This is something which I've been meaning to write down for a long time generally as a tip for students and just about anyone who hits a brick wall when solving a problem or conjuring up a solution to a difficult assignment. And its not one of those never before seen formulas but interestingly gets missed out everytime.
Let me do a psycho-brain analysis first (read psycho as psychological and not as in The Joker from the Dark Knight). When you are given a problem to solve, either in a class by your instructor or at work by your supervisor/senior, the first reaction step is either of the following :
a. If you like the task and are those 'go for the gold' types, you'll immediately jump to the next part of my explanation. If not, you'll jump to step
b. If you're one of those types who is more concerned about likes and dislikes and this happens to be not your kind of work, you'll see this as a burden and no matter how awake and excited and fresh you are, you're suddenly overcome with extreme action sleep and frustration. At this point, you will either leave the class/workplace and keep hanging outside the office or will simply drive out of the whole geographical ground zero because someone's dropped a bomb on you and its ain't a pretty one. Those who smoke will be found smoking up their attention level to cope up with the emotional injury. In a nutshell, you bunk the place debunking the entire challenge put forth to you. If it was a test or an exam, you throw in a couple of 'F' words because you cannot simply walk out of it and have to bear the supposed torture.
Next Part of my explanation So those who've reached here are the ones who're very excited about the problem at hand and want to get working on it.
At this stage, you read the problem and try and absorb it and that proverbial 'light bulb' inside your head tries to switch on. At times, it lights up quickly and you're happy.....while other times it just doesn't light up and you're left wondering whether there is something wrong with the problem or the bulb in your head. And its always the bulb because there is no such thing as a problem which either cannot be solved or walked to a plausible explanation.
So what is the best recipe to light that bulb ? The answer is ::: LOGIC !!.......No i'm not talking about some strange telebrands potion from the jungles of amazon which can turn your dry and desolate scalp into a rainforest but a lesser used feature of your brain which can really do wonders.
Logic allows you to build a tree of possibilities leading you to the most elegant solution. For instance, you switch on your television and its not working....Some people will call up an engineer who walks away giggling and a pocket full of cash...Or else you can do this :
a. Switch it on. b. If it works, enjoy......and stop thinking about it... If not, go to point c c. Check to see if there is electricity. If yes, go to step d. If not, wait for it.... d. check to see if the switch on the electrical wall socket is turned on. If not, switch it on and go back to point b. If yes, go to point e e. Check to see if the power cable is properly plugged in place. If not, plug in and check. If yes, check to see whether there is electricity in the wall socket by the help of a line tester which almost everyone has. You might have a blown up fuse. If there is electricity, its a possible fault with your television set. Go to step f. If there is no electricity, then go to step g. f. Call a Television Engineer to diagnose and repair the set. g. Check the fuse box for a blown up fuse or a tripped MCB. If there is one, repair and go back to step a. If everything's ok, call an electrical engineer.
Now you're thinking why go through so much of headache. For starters, if you're a rich tycoon with more servants than your family members, don't bother...call an engineer and let him take the pain and forget you ever read this article. For the rest of us, here are the benefits :
1. You were most likely to get the television working by yourself. 2. If Not, then at least you were able to reach the final stage of the problem deduction by yourself. 3. Not only that you deduced the right way out by knowing what to do : call a television engineer or an electrical one. You don't want a TV guy to be fixing your power plug and charging a huge sum for it. And if it was your TV and was in its warranty period, you might just get the whole thing done for free. 4. Best and Most Important of all, you used your logic and were able to solve the problem through reasoning and deduction.
