How Do You Choose What Program You Should Learn Next?

November 8, 2019 - By 

In this podcast, the team guides you through choosing what new software to learn while avoiding program shaming and overwhelming amount of options.

Deciding on what you want to learn after Cinema 4D? Should you learn Houdini, Substance, Unreal Engine, or one of the many render engines? Here is a guide to navigating the landscape and avoiding program shaming.

In this episode, the team dives into the challenges of learning new software and the decision making process that goes into what you want to learn next. The team also reveals what programs are next for them to start learning.

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Show Notes:

Episode Transcript:

Nick Campbell: 00:00 Hey everybody, welcome to another Greyscalegorilla podcast. We just got done recording this episode. I just wanted to let you know what we talk about in this thing. We had a really nice talk about how to learn new software with all these new options, with all these new machines. Everyone’s getting, it’s been a lot of questions about, you know, what software to learn, trying not to get behind in this 3d world. We had a really great discussion about how to look at new software, how to decide what new software to learn and when you do, what’s the fastest way to to learn that. So definitely stick around for this episode. Also wanted to let you know that inside of Greyscalegorilla Plus we just launched our Everyday Material Collection huge collection that we’ve been selling over at Greyscalegorilla for quite a long time. But now it is included in Greyscalegorilla Plus along with some new training and our new quick tips page which is gonna have you know, tips and tricks that are 5, 10, 15 minutes long for those of you who want to learn. But don’t have as much time. So we’re really excited to add that and we’re really thankful you’re here on the episode. So with that, let’s head on into today’s episode of the Greyscalegorilla podcast.

[Intro Music]

Nick Campbell: 01:22 Hey everybody. Welcome to the Greyscalegorilla podcast. Today, extra special episode today we have Chad Ashley, how are you buddy?

Chad Ashley: 01:33 I’m doing well. How about yourself?

Nick Campbell: 01:35 Wonderful. Are you a special guest today or just like a regular guest? What do you think?

Chad Ashley: 01:38 I guess, I mean I think I’m pretty special. I guess maybe, my mom probably thinks I’m pretty special, but.

Nick Campbell: 01:44 Me too, man.

Nick Campbell: 01:45 I’m just a guest really. Or just co-host, whatever you want to say.

Nick Campbell: 01:49 Let’s say co-host. I like that. And we got our other co-host here, Michael Maher. How are you sir?

Michael Maher: 01:55 I am a little under the weather today.

Nick Campbell: 01:56 Man, you got some Eeyore vibes.

Michael Maher: 01:59 Oh, bother.

Nick Campbell: 02:00 Is it raining in Texas? You need a rainy window. Can you, can you fire up a rainy window? I think that kind of works with your voice today.

Michael Maher: 02:07 No, but I think I’ll probably have snot dripping out of my nose into the microphone.

Chad Ashley: 02:10 Oh my god.

Nick Campbell: 02:12 Good.

Chad Ashley: 02:12 Great.

Nick Campbell: 02:12 Sorry. For all of you with the really nice headphones. We’re going to get a little phlegmy on ya. I, we apologize in advance. Big weak. Why, why don’t we let everyone know what happened in, in our podcast over the last couple of weeks. I think it’s been a while since our one of these group episodes. We’ve had a few interviews. Mike can, can you let people know what some of the interviews are if they miss them?

Michael Maher: 02:36 Yeah, we have two new episodes live right now that you can go check out on your favorite podcast streaming service. The newest episode was an interview with Barton Damer. That was the one that Chad managed to get together a really insightful piece on essentially building your own studio and the whole idea behind building the studio that you would want to work for. Like what is that culture you want to a part of? And essentially how Barton built that team that makes them really, really killer work. And then, ah, the other great episode that just dropped was Zachary Corzine. So if you have not heard of Zachary Corzine, he is a killer 3D artist. He also led our procedural systems training in Greyscalegorilla Plus. He pretty much talks about his entire methods and like in creating and working in 3D and kind of his odd background jumping around from like ad agency work to tech companies in Silicon Valley and stuff. So it’s really, it’s really insightful but it’s a great piece on essentially learning how to work in 3d without just button pushing, but really thinking about the process and the work that goes into what you’re doing.

Nick Campbell: 03:46 Yeah, both of those were awesome episodes and we’re excited to get more of those out there. Let us know what you think about the the interviews. I’ve been really, I’ve been digging them cause I don’t know. I’m not interviewing these people, I listened to them and learn just as much. So I’ve been really digging that format. Let us know what you think. And if you haven’t checked those out go back a couple episodes, check them out. Both are incredible artists. Barton’s been an amazing guy to get to know over the last, gosh, 10, 11 years now. I think we’ve known each other and he’s building something really amazing. And of course Zach’s work speaks for itself, but listening to, you know, to his history and how he kind of thinks is really, really fun. So definitely check that out. That kind of leads us to a couple of other pieces of follow up, which is in Greyscalegorilla Plus I know we launched a Zach’s course, I think we talked about that last time. So if you haven’t checked that out, definitely go check out Zach’s course. I’m learning a ton of MoGraph just kind of interesting new stuff that I can use with MoGraph just from watching that. And then of course our quick tips page went live and Chad, what’s what did you include in the quick tips? I, I I saw a couple of them, but what’s there now? And you have any more planned for the future?

Chad Ashley: 04:56 Oh, I’ve got a lot planned. Lots of plans. I just yeah, I haven’t had time to hit any this week, but yeah, so I do a mix really. I show how to do a seamless background very easily in Arnold. I show some workflow tips on how to create custom icons in cinema 4D r21 and I actually include a whole set of icons from Google material design. They’re icons. I use their icons in cinema 4D, it’s really fun. Then I also show, Oh gosh, what was the other one? I know I’m going to forget.

Michael Maher: 05:29 The triplanar.

Chad Ashley: 05:30 Oh yes, yes. So if you’ve ever done triplanar mapping and deformed your object and your triplanar mapping swims, I show you how to lock that down in Arnold and Redshift so that you don’t have swimming triplaner maps.

Nick Campbell: 05:45 That’s awesome.

