Flee from animation! Save yourselves!
(Still reading, eh?) Hey Newbies! When I learned that Lightwave3D's maker Newtek was coming out with a mini-basic system in the student price range, about September of 1999, I had just reviewed ten kinds of software and pretty much given up.
Then, I became "INSPIRED."
After almost three years of playing with INSPIRE, I can appreciate its many strengths and if I were stranded on an island, live with its limitations. At this writing (May, 2003), www.newtek.com no longer supports INSPIRE, and has pretty much withdrawn a free version comparable to MAYA PLE, Houdini Apprentice and XSI Experience (Discovery lacks scene saving, making detailed learning pretty hard). Free high-end software pretty much blows INSPIRE out of the water, except that INSPIRE is a commercial non-watermarked program, not an educational version, and it exports into LightWave.
But first, let's catch our breath and focus on what there is. There is a scripture that paraphrases -- "That which you want to hear, that you should speak."
I cannot recommend animation to anyone who is poor, partly because instruction is not yet provided to any appreciable degree. Part of being a newbie is asking the wrong questions, so going to a group like www.cgtalk.com may take the newbie forever to get a glimmer of what they should know, unless somebody intercedes. Good answers for wrong questions can be pitiful help. Since www.newtek.com isn't supporting INSPIRE any more, there will not be any further tutorials for it. (Unfortunately, without instruction, one may get caught in certainlittle traps. "Tab," ctrl-r vs. shift-r, smooth-shift, and a number more. Tools that should have a learning curve of hours can take weeks to use. There are one or two highly affordable instructional video CD's, ($30 for 8 hours of LW5.6 at www.tv3d.com/V4.html) so do look for them. Some other attempt to help has been poured into the 101 section, THEN it may be worthwhile to network with other animators, seek out the tutorials that belong AFTER "101" and share questions with newsgroups like "INSPIRE 3D" and "Lightwave3D" at http://groups.yahoo.com or www.cgtalk.com .
Another reason not to recommend animation to poor folks is that if you're smart enough to do this, there is an implication that you should put those smarts to relieving your suffering
Little "art tips" like positioning contrasting textures near one another, or pivoting during walking to increase three dimensionality may be found in the Tipathon. If you're interested in pushing the aesthetic "envelope," you'll find some tips along those lines too. I'm a big fan of stereoscopic 3D, and it's something one can explore on no budget using INSPIRE.
Spiritually, the minute one establishes "limitations," one is close to "saying never," (as in "Never say never") so I will not advise users on what application to use. Common sense dictates that INSPIRE is one fourth the program that LightWave has become, and that a little work at people skills might reward one more than obtaining INSPIRE, but I will only go as far as suggesting that one morph INSPIRE hand gestures to save on time, and go where one is lead. Again, say only what you want to hear, project it and expect it.
If you're on a budget, INSPIRE, most computer programs and most education in the US, has one major weakness: the manuals are not very extensive. To have a character move its eyes and talk, the eyes need to be modelledoutside the head, and that just isn't in the books. You add tiny bones to them and give them limited region settings. This trick can also be applied to other problem body parts. Some of this material is in books, just not in the INSPIRE 3D manual.If you can afford the $30 www.tv3d.com DVD I heartily recommend it or something like it. Education may be evolving to a more moral construct very soon; what is holding it back, a few anti-mercy charities choosing to resist advancing it?
Would an investor buy you commercial LIGHTWAVE or be your mentor in exchange for, say, 10% of your graphics-related earnings for the next five years? This puts a pretty big burden on the animator, because you will be vouching for LIGHTWAVE being what you need, as if you could predict the future, but compare this to swearing that a college has exactly what you want and that you will refuse bankruptcy protection for their sake (student loans currently allow this). Personally, I would rather ask www.newtek.com to give or loan me LIGHTWAVE 8, with 10% terms, since I try to find ways for them to make money.
If you are just considering animation, you may want to pick up one of the several highend3D programs being offered to newbies FREE. XSI Experience, MAYA PLE and Houdini Apprentice are all very useful programs for trying out animation, and like the leading word-processing programs have many tools below the surface for those who want to investigate them. 3D Studio Max has a 30 day demo.
