About the Dojo Project
Well, the Dojo concept grew out of the ill-fated "Animation Master Brawl"
project. That project had the simple and laughable purpose of getting
a bunch of people together, and having each of them animate a section of
a fight scene. When we all got finished, we were planning to string
the films together and have a short feature.
My... we really were optimistic.
What actually ended up happening was this: people invested an immense
amount of energy in creating their characters, taking a month or so to
do it. By the time we all were ready to start animating, the initial
fervor of the goal was already mostly gone. Then we started to wade
into the animation.
We quickly found out three simple things. First, animation is
hard. Second, animation is even harder when nobody has told you the basic
principles behind animation. Third, it is not good to discover lessons
one and two when you are trying to finish an animation on a deadline, and
are already exhausted from having built a character.
Because of all of these difficulties, we never did get the Brawl film
finished. However, the problems did inspire me to put together a
different type of project: one that would teach the basic principles
behind animation in a low pressure, easy-to-join environment. Hence
Introduction to the concept
For those of you who have never been to an actual Dojo, it's often something
roughly like a school-room run by Chinese Menu. You can choose to
learn a little something from one category, and then a little something
from another category, and tailor it all to your personal tastes.
While a Dojo of this type does a bad job of drilling every single detail
of learning into your head, it does a good job of maintaining interest
and participation. That's why I wanted to model my online project
after this successful example.
So, the Animation Master Dojo is basically the same thing, only for
animation. There are a set of lessons, each of which you can pursue
either a little or a lot, depending on your interest. And, of course,
there are lots of helpful people, expert and otherwise.
More specifically, this project provides:
A set of tutorials on various aspects of animating martial arts,
Props and models to allow you to start animating more quickly
A community of animators to provide constructive criticism and (maybe)
A mailing list connecting that community, and
This web site, with large amounts of storage set aside specifically for
the posting of your preliminary attempts at the various tutorials
Why Martial Arts?
A question naturally arises: "Why martial arts?" This project is
limited to teaching martial arts animation as a matter of conscious choice.
The limits give a sense of direction and scope to the project, whereas
a more generalized task ("write up tutorials on every aspect of animation")
might fail precisely because of how far it over-reached. The limitation
of the project to martial arts is not a choice without some disadvantages,
of course: the Dojo does not provide a strong forum for teaching,
for example, facial animation techniques. Quite a few other techniques
of animation simply cannot be addressed within this framework.
However, the choice of martial arts is not a completely arbitrary one
either. By their very nature, martial arts are explorations of movement.
The topic of martial arts covers many, perhaps even most, of the fundamental
techniques of animation quite naturally.
Introduction to the method
The basic concept is simple: You, the aspiring animator, select a
tutorial that you would like to work on. You make an attempt at animating
what the tutorial describes. You post your results on the web (either
on your own site, or by contacting the Dojo administrator), and mail an
announcement to the Dojo mailing list. The other members of the group
comment on your work, hopefully giving feedback that will help you to improve
more rapidly than you would have improved alone.
The basic goal of the project is to make sure that everyone involved learns
as much as they can, and has as much fun as possible. There are,
however, some specific sub goals that seem quite likely to contribute to
this overall goal:
Each tutorial should be quick and simple to start and to finish.
Each tutorial should be useful on its own.
Each tutorial should combine with other tutorials to teach something more
than just the sum of the parts.
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