Chad Ashley: 05:46 Yeah.

Nick Campbell: 05:46 I love, I love the new format. I think having these, you know, quick 5, 10, 15 minute quick tips as a part of Plus gonna be huge, especially for, you know, kind of lunch break stuff. When you don’t have a lot of time, you just want to learn something new to incorporate, I’m really excited about that format. I’ve been recording a few as well, so stay tuned for that. Any other follow up? I had a a piece of follow up from our last group episode. What do we call these types of episodes? Like not interview episodes.

Chad Ashley: 06:18 They’re like team, team roundups.

Nick Campbell: 06:21 Team roundups?

Michael Maher: 06:22 I got it. A podcast.

Nick Campbell: 06:26 These are podcasts. Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. Mike. Thank you. The marketing, the marketing department steps up with, with the real, with the real language here.

Michael Maher: 06:34 Glad to be of service.

Nick Campbell: 06:37 So last podcast with all of us here talked about my experience with my PC and as always we get a ton of questions, comments and, and those of you still want to debate between PC and Mac all dang day responding. So I thought I’d just do a quick little follow up there. You know, the, the PC’s been amazingly stable since I got it back. The team at AVA did an incredible job to make sure it’s all up and running and I just wanted to like fill in a few of the details on like why I’m, I’m always so loud about my experience with this. I think a lot of us as, as artists are looking at this PC/Mac thing and just debating whether or not to do it. So I just take it as kind of my duty at this point to let everyone out there know my good and bad with the experience. So last week, you know, I obviously talked or not last week but last group podcast talked a lot about the bad side of it. You know, I had an issue with the machine. Good news is, you know, AVA stepped up, fixed it and so far it’s been working really well. So I just wanted to fill you in with like why I’m so detailed with this stuff. One of the main reasons is, you know, I get questions all the time when I, I’ve been doing these 3d tour road shows with Maxon one of the main questions people continuously asked me when they meet me is like, how’s the PC going? How’s Redshift going? And do you recommend it or should I wait for the Mac Pro? So I, I just wanted to share some of my experiences on that because I, I don’t think we still have an answer.

Nick Campbell: 08:20 For me, you know, the PC experience is mostly okay with some pretty clear downsides of accountability and kind of who is in charge of what, you know, but I think that that’s inherent in the PC workflow. And I just wanted to again, share my personal experience with how this is all going. And I think we’ll also have some other stories. I know Michael, you got a new machine and Chad, you’ve had wildly different experiences with PCs over the years too. So I hope it’s uh, I hope it’s clear that it’s just my data point and, you know, take everything with a grain of salt and kind of make your own decisions. But I don’t know what, what do you guys think? I just wanted to do a quick little update and maybe see where that is. And maybe Michael you could fill us in about your new machine too.

Michael Maher: 09:03 Yeah, I mean, for me, I would say the biggest challenge for me was trying to figure out where to get my computer because this is the first time where I’ve worked at an establishment where I, I had the ability to choose. So historically either the studio I was working at or the company I was working for would just provide a machine. So whether it was a Macbook, an iMac, just a laptop. And when I started here, I had a Windows surface book. So I’ve been on, I’ve been back on PCs for almost two years now. But I, I regretfully let you in on my secrets on learning how good I am at editing video stuff. So I’ve been doing a lot more of that here. And so.

Nick Campbell: 09:45 That’ll teach you to be helpful.

Chad Ashley: 09:46 How dare you.

Michael Maher: 09:51 So I, I had the opportunity to really get a beefy machine. And so obviously if you don’t have a Chad, it’s great to have a Chad at your company because you can kind of pick some brains. But I would highly recommend reaching out to friends and doing a lot of research. I looked at AVA, I looked at Puget systems, and I also looked at Boxx with two Xs, BOXX, who is eventually who I decided to go with. I have a new Boxx machine. I went with their Apexx A3. It just kind of made sense for my needs. And then the other benefit for me really was their loca,l like you guys made sense to go with AVA cause their, their office is not far from you. And for me Boxx is a couple hours away if I ever run into some type of major issue where I need to ship it and things like that. But if you’re interested, I can put, I can put the specs on this machine up on our website if anybody really wants to know. But yeah, this, this was a really overwhelming experience. I, I had no idea what I was doing and I’m really grateful that Nick, you’ve already gone through this journey and Chad was here to help guide the way.

Nick Campbell: 10:57 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 10:57 Yeah. I think it’s, it’s hard when you’re, when you’re remote and you get so used to finding somebody in the office that sort of knows these things or has more experience in there and you can just be like, Hey, can you help me with this thing? It’s not doing what I think it should. And when you’re completely remote or you’re isolated from those people, it’s, it’s frightening cause you’re on your own and you’re just sort of like, well, am I doing this right? I start second guessing yourself. Is it me? Is it the machine? I don’t know. And it creates this anxiety. And, and I think that’s what I bet Nick is sort of feeling a little bit of that PTSD around it where he is, he’s had the PC back for a little while now, but he’s probably still a little gun shy about it.

Nick Campbell: 11:42 Yeah. I, I think that that’s kind of how we feel about it for sure. It’s, it’s what I’m learning too, even from the last episode is that this is the issues I’m having are A) pretty rare. It sounds like I kinda got the, the, like a really rare case of a disease that, that hopefully, hopefully doesn’t.

Michael Maher: 12:04 Only one in 14 million.

Nick Campbell: 12:06 Right. And,

Chad Ashley: 12:07 On medication so it’s good.

Nick Campbell: 12:08 Yeah. And maybe that’s a little unfair to the, the manufacturers when like someone with a podcast gets the one in, you know, one in whatever, 1000 thing wrong. But you know, again, I’m sharing my experience because what, what happened, like, not to go back to my thing, but what happened with my cooler and the fact that it failed and all of them failed is not it’s really not the man, the, the AVA, or Boxx or like if this happened to anybody, it’s really not their fault. Right? It’s really the manufacturer that made it, but to get to get to the whole debate, you know, that’s why that’s why you have to be careful about this stuff is because there is no this, this can happen again. And so while it could also happen on a Mac machine, like my Mac buys parts from other people, they, you know, they never buy like the first generation part from anybody. The way that, that, the way that my machine was built. So that’s all. I just, I just want to get, I just want to get back to the point that this is my unique experience. It may not happen to anyone else, but I’m, I’m hoping we can all share kind of our general experience. And it’s also to say that when nothing happens, nobody goes and talks about it on a podcast for 30 minutes. Right? So there’s just as many machines that are being purchased that get into the office and are used for five years and have zero issues. I’m sure there’s plenty of those as well. And I hope that my machine does that.

