A Year of Learning

April 18, 2021 • 
3 min read
Gold cubes floating in a black void

Obviously, Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the world and countless lives this past year. We all know someone who caught the virus or died from it, or we were infected ourselves. We tried to do our part by staying home to limit our exposure to other people. We stayed away from our loved ones to protect them and to slow the spread. To keep ourselves occupied, many of us took up baking, cooking, knitting, or exercising. I started on what would become a yearlong path of learning about whatever interested me.

YouTube as a Gateway to Knowledge

Video site YouTube saw an explosion in traffic from people bored in lockdown. I was one of them. At first, I was simply trying to learn how to optimize my work-from-home setup. Channels such as Podcastage and Curtis Judd taught me about microphones, and I upgraded my audio setup.

 

Then the YouTube recommendation engine took over, and I started to encounter other channels that were audio-adjacent: photography, videography, video editing, filmmaking, visual effects, and 3D animation. From these channels, I rediscovered my love for all those things. (I’m no stranger to these mediums and crafts, but the further along in my career I got, the less I did these things day to day.) Here’s a list of those channels:

  • The Art of Photography: Camera gear reviews, but more importantly—photography assignments. It’s shot beautifully and focuses on how to use photography as an expressive medium.
  • DSLR Video Shooter: Mostly mirrorless camera gear reviews but he has some crazy build guides like “Full Youtube Studio on ONE SINGLE STAND!” that are fun to watch.
  • Gerald Undone: I love this guy’s dry wit and general demeanor. He gets incredibly detailed and nerdy in is A/V gear reviews.
  • Parker Walbeck: This channel focuses more on the techniques involved in videography, including shooting to edit, which is something they preach a lot.
  • Lessons From the Screenplay and Just Write: I love these two channels because they focus on narrative storytelling. I have always been fascinated with how creators create because it inspires me, often influencing my own work, so seeing these two channels break down movie scripts is very fun.

Editing a Newsletter

By May or so, I really wanted to make something that I could share. I decided to take my obsessive reading of the news and of design articles and turn it into a newsletter called designspun. Each week I linked to notable design-related articles while trying to put some context around them. Maybe there was something bigger in the zeitgeist., or I could connect something happening in business or tech news to design. It was fun, a lot of hard work, and lasted about fifteen issues until I no longer had time for it. I appreciated being able to do it though, as it allowed me to flex my writing muscle a little.

Now in 3D

My experience with 3D software began with Adobe Dimensions (which has recently been reincarnated as something completely different), FormZ, and Electric Image in the 1990s. I eventually learned Cinema 4D at some point but only ever had the need for 3D every once in a while.

But with the run-up to the 2020 election, I picked up C4D again to make some pro-Biden art. After working on marketing campaigns and digital product design for so many years, I had forgotten how joyful it was to play in 3D space. So I decided to relearn C4D again (along with Maxon’s GPU renderer Redshift, and most recently, a particle system called X-Particles), just to be able to make some art.

It culminated this weekend with this piece, which I call “Gold #1.”

 

I also put it up on OpenSea as an NFT to experiment with what might happen.

Keep On Learning

My year of following my curiosity continues. While I still very much enjoy sitting back and watching a great TV series or movie, I would very much rather learn something. Who knows what will be next.