Author Topic: What cg-related blogs / websites do you read?  (Read 2768 times)

2023-09-05, 09:45:04

mase

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As many 3d artists will probably agree, there are times at work where you're simply left waiting for a heavy scene to load or some large files to transfer and have nothing really important to do in-between. The obvious choices become to doom scroll through social media or read some news and stuff.

But I've always had an ambition to dedicate my work day for work. So if I'm waiting for something else to happen, I want to use this time to learn some more about what's happening in the world of CGI. So let's use this thread to share interesting blogs / websites / podcasts (maybe?) that unite us all in one way or another and that is CGI and everything related to it.

I will start. Recently this was posted on this same forum and I found a few stories that were quite interesting: https://composite.substack.com/ . Obviously, Behance is like a second Instagram for artists but one can only absorb so much visual material throughout the day until it all becomes dull and overstimulating.

2023-09-08, 21:15:23
Reply #1

James Vella

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Its good to see you like to keep yourself motivated. I think its great that you want to spend your time doing something constructive.

From my perspective I render a lot during the day too, during those 10-15 minute renders ill usually spend my time on productivity. Ali Abdaal goes into this a bit on his videos for example, but to break it down I like the fact he mentions about one of his favorite authors who has a busy life, family, kids etc. - writes his books between random moments in the day. This can be a 7-10minute block of time but he manages to write an entire book just by taking advantage of those moments.

For me I like to write scripts that reduce my time clicking buttons (for repetitive work tasks), writing on my blog (even though people probably don't read it, it gives me time to reflect on things I've learned, learn how to write better, learn how to teach better etc.). I like to make videos or just write the scripts for my videos (goes back to writing, how to explain something difficult in a simple way). In the end there's many ways to be creative and create content without needing to consume constantly - which is what I think you are aiming for. So if you want to dedicate your time to work - I suggest creating content in some way or another. Sure there is plenty of information out there but your personal experience can really build something that's useful for others. Legacy is one of those things as you get older, is useful to others who take the time to better themselves, and its best to learn from other peoples mistakes than your own. Cliché as it sounds some people do actually heed that advice. 

2023-09-12, 13:00:10
Reply #2

mase

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Cliché as it sounds some people do actually heed that advice. 

I think I am one of those people actually.

Some great points and advice here, thanks for sharing your honest opinion on this subject. I do also believe that more often than not we tend to find excuses to not do certain things when in reality there's so much time that we choose to waste or spend otherwise. And although I remember reading somewhere that 'the time one enjoys wasting is not considered a wasted time', I fully agree that it all comes down to personal motivation and discipline when choosing between doing something productive or taking time off.

There's always a moment of balance, as with everything else in life, which becomes very important when working with creative tasks and pushing yourself to always be productive can have a countereffect. On the other hand, this so-called productivity can have different means to achieve it and all it takes is to find personal relation to it, so to make it relevant and exciting.

Oh, and great reference to Ali Abdaal video. I guess the hardest part for me personally is trying to break down those big tasks I've been meaning to do for a while into smaller segments that actually can be done in those short moments of time you get throughout the day. And also keep them intellectually exciting so they don't feel like a burden every time you sit down to do one.

2023-09-12, 13:56:29
Reply #3

James Vella

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And although I remember reading somewhere that 'the time one enjoys wasting is not considered a wasted time', I fully agree that it all comes down to personal motivation and discipline when choosing between doing something productive or taking time off.

There's always a moment of balance, as with everything else in life, which becomes very important when working with creative tasks and pushing yourself to always be productive can have a countereffect. On the other hand, this so-called productivity can have different means to achieve it and all it takes is to find personal relation to it, so to make it relevant and exciting.

Totally agree. I also schedule in daily exercise, walks outside, time with friends/loved ones to keep that sense of balance. Also I like to 'waste time' by playing a video game or watching a tv series if I've done an honest day's work. I probably do that less these days but I don't feel bad about those wasted times as you mentioned since I feel like my productivity is higher than it used to be and I also need to switch off from work mode. I also like to write down those small achievements and compare them to previous months/years to see if I'm just telling myself tall stories or actually moving the bar in the direction of my goals.

