Puzzling problems – 6/16/17
By Joey Pagano ’19, Pratt Institute
Imagine working your way through a 100 piece puzzle only to realize that after 99 pieces, that one godforsaken last piece is nowhere to be found. Now normally, you can still easily see the picture for what it is and you more or less completed the puzzle 99% of the way. Awesome. A+.
Now imagine working on that same puzzle except the box doesn’t show you what it’s supposed to look like and then if you don’t finish with all 100 pieces then the whole thing explodes into a fiery vortex of misery. This is why SIP17 is a blast.
Making that transition from educational work to production work is a difficult change to make. But in doing so, a very different, more empowering way of creating work is thrust upon you. Gone are the days of getting graded on how well your assignment met demands, and here are the days of expertise. Working on SIP teams erases the work structure of working for a professor that returns your work with a percentage based on how much they think your work meets the requirements of their syllabus. Instead, it’s up to you as an individual to be the expert your team needs.
Learning to adapt to being the “expert” on something was certainly one of the most difficult things to do on our teams, because now there is no correct solution to a problem like in a class setting. Being thrust into the real world workforce means that when there is a problem, that does not guarantee a solution. And finding that solution, if it exists, relies entirely on your ability to capitalize on your skills and learn some new ones along the way.
On our team, a problem arose in how we moved animations into the game for our character. Developing a 3D game and being a 3D artist for it, I was tasked with modeling and then animating a character to control in our game. When animations were not working as we intended, I couldn’t be all “oh well whatever, guess I’ll just take a hit on this and get a B instead of an A.” In school, that’s a very real way to approach this problem, if you so choose. On a project, this problem meant life or death for our game. I then took the rest of the day looking into new ways to interpret animating, finding newer ways to build my character using concepts I didn’t even know about yet. In doing so, we were able to get the animations to function in our game!
The point of this is that creating art for a production means you are expected to solve problems when no one else has a solution. And in doing so, you learn a lot about things you wouldn’t have otherwise been taught. By being the expert on something instead of the student, you learn in a whole new way. Being able to work on a team with other experts and being able to focus on one discipline really helps you to continue to learn your own craft. It ends up culminating in all around amazing experience! And you get paid too, I guess that’s cool.