CG Cookie Missed SIGGRAPH This Year, So We Made a Video

  “No tacos, beer chats or thick-as-oil hot chocolate this year,” I thought sadly as I cancelled our SIGGRAPH hotel reservations. The reality is, CG Cookie just didn’t have the resources to attend this year. But now, we have something up our sleeve that’s (almost) as good. The next morning I am a couple sips of coffee into the day when I see an email from David Andrade from Theory Animation, with the subject of “Hey Dudes”. The email was inviting CG Cookie to speak at the Blender BOF SIGGRAPH 2016. An invite which came less than 24hrs after I had cancelled our rooms. Dratz! However, after a few email exchanges we agreed to send along a video.

What does SIGGRAPH mean to CG Cookie?

CG Cookie has been fortunate to attend a few SIGGRAPHs in the past. Like most business owners, Jonathan Williamson (CGC Co-founder and friend) and I would discuss ways to increase the ROI (return on investment) of the expenses incurred. In the past, CG Cookie offered flyers with discount codes and held conference-related sales. Neither of these yielded groundbreaking results. That being said, we still viewed attending SIGGRAPH as something to look forward to and of value. In reality, as we both agree, “It’s simply important and fun to catch up with our digital relationships in person”. Having dinner face-to-face with a group of Blender users, fans of CG Cookie or new faces is the reason CG Cookie goes to SIGGRAPH. siggraph-facesFrom left to right SIGGRAPH 2014  [Sean Kennedy, Wes Burke, Jonathan Williamson, Ton Roosendaal]

What Blender means to CG Cookie

We can’t talk about SIGGRAPH without acknowledging our close ties to the Blender community. siggraph-banner With past SIGGRAPHs, CG Cookie has both participated as Blender booth personnel and financially helped sponsor the Blender booth. We LOVE Blender! From its founder to developers and artists, we are big fans of all things Blender. In large part, SIGGRAPH has transformed internet acquaintances into friendships with the people we just mentioned. Blender holds a very real place in the CGC heart.

Now, about that video…

The presentation guideline was simple and open: show something you’ve created in Blender and keep it under 5 minutes. Given the opportunity and importance of SIGGRAPH to CG Cookie, we knew sending a re-hashed demo reel wasn’t going to cut it. While reels by themselves are good and have their place, they can often feel sterile. Instead, we set out to express something more personal. Something that also presented the Why and the Who that drives CG Cookie - in addition to the art and training we create.

“Admittedly, I wasn’t thrilled about creating another demo reel. While I love to show our work off as much as the next guy, to me, SIGGRAPH represents the gathering of the humans on the side of the 3D viewport - It’s more social than showy, which I admire. So when Wes pitched to me his idea of showcasing the people and the motivation behind CGC, that’s when it clicked; that’s when I got excited.” - Kent Trammell

Drafting a script, recording talking heads and deciding which art pieces to include is only half the puzzle. The rest is finding rendering solutions. Fortunately, Kent Trammell has a small Blender render farm in a filing cabinet, literally. After some updating and beating it with a hammer, frames were ticking away 24/7 leading up to the delivery. Blender Render Farm With a successful rough cut of the video, the team was then able to visualize the final piece and focus on the sections each of us were responsible for. The team's "Hello!" videos began coming in, then the final audio, the video timing, and final graphics were purchased. There was a section of video with voice overlaid talking about CG Cookie. This just felt self-serving, so at the last minute, we put a call out to the community for an audio testimonial regarding their time with CG Cookie. Thankfully, a CG Cookie member Melissa NG responded and recorded a humbling audio recording her experience using CG Cookie that moistened the eyes of some CGC crew members. Huge thanks to Melissa and definitely check out her work! Matthew ran a final audio level check and color correction pass on the entire project. The video was then zipped up and sent over. I was excited that our good friend and Blender VFX ninja, Sean Kennedy, agreed to present the video. Thanks for watching and don’t forget to have fun in what you do! Wes Burke @wesburke

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  • Jody Stocks (jodyls27)

    Wow, What an inspirational video. Congratulations and thank you so so much. Without CG Cookie I would not be at the leave I am today and continuing to grow. You guys and gals over at CGC really help the people with big dreams take their dream to reality.

    Keep up the amazing work and I'm supper excited to grow with the blender community and the CGC team and the amazing Family you guys have created over in the Forms.

    have a great day !

  • edaniel30

    I'm newbie with this tool and your video motivates me even more to mastering this. Thank you.

  • justinwebstr

    Thanks guys and gals. Just started and I'm moving right along. The tutorials are very easy to follow and I feel like the opportunities to create open up after each each video.

  • marcosv

    Good job on the video and keep up releasing good product.

  • bikerpilot

    We missed you guys! I was there with the Theory Studios crew for that birds of a feather session . Was hoping to meet some of you in person. The video was in amazing though.
    Hopefully we'll cross paths another year!

