As the year winds to a close, I am thinking about all those blog posts that never developed past a scrawling on a Post-it Note, so now I make this last ditch effort to get one in before midnight. Over the course of the year I read several books that made quite an impact on myself. I would even say these books have caused pradigm shifts in my thinking.
The most recent shift was brought on by Drive: The Surprising truth about what motivates us. The video below is a wonderful RSA white board animation that was created from a talk by Dan Pink (the author) on the subject. If you can’t get into Dan Pinks unorthodoxed notions, you can always sit back and enjoy the clever animation.
Another book that made an impact on me was So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport.
The book felt a bit academic in the writing style but it was an enjoyable and thought provoking read. The title of the book, a quote from comedian Steve Martin, which is his advice for those wanting to make it big.
A quote from the book which sums it all up for me is this:
“The first is the craftsman mindset, which focuses on what you can offer the world. The second is the passion mindset, which instead focuses on what the world can offer you.”
A third book that made a lasting impression on me was Blink by Malcom Gladwell, which is about rapid cognition or the thinking that happens in the “blink” of an eye. This book has taught me to trust my gut feelings, for more often than not, those “gut” feelings are simply my mind picking up on things and processing them on a subconscious level in the blink of an eye.
I recently read the book Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman. A day later exiting my digital art class, I felt as though a door in my mind had been unlocked.
As an adjunct instructor at a junior college I have been struggling find that right balance between demanding too much and demanding too little. And racking my brain to find ways to motivate my sometimes unmotivated students.
The premise of Multipliers is that some leaders drain intelligence and capabilities from the people around them and others amplify it.
When I arrived to class I had no direct intention of implementing any of what I had learned recently learned, when a student who has been struggling asked a question. I gave him leading questions to allow him to solve his problem rather than answering the question directly.
So on to the next student who is quite capable but also quite lazy. He asked how to do something and I flat out told him, he should have known how to do this since the second week of class (we are in week 10). So without thinking I called over the struggling student and asked him to explain the technique, which he did perfectly. And he walked away with his often shaky confidence thoroughly unshaky. The lazy student sat up a little straighter after being shown, not by me but by a student with apparent capabilities below his own, how to do something. He went on in that class to produce his best work of the semester.
In a class critique of of student work I simply asked students what grade would they give themselves. If they declared they deserved an A, I asked if it was their best work. That exercise clarified the fact that that my expectations for what they were capable of was perhaps a little low. It also made them more accountable for their work and they seemed to change the way they saw the work. It was no longer simply an assignment in a class they “had to take” but now an example of what they were capable of, which they seemed to suddenly take ownership of.
I am just ready to head out the door to go see the final installment of the Harry Potter movies. Last summer I read all the books to see what all the hubbub was about. I thoroughly enjoyed the books.
Last night I watched the made for television movie “Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story” which I found a little disappointing but inspirational nonetheless, which reminded me to continue chasing my dreams in the face of those caring souls closest to me preaching the value of being practical and safe. And that brought to mind one of my favorite speeches. J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, delivered the commencement speech at Harvard University in June of 2008 where she extolled on the fringe benefits of failure. I find it well worth watching.
J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.
So I activated the Cinema 4D, 42-day trial to see what I could do. I got in a good two weeks before I was side tracked with life. But I was able to have some fun. And I highly recommend the package to anyone interested in learning 3D software. At the very least give the demo a try, it is well worth the money (tongue inserted in cheek).
Here is a short animation where I began reworking a piece I had done for a client a several years ago but felt limited at the time not having 3D animation in my tool belt.
Now I have to scrounge up some coin to purchase the software. Thank goodness I am eligible for an educator discount.
. . . find a different software that better suits your learning style.
A couple of years ago, I purchased a copy of NewTek’s Lightwave 9. Three or four times I gave a serious runs at learning the 3D modeling and animation package but found it daunting.
I stumbled across Maxon’s Cinema 4D and was immediately drawn to the color coded icon heavy interface. Lightwave is a quality package but I found it’s text menu’s not very intuitive.
So after a glimpse of C4D’s visual interface I decided to stick my toe back into the 3D waters. I discovered that I could download a demo version of C4D. The only catch is I can’t save anything but I can learn. Whenever I choose I can activate that function for 42 days. Once that trial period is over I can continue to use the software sans the saving function.
I have yet to activate the software but the screen shots below display some of of what I have learned and also shows a visual comparison of the two interfaces.
I’ve spent time learning with Rob Garrott’s course Cinema 4D R12 Essential Training on Lynda.com which I highly recommend. I still find the software challenging but it seems to be catching hold.
I’d better start saving my pennies because I am sure a 42 day ability to save and build something complex will be just enough to get me completely hooked on this awesome software.
Before I drop the coin I should invest a little time with the free open soucre 3D software Blender.
LightWave 9's text heavy interface compared to Cinema 4D 12 icon based interface.
If you don’t want to pay to learn you can find plenty free tutorials out there. I created the image below by following along with Aleksey Voznesnski’s video Cinema 4D: A Quick Start-Guide.
This image was quite easy to build. The figure is built into the software. I just had to pose it and add a surface color.