Nick Campbell: 13:41 I hope after my new cooler, it’s all back. They double, triple checked it. And again, to their credit, still flying. I’ve been playing with Redshift. I love this thing. As far as, you know, the Windows is still not my favorite. But as far as the machine itself, it’s been flying, it’s been cranking. The, the new Overwatch news came out, made me a little nostalgic to go play a little Overwatch this weekend. It was, it was you know, 150 frames a second flying. Okay. So just want to give a little update there. Sometimes when it’s, when it’s all working, we don’t, we don’t really stand up and say everything’s been working as well. So that’s all if we get any more updates in the future, I’ll try to keep it short for those of you who are not interested in this kind of stuff. But I’ll, I’ll just keep the updates comment if anything changes and if it’s working I’ll let you know that too. So I don’t know anything else to add on that topic before we move forward?

Chad Ashley: 14:39 I don’t think so.

Michael Maher: 14:39 I don’t think so. But that kind of does trigger a question that I, that I have for you, Nick, is when you do get your first like super beefed up PC. I know, I mean we’ve kind of cataloged journey of learning Redshift and stuff, but how do you get out of the comfort zone of using an application the way you’ve always had it? So like if you’re hopping into cinema and you’ve spent your life in like physical standard, how do you start training your brain to decide like which third party renderer do I use? Like, how do you decide, cause I’m kinda struggling with like, I have this killer machine now and what, what do I want to learn next?

Nick Campbell: 15:21 Yeah, you have so many options now. Now, now how do you decide? Well, I mean it comes back to one of the major questions we get other than this machine, which is like A) which renderer should I look at? And trying to narrow that down and then a little bit about what you’re saying too Michael. It’s like, you know, how do I start to think of things differently if you’ve been used to physical or, or pro render or any of that stuff. So I, I’ll, I’ll share with you a couple of notes from, from me. So it was about a year ago when I got the machine and my life got flipped and turned upside down. And, and I got, you know, instant access to all this GPU stuff. And so to me learning Redshift was not as difficult as I thought. And the transition from using physical to, to using Redshift or even, you know, I, I learned a little bit of Arnold as well. It wasn’t as crazy as, as you might think. So the actual renderers have so much in common that as long as you treat it as like, well I’ll say this, if you know physical really well and you’ve been using physical and you’ve been learning all the ins and outs and how it works, I don’t think you’ll have a real difficult time learning any one of the new modern renderers because they all use similar concepts. Now they use different words all the time and there’s different sample numbers and there’s like the, the actual numbers are much different. But if you understand the concept about how rendering works in general, my theory is, is that they’re all, you know, trying to do the same thing. You just have to figure out where the buttons are. It’s kinda like, if you get, I dunno, on lawn mower from 20 different manufacturers or let’s say three different manufacturers, they all ended up doing the same thing.

Nick Campbell: 17:12 One of them might do it a little bit faster, a little bit better. One might have a wider stance or whatever, but they all have like a power button somewhere. They all probably have you know, maybe one’s electric engine and maybe one’s a combustion engine, but they all kind of have a, a power source that you have to learn how that works. And they all have some controls to lie. You’d have drive it around and they might be a little bit different. One of them might be in the middle, you know, the steering wheels in the middle, one’s more on the, on the side or whatever. But they all essentially do the same thing. And that’s kinda how I see the the render decision. It’s not necessarily based on how complex each of them are. I, to me, as I learned more and more renders, they’re all similar, but the, it’s in the little details in, in what helps me make, make a decision. So I dunno. Is that, does that ring true to you, Chad? You have a lot more experience with this but, but you know, when it comes to learning something new are, are, the renderers really the scary part?

Chad Ashley: 18:15 Not really. I think once you kind of understand how they work, they all sort of do the same things. It’s just about like, okay, what does this one call this and what does this one call that? And I think that even starts to like bleed out into other things as well. Like once you, once you really learn cinema 4D, you sort of understand 3d programs and you can open up a different one. You can open up Maya and sort of understand how it works. You can even open up uh Blender or Max or something and sort of understand how it works. And I think that it’s just about understanding these different languages and, and the terms and all that sort of thing. Once you get a handle on these things, it’s much easier to introduce new things and try new things. And I’m a bit, I’m a bit of a weirdo in that I am always wanting to learn something new. I’m always wanting to like expand my tool set or I question whether or not this tool is the absolute best tool for this job. So I’ll try three other ones and I’ll go on a three week bender while I just, you know, test stuff. And that’s not everybody. And I realize that and I, and I think that yeah, for me it’s just this is about learning languages and I’ve always enjoyed. Ironically I’ve never actually learned a foreign language. I went through my entire high school career not having to learn a language, but I consider it sort of like that where you just start learning different languages and seeing what works for you, which is awesome actually, that we live in a world where we can explore different tools and see what they can do for us and help us do our jobs better. And there’s new ones coming out like almost every month. It seems like. It’s crazy.

Michael Maher: 19:52 I have a question to that. So how do you decide, what’s the jumping off point for you? Cause I know sometimes, you know we’ve, we’ve talked about this in the past where you wanted to learn a certain thing. So like I know in the, in the past you’ve, you were trying to decide, okay, should I go learn substance or should I finally learn Houdini? And you obviously chose to go with substance. Like what was the trigger that made you take that dive?