I guess the hardest part for me personally is trying to break down those big tasks I've been meaning to do for a while into smaller segments that actually can be done in those short moments of time you get throughout the day. And also keep them intellectually exciting so they don't feel like a burden every time you sit down to do one.

Yeah that's the trick I suppose. Often I like to give myself an in/out point. So I'll try something for 3 months, if I like it I will spend time on breaking down those tasks since I see the long term benefits of that thing. If after 3 months I dont enjoy it then I'll bench it for another one of my interests. Ive done this a few times with coding for example. I never really wanted to write scripts but I always found I needed to use it to do some other work faster, and those long breaks in between were actually more of a benefit than I thought since it gave my mind a rest dealing with difficult problems and when I came back, seemed a lot more simple than I initially thought. Also I think as a side benefit of pursuing your interests is that you learn things or meet people you never would have if you just sat there scrolling or doing what you might usually do on autopilot (not you per se, just speaking generally). So that's pretty cool I think, and who knows what will come from those relationships or pursuits.

Oh and I think when you have for example 3 large tasks you are interested in, if they are broken down into small bits its easy to switch between them on days you don't feel like doing that thing. Sometimes I'm in the mood to just write, so ill write for a week. Then I look at my to-dos and think oh you know what this week I'm just going to make a whole bunch of 3D models, or learn this thing which is a bit fuzzy in my memory. Its great to have a huge selection of things you can work on little by little. As they say the days are long but the years are short (or something like that), so make the most of it.
« Last Edit: 2023-09-12, 14:00:49 by James Vella »

2023-09-12, 17:09:57
Reply #4

mase

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Oh and I think when you have for example 3 large tasks you are interested in, if they are broken down into small bits its easy to switch between them on days you don't feel like doing that thing. Sometimes I'm in the mood to just write, so ill write for a week. Then I look at my to-dos and think oh you know what this week I'm just going to make a whole bunch of 3D models, or learn this thing which is a bit fuzzy in my memory. Its great to have a huge selection of things you can work on little by little. As they say the days are long but the years are short (or something like that), so make the most of it.

I can definitely relate to doing multiple tasks at once (not literally at the same time but in parallel). It helps as you say to allow yourself different type of work for a specific day, however I noticed that it can often lead to unfinished projects. Perhaps I should try writing down the goals and expectations of how long I think it will take and so on. Having everything simply on your mind is not enough I guess.

The biggest tasks I find myself involved in are usually related to organizing and re-organizing certain parts of 2d/3d library and everytime I figure out a way to do it and finally do it, I realise a better way and it gets really frustrating (I wonder if anyone else can relate to this). But I guess that's part of the process - you discover things as you do and there really is no other way around it.

And thanks again for sharing what works for you. Maybe that was not the original idea behind creating this post but I believe there's something more valuable coming out of it than simply a list of websites to further feed our need to consume. After all, the post was made in off-topic section so I guess we're right on track :)

2023-09-12, 18:11:59
Reply #5

James Vella

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I can definitely relate to doing multiple tasks at once (not literally at the same time but in parallel). It helps as you say to allow yourself different type of work for a specific day, however I noticed that it can often lead to unfinished projects.

lol yeah you are not wrong. I think it's the nature of a creative person though. However I do take a slight spin on this these days, I like to give myself small tasks that I complete. So that if the topic is not interesting to me at least I resolve something all the way through - which may only take a few hours, days or a week at most.

Perhaps I should try writing down the goals and expectations of how long I think it will take and so on. Having everything simply on your mind is not enough I guess.

Yep, totally agree. In fact it helps weed out bad ideas in my opinion. When you take the time to write/plan something often other obstacles come to mind which will warn you if it's worth investing time into. It's much shorter to spend a few hours writing then it is to spend a month doing then realize it's not the best idea. Often writing also gives you other ideas which may be worth investigating.

The biggest tasks I find myself involved in are usually related to organizing and re-organizing certain parts of 2d/3d library and every time I figure out a way to do it and finally do it, I realize a better way and it gets really frustrating (I wonder if anyone else can relate to this). But I guess that's part of the process - you discover things as you do and there really is no other way around it.

