View Single Post
Old 14-04-2012, 07:27 PM   #9
Lifetime Member
leroy3rd's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA, USA
Posts: 295

This is a long discussion that encompasses many different aspects of pedagogy, learning styles, and personal preference. In that light I offer my opinion which may or may not be similar to those already voiced here. First I think it's important to convey what I look for in a tutorial, and why. Whenever possible I choose tutorials in print over video, but these days it's getting very difficult to find decent tutorials in print...

Why print? Isn't video inherently BETTER? It depends on what you're looking for and how you learn. When I approach a tutorial I'm focused first on learning techniques and an approach to THINKING of how to solve a modeling problem. I don't start a tutorial thinking, "Gee, I've always wanted a space shuttle model!", instead I'm saying to myself, "How is this instructor going to tackle that specific shape? What techniques will I learn that will help me on other projects in the future?" With this in mind, something in writing becomes invaluable. When agonizing on a specific curve or bend I don't have to pause and switch applications, I just look up from my book. If I run out of time in a session I don't have to write down the time I left off, I just place my bookmark and close the book. These are all great features, but my favorite is pacing. If I misunderstand something in a video, I have to rewind and hope it makes sense. Sometimes I'm having to go back in a video up to a dozen times just to have an understanding of what's going on. In a book, I just back up a couple of sentences. The final aspect of print tutorials is polish. The author has to carefully think through the tutorial, write it, take appropriate screen-shots that demonstrate the technique or concept, then it's read over by someone else and edited until it's concise and makes logical sense. The mistake many make is thinking that video is "complete" since you see everything the instructor is doing, but too often videos don't have the preparation and polish of written tutorials, and feel more stream-of-consciousness. This isn't always bad, but usually leads to sloppy tutorials where the instructor either seems unprepared, glosses over key techniques, or makes mistakes that effect the rest of the tutorial.

Back to video. I prefer the shorter, more focused tutorials to those that take 300 hours. The reasons behind this are many, but time and understanding are the key motivations. When starting a video tutorial I watch each section without Lightwave open to be sure I fully understand what I'll be working on, then the second time through I follow along.

Even then it's frustrating to switch back and forth between the video and Lightwave, pausing, switching, tweaking, and moving before resuming the video again. For this reason it's extremely important to me to have very specific, deliberate, and concise explanations while working. I'd much rather have a 2 hour tutorial where the instructor was prepared and had written himself notes than one that was 25 hours but seemed broad and unfocused.

The next area of concern is that we must know WHY an instructor is doing something. I don't care if we're making a cube, tell me WHY. What I aim for is understanding. Why 3 sides instead of 7? Why subpatch now instead of later? Why bandsaw instead of knife? I already know what these tools are, what I'm paying for is an understanding of why YOU use them a specific way, and how I can incorporate that into my work. To this end I think for the most part the beginner/advanced labels on tutorials are a misnomer. Just because I already know what the tools are doesn't mean I understand YOUR use of the tool and YOUR thought process behind the choices you make. I want to know your motivation behind using quads instead of tris!

This brings me to my next point: What kind of tutorials would I like to see, and why? The HDR Glass tutorial is an excellent example of what I'd like to see. It's 1.5 hours, but it's super focused on one useful and usable technique. What else would I suggest? How about a series on using the material editor? After this, a series on the node editor? Don't just tell me what to use and when, show me what the nodes DO, then make some suggestions on possible uses. Small tutorials on FiberFX, dynamics, hypervoxels, render settings, walk cycles, lighting rigs, making image maps, UV texturing... There's SO much to go over! The great thing about these smaller tutorials is that they'd be bite-sized, easy to do in one or two sittings, easy to digest and use. The other advantage is that they'd take less time to create and give the users more choice on topics that are of interest to them. Once the library of the small, focused tutorials is built up, have some "master classes" that use techniques in the smaller tutorials. "This tutorial is 6 hours and requires knowledge of the following shorter tutorials: Subpatch Modeling I, Nodal Surfacing I, II, and III, Dynamics IV." Am I making myself clear, or am I just confusing the issue more? I remember reading that an author said the definition of a short story is: A story you can read in one sitting over the course of an evening. That's what I'd like to see. Short story tutorials. Don't get me wrong, my primary focus is modeling (as opposed to animating and lighting, etc.), so I'd like to see more on hard surface, subpatch, architecture, organic modeling, etc., but just make them more focused and to the point.

Next I'm going to give a quick rundown of my preference for the SimplyLightwave instructors. I've taught in the past, and I know it's not possible, but try not to take it personally, it's just my opinion based on the videos I've seen.