So what's so special ? You do this every day but when it comes to technical/creative solutions, you suddenly behave as though you've never heard of the word logic. Let's say you're asked to create a visual effects shot where you have to create an explosion which blows out a car, you suddenly get confused on how to approach the problem. To begin with, I cannot even start talking about the importance of research (ok i'll do that in my next article perhaps). We're not born with a copy of 'The Complete & Unabridged Works of Everything' and hence we have to research and analyze how things work and how they behave under different conditions. If you're in a big studio and the project description mentions 'Unlimited funding' , you just might have the opportunity to blow up a real car to see how things work. Since this is generally not the case, you can do a couple of things, watch movies which have similar shots since a lot of times they are shot live and you can get fairly good idea which can then be moulded as per your task.
God gave us eyes and Google gave us Youtube !. Use It. Or Google itself...
Now that you have a fairly good idea on what to do, breakdown the entire problem into layers and pieces. For instance, in an explosion, you typically get :
a. The fireball itself b. Small debris c. Large debris d. Pressurised white-grey Smoke at the time of the explosion which quickly fades out. e. Dark slow moving smoke that lingers in the atmosphere (depending upon the nature of medium that is burning) f. Shockwave which displaces the dust, grass, elements surrounding the blast zone g. If its a car, glass pieces/small shards in the debris. h. And the deformed car and its elements which are thrown out and are burnt out.
Now that you know what to create, go about creating each element separately and layer it up later on. So a little bit of logic and planning simplifies a greater task.
Lets say that you're working on creating and animating debris, you're stuck up because they're not moving in the you wanted it. Instead of banging your head on a wall and damaging it (walls are precious), deduce what is going wrong. Is it the force acting on your particles which is behaving wrong ? Some people do not pay attention to detail, simply putting in Directional Turbulence and dialing up any value will not give you the kind of result you want. You have to understand what a tool/operation does and logically set its values. You are not given a slider/spinner on options like Intensity, Strength, Frequency so that you can play with it like a joystick on a gaming console.
Understand what you're doing and go slow on whatever you do. Approach it step by step, not all at the same time. Remember, that brick wall is right around the corner and it can crop up the moment you lose your patience and most importantly LOGIC.
In other cases, its simply a case of lack of attention to detail. You prefer asking your supervisor/instructor over finding the solution yourself. In this case, you're getting spoonfed and unfortunately you will always stay that way. If you had paid attention to detail in the lecture and known the difference between option A and option B, you would use your logic to get an answer as to why option A is not working and its option B that you've been looking for. If you're spoon-fed, you will always go for option B and in most cases it would not work because it worked for that situation for which you were spoonfed and not for all possible scenarios.
Try and resist the temptation to ask someone. Try and deduce a solution yourself. The way our brain works is that it stores anything that is spoonfed very slowly and in most cases it fades away quickly. You don't want to keep tattooing turbulence values, light multiplier values, buoyancy values all over your body now do you ?....If you fire up your logic engines and go through a series of misses and hits, your brain registers each and every step permanently and you only become smarter because now you know how to solve a particular problem. Yes you may fail, but you only end up knowing why you failed and you automatically skip walking in that direction the next time you try moving forward.
A lot of you would say, I did try but couldn't reach a solution. Well that's because your trial was 90% Inky Pinky Ponky and 10% brainwork. So, quickly changing values, pushing buttons which have no relevance whatsoever etc. is called 'A No Effort Effort' and it consequently delivers, 'A No Solution Solution'. If you had used your Logic properly, your solution possibilities BEFORE reaching the point where you refer to your instructor/supervisor and/or documentation would be very high.
Always go step by step. Do not jump to save time and effort. If you use your logic properly, you can come up with solutions to problems which are not even in your domain of work. That's when you graduate up the notch in your career.
The best example is that of a software programmer. If your fundamental knowledge and logic is strong, you're not bound by languages such as C++, Java etc. and you can virtually put your reasoning to almost anything instantaneously because you know in your head what you're looking for and its just a matter of referring to the documentation for that particular command which does what you're looking for. If you cram up Java, you'll be blank elsewhere because you only know what java commands do and have no idea WHY they do what they do.
So before this article kills your logic further, sit back, relax and start charging up your logic cells and more importantly, start using it........