Do you like to sculpt or cartoon? Or are you primarily a writer, and actually making something sounds like something to try? The good news is that INSPIRE is capable of an adequate standard of animation, pretty much out of the box. Don't do anything that takes hours if you can help it, and you may yet please yourself. Hands and such are thoroughly automated these days using "Copy item and descendants" and similar controls, so I would hate to be the one who caused you to waste months on simple stuff. Still, sometimes trying to help artists avoid detours, I forget how amazing this toolset can be. If you can avoid spending three hours to get a pirate hat "just right," you may be very well rewarded in your first weeks of play and study. Good cartooning seems to be a covetted skill in animation, and many CG animators are going back to school to learn cartooning, but I haven't been down that road.
Writers will be best served by thinking and writing. Why does it seem there is such strange charity in the world? Is there some trick to bringing about harmony? What sort of breaks in mundane reality exist, and why do people seem to be avoiding them? One interesting script resource is www.script-o-rama.comwhere one may premiere one's work. If you don't need to go down this form-heavy detour, DON'T!!
XSI Experience, Houdini Apprentice and MAYA PLE are quite a development, though the past two years have seen many changes. During the past two years, INSPIRE was "discontinued" (it may still be found many places), MAYA started allowing unlimited render farming, MAYA issued a very limited 30 day Demo, SOFTIMAGE put out an unlimited XSI 1.5 Demo without saving ( www.softimage.com), Discreet issued a mini-basic version of 3D Studio Max's modeller called "G Max," and Newtek's LIGHTWAVE 7 Demo appeared,...
If you're already thinking in 3D, you may not need to go far in this direction. Is your mission to make the very most of life? Do you have answers, or mostly questions? What kinds of answers are you getting? Computer animation can be like a 1,000 blade swiss army knife, but the guts of the work is writing. So, you may not need to learn the 1,000 blades. Spend a few years getting the truest ideas about productivity or happiness, then see about hiring writers. One reason some have gone to the trouble of learning animation is to convince themselves their work has merit by producing a small sample of it to show an audience. Another reason would be because historically many features began as shorts. At some point, one experiments with trying to express oneself in the most positive spiritual way, and public opinion be damned -- good luck getting there early.
Many religions discourage pursuing amusement too habitually, NEEDING a show or game or dance, because they want us to try nailing the priority game. Love is priority as well as reducing suffering and increasing communication. What are the questions we come up with when we set aside the diversions like games? They can be pretty big. If choosing my words carefully alters my situation dramatically, what does this say about the seeming material universe?
Is there some way to connect writers and animators and audiences and investors? Maybe.I can think of at least five websites where animators have shared evolving projects, looking for support. As well as forums like www.cgtalk.com which has collaboration areas, and www.awn.com . http://groups.yahoo.com may also be useful. Oddly, contacting working studio's to lend a hand for spec projects has lead to mixed results for me, but do not go by my experience.
Would the content-exchange projectville.com concept work for animation programs like INSPIRE? MAYA PLE has scene-saving and object-saving, but with the ".mp" format, not able to be loaded to commercial MAYA. One could have object files for locations, evolving characters, and scene files, all located virtually, with the script, or outline. Should there be a student clearinghouse or annual prize or offshore stock options or what? These are good questions. In my experience, prayer and keeping my thought open have lead to some projects coming to fruition very quickly.
The animal below was welded together from www.3dcafe.com and http://3dmodelworld.com free animals, and rigged in INSPIRE. Many modellers seem willing to share their work this way in order to become better known, though I've had little success getting models loaned to me for projects outside of third party forums like 3dcafe.com. Sometimes these models have faults or limitations, like eyelids that need careful work to be able to close or inadequate detail around joints, so that they do not animate well. One may put them into another background layer, however, and model a primitive like a sphere, using smooth shifting, to get close to them.
There have been too many fallow days, and some long detours due to home-study detours and my own willfulness, but you can see the relatively quick start possible with INSPIRE, and also the somewhat slow progress possible from there in theGALLERY. See the links pagefor a list of suppliers, special interest groups, yahoo groups, and clubs who have helped me somewhat navigate the shoals of home-study. My e-mail is email@example.com, phone number (818) 755-4517 and street address 12600 Killion Street, Valley Village, CA 91607-1535 . The Tipathon page has a load of big-picture observations, like that every shot in a movie is usually a point-of-view shot, that light "falloff" often provides the lion's share of contour, and that most movie stories seem to lean toward rescue (characters and audience), for what it's worth. The "Glossary" has now been dwarfed by the short quick info on a new instructional page -- "101" -- which is a list of 101 lessons that sort of cover the material that the INSPIRE book may not handle that well.
