers along the way.

I think you were succesful in making each class informative and entertaining, but layout is my preferred aspect of animation so it's easy for me to find learning about it enjoyable. I'm glad that 3rd year's layout class is 3 hours long, haha! :)

Pete - I've heard you discuss grading before and I can agree that the numbers shouldn't be the main focus, especially since they are so subjective. I, and I sure hope the majority of students, appreciate the drawings you do on grading sheets (and any received critiques from Scott as well!). Character design is probably my biggest downfall; it takes me a long time just to come up with unimpressive designs and poses. I've kept all of my marked assignments simply so that I can always go back and see the advice you gave in case it happens to be pertinent to something I am working on.


Guys, I can't thank you enough for the lengthy and thoughtful comments..these should be out in the open, not hidden on the comments board of a blog!

Dan, Pete, Janice, Winona, its all about you!

I suppose i should identify the art i 've posted, the last one was by Andrew Greiling. It was not a bad one, and got a decent mark, but it was typical of the work that came in - kinda constipated if you get my drift. Sorry Andrew!
The drawover, as Pete says, is the best way to critique. And it should be done with the student right there. That's where the learning happens. As Pete says, this kind of marking takes a lot of time to do, but it's ultimately useless, unless the student uses it. I know that many of the drawovers I did were never seen, because the students never picked up the work!

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