Philip Meyer
-An expert on modeling and texturing.
-Seems to have a very detailed idea of where his modeling is going.

-Seems unprepared at times, but it's not very noticeable since he's a great problem solver.
-Long-winded. Tends to take a wide approach to a topic.
-Since he knows his craft so well, he seems to take some steps for granted and leaves the rest of us wondering about his reasons for a modeling/detailing choice.

David Mitchell
-Affable, easy-going style.
-Many tutorials are well focused and well paced.

-Tends to ramble (especially when something doesn't work like he expected).
-Skips steps when trying to fix a problem in a model.

Cody Burke
-His approach to modeling is simple and usually novel/innovative.
-Explains the WHY more than the other instructors

-Sometimes goes into his head, seems like he's so focused on the modeling that he forgets to talk! ;-) Let us in, man!
-His models are so detailed that a small mistake on my part means almost starting over. I love the detail, but in an 8+ hour tutorial if you skip one step, I'm lost.

Milivoj Popovic
-Excellent (almost eery) understanding of object shape and how to recreate that in Lightwave.
-Subject matter. All of his tutorials are a subject matter that immediately sparks my interest.

-Skips steps. Was that a merge points, or did you delete the points? Are you sizing, or scaling? Why? Drag or dragnet? These are super-important if we're to follow along in a tutorial as involved as yours.
-Of all the instructors he seems most likely to gloss over why he's doing something. Don't get me wrong, he talks a lot, but usually the things he's describing aren't as important as the things he's NOT describing. Yes, we shouldn't use too many or too few polygons, but WHY did you choose 7 instead of 10?
-Moves too quickly. I wouldn't say I'm a beginner, but it's still very frustrating going through his tutorials as it takes me 4-5 times as long as the others to figure out what he's doing.

All of this being said, I'm still a huge fan of SimplyLightwave. I'd purchased more than a dozen tutorials here before I purchased my lifetime membership, and I STILL feel that I got an excellent deal. Keep up the good work, just, maybe, refocus a bit.

Finally I'd like to show you what tutorials I have in my collection so you can see where I'm coming from. For the record, my favorite go-to person for tutorials (in video or print) is Steve Warner. Case closed. He's detailed, organized, concise, and descriptive.

The Lightwave 7.5 Primer
Essential Lightwave 3D 7.5
Lightwave 3D 8 Revealed
Inside Lightwave 8
Lightwave 3D 8 Lighting
Lightwave 3D 8 Texturing
Cartoon Character Creation Vol. I
Polygonal Modeling
1,001 Tips & Tricks
Inside Lightwave v9
Essential Lightwave v9 (a favorite)

Introduction to Lightwave 3D Modeling and Special FX
The Ultimate Guide to 3D Modeling (Steve Warner)
Introduction to Lightwave 3D Lighting & Shading (Nicholas Boughen)
Exploration of Facial Topology & Polygonal Modeling (Dick Ma)
Lightwave 3D 9 Logo Design & Creation (Larry Shultz)
Lightwave 3D 9 Advanced Modeling: Project Chariot (Larry Shultz)
Lightwave 3D 9.x Cartoon Character Modeling with Splines (Larry Shultz)
Lightwave 3D 9 Rigging & Animating with IK Booster (Larry Shultz)
Lightwave 3D 9.x Introduction to Particles and Hypervoxels Volume I (Tim Dunn)
Lightwave 3D 9.x Introduction to Particles and Hypervoxels Volume II (Tim Dunn)
Lightwave 3D 9.5 Advanced Particles & Hypervoxels Volume I (Tim Dunn)
Lightwave 3D 9 Practical Lighting (Nicholas Boughen)
Lightwave 3D 9 Introduction to Character Modeling (Larry Shultz)
Lightwave 3D 9 Introduction to Hypervoxels (Larry Shultz)
Lightwave 3D 9 Water Visual Effects (Larry Shultz)
Lightwave 3D 9 Introduction to Node Based Texturing (James Willmott)

Dan Ablan:
Lightwave [8] Signature Courseware
Lightwave 7.5 Advanced Courseware
Lightwave v9 Signature Courseware
Lightwave v9 Product Shots
Lightwave 9.5 Casino Courseware
Lightwave 3D 11 Signature Courseware

Lightwave 101 (Epic Software Group)
Lightwave 9.6 Modeler Bundle Pack (Adam Gibson)
Lightwave 11 Mechanical Display (Dana W. Burman)

leroy3rd is offline   Reply With Quote