  • pizzity13

    You guys rock! Great video, and keep up the great work!!

  • Anthony Eliason (aeliason)

    You guys are the best - continued success!

  • jk279brown

    Although I haven't been in this community for very long, I've enjoyed everything about my experiences thus far. You guys are doing a phenomenal job and, without you guys, I would never have been able to even touch the sides. You have brought me to a place where I am able to start something new every day. I love this place. Keep up the good work and keep doing what you do best.... "Blending. Loved the video and love you guys. This community ROCKS!

  • Omar Domenech (dostovel)

    Cool video. Here's to a next year attendance *clinks wine glass*

    Hearing Jon Denning saying he teaches Python Coding gives me hope to see some Python teaching here on CGC. I love me some Python.

  • bmf2

    Sorry you missed out this year. As an independent consultant supporting DoD technology probrams (cyber defense for the past 5 years), I know how hard it is to decide if the resources available justify the potential new business at an event. After spending significant resources with no results, I decided that my real market was word of mouth. People who knew me and my work would recommend me to new DoD programs.

    That worked well for 16 years, but now I'm 70. And laws against age discrimination are totally meaningless because there are a hundred ways to circumvent those laws based on qualifications, currency, time, availability, etc.

    My niche was military tactics, command and control, decision making, etc. But I retired from the Marine Corps in 1989. Although I've kept up with the evolutions in the military by working side by side with the world's elite forces for many years; more recently my contracts have been in support of theoritical technologies. For example, instead of tactics and command and control, for the past five years I've been supporting advanced technologies in cyber defense and in detecting highly sophisticated adversary APT's (advanced persistent threats which are extremely difficult to nearly impossible to detect within a network). However, developers are working on ways to detect the nearly impossible to detect and I was proud to be a part of those teams.

    My company is a one horse show. In fact it is a one old war horse show whose time has come to retire--at least from what I was doing. My challenge now it to find new streams of income to suppliment my retirement. As of today, I have no idea what those opportunities might be--perhaps selling shoes at Sears. Just joking.

    No, I've turned my focus to writing. I've had a wild ride in life which would be too envolved to summarize here. Just take my word that the Grim Reaper lost count of the times he tried to collect his due with me. So, I thought I'd try to write a novel that was a fictional mixture of all my experiences. Personally, I don't think it will ever be published, but some things need to be done because they need to be done.

    I'm a member of CGC. I've learned much from your website. But at 70, I'm not trying to establish a 3D CG business. All of my works of art as BMF at Blend Swap are CC-0.

    I've given some thought to offering some sort of nature pack, mechanics pack, materials pack to Blender Market, but I don't really have the time right now.

    Love your website. The tutorials are sometimes too long and too complex, but I understand that you need to service all levels of expertise. Kent's series on materials is great, but a beginer or even an intermediate user would be completely lost.

    I'm not suggesting that your tutorials be dedicated to beginners. I'm only saying that with regards to materials there is no beginner, intermediate, expert level of training. Kent jumps into the expert level and I think leaves too many aspiriing people who want to become better at texturing behind. I love Kent's tutorials. But they are way beyond the average Blender user.

    I also love your coursess section of CG Cookie. But in my opinion there doesn't seem to be a logical progression of basic, to intermediate, to expert in the course.

    I think you would be more successful if you created a course that started at the very basic level, progressed to the intermediate level, and then to the expert level.

    But I have to believe that you already have a businesse model that is successful, and so you don't need my inputs.

    Take Care. I'm 70 years old and thankful each day if I end up on the right side of the grass each morning, so I have a differnt perspective on life than most who are much younger.

  • Jonathan Fisher (jfishe25)

    It really is amazing how far Blender has come, and how far CGCookie has come!

  • Mark Smith (me1958424)

    thanks to all who make the Cookie what it is...
    :D

  • Miriam Lorenzo (mirlor)

    Hi bmf2 - I just became a member of CGC with the intention of learning Blender, primarily due to the loss of my student versions of Maya and 3DsMax after I graduated in 2015 with a degree in Media Arts and Computer Animation. So far I've run through the modeling course and the texturing course, and I agree that these would be difficult for a beginning level member without any experience in working with 3D. My background is teaching and if I ever have the opportunity I think I would like to work on tutorials that address this type of issue. We'll see. Right now I'm just hoping to master 3D enough to create a few good shorts before I depart this particular level of existence. I'm 62, just retired, and also will be looking for supplemental income. I wish you success with your writing endeavor and a continued interest and fascination with the things you love to learn about!

  • Miriam Lorenzo (mirlor)

    Loved your alternative idea to simply adding another demo reel! It was great to get a little more personal glimpse of the folks at CGC! Thank you for creating CGC and I wish you continued growth and many exciting new paths in the future!

