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Short attention span tutorials

Here’s how my mother used to convey information to me: “…it was Wednesday — I know it was Wednesday, because I was wearing my flat shoes with the buckle — and I was in town buying some Milk of Magnesia from the drugstore. You know, that place hasn’t been the same since Bud died. Heart’s gone right out of his wife. Anyhow, who comes in but Helen from the bank. I thought she looked a bit peaked…” This could go on for another fifteen, twenty minutes. There was NO speeding the process up.

Here’s me conveying the same information: “I bumped into the bank manager. You’re overdrawn.”

See, this is why I hate slogging through tutorials. They teach you stuff they way my mother does, by telling a pointless little narrative.

One of the early Blender tutorials shows you how to build and animate a gingerbread man. Along the way, you learn a little about the interface, a little about the modeler, a little about the materials editor, a little about the animator, and on and on. These are all completely separate, self-contained parts of the program. And they’re each hella complicated. (Oh, don’t even get me started on video tutorials, which inevitably waste precious seconds of my life with, “hello, my name is Tom Fuknutz, and today I’m going to walk you through the steps necessary to do some boring shit. This plastic doohickey is a mouse…”)

Soon, memories of my sainted mother come flooding back, my head explodes and I quit the tutorial process completely. At that point, I have no idea what most of the buttons do.

Me, I want a bullet list of broad concepts. Then I want somebody to walk me through every menu and button and write down what each and every one of them does. Even if I don’t yet have the background to understand what the explanations mean — though this kind of approach is especially helpful when you’re already familiar with some other, similar program. Kind of an Appendix A on the whole program. (I will say, Blender tooltips are better than most).

At one point, I started a project to put together tutorials on stuff I know for those who are similarly patience-challenged. I registered a domain for it and everything. Then I lost interest.


February 17, 2011 — 9:51 pm
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