Chad Ashley: 20:18 I think the, the trigger was I wanted to create something that I wouldn’t be able to do without some help in a different program. And it, it, the drive to create these materials or the drive to create sort of outweighed any anxiety I had or any, any sort of dread I had about spending the time to learn it because it just, it’s something that I was just wanting to do. So it was just about realizing that, okay, this is going to be a commitment of a long, a long commitment to learn this thing. It’s not something that I’m going to learn in a weekend. It’s not something I’m going to learn in a couple of days. It’s going to be a full-on commitment. And I think it’s going to pay off. And it, it has, and I haven’t made that commitment really to Houdini yet because I haven’t had that thing that I wanted to create. And for me it’s all about having that, that drive. Something’s gotta be there to trigger you to want, for me at least, to want to learn it cause it’s gotta be a goal. Right? And I don’t just learn things because they’re interesting. I mean, I shouldn’t say that. I, I have, but I usually have a goal or I have a problem I’m trying to solve and that is the trigger.

Nick Campbell: 21:30 Yeah, I can resonate with that. It’s, I think that might be the drive. I think that might be working against people that are still working in physical and standard and they might not, they might see the need to have like a new renderer and all that stuff. But there’s really, there’s really no like brand new functionality that you get with a lot of these new renderers. I mean, we could talk about adding fog and depth the field and making all that stuff faster, but I think that might be kind of hindering people that are looking at the new renderers and saying like, do I need to do it? And I, I’ll just speak for myself like that. That was my, like I use physical and standard way past when most people were switching over. And I’m trying to think of why that was. So, one was my hardware was limiting, right? I was on the Mac, but I still like you showed me Arnold back then and I still was like, I didn’t have a lot of need to, to go to Arnold because I guess I was comfortable in my own little, little world. I had my hacks, I had all my tricks. And I, I was, I was comfortable there, but as soon as I, as soon as I kinda jumped in, I got the, got the PC, started pushing myself to learn Redshift. It didn’t take long at all to just say, I, I never, I never want to go back. Like it was so, it was so quick to kind of go through the training and understand like this isn’t as crazy as I thought or I should say to get to baseline to get a render out the door was not as crazy as I thought.

Nick Campbell: 23:08 Like there was a lot more power under the hood once I, if I wanted to open it up and really learn about all the things that Redshift could do, but just to replace my standard workflow did not take a lot of time. And so I guess I’m backwards engineering how, how I learned this stuff, but to me it all, it always starts with an actual project. And to me, I never really learned anything until I do a real project in it. It never, nothing ever sticks with me if I just noodle around with it, play with the cool new feature, and then just kinda let it sit there. But if I actually go through, even if it’s just really simple, go through the process of setting up a scene, adding lights, adding materials, making something interesting looking, rendering it out, which is an old, another part of the process, and compositing it and like actually putting it out there in the world. I feel like if I don’t do that, that I never, nothing I ever play with ever sticks around.

Chad Ashley: 24:05 Yeah. I think another thing to think about too is, the it is easy to sort of get comfortable and I think comfortable is a really dangerous way to feel in this business. I think that when you get too comfortable in a workflow or too comfortable in your process, you sort of start, you sort of like walk into this little time chamber where the world is kind of going by outside your window and then when you decide that like, Oh, I’m not really comfortable anymore. I need to check out this or I need to rethink how I do that. And you open up the window and you realize the entire industry has like fast forwarded 10 years or 5 years. So it’s really important not to put up those walls in my opinion and get too comfortable because then what happens is you, you run the risk of being obsolete. You run the risk of not being hireable because you don’t know these things that happened or God forbid you can’t get a job done because something goes wrong in your, in your garden of tools and you can’t really go outside of that because you haven’t spent the time or explored even what’s possible. So yeah, I think comfort is a really dangerous sort of way to feel in my opinion.

Michael Maher: 25:18 That totally happened to me. Like for the longest time I learned, I pretty much learned how to edit both in Avid and Final Cut. And I just had a love for Final Cut. And it wasn’t until Apple completely revamped the NLE into a format that I hated that forced me to leave it and learn another program. But now, like I’m realizing like, so I’m looking at other things. I really do want to develop more skills. I’m, I’m just kinda starting some After Effects courses cause my motion designs never been great. And so I’m looking at, you know, other options and other tools that I want to learn like more 3d. But what’s the other, one of the challenges that I see really common. How do you wade through all of the negativity online of things like program shaming? Cause you see people hop into common threads of like, you know, you try to watch a tutorial on something and the comments are filled with like you shouldn’t use this program, you should use this program. And then you’re like, I don’t know if this person’s right or not. Like what do you do to kind of figure out which way you should go?

Nick Campbell: 26:21 Oh man.

Chad Ashley: 26:22 That’s a big question.

Nick Campbell: 26:24 That’s a big box. I would

Chad Ashley: 26:25 You, you go first.

Nick Campbell: 26:26 Yeah man, I have a lot to say about that there. There’s, so for anyone starting, right, I think there’s different phases of a career to worry more or less about tools and platforms and all that stuff. So anyone starting, I think the number one thing that stops people from starting something they want to learn is worrying that they have all the right pieces of the puzzle before they get started. And so if you’re just starting out and you’re like, should I use cinema 4D or you know, Maya, or Element 3d or whatever, just whatever one you have installed right now, just go, just start learning that one. Okay. And you will find really quickly if you’re in the wrong seat. Right? So for, for me, when it comes to just starting, I would say to try to ignore all the, like go get one answer from a trusted source and then go learn that because you’ll learn a lot more by playing with it than you will like going into comments and reading back and forth over which one is better. So what I would say is like, spend a little bit of time picking the right tool and then ignore everything after that for at least, I don’t know, six months to a year. If you decide you’re going to go learn something, then put away the, the, the, the decision like. I guess, I guess I’m being a little unclear. Make the decision up front and then ignore all the comments for at least six months to a year until you have your own questions or until you have your own worry that you’re in the wrong platform. So all that’s to say that all the things that people are saying in the comments, which is like you should not use let’s say After Effects getting a lot of hate lately.

