-Translating vague ideas into projects, then fields to study? In a field somewhat of a subcategory within both technology and art itself, what questions do you ask yourself to find out what technical artist you want to be?
Coming from a high school background, I vaguely discovered the title of technical artist on a desperate whim from behind the scenes documentaries on cartoons, and still lack substantial knowledge on it’s facets.
Truthfully, I was already being pushed into pursuing technology and throwing animation to be something I did on my free time, but frequently underwent burnout and lacked tangible progress. I didn’t feel anything for the traditional software products of websites and apps and had no ideas for them when the problems I felt motivated to solve were related to visuals and storytelling in cinema. I don’t mean to burden this post with personal anecdotes, but the uncertainty I wanted to express was the idea that i felt my goals were still too specific to be a technical artist, much less a programmer, as I figured that the people who program for movies or make software used for the 2d and 3d pipelines had a prerequisite passion in the process of problem solving for software regardless of what said software was, happening to have landed jobs requiring software engineering for traditional cinematic production rather than a specific desire to invent tools for these fields would be too niche of a fire to fuel. I didn’t like games, I didn’t feel the accomplishment of seeing a social app come to fruition or simply seeing a problem get solved, but the invention of cameras, drawing tablets and computer graphics sounded interesting? How did the study of computers grow to provide another medium for animation? This is another silly analogy, but I’m not sure I have the terminology to describe this well at this aspirational stage. These felt more co-incidental, that these were things made by ‘real’ inventors that happened to be useful for artists.
While I’ve learnt this to be false, as I try to find any sort of experience for ‘technical art’ I find myself in roadblocks of what I will and won’t need to learn on a technical basis, much less what I can create.
-Getting the right experience for your goals?
In general discussions of learning programming, besides learning the theory from computer science, you got better by creating projects related to the field you wanted to work in. In technical art, I didn’t know what that would be a good place to start.
For example, I was told that pursuing game development was at least a field where graphics were relevant but as I tried to get experience I felt I was filling more boots than I needed, as the experience of making a game would call upon more game developer specific topics such as game mechanics, and truthfully I didn’t want to be designing the functionality of an inventory system.
I tried to stick more directly to my previous ideas and try learning scripting for traditional animation/art software, but got overwhelmed with the concepts of API when I couldn’t even say I understood a language, thinking that there would still be too big of a gap having a curriculum be computer science videos online and but when I tried to think of projects I could do within source languages, I struggled to make even a bouncing ball loop with c++ and SDL2.
A big stressor is combining all of my studies for projects, as my parents load me with math courses to be competitive for a traditional CS program and say the real programming can begin once I’m in college so I should just study, but will I even know what to program in college? I’m caught in a time and knowledge limbo as I’m not even sure what programs to make using API I don’t understand, I have little chances of using the math formulas I’m cramming for tests into some automated pattern for a mesh, and even this is an ignorant simplification of how I think technical artists use math. I haven’t even had the possibility to console what order technical artists develop their skills and their relevance in the jobs of various technical artists.
While this has grown to be a big question, from the experience level of a high schooler who just wants to find out the careers and studies of the people who study the technology for visual storytelling?