Ha! Well you are onto something there that's for sure. I did this religiously for years, I don't so much anymore. 3D changes/moves so fast, new processes occur, you learn better/new ways etc. Sometimes new/better isn't always good for things that should be eventually archived and moved on from. My only insight into this from my experience is - adapt, improve and overcome. Cliché again, but my point is often I find it's better to keep what you have "if it works". I've learned this working with many different studios where I've thought... ah god this is chaos! Only to hold my tongue for 3 months and see the logic behind it. Once I grasp the logic behind the chaos then I can see where that particular system can be improved - and it takes some planning. How do you serve both parties (more writing, yay! :D)? For example when PBR became mainstream back in 2017 instead of re-arranging our 2D libraries we integrated it into new directories. So we didn't need a new or separate library, we would add PBR folders to our library. So our Textures > Brick > Clean would become Textures > Brick > Clean > PBR. This way things get sorted into the current hierarchy but has its own category. This way old stuff that is still useful has not moved anywhere, but new stuff is placed alongside it. Thus people who use the system and are used to that 'chaos' don't have to adapt much, but their system is improved by giving them a better selection of textures since its easy to find. I adopt this style now which means less re-organizing later and when things eventually get to the point they are never really used - get archived, if need be. I try to adopt this way of thinking for everything, updated models are alongside their old models with versioned folders, this way if you are looking for the previous one you need then it's right next to the new one which is 'better in some way'. Etc. If its not 'better' for their needs, they can always pick the previous one for example - since workflows in 3D are so dependent on consistency in a lot of situations.

And thanks again for sharing what works for you. Maybe that was not the original idea behind creating this post but I believe there's something more valuable coming out of it than simply a list of websites to further feed our need to consume. After all, the post was made in off-topic section so I guess we're right on track :)

Glad to share. I also like to hear other peoples opinions on what works for them, what does not and learn new information which could be of value. Websites are cool too to learn from, but these days I'm so busy just making stuff or writing stuff I haven't had a chance to look. Sometimes I'll go a whole week before I even remember I have a phone lol. However I'm also keen to hear if there's some websites out there that I'm missing out on. Everything seems to be moving to Video media these days (like youtube), which is fine in a way but often times once their channels get large enough the juicy stuff dies off for low hanging fruit - "These 3 things will change your life!". Its a bit sad but I wish people would make more in-depth youtube videos for people who are really deep in the weeds. Ronen Bekerman interviews would be a great channel in my opinion, there were some great blog interviews on his site that went into lots of detail.
« Last Edit: 2023-09-12, 18:15:54 by James Vella »

2023-09-12, 18:27:04
Reply #6

James Vella

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I thought this would also be better in its own reply - I think you may be interested in another workflow tip I came across at a previous studio which relates to library reorganization. I remember when working with 2 different departments they didn't really like how the 3D department had assets located. But we 3D artists would complain about the fact that all our projects depend on those locations since when we reload the job we lose our assets (if they decided to move those files) and would have to relink them. Also when we wanted to move things around a bit it was a pain. So again, with a bit of planning we came to the realization that we can simply archive every job with the assets. So when that client returned and wanted updates the job had all its assets local to that job folder. It was a win-win because we could move our assets around and reorganize (depending on who was in charge of that and their preference), and all dependent jobs didn't need to refer back to the main library. We could add more assets if we needed but the original job would never change at render time, thus it was flexible for both departments. We just needed to buy a lot more hard drives :D. Anyway, rambling a bit, but I think you get my point.

2023-09-14, 21:25:03
Reply #7

dj_buckley

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Ahhh this has been/still is a battle for me every single day and has been for years.

So what do I do during 'production downtime' other than beat myself up for doing nothing :)

It depends - I've slowly learnt to not be so hard on myself.  I often work long hours, work late, work weekends, so if I end up doing nothing while waiting for renders etc then I'm cool with that.  I just see it as reclaiming some time back from those long hours.  And that's where my 'balance' comes in.

Other tasks I do, you've already mentioned, but sorting out asset libraries, cleaning my desk/office - clear workspace clear mind and all that - stuff that I like to call 'productive procrastination'.

As James said - I'll take a walk with a podcast on. (I have a dog).  Podcasts I listen to are Diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett, and The Collective by Ash Thorp.