Nick Campbell: 28:19 Nobody should learn After. This is a comment by the way, nobody should learn After Effects. You should be learning things like Nuke or Fusion or whatever. That’s where they might be onto something that is, is a shift in the, in the how people are getting work done. But you should not be listening to them early on in your, in your career. I would say use the tools, learn the tools that are exciting to you. If After Effects is exciting to you, go learn that. Because like we said earlier, so much of this stuff transfers between, so much of this stuff transfers between software that you can essentially learn wherever you are and then transfer it if you decide you’re in the wrong place. So that, that would be my advice early on in your, in your work. Now in the, we could talk about more advanced stuff because I think what people are reading and the comments that are, that are kind of like platform shaming are people that are more, hopefully, that are people that have more advanced problems and see an issue that they’ve solved and they want to warn people against it.

Nick Campbell: 29:30 So I, I inherently, I don’t have any issues with anybody who’s speaking their, their comment, but I’m trying to set up the artists out there, give you the tools to say you don’t have to, you don’t have to worry about it as much as you do it later in your career. That was a little rambley, but did that, any of that makes sense?

Chad Ashley: 29:48 Yeah, I think so. Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And I think that the, the idea of arguing over the validity, validity, or quality of a tool probably goes back to when we were carving them out of stone and people were like, yeah, you gotta use obsidian and not shale on that axe. You know, like it’s just, it’s going to happen. Like that’s just how it is and I think it, that’s not going to change. But I agree. I feel like the best way to navigate that situation is like you said, to find a trusted person, get their opinion on it and then go try it. I think that’s the biggest thing for me is like I’m a huge advocate of trying before you’re buying and just get out there and see what’s what if somebody is like, Hey, you should use X, Y, Z program cause it’s going to speed up your workflow. Then followed up and be like, well number one, how do you know what my workflow is? And number two, like how would it speed it up? Oh it’s like this, this and this. All right, cool. I might go try that. That sounds interesting to me. And get out there and try it. And before you buy it that way, you know, if it’s gonna work for you or whatnot. But yeah, the whole idea of shaming and the whole idea, it kind of gets into a deeper podcast about the the tribalism of, of all these sort of creative industries, cameras, editing, 3d, whatever. It’s all tribal, right? You wanna you want everybody to use the same things you’re using because it, it, it makes you feel like you made the right choice. And I, and I think that that carries over into so many other different areas.

Chad Ashley: 31:27 I mean, it goes all the way into our core. So it’s a natural sort of response, but it’s a response to that’s not helpful usually. Especially when you don’t know anything about that person’s workflow and you’re trying to convince them that they should work like you. And as you get older, like you said, Nick, like as you get older and, and get into the industry and you have a few years under your belt, you sort of can smell that stuff out a little bit better. And it doesn’t tend to affect you the same way, but when you’re new, it can be overwhelming. It can be like, am I doing this right? Is this the right tool? This person said this. So yeah, it’s hard to navigate. But you know, take your time, try stuff out.

Nick Campbell: 32:09 Yeah.

Michael Maher: 32:10 I will say this is the first time, like in my career that I actually feel like I do have the ability to try stuff because you know, back when I was still learning stuff, trying to try a new program meant dropping several thousands of dollars just to like get a copy. And for the first time ever, both what I’m seeing in both video editing and 3d, most people have trials. Like you can get creative cloud for like a month if you want, or you can get a free trial for cinema or you can download Blender for free or indie licenses for stuff. So this is now, it’s weird. Now my option isn’t a financial decision. It’s really what do I want to learn?

Chad Ashley: 32:52 Yeah.

Nick Campbell: 32:52 Yeah, that’s, that’s insightful Michael, because it’s reminding me too of the overall price reduction in almost everything. So back when Maya costs 10 grand, and cinema costs four or five grand, and whatever 3DS Max cost, which was multiple thousands of dollars, it really was a big decision to, to pick your platform because this was going to be what you, what you worked on for many, many years to even get the cost of, of the initial price back. But now you’re right, we have this ability to try almost anything A) as a trial and B), the, the cost is, is going to monthly on so many things now that we can just experiment, play, see what works for us and say, okay, that isn’t for me, this is closer to the way my brain works. I like this interface better. Oh, I found uh, you know, somebody I trust to teach it, so I’m going to go in this direction. Like there’s so many other ways that can move us into new software. And, and we can be more fluid as a creator as well because we’re not locked into, you know, a flame dongle for 10 years because we spent all that money. So yeah, there’s something there too that that I didn’t wanna not comment on because it is a new, it’s new in the last, you know, 5 to 10 years that all the prices got to a point where we can try and experiment and, and dial in the, the, the right workflow for us.

Chad Ashley: 34:24 I mean, if you want to, I’m going to date myself a little bit here, but like going way back in the day, back when this software costs a lot of money, you also had to go to these trade shows and physically sit at a booth and watch them show new features and, and talk about how to use it. And, and there was no, there was no good source for seeing that online. In fact, there really wasn’t much going on online other than, you know, a product PDF or something. So if you wanted to go and like see if this tool was for you, you had to like go find some place it was being demoed and book a demo or go to a trade show like SIGGRAPH or NAB or something and like sit and wait and hope that they showed that thing that was gonna make your job easier. So yeah, there it’s so much better now. So much better.

Nick Campbell: 35:14 Yeah. yeah. So Mike maybe dial in specifically like what, what, what’s, what software are you looking at right now and kind of making a decision around, because that might help in kind of talk through a little bit.

Michael Maher: 35:28 I’m kind of winging through, so I’ve, I’ve always kind of had a, like a very basic foundation of After Effects like I can make stuff move the way I need it to. And so I was deciding is it time for me to finally invest and really learning After Effects and the way that After Effects and Premiere work together. But the other thing is on the editing side, I have dabbled, dabbled with Fusion or uh Resolve and now Resolve has a Fusion panel. And so I’m kind of caught in this world of both DaVinci Resolve from Black Magic and Adobe’s Premiere I think are going side by side in bringing external features into both of those pieces of software. One on the downside, they’re both getting overly complex, complicated and very heavy, but it really opens up, you know, what you can do in each of these programs. And so with Adobe, it’s all kind of timeline based and you’re, you’re stacking layers and things like that. And if I moved into Resolve and Fusion that I’m moving into a node based workflow and things like that. So I’m really kind of weighing right now. Do I stick with the Adobe world that I’m in and I’m comfortable with or do I go and try to experiment and really start learning? All the other tools I have no idea about within the Resolve world.

