By Dan LeFebvre
If you’ve done any sort of online learning, you’ve probably heard of Digital-Tutors. We offer a huge variety of videos and software packages for artists to choose from. However, the system isn’t just for individuals. Oftentimes studios tap our library for their teams, effectively creating an on-demand learning center for artists of all experience levels. Fourteen years of working through this process with them has taught us a lot about what breeds success.
Her are our Top Five tips for success:
Start With The Why
What are your goals? Why are you considering an online learning program in the first place? Answer these questions and the path forward becomes a whole lot clearer.
Maybe you’ve got a big project on the horizon and your team needs to hit the ground running. Maybe you’ve just hired some new artists who need to get up to speed. Or maybe your team just needs to stay on top of the industry’s latest trends.
Assessing the why behind your decision makes it easier to understand how your team can take advantage of online learning and what kind of platform is going to help you achieve those goals. Only then should you dive in.
Share Tutorials With Your Team
After choosing the right online learning platform, you can help your team take full advantage of it by using the training yourself. See what’s good, what fits, then share relevant tutorials with your artists. You’re probably already recommending books and articles you come across. Why not expand those suggestions to online learning, as well?
For example, if you have a motion designer whose project needs a 3D-to-After Effects pipeline, you could share this tutorial on “Designing Elegant Product Visualizations in Cinema 4D and After Effects,” which is full of great tips on how to speed up their workflow, as well as inspiration for new approaches.
Even if it’s a five-minute video here or there, sharing tutorials with your team can spark their creativity, helping them find new ways to tackle challenges without having to search out every solution on their own. Sharing tutorials can also help team communicate better around the challenges they’re facing, giving you better insights into how to collaborate best.
Encourage Ongoing Learning
We all get caught up in the day-to-day, which makes setting aside the time to grow as artists an afterthought for most. Finding learning opportunities for your team can help curb this cycle, helping them to grow individually and as team members.
For example, have one of your artists pick a tutorial for the team to watch, then set aside time to discuss it as a group. What did people learn? What might help everyone in the future? Not only does this help your team come together and learn new things, the act of explanation improves individual communication skills, as well.
Don’t Judge A Tutorial By Its Cover
New rule: just because you know some of the techniques, doesn’t mean you won’t learn anything new. We are constantly hearing from artists who say that watching tutorials on mastered topics led them to new tips and tricks.
Problems often have many solutions, especially when software packages are being updated so frequently. Besides it never hurts to get a little faster at production, become an expert on the latest updates or hear why one technique is better than another.
Growing as an artist often requires having a strong sense of awareness — knowing how to do something and why you are doing it in a particular way. The how is sometimes easier to get to (i.e. “To do x, I need to do y”). However, knowing why you should do something requires a deeper, more subjective, artistic understanding of a process (i.e. “Why x is better than y”).
For example, knowing why an image looks “better” because it’s elements are composed in a specific way is a completely different exercise than actually knowing how to arrange them. It’s this deeper artistic understanding that even your most experienced artists can continue to refine. Revisiting familiar subjects, performed by other experts, is a way to do this.
Make Sure You’re Getting an ROI
When it comes to an online learning platform, it helps to periodically re-evaluate its efficacy. For example, if your original intention was to help your team hit the ground running for a specific project, what will happen once the project is done? Do you still need it at that point?
Maybe the original intention changed along the way from helping a single team tackle a new project to helping the same team learn about new technologies. Maybe there are other teams within your company who could benefit from the training. Or maybe the answer is you simply won’t need the platform until the next big project. Re-evaluating the why behind your purchase helps you reaffirm both its value and purpose.
Hope these tips have been helpful!
Dan LeFebvre is a 3D tutor at Digital-Tutors (@digital_tutors). Long before Dan joined Digital-Tutors full time, he was a dedicated forum moderator, helping out Digital-Tutors members with problems they encountered across a wide variety of software.