I'll take a nap.  Why not.  I'm often tired late morning/early afternoon.  We drink when we're thirsty, we eat when we're hungry, so I sleep when I'm tired.  It helps that I work for myself from home in that regard though.  Although the reason I work for myself is because 'office hours' never suited me.  I'd end up doing very little during my tired hours and then staying at the office late to make up for those hours.

I'll play the Xbox - again it helps I work from home and the Xbox is next to me, but I get personal pleasure out of this and depending on the game, I sometimes find it inspires work.  Currently admiring the cinematography/lighting/landscapes of Red Dead Redemption 2.

I subscribe to a tonne of Youtube channels that I'll catch up on - some are work related some are general tech related and some are completely unrelated to what we do.

I'll watch the latest Patreon video from whoever I subscribe to - Fabien Escudero is a current favourite - his Tyflow work is exceptional.

I'll use the time for project specific learning - learn a new technique/software or improve on an old technique/scene - currently trying to get my head round Substance to see how it could fit into or improve my current workflows.

I'll use the time for project specific 'creative' - testing quick sketches on the iPad, or simply gathering photographic reference into Pureref for different CGI's, or maybe flicking through my latest coffee table book with a cup of tea and adding sticky notes/bookmarks to certain pages that I might be able to refer back to for lighting or composition reference.

Read a book, magazine, article, making of, tutorial (i have tonnes of articles bookmarked) - both work related and none work related.

I'll come on these forums and ask my own questions or help others answer theirs.

I'll create todo lists or make notes - I'm always thinking and coming up with ideas - so I write them down so I don't forget.  Whether I revisit them or not is a different story, but they're there if I want them at a later date and it keeps my head clear.

Having said all that I do find it difficult, there are plenty of times where the options of 'what to do' feel so vast, that you end up doing none of them.  It's like sitting down to watch something on Netflix, you spend hours deciding what to watch only to realise it's now too late to watch anything at all :)

But the main point from all of the above is not to be too hard on yourself regardless of what you choose to do.  Life's short.  Enjoy it.  As long as I can pay my bills and feed and cloth my kids, then I'm happy with all of my other choices.







2023-09-14, 21:58:29
Reply #9

dj_buckley

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To save this turning into a self help thread and sticking to the original question, I've attached a screenshot of the Youtube channels I subscribe to.  Some are more active than others.

2023-09-15, 09:25:02
Reply #10

Juraj

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Damn that's a growing list of artists on youtube. Arrimus is very cool guy, learned a lot from his tricks, even though I don't model anything these days :- )

Personally, everytime YouTube suggests me 3D/CGI content I click "Not-Interested"& "Don't recommned Channel" faster than speed of light.
Now, Martijn Doolaard and his Italian cottage building on other hand is my perfect idea of procrastination. I really hate when "work" jumps at me when I am not working, after 12 years I lost the energy to be surrounded by work all the time, even if it's work I absolutely love. I want my social media to show me mountain bikes and off-road cars and purely relaxing stuff.

I like those big encyclopedia sites some VFX pros make from time to time though, there was this guy who made a site with everything about Lighting in cinematography (from CGI standpoint in particular) but I can't find it from head right now.
I do plan to go through CommonPoint articles&videos one day when I'll gather enough focus (not easy with adhd, children and dogs). I like the fullness of content like that.

Instead of online content, I collect off-line tutorials of every sort, 50perc. of them are game-making related, Unreal, Modularity workflows, Color Grading, Compositing, etc.. but... looks like by the time I will go through them, I will be in 60s.
Please follow my new Instagram for latest projects, tips&tricks, short video tutorials and free models
Behance  Probably best updated portfolio of my work
lysfaere.com Please check the new stuff!

2023-09-15, 10:35:54
Reply #11

mase

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Wow, a lot of great and interesting replies, way to go!