Nick Campbell: 36:47 Man, that’s a, that’s, I’ve been hearing a version of that story so much and it’s such an interesting way to, it really it really pinpoints exactly what you’re asking. Like do you stay with the comfortable thing or do you move to this somewhat newer platform that has more potential but, but, but less community around it and less, you know, tutorials online around it and all that other kind of stuff. And, and man, that’s such a tricky one. I, I, I think it, I think it always comes back to a project based workflow. I think that if you look at something new and say, Oh, I want to learn this new thing because it does X and then you open it up and only play with the new fun thing that you would probably do yourself a disservice. What I would do is get a version of, of what is it Fusion did you say?

Michael Maher: 37:44 Yeah, it’d be learning Resolve and then Resolve both has a like stripped down version of Fusion in it. So it does, you know, comping in some minor things like that, but they still have standalone Fusion. So in the same way that Premiere has introduced like MoGraph and MoGraph templates.

Nick Campbell: 38:01 Got it.

Michael Maher: 38:02 You can still go to After Effects and do more advanced stuff.

Nick Campbell: 38:05 Yeah. So I would, I would take a project that you’re already comfortable with that you may have already even edited and go redo it and just like go through the, the steps and, and see what the general workflow is because that’s where you’ll find something that isn’t a fancy feature that you love or hate. It’s the fundamental way that the software works. I always recommend learning that first before playing around with all the fun stuff because if, if the fundamentals don’t like work with the way your brain does, there’s no sense in even thinking about all the fancy stuff that it does. So just like with any new piece of software or my stupid music analogy I always use, it’s like go, go do a cover version of a song first in the new software.

Michael Maher: 38:52 So in your case, maybe it’s a small little thing you had to edit. Just go do it over again in Resolve and see what that workflow is. And if you’re like, Holy crap, that was a lot easier than I thought or that was more confusing. You’ll learn more just from that project than from reading another forum post about it. That, that would be my like not only advice to you, but like anyone out there trying to learn something, like go watch the first 20 minutes on how something works and actually follow through with it and just see if it, if that 20 minutes doesn’t capture you, then maybe find a new teacher and try it, try it again. But if that, if that 20 minutes doesn’t capture you then might not even be worth any more reading about it and you’re in the, you’re in the right spot already. I don’t know. Does that make, Chad have anything to add to that?

Chad Ashley: 39:42 No. I mean I feel like that’s pretty much what I would say. I think anytime that I’m learning something completely from scratch new that, that I would, I always do what you said. I take a project and just try to redo it in there. In fact, when I was learning cinema 4D, when I was debating whether or not I wanted to even use it, I took the last three or four projects at the studio and try to redo the major parts of them in that software and just sort of saw like, Oh, is this easier? Is this harder? And spoiler alert. It was easier, so.

Michael Maher: 40:19 Good to know.

Chad Ashley: 40:20 Yeah.

Nick Campbell: 40:22 Welcome. Welcome to the team. Yeah, I, I think that it, it can go a little bit both ways. You know, you mentioned something like, we’re, we have all this new software. I feel like there’s the sense of the grass is always greener on, you know, somewhere else. It is this new renderer that, you know, popped up. Is it that much better than this other one or there’s, there’s so much of that going on right now. Especially in the After Effects world, like you mentioned Michael that, I don’t know the right answer to this because I, I think we’ve said both sides of it. So the one side of it is what you said, Chad, which is like never be complacent and never feel too comfortable. Always have your eye on what the next big thing is. But you also also need to sometimes turn that party, or at least this is my thought. Sometimes you need to turn that part of your brain off and just look at the tools you have and say, I’m gonna make this thing with these tools no matter what. And then not think that you, you know, you wish you had X Particles or you wish you had Redshift whatever and really take the tools that you have at your disposal and push through on a project as far as you can. Because I think that that type of mindset unlocks some creative potential that you might not have if you’re constantly looking at what you don’t own and what you don’t have access to. So I think it’s a little bit of a, a push pull situation where, you know, at least, at least how I’ve gone through this, I do a ton of research.

Nick Campbell: 42:04 I think about what I want. I asked some trusted friends and then I make a decision and then I close my browser and I get to work and I start using these things. And getting to know them before I feel like I’m, you know, like a FOMO or I missed out. Like if you don’t give yourself the time to kind of be uncomfortable with it, then you’ll then you’ll constantly be on this treadmill of like, Oh, I wish I had something else. So to me, there’s, there’s two sides of the brain you have to play with. One is research and forums and questions and comments. But then once you make the decision, turn it all off and just, and then just start using it.

Michael Maher: 42:47 Great. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna leave it this way. First of all, if you’re listening and you’re struggling the way that I’m struggling, shout out, listen to the list of down in the comments, let us know what you’re thinking, like what things you want to learn what, what steps you’re getting caught up. Like we, we, we are reading all your comments so we would really appreciate your feedback on this. And then I’m going to turn the question on to both of you. What is that new piece of software or new program that has evaded you that you have an interest in learning next?

Nick Campbell: 43:18 Oh, I know mine right now, so.

Chad Ashley: 43:21 Shoot it.

Nick Campbell: 43:22 You ready? Should we say it at the same time?

Chad Ashley: 43:26 We can try.

Nick Campbell: 43:28 It’s tough on the podcast.

Chad Ashley: 43:30 I can’t see you, so.

Nick Campbell: 43:32 All right, well, alright, ready? We’ll do a three, two, one. Three, two, one. Houdini.

Chad Ashley: 43:36 Unreal engine.

Michael Maher: 43:39 Ooh

Nick Campbell: 43:40 Oh my goodness. Unreal. Okay, so you, I’ll go first. I want to hear about this Unreal. Houdini, like many, many of you out there that have been asking us has been on my mind mostly because it, I think at least mostly works the way that my brain does, it looks like it’s an unlimited dominoes playground. Like the thing that I’ve always wanted to use, but I’ve never really had anyone to like walk me through the process and really explained to me I’ve gotten so many answers back and forth. Like is, is this really something I should go learn? And so I’m excited. We, we have we have some training coming to Plus soon about that and I’m excited just to watch that. Like, I want to finally see if Houdini is right for me. And so I think many of you out there have been asking me that. I don’t know the answer, but there’s something interesting about Houdini that I want to finally solve in my own brain, which is, is it, does it work the way that my brain works? That’s, that’s mine. Chad, what about yours?