  • dabstudio

    As a new student I have been loving my CG Cookie membership so far. I am learning so much in blender in a structured environment. This video only gives me more inspiration to keep learning and discovering all the great aspects of blender.

  • crew
    Wes Burke (wesburke)

    Welcome to the Cookie! Are you looking to take on a new career in CG (Film, Games, etc)?

  • cjohnson

    Hey bmf2,

    You know? I was thinking the exact same thing as you not too long ago. The part of having the course stuff be more organized. Then, one random day, as I was going through the courses, Jonothan Williamson had sent me an instant message asking how things were going for me. So I brought up the organization problem. He explained to me that they do have this level of organization and where to find it. So here is where you will find it.When you log into cgcookie, you will see on the left side of your screen, a list of selections under the heading "Education". Click on "Flows". That's where you want to be. "Flows" are exactly that... A learning flow. So whatever category you are putting your focus on learning, you can start at the beginning of it and progress from there. For instance... Once you've clicked on "Flows", scroll down a little and you'll find, "Introduction to Blender". Don't get too caught up in that title because if you notice at the bottom of it, it says there are 123 lessons, 5 exercises and 16 quizzes. It covers most of what you want to know as a beginner. When you click on it, you will find that it's broken down into 9 categories. I really like that they did that because it can really help when trying to find a lesson for a refresher when I'm doing my own stuff. I think you'll like this too. Here is the biggest tip I can suggest to a person... Don't bother trying to memorize it all. It's information overload. Instead just follow along as best you can and be sure to do the exercises. The only way to overcome the learning curve is by repetition. So absolutely at least try to do the exercises. Just like when you had to tear down your rifle and put it back together. They taught you to be an expert and really fast through repetition. The same goes with these 3D user interfaces. And as for Kent's tutorials on materials, textures and shading and blah blah blah... hahaha You're right... It is complex and hard to learn and there really isn't an easier way unfortunately. The key is to just keep practicing. It takes time and experimenting on your own to fully understand it all. Also another big tip I think might help is, I found that writing down the terminology he uses and looking it up helped me better understand because words like "ambient occlusion" and "specularity" just caused me to glaze over and right then and there I was lost. I had to first understand what these words meant and then it all started to click and I could understand what he was talking about and follow along and be able to look at his example and see the changes he's referring to. Kinda hard to see his changes when you don't know what you're looking for. hahaha All that aside... What Kent is trying to teach you is, to get an idea of how the user interface (UI) works and show you the things it's capable of doing through examples. He then tries to show you how he approaches his efforts and in trying to create an "effect". It just takes a lot of practice to get good at and a lot of experimenting. This is why the video's can get quite long and hard to understand. To create these "effects" can sometimes be quite difficult because you'll find yourself creating many layers to get the darn thing to look the way you want it to look. Just know this one very important thing. The way Kent creates an effect is not the right way, nor is it the wrong way. It is simply just "one way" of creating a desired effect. He's simply trying to show you his approach. You can either choose to use his examples or experiment with your own. He even encourages us to do that and if we come up with a less daunting way of creating an effect, that we please share it with him and the community. Don't be discouraged though. Once you better understand what all that technical terminology means and which "nodes" to use to manipulate things like "specularity", you're on the home stretch. You'll find yourself making your own textures all on your own. They may not look super real but you'll at least be able to better showcase your art. Trust me... We all know how hard it is to make our art look awesome in Blender. Try not to compare your efforts to anyone else either. Especially not professionals like Kent. hahaha Just be proud of your art and know that your blood sweat and tears went into that effort. We will all appreciate it for what it is. "ART" Eventually you'll get the hang of the stupid textures... Or maybe not. hahaha Don't sweat it though. I suck at it too. It really is hard even with the best of the best teachers. One other thing... If you din't already know this... Most professionals are focused on one portion of the work. They don't do it all from start to finish. In the professional world, one person does the modeling because he's really good at it and then passes it on to another person who rocks at textures and then they pass it on to someone else and so on. Maybe you've heard Kent say it already or maybe not but Kent is actually a modeler. Textures and shading and all that isn't even his strong suite. Kent is a very well rounded professional. His "Piero" tutorial showcases that fact. You really want to see how it's done from start to finish? Watch the "Piero" tutorial. I really encourage everyone to watch it. It will really help you understand the bigger picture so you develop forethought on your own stuff. You'll know when to do something and when not to do something. (For example) You'll know not to build an armature before you're ready for it because you'll know you still have some things to do before you get to the animation stuff. Anyways... Hope this info was helpful and not too long winded.

  • reidh beallagh (reidh)

    though zipped up, how did you send this VidEO file to the Show? Net, DropBOX, ???

  • Michael Yoseph (mrsiryoseph)

    Awesome!! Cg Cookie and Blender is the best! :)

  • crew
    Wes Burke (wesburke)

    Ended up sharing out the DropBox link to David, who downloaded and let it roll!

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