Did you know you could use INSPIRE or an eBay LIGHTWAVE version as a way to buy upgrade-path LIGHTWAVE at a discount. LIGHTWAVE is one of the few softwaresthat has transferability. I am not sure which of the high-end app's like XSI have this yet; many are leased.
I am not bashing MAYA PLE (or XSI). I experienced the horror story of learning on software that I could not possibly afford and that I had no acess to after the class, with my work stored on a medium I couldn't possibly download, without prayer. That company was absorbed by www.aliaswavefront.com, but it doesn't matter who the company was. Some animators learn the four leading software systems; to me, this is taking a detour halfway down a detour. Detours, delays, doubts, disappointments: they call them the four D's, beware!
You may notice a spiritual flavor to this website. I've noticed that what goes around, seems to come around.
Some months ago, I watched an expert LIGHTWAVE instructor show me just how powerful INSPIRE is, modelling and "rigging" an animated character within a couple of hours. Although he used LIGHTWAVE 7, most of the tools he used are in INSPIRE. He seemed to actually prefer some of the older Layout tools, such as bones instead of weight maps, because they gave a smoother workflow. This same modeler/animator drew the line at bothering with INSPIRE's Modeller, however, saying to drag points was foolishness when better tools existed. Yet, the trick he did to open some eyelids that were deliberately modelled closed, was very similar to "Vortex" in INSPIRE.
INSPIRE does not need much to make it competitive for character work -- fewer limits, bones-descendant editing, maybe a little weight-mapping. One may allow for the tools that LW Discovery Edition lets you rehearse with, loading your 5.6 or INSPIRE files to the 7 format, trying hand animation, particles, IK, and full lip-synch morphing. But continue production in INSPIRE. This is a pretty wacky situation, being able to buy HALF the program! I do not know of anyone who has begun a project in INSPIRE knowing they would switch the files in this way -- fear and poverty keep us pretty blind -- but I've finished a couple of projects in LightWave that I began in INSPIRE.
You NEVER have to use pirated software. Be a close friend of the software maker, and the good will come back, and you will love yourself. Sadly, you may be offered pirated software quite a few times. For some reason, I did not make much money for a couple of years, but I stuck it out, and believe it or not, I was given a promotional copy of Lightwave by a relative stranger.
Here we have a little character doing face-shape morph animation for full lip-synch -- pretty close to the industry standard -- while walking and gesturing using forward kinematic bones deformation. The suit's pattern is an 8 image cycle of a spinning spiral. The foreground and background were alpha "matted" to speed up rendering times. Everything except the body was modelled by the artist in INSPIRE.
Press Image for Movie
At this point, however, one has to ask oneself if one is using the tool to: make a demo reel, a short to sell, a proof that one is not crazy, to sell CG services, to get a "j-o-b," to get started with LIGHTWAVE 7x, or to save the world, like me.
I hear you.
LIGHTWAVE is the same tool used for countless commercials, "Babylon 5," "Max Steele," "Star Trek," "Jimmy Neutron"and many other shows; give or take some plug-in programs, but if the intent of the new FREE and educational programs is NON-commercial work, INSPIRE may still be the best game in town for its price range. "JimmyNeutron" is LW6, but the others are pretty close to INSPIRE, and if one studies them, one notices they avoided things like hand gestures too.
Now, demo reels are a different animal. INSPIRE is practically useless, except for some animation timing. But let me return to the point I made earlier about limits, one should remove them for others as well as oneself, where possible. I was working the other night on the so-called "ideal" demo reel, based on a feature I wanted to make. I was trying to write animated features that didn't use animation very much. Have a look at "Monsters, Inc." So why am I producing a demo reel for animation if I am writing? Because it all takes time and I'm not getting a lot of love back at this point.
A storyboard artist should have some sense of animation timing, but they don't have to.
The word on the street is that a watermarked demo reel is still a demo reel, and a demo reel can also be used to pitch you to another artist for collaboration, for an ad or graphics agency that can use you, for a public or private school that requires a portfolio, or for a loan from a friend when it is time to move up to something more powerful. Or to show a writer whose work you want to option, if you are a bohemian maniac artiste. An INSPIRE reel is going to lack hand animation, which is where the eyes are going to go, and it will take much much longer than the timing with XSI Experience or MAYA PLE. One MAY use Lightwave DE (Demo) to get improved workflow, but if a scene crashes, it's back to the drawing board, and that gets stale fast. A metaphysical trap you may want to avoid is trying to "impress" others -- think of the reel as a way of telling folks you have extra lemons from your tree to give them.