Chad Ashley: 44:51 I won’t spoil that for you because I think I know the answer, but I want you to find out on your own.

Nick Campbell: 44:57 Really? Okay. Good. Write it down. We’ll share it after I go through the first hour of Houdini.

Chad Ashley: 45:03 Yeah, yeah, no, I, I’m, I’m looking forward to, to hearing how that goes. Yeah, I, I’m in the camp where I kind of, I mean, Houdini is right there next to Unreal for me. Like I’ve been trying to get into that program for gosh, so many times I’ve tried to open up Houdini and just sort of like, I dunno just, it just didn’t click. So I’m still, I’m still, I’m still gonna try it again, but I’m a little bit more excited about Unreal these days because I just kinda feel like, I feel like Unreal is going to be the winner of the render wars someday. I feel like everybody’s just gonna finish in Unreal someday. And I think that they’ve got the, they’ve got the momentum, they’ve got the R&D the things I’m seeing being done in it are insane. And I think most people would, most people are not needing the crazy features of an Arnold or Redshift or Octane.

Chad Ashley: 46:04 Sometimes they just need to get out something that looks decent, realistic. And it needs to be large canvas size or whatnot. And I think what we’re going to see in the next three years is Unreal is gonna step up their game. It’s already really good, obviously. But now that you can bring cinema 4D files directly into unreal, you can get alembic files into Unreal. I think what we’re going to see is a bunch of people realizing what they can do in that engine and it’s only gonna get better. And the fact that it’s node based and it, it’s so, it’s like a, it’s like a sandbox I can do just about anything. It’s really exciting to like, the idea, I guess, here’s what it is. The idea that I can just drop a camera, a cinema camera into an Unreal world and immediately see depth of field immediately see the lens effects that I want and, and really become a filmmaker, that is exciting to me. And like the idea of not being held back by, well, you know, how fast is this render or can it do this, can it do that? It’s already doing it. It’s already there. It may not look as realistic as what you’d get in like a real renderer. But man, the idea of becoming a filmmaker again inside of game engine like that is really exciting.

Nick Campbell: 47:30 Yeah. There, there will be the day relatively soon where we’re, we’re telling all the, all the new 3d artists that we used to have to wait for our renders back in our day. We used to have to wait and now, you know, no matter if it’s unreal or whatever, wherever that tech goes, the ability to do real time is just such an like such a no brainer future of, of our industry like that. That is so exciting. Like I, I, I’m talking to people that don’t do 3d and trying to explain to them like, okay, look with physical and standard renderer, you used to have to wait, you know, for good depth of field, grain-free, depending on your hardware you could wait hours. Right? Per frame. And then I got this new machine, I tell him and I got this PC and now I’m using GPU and now it’s only takes like one minute per frame, maybe two and it looks the same or better. And we’re getting to a place where we can now say zero time to render. Like real time. It is the, you move the camera around and it’s done. You’re, you’re, you’re captured. That’s such an exciting, obvious conclusion of, not conclusion, but obvious next step for, for our, our industry. I, I, I definitely am excited to see what they’re up to.

Chad Ashley: 48:50 Have you seen Rebirth the, the short film that they did with uh Quixel and SideFX?

Nick Campbell: 48:57 I have. It’s, it’s gorgeous.

Chad Ashley: 48:59 Dude.

Nick Campbell: 48:59 The fact that that’s all real time.

Chad Ashley: 49:00 I know.

Nick Campbell: 49:01 Like, like just like a video game, right? Like there’s a lot of of prep to allow things to be real time.

Chad Ashley: 49:08 Sure, sure.

Nick Campbell: 49:09 But there, I think we’re at the, at the point where it’s getting really interesting, the fact that they included a cinema 4D importer, you could literally like bake out your MoGraph. I don’t even know if you need to bake it out. You like you do all your fun MoGraph in cinema and go send to Unreal and now it’s all sitting there in real time.

Chad Ashley: 49:27 Yep.

Nick Campbell: 49:27 And you can move a camera, get, you know, changing materials. Like do all that finishing in a place that feels more like a photography studio. Well man, that’s, that’s like the ultimate dream for the last 10 years. Like speed up that part of the workflow and that’s super exciting man.

Chad Ashley: 49:46 Yeah, I feel like it’s, I mean it’s obviously has a long way to go and I haven’t even, I haven’t even downloaded it yet so I have a really long way to go. But the idea of it is really exciting to me and, and I think that as people become more familiar and more comfortable with jumping into multiple applications to sort of bridge the gap or fill in the voids of features like, Oh I need to do a lot of UVing, I’m going to go use Rizom or I’m going to go use something else. I need to do a really heavy SIM, I’m going to jump into the SideFX. So I think artists are, are starting to become very used to a, a segmented pipeline where they’re using tools for what they’re made for and like jumping in and jumping out. Like that’s becoming normal. And I, and I feel like Unreal is going to sit in this really pretty spot with being able to be your finishing tool where you’re just animating and, and doing what you need to do in cinema and then exporting out an alembic or a cinema 4D file and getting it into Unreal, texturing it, lighting it and all that sort of thing. Now the issues I see are going to be more in line with like, well, I need to see what my lighting is going to look like before I even have everything finished. Right? So how am I going to do that? And that’s something that I’m interested to see how they solve. If they start to create some sort of live link or is it going to be that they’re going to start to offer animation and modeling and all that stuff in Unreal.

Chad Ashley: 51:16 And forgive me if they already offer some of that stuff, cause I just don’t know. Hit me up in the comments, yell at me if you want. But yeah, just, it’s exciting, man. I feel like it’s pretty cool and obviously Houdini is exciting too. It’s just that I, my interest lies more in the look dev space, not necessarily the crazy animation or SIM space. So I haven’t really fully, I haven’t dived into Houdini yet for that reason, but unreal seems like in my wheelhouse. So I might, I might have to check it out.

