With the launch of cgcookie.com version SIX, back in July 2017, we launched Live Events. After 4 months, we’re racking up quite a collection! We believe this is an important step for the future of CG Cookie education.
An Evolutionary Step
One of the most popular suggestions we get from members for improving our education is “more interaction with instructors.” While we’ve had questions and support tickets for years, text-based formats only do so much in terms of substantial student-to-instructor interaction. Compare it to a physical classroom where a student can raise their hand anytime to get immediate help. This is where Live Events comes in.
Live Events represent an evolution for our educational offerings. They open a lot of new doors for us to teach online in ways that pre-recorded videos either can’t at all or can’t do well.
What is a CGC Live Event?
This content format is essentially a live stream. You’re likely aware of streaming platforms like Facebook Live, Twitch.tv, Youtube Live, etc. It’s a powerful medium that enables online video content to happen live. Live content enables real time interaction between streamer and viewer. For CGC this means instructors can broadcast content and members can ask questions as if in a digital classroom.
Interaction is key for this platform to work. Live Events are not meant to be simply live versions of our pre-recorded training. While we will prepare stream content and rehearse to an extent, as we do with pre-recorded training, the real point of the content is to stir interaction; real time communal learning. Each Live Event page has a chat box on the right side. This chat box is available for members to post messages during the broadcast as well as the hour prior. So bring your questions and comments, post them in the chat! We want to answer you as soon as possible.
Finally, streaming is a consistent medium. The more consistent the stream the better. CGC Live Events have been broadcast on a weekly basis since SIX launched. In fact we’ve averaged 2 events per week. And we’re committed to broadcasting consistently going forward.
New Educational Genres
I mentioned that Live Events open new doors for CGC teaching. This part is very exciting to me. To preface these new “genres” let me make a comparison to my college education. Some of my most valuable learning moments at school was special lectures, guest speakers, critiques, and simply asking instructors questions. Before the launch of CGC SIX, there wasn’t a good way to do such things.
Live Events have expand our educational horizons into new “genres” for students to learn:
- Answers & Demos on Demand - A classic problem with pre-recorded videos is simply when the student has a question. They can type a question below the video, and we do our best to answer in a timely manner, but the reality is the student likely won’t get an answer right then and there; when they need it most. With Live Events, members have immediate access to instructors.
Whether it directly relates to the topic of the stream or it’s less related, go ahead and ask in the chat! Even unrelated questions can be a fun, insightful rabbit trail. And if it helps a member exactly where they are, that’s a win for us.
- Member Critiques - Critiques are the refining fire for every artist developing their skills. Another pair of eyes, another perspective, can shed tremendous light on how an artist can improve. With Live Events, we can offer critiques in a context that includes you, the artist, to get immediate clarification or even explain your choices. Currently we’re planning to do a critique month every season (once every 4 months) in a similar format to the ones we did in September.
- Project Series - Live Events are an opportunity to see candid workflows. Our pre-recorded training is highly polished in order to cram the maximum amount of information into the shortest time frame. They require a lot of rehearsal, multiple recording attempts, plus all the “ums”, brainfart silences, and messups get edited out as well. But when we’re streaming a project workflow live, you will inevitably see real life problem solving in action, which is huge part of authentic computer graphics. Check out the latest project series from October about sculpting a goblin critter.
- Interviews & Guest Lectures - Some of my favorite experiences from college were guest speakers that shared their story and insight for an hour or two. I so valued listening to a modeler from Dreamworks describe his work on “How to Train your Dragon” and a simulation artist demonstrate his cloth workflow that he used on James Cameron’s “Avatar”. They’re always chocked full of golden - nay, platinum - nuggets. Our interview with Hjalti Hjalmarsson, the director of Agent 327, is an example of this.
It's a big process to curate a single new instructor to record courses. I spend hours vetting a potential instructor to record training for us. Then once we approve them for recording, I spend more hours reviewing and critiquing their videos. Like I said, a big process for us and them.
But when we ask people, even top artists, to stream an interview for an hour or two, they usually jump at the chance! Insight from industry pros and influencers is invaluable. And since these are live, of course you have the chance to ask your questions.
- Reviews - This is an fun genre where we review short films and games through the lenses of Blender artists and Unity developers. The idea being that through analysis we glean valuable insight about Blender short film production or professional game development. We see it as a kind of “investigative behind-the-scenes”. We’ve done a short film review already and it went really well. I’m looking very forward to more of these.
- Experimental Software Features & Demos - We didn’t anticipate this genre initially, but it quickly made sense when we streamed Jonathan Williamson demonstrating new features in development for RetopoFlow 2.0. To date it’s been the most popular stream we’ve done. So we’re keen to do more of these to include experimental Blender features, Blender addon demos/reviews, Unity features, Unity plugins and assets, etc.
- *Classes* - This one is so cool it will get its own blog article :)
This is only what we’ve come up with so far. We’ve been streaming for 4 months and we’re constantly coming up with new ideas.
Free or Paid?
Our Vision for Live Events
We're taking streams seriously. It's something we've been discussing for a long time. Tim pioneered the medium for us, having maintained a weekly concept stream for years. It was inspiring to see the level of community interaction and communal learning his streams facilitated.
This is our vision for CGC Live Events. Pre-recorded training is certainly relevant and we’re very proud of the catalogue we’ve built. It’s here to stay and we will continue building it. But we’ve realized that it’s not a complete educational offering. If we intend to take our mission seriously, to teach the best we possibly can, Live Events are crucial. There’s much more to learn and experience together in a live format.
So come, grab a seat at the table! Check out the schedule, RSVP to future events, watch past events here.
Do you have an idea for a Live Event genre or topic? Let us know in the comments!