What I've Learned Through 2 Years of DrGlass
DrGlass.org was founded with a simple goal in mind. Education through illustrated story telling. I've been working on this project for over two years making illustrations, writing scripts, developing and refining the master foot model, animating, rendering, and producing. In this time, there have been many discoveries and lessons learned along the way. Some are a pleasent surprise and some are natural growing pains. Here are just a few.
1. Thank You
Thank you very, very much. To everyone that has showed appreciation and support for our content. The feedback, the emails, the countless subrscibers, totaling well over 100,000 views online to the YouTube channel. It's because of this comunity following that we are able to participate and make such a difference. Without you, we wouldn't be us.
As I said before, I started this with the intention of story telling. I honestly wasn't expecting to recieve so much conversation out of the comunity. I currently recieve several emails a month from people asking for advice, or to explain a few finer details about thier condition. This feedback has also helped shape our approach to to future projects. We've taken a lot of feedback into consideration, and it's great to be able to direct people to further information and present a positive image for podiatry. It's all part if the mission, and it was a pleasant surprise indeed.
I know that the web content gurus lime Gary Vaynerchuk speak about getting on every availible platform, but i've found it difficult to maintain this as a full time medical student. At one time I considered several other means of reaching out, like flickr, second life, another podcast stream, and several medical forums, but that time is better spent producing. I need to put a number of hours into creating, and I rely on word of mouth and google searches to carry the Dr. Glass name forward. Sometimes less is just going to have to do, unfortunately, but that's just how it is.
Our content has always been "open", meaning that we encourage people to use them in their websites, blogs, and presentations. This is part of our overall mission to tell the story of podiatry, and to allow people to get thier feet a little wetter when trying to overcome a cominication barrier in this medical field.
One commonly overlooked aspect about creating educational content is the amount that it teaches you. Your almosted forced to look to view something from every angle and approach from the view of an audience member. When we produce a video, I spend the next several days assesssing how it's percieved. I don't want to be pigeon-holed into a rigid mindset of how a story needs to be told. I let the audience speak for itself, and I task myself with the responsibility of learning how to do it better.
For the limited time I have, I've learned to hustle a little more. Multitasking is a must, and if I'm going to make the most of my resources, I've got to be willing to hustle hard. This entails a sense of future planning with lots of labor at the center. While I'm actively working on one project, I am planning and developing the next project. This duality allows me to make the most out of my downtime during rendering sessions, and helps to let me think through the next step. I've always believed that one should take time out if their day to think, and hustling efficiently is my main tool of production.
As I've learned, less is often more. In fact, too much is bad. By this I mean that there are many great sounding ideas that have had to go by the wayside, in order to stay focused on the greater goal at hand. When I started out, I wanted to pursue every oppurtunity to create something. I wanted multiple podcast streams with audio interviews and platform building galore. Time turned out to be a valueble expense, and I've had to forfiet many aspirations in the short run, in order to stay active in the long run. This isn't neccesarily a glamorous realization, but it's an honesty that I've had to take close to heart.
3. Don't Worry
As a good friend of mine always says, "not everyone is going to like you," I've taken this to heart when it comes to my videos. I understand that there is always something that gets left out. I know that there may be a better way of explaining something. The sad truth is that not everyone will be satisfied, so I just do my best and don't worry about pleasing everyone.
"Dr. Glass is in the content game. The bottom line is whether or not new and useful content is made." This quote is a personal mantra that I have to constantly remind myself of. I've found it easy to lose sight of this, when trying to manage the dozens of other factors that effect the overall mission. For me, I am a story teller with content being my mouthpiece. Publish or perish, and always remeber that my efforts can't be wasted with simple, dead end tasks that ultimately won't make it to the podcast. Instead, I just focus on putting out something quality, as regularly as possible.
As I explain in the next section, I've learned to adapt. Before I wanted every video to be one complete scene. To have all the bells and whistles in full harmony, and that was very expensive in terms of cost and time. I've learned that making a video needs to be broken down for simplicitys' sake and get to the point with each clip of the way. This adaptation has already payed off huge, and I'm incorperating it from now on. I can't make up for lost time, but I can make the most out of the time I use in the future.
Newtek's Lightwave 3D
1.Endomorphs are your Friend
I use to try and configure and rig everything to move naturally. I didn't want to cheat and take shirtcuts, so I initially avoided endomorphs. As it turns out, I was able to achieve better results for "one time use" animations, as well as repetetive dynamics. Endomorphs were not just more efficient, but they were a blessing to my basic needs. I should have been using them a long time ago.
2. Save Often
As you might imagine, saving often is a touchstone of computer productivity. For anyone working in Microsoft Office, we know the valueble lesson learned after a power outage of crashed app. For working in Lightwave3D, this lesson is just as valueble. However, with Lightwave, there is a particular feature you may want to pay close attention to: "save incremental". This is very useful, because it not only saves your progress, but it actually saves an entirely new file of your work altogether. This is useful, when developing a model in multiple phases, because you may want to be able to start back from several phases ago, without the need to "undo" for ages. Plus, if you're like me, you work on a machine with limited resources. My settings for undo history stop at 10, so saving incrementally is a must on my production laptop.
Organization is key to a production workflow. I have accumulated quite a few models thus far, but I use them in a variety of ways from scene to scene. Therefore, without an organized file storage in place, I'd be up the creek when it comes to finding and utilizing these scene items. I, for example, keep a master directory of my foot model, props, and instruments, and then reference a copy of these for each scene based on these items. It does take up a little more space, but it's safe and organized, which is a justified expense.
I began making all my videos at 640X360 resolution for a couple reasons. A) It's smaller, which equals faster render times. B) Its exactly 1/2 the resolution of standard HD 720i/p. C) Its the largest resolution that an iPhone or iPod touch will playback, therefore more platform acceptability.
I reccomend 30 frames per second for video output, becuase it's enough to slow down if need be, without becoming too taxing to your overall render times. These clips are very useful in post production, when you need to tweak the timing to match audio narration, because it will still look smooth.
Envelops is a useful tool to Lightwave3D users, because it grants you more control over your animation paths, as well as timing. By displaying keyframes with a velocity curve in a graphical presentaion, I feel I'm able to micromanage my animations with more precision. This kind of precision is a must in medical illustrations that are generally complex and are timed in sync with narration.