INSPIRE results also aren't going to have the same particles, dynamics, lighting, texturing and as many animation workflow tools. Ask around to get a look at some of the better demo reels (Sheridan College's reels have a good rep) and make sure your reel has lots of posing and keyframing and other elements those strong reels have.
Back to INSPIRE: Want to sell a short?
Love what you're doing, please.
Unless I am wrong about educational licenses, INSPIRE is pretty much the only game in town in its price range that produces near-broadcast quality results. As www.3dcafe.com used to say, "Funny is money." Seriously funny gets bought by "Exposure" or whatever worthwhile omnibus of short films that pay may emerge in a world where 1500 short films are submited to Cannes annually. "Funny" is not cruel. There is also a list of iffy resources for shorts distributors on the Linkspage. This returns again to the idea of "limits" which was touched on above. If this is a mental reality, there shouldn't be a problem if 1500 shorts are submitted to Cannes, and I look forward to browsing some on the cable soon.
You may want to jump on some serious prayer before diving into this mess. Contest/festivals are supposedly the premiere showcase for contacting short film buyers according to some books. Some contests, like www.siggraph.org or Newtek's annual "Wavy" awards may lead to a kind of instant celebrity among one's CG peers, like Jason Wen with "f8," which won a special jury prize at Siggraph, selected out of 700 films (made with LIGHTWAVE 5.6, INSPIRE's closest relation).
A friend recently paid to advertize his short on www.ifilm.comand the short was later bought non-exclusively by a PBS station for one of its omnibus short film shows, after it was profiled in a trade magazine. Contacting these short shows and PBS stations may be worthwhile for two reasons: sometimes they pay, and the "exposure" one gets generally will NOT require giving up long term rights.
Recently, an entrepreneur got my name from a list somewhere (awn.com lists hundreds, Yahoo groups "LW3D" lists thousands) and offered me 25 cents per DVD sold to be part of an animation compilation; something I'd been recommending to others for months.
Once the files are on a CD, a lot of the hard part is over.
Why is there evil in the world when God is love? This area of philosophy is called "theodicy." Some believe that all evil is illusion, and the Bible seems to say that God is too perfect to percieve illusive evil, though his love is always available. When someone asks you for a movie for no pay, you use the Golden Rule and trust good will follow, but you don't have to give them your film. Maybe you will reflect no whether or not you're expecting others to give YOU nothing for something. Does getting a better paycheck help others make better pay? If one believes this, then one wants to make as much money as possible for the sake of others as well as oneself. Ultimately, it's probably a merry-go-round.
What should one be paid? Don't limit yourself, please. I am not an expert here, but I figure some math cannot hurt. Let's start with commercials. If an appliance salesman spends $10 on a toaster he sells for $30, and your ad's expense roughly increases his price on the toaster to $12, but he sells 800 instead of 400, he clears $14,000 instead of $8,000. An extra $6,000 is worth how much? $1600? The trend is for animation in advertizing to continue to grow, at least until 2004, according to one study quoted bvy www.newtek.com .If a movie helps keep a Cable station attracting paying subscribers and advertizers, that's a little harder to measure, but the rates for buying "airtime" advertizing are available from a variety of sources, and begin around $40 per 15 - 30 second spot for late night TV. www.adbusters.org/uncommercials/buyairtime/ Allow for half of this when bulk-purchasers run their ad's, but add up the number of spots sold for the programming, and that may give you an idea what to charge individual stations or networks for running your film. Adding a slight boost to a DVD may all be in the perception of the DVD publisher, but the DVD is typically run in lots of 2,000 or more, at less than $1 cost per piece.
A film that I may not love enough to go much further with, I have mailed out about a half dozen copies of. I received one rejection, one series of phone calls that mysteriously ended, and an offer to run it for nothing on a cable station and lose all rights; but I only contacted distributors directly.
This is some relatively ancient work I have done; to produce some animation for a monthly children'sBible show on cable access. I hustled it together using free models and a couple of shots were run. Did it pay? (Goodie points in heaven:) As for not knowing the "workaround" for weight-mapping eyes, that may take a while to forgive.
As proof that you are not crazy, INSPIRE is a mixed bag.
Nobody needs an animator who knows "workarounds" for fur, for instance, and "dynamics" rigging will be one of many blind spots.