Nick Campbell: 51:50 Yeah, it sounds like we’re getting to a place where Unreal or some, you know, some real time engine will essentially work as the After Effects for 3D where After Effects doesn’t really make audio really well and it doesn’t really make, you know, film really well. Like you can, you still need to go film stuff and go make your audio and go take your photos. But After Effects is the place where you slam all that stuff together in a, in a faster environment, hopefully faster soon and, and, and comp it all and make it all make sense. So it kind of feels like Unreal or, or some real time world is going to be the place where we take all the crazy SIMs in Houdini and all the MoGraph fun stuff in cinema. And then all this, this liquid SIM from this program and this model from over here and bring it into a cohesive world where we can like integrate it all into one 3d world. So that, that’s

Chad Ashley: 52:48 In real time.

Nick Campbell: 52:48 In real time. Thank you. That is super exciting. And yeah, like I’d be interested in O2, I mean, I know some of our some of our customers have even talked about Unreal and, and you starting to use it. So if you have, you know, some work you want to share, anything, put in the comments, I want to see kinda some finished stuff from Unreal because it’s getting to that point where it’s, it’s obviously not as good looking as all these renderers that take minutes or hours to render, but it’s getting to that point. Like you said, it’s like good enough for a lot of stuff. I mean, it’s looking really, really beautiful. So yeah, let us know if you’re kind of looking in that space and maybe give Chad some places to start on, on learning it as well. So that’s super interesting. Well we’re rounding out the 50 minute mark. This is usually when we start to wrap things up. Anything, any other news coming in the next week before, we wrap up this this podcast?

Michael Maher: 53:51 Yeah, I’ll say literally right now Adobe Max is happening, so we’ll know more here, what’s coming to After Effects and creative cloud. And I’m hoping we hear some more about what they’re doing with substance and everything in the Adobe world now. And then Nick, you’ve got some 3d tours coming up, don’t you?

Nick Campbell: 54:11 Yes, I do. Let me see if I could pull up those dates. I have, oh here they are, I will be at the Maxon road show in Atlanta. I think that’s the November 12th. Come say hi, if you don’t have a ticket and you’re in the Atlanta area, please come say hi, love to meet you. We’re doing a panel up there, some excellent other artists. And thanks to Maxon for getting me out there. We’re also doing one in Denver and this is going to be crazy. The, the panel they have for Denver is, is, is pretty nuts. Get to see my buddy, EJ. I think Andrew Kramer will be out there. And it’ll be nice, so that date is the 19th in Denver. That’s November 19th. Be up on the Maxon 3d tour. Please come say hi. If you have a ticket, please come hang out with us. And I’ve been at a few of these and Maxon is doing a really great job in showing you not only what’s possible in cinema 4D, but also in some of the new stuff in R21. And you know, having a little space to, to kind of meet everybody and to just kind of meet other people in your community. It’s great that they have all these artists up there, but it’s also nice to go to these things and just kind of meet other artists that live around you and, and say hi and know that most people in this room are, are as obsessed with sitting behind a computer as you are. I think that that’s a helpful part of anyone’s career. So come say hi. And if you see a road show or a, or a 3d tour in your town, definitely go check it out. They’ve been they’ve been really fun.

Michael Maher: 55:46 I’ll note that if you do not have a ticket, you can still use our discount code. It’s GSG3DMT as in motion tour. GSG3DMT. That’ll get you 25% off your tickets at

Nick Campbell: 56:03 Lovely. Awesome. Well I think that about wraps it up. I’m glad I’m feeling better. I’m sorry my voice sucked on the last one. Mike, I hope you feel better very soon.

Michael Maher: 56:16 Me too.

Nick Campbell: 56:16 Chad you, you, you’re, you’re the only like

Chad Ashley: 56:20 Semi-healthy one.

Nick Campbell: 56:20 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 56:24 That’ll all change I’m sure by the end of the week.

Nick Campbell: 56:26 It’s that time of year.

Michael Maher: 56:27 A couple more shoveling the driveway.

Chad Ashley: 56:31 Yeah. I can’t believe we had snow. That was crazy.

Nick Campbell: 56:33 Oh my God. That’s right. Well, Hey, if you’re still listening, you’re the ultimate fan. Please go leave us a review over on iTunes that helps people find it. And if you’re watching or listening on YouTube as well, give us thumbs up, make a comment. We love hearing from you. We do read everything. And we appreciate you listening. So with that we will see you in another Greyscalegorilla podcast very soon. Goodbye everybody.

Michael Maher: 57:01 Bye bye.

Chad Ashley: 57:02 Bye bye.

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  • So glad Chad mentioned Unreal (that’s on my 2020 learning list as well). Even if you have no interest in games or building assets for games, Unreal has made significant inroads in virtual production and traditional broadcast tools (it’s integrated with platforms like VizRT and Brainstorm). I think anyone in motion graphics would be doing themselves a huge favor by learning it.

    PS – just saw Nick down at the 3D roadshow in ATL, great job Nick!

  • Unreal + Houdini

  • Great episode!
    Super excited Chad is looking for UE4.
    The potential of a real-time photo-real visuals is enormous.

  • Hi thanks for sharing this.

    I am in the camp where I need to have a project. Yes we need to try new things and experiment with new tech, else we get left behind and get obsolete.

    I believe all the Renderers are about the same. I am thinking of looking at Redshift3D for future renders.

  • Sup everybody, not sure if anyone reads comments from an older show, but I wanted to say I liked hearing everyone’s anxiety about learning new programs as our jobs become more segmented. I primarily use blender and I’m really interested in animation so I recently dove into using marvelous designer. To me characters seem more complete with clothing that shifts as they move.

    It’s been surprisingly easy to learn. I thought it would be harder because of comments I read that said you basically need to be a clothing designer to use it(not true). Anyways, Houdini is Next on my list.

    PS if you want to see my marvelous designer experiments or longer animations, check out my Instagram or IGTV @Marvelous_media_engine

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