James, I relate to pretty much everything you said and your idea behind asset organization makes total sense, I guess that's something that I've also been working for the last couple of years is this idea of 'future proofing' any kind of organization method so that it can adopt any inevitable changes later on. And regarding asset location, in our office we're using Deadline which collects and stores all the auxiliary files and assets for every single render on a separate folder (takes up quite a bit of space but is very useful). So that has never been an issue. A bigger issue is re-using assets from old projects but instead of having a coherent library with nice previews, it's always the same process of opening old scenes and trying to find it, copying it and merging into a new project. But I guess that just requires some dedication and time, and I'm sure it will be solved :)

But the main point from all of the above is not to be too hard on yourself regardless of what you choose to do.  Life's short.  Enjoy it.  As long as I can pay my bills and feed and cloth my kids, then I'm happy with all of my other choices.

I really love this kind of attitude too. I definitely find myself putting too much stress on being productive all the time which results in me being not productive at all and then guilt tripping myself even more. Life's short, let's enjoy it :) And I'll check out the book!

And it's always nice to hear anything from your point of view Juraj. I'm also on the same boat with CommonPoint tutorials which I have started but find it difficult to finish it (even though it's so well laid out and all). The amount of information and tutorials out there is becoming so vast that at some point you even start to wonder if it's even worth learning it if you can't learn it all.

2023-09-15, 10:59:59
Reply #12

burnin

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... there was this guy who made a site with everything about Lighting in cinematography (from CGI standpoint in particular) but I can't find it from head right now.
...
Chris Brejon's "The CG Cinematography book" ?

2023-09-15, 11:07:44
Reply #13

James Vella

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Podcasts I listen to are Diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett, and The Collective by Ash Thorp.

I also watch so much of Steven Bartlett, he has a great way of interviewing people. Ive never heard of Ash Throp, thanks for the recommendation.

currently trying to get my head round Substance to see how it could fit into or improve my current workflows.

Not sure what your day to day kind of work is but Substance truly changed how I work and I use it pretty much daily. There is so much that can be automated and really helped me work way faster.

Now, Martijn Doolaard and his Italian cottage building on other hand is my perfect idea of procrastination.

Ha, I love these types of videos! Not sure why but I think its just human to want to be outside building something and doing something useful. Very tranquil.

A bigger issue is re-using assets from old projects but instead of having a coherent library with nice previews, it's always the same process of opening old scenes and trying to find it, copying it and merging into a new project. But I guess that just requires some dedication and time, and I'm sure it will be solved :)

Ah yeah I see. That is an ongoing process and will never be perfect I suppose. We used Project Manager years ago to do batch previews of common assets from previous projects. But as you said, it does require dedication since that's a never ending process of what your colleagues/bosses/customers like most and what gets re-used often etc.

And it's always nice to hear anything from your point of view Juraj. I'm also on the same boat with CommonPoint tutorials which I have started but find it difficult to finish it (even though it's so well laid out and all). The amount of information and tutorials out there is becoming so vast that at some point you even start to wonder if it's even worth learning it if you can't learn it all.

I have to agree with both of you, having a library of content is very useful even if you don't read/watch it periodically. I often find that when the situation arises where I need the information I will have some reference for it on file. I probably spend more time archiving old information and 'bookmarking' the best quality stuff since I will refer back to it more often. I find these are usually universal concepts and not related to technical walkthroughs, since most concepts can be related to other topics - such as color grading or modular workflows as Juraj mentioned.

2023-12-26, 14:57:44
Reply #14

Okmijun

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CGArchitect, anyone?
I guess that most of us were on this forum once a while, which is somehow dead these years...
People obviously switched from forums to YT channels.
Also, CGTalk is near dead last years....


I'll take a nap.  Why not.  I'm often tired late morning/early afternoon. We drink when we're thirsty, we eat when we're hungry, so I sleep when I'm tired.  It helps that I work for myself from home in that regard though.  Although the reason I work for myself is because 'office hours' never suited me.  I'd end up doing very little during my tired hours and then staying at the office late to make up for those hours.


this could be potential insulin/ insulin resistance issue
and sleeping would make it even worse, not 100% sure, but it could be...
furthermore, insulin issue is often connected with thyroid issues, which in the end make you sleepy.
as I said, it could be...seating job is perfect for getting insulin resistance.
I am not trying to scare you just to inform that it could be possible danger for you in future years.
Best!

« Last Edit: 2023-12-26, 15:04:46 by Okmijun »