On the plus side, your INSPIRE skeletons will not only work in LIGHTWAVE, the poses will be cut-and-pasteable in one operation as long as they are parented to a common bone.
One of the key lessons in101 section: modeling and rigging do not have to be learned in order to learn animation. Some rigging helps; the animator who doesnt provide child bones to a model for effects like jiggling probably isnt thinking about squash and stretch either. And animation job positions typically have outnumbered rigging positions.
Take Note: if you are smart enough for computer animation, you are probably smart enough to do something more rewarding, theoretically. Why suffer over a motion effect for hours trying to find a function that may exist as a command or not, when that effort can be applied to digesting financial advice, banking, accounting, programming, robotics, geology, remodelling, real estate, leisure business -- just to name a few. Is the economy based on insuring work and pensions or removing them in favor of automation? Have you considered this? Have you experimented with mental awareness, on the chance that your potential is as the Bible describes?
If you are writing mind-bending productivity-boosting art that lends itself to animation, with INSPIRE you will be able to produce broadcast quality animation, suitable for any channel or video store. (With a little help, since the auto-advance 640x480 standard is barely under the DVD standard of 720x480). The files you produce will be able to be "bumped-up" for broadcast, and have effects like "volumetrics" and particle dynamics added, and at least rehearsed, because LIGHTWAVE Discovery Edition reads INSPIRE files. This implies something sad, however; that nobody will look at your crayon scribbled script and produce it for $15,000,000 without your making a "proof of concept" animated short first. From "Snow White" and "Fantasia" to "Jimmy Neutron," this seems to be part of "greenlighting" animation though. I hope you will focus on writing much more than animation, if the Spirit leads you there. And I hope that the people skills to realize your writing hopes without having to go on a three-year merry-go-round will come to you in moments rather than months.
One nice thing is if or when you meet your audience. They say things like "I hope you get paid a lot for this," and "An adult cartoon, hmm!" Even better if they laugh.Maybe only one in twenty will respond; but that's 300,000,000 people in this universe. As for the road being uphill, the more productive mental construct is to see what is lacked as an opportunity, and then to fill that hole. In all honesty, my best work to date has been rejected a few times, and it was damn clever. One TV station would run it, but not pay.
Writing can produce a lot of work for a lot of people and possibly help the world. The world wants truth. Is that so hard? That may be why many aspire to writing, and some even succeed. There are some sections on writing in the Tipathon . The best cartoons have probably not been made yet; they release anger with knowledge as well as laughter, and inspire and uplift and empower. Maybe they boost intuition juxtaposing words and shapes; maybe they will illustrate and dramatize Stiglitz's Nobel-winning economics observations; or re-tell an old story with a little more conviction. I am trying to understand God better, and sometimes that means getting up out of your seat, but maybe animation can help. There seems to be a lot of Golden Rule evidence arguing that diversion and amusement lead to more fatigue, suffering and idleness in the world -- I hope I'm wrong.
Friends of mine have sent out dozens of resumes, and some have done both that and prayed, some have even fasted. The praying ones don't seem to mind if companies are hiring or firing. The current dilemma affecting j-o-b-seeking LIGHTWAVE animators seems to be that LIGHTWAVE has been used by one company of as many as 200 people to dominate TV animation, but most of them were laid off in May of 2001. Foundation Imaging at www.foundation-i.com. It is unclear why or if so many competing studio's do not use LIGHTWAVE ( www.newtek.com takes issue with reports it is falling behind): the more powerful toolset of MAYA (history, morphing between unlike point counts,...), the proprietary C-based code of LIGHTWAVE versus Unix, the novelty of MAYA creating job openings/visibility, the special pricing packages of aggressive corporate strategists, relationships with third party plug-in developers, or just taking LIGHTWAVE for granted. ( www.newtek.com apparently would not mind if the 20,000 or so LIGHTWAVE 5.6 owners upgraded for $600, and kept LW7 as a backstop, from what I can gather.) According to one source, some MAYA studio's were using LIGHTWAVE to render. In any case, there appears to be more job openings for MAYA and MAX (gaming) than LIGHTWAVE or XSI.
That said, how does one become a MAYA specialist desired by the 100-plus-employing studios when few teachers are experts in any aspect of MAYA? Prayer. I don't have a lot of other answers for that.
I will say this of the one working MAYA modeller I met: he had a facility for getting a Disneyesque "take" out of anything from a dresser to a cactus. Could this be how he was hired?
MAYA is accessible for $200ish per year at community colleges, and PLE will allow students to follow-through at home. (Commercial MAYA just dramatically changed its pricing. Schools get a special price break of something like $80 per seat.) The training materials for MAYA best known to hobbyists are the DVD's, www.aliaswavefront.com markets a complete library for $1449.95, but third parties have marketed classes for $60 per disk. Other less expensive tapes are available, and tutorials for MAYA PLE may be found at www.highend3d.comIf one can find a gifted instructor at a community college, that could help. If the instructor has a language impediment or cannot work the program efficiently, GET OUT OF THERE! In the school setting, MAYA expires and shuts down after one year; that the student is going out on limb usually makes frequent renewal a bit distressing. Personally, I wonder if www.aliaswavefront.comstill doesn't get it; if every studio in the world had MAYA PLE and COULD export to MAYA, what would happen?
On the plus side, other studios will be able to look at your work even more easily (though most still prefer VHS), because everyone will own a copy of MAYA PLE.
When politicians discuss college opportunity, they don't mention student loans, because they are simply a very cruel example of lending, whatever their intention. The program you use will be obsolete in three years, but your student loan will absorb tax refunds, IRA money, survive bankruptcy and contact your employer to garnish wages before you're full-time, and contact your heirs about your estate. I am not kidding. Student loans cannot be released by bankruptcy, though one may try to sue to be released on the grounds of health-endangering hardship. And who is being sold this unspeakable piece of paper? The naive with the greatest potential. This violates the principle and spirit of mercy found in Biblical bankruptcy protection. I advocate NOT going in this direction at all. Have integrity and find others with integrity, and don't try to predict the future, if you can help it. Whether the laws passed to discourage the use of consumer credit cards for education remain in force, or not, the student deserves better.
There seem to be many likely solutions to this mess: allow the option of a five or ten year or longer ((the precedent for exceeding the statute of limitations is already there)) five to ten percent garnishment of earnings within the judgment-proof envelope. After the ten years are over, the student is free. But the lender probably should not have a claim if the earnings are in an unrelated field. When I look at automation's amazing power to end labor and most kinds of employment, and the nerve of bank owners and stockbrokers who blindly oppose all "welfare" while they finance automation, I pray, and turn my thought to noticing and expressing good, because noticing stupidity can really slow you down. I have heard of one bank that has begun offering tithing arrangements for loans, with the name "uncle."
The other idea mentioned at the top of the page, of approaching www.newtek.comor an investor to buy one the program, in exchange for 10% of your graphics earnings for the next five years has some merit. I also think an "honors system college" might be worth pursuing, where the school gets an annual ten-year tithe if the student thinks they weren't cheated. If the kinds of truth here are really worth something to you, wouldn't you like to contribute something? Maybe an old computer? A mentor may be able to give one the kind of one-on-one attention they crave, and one hopes the mentor will benefit. Experienced mentors and teachers may be found at websites or discussion boadrs like www.cgtalk.com .
Intuitively, I think there must be a way to cover the key points of INSPIRE in 16 hours -- two VHS tapes -- and I recently saw a LIGHTWAVE instructor (Larry Schultz) tear through modelling and rigging in less than two hours. Hooray!
And save the world?
My reading of Christianity is that when we set out to save the world, the world determines to help us, and that a lot of invisible stuff is going on. INSPIRE's shortcoming is that it is a tool of form, not content. Content is about some group of exercises awakening some vestigial mammalian "blow-hole" or some radical spiritual experiment that proves breathing is unnecessary. Will that save the world? Yes, of course. Maybe not the "blow-hole" part, but anything that puts us closer to realizing our true potential is content.
The mortal experience seems to be incredibly suicidal. Do we waste human potential as fast as we can and plot to set our enemies upon each other for our own sake? If one person can transform an economy, may not another person transform an R&D industrial complex? Maximizing personal productivity, for me, has meant trying to live for the "unseen" despite appearances, rather than in reaction according to them, trusting that good is not powerless.
There is a resource here. I am not saying it is what anybody needs. When I have tried to give a project "oomph" with some cg animation, I've sometimes encountered unfixable glitches and crashes, as if to remind me to stop telling myself it's the ink or the pen and not what is being said that expresses the most Love. Do charity to witness the power of the Golden Rule and aim to be as honest as you can at all times, and then, like the spray can that needs to be shaken every minute or so as one paints, do more charity, and observe how good intentions unfold.