It all started well over a year ago now when I was approached by someone from LinkedIn Learning, formally Lynda.com (LinkedIn bought Lynda.com back in 2015). My name had been brought up by another instructor who does the Essential Maya Training courses as they had seen that I had been creating medical animation tutorials on my YouTube channel.
To give you some background, I posted my first YouTube tutorial on 12th May 2016. I knew that what I wanted to create - that was the easy part. I found it hard to get my head around how to create the 2D and 3D illustration content I wanted to create whilst I was undertaking my graduate studies. For my postgraduate degree, I studied MSc Medical Art and the University of Dundee. Prior to this, I did my BA (Hons) degree in Painting at Edinburgh College of Art. Coming from a fine art background, where my main tools were oil paint and a paint brush, it took a bit of effort to develop the skills in digital art and 3D that I needed. I have always loved working with computers and technology so I approached this new area with enthusiasm and determination.
If you work in the field of Medical Art, Biomedical Illustration and Animation a question you become accustom to hearing is “and… what is that exactly?” I probably experience this every time I tell someone what I do and I still answer this question with enthusiasm as people don’t really notice that they do know the kind of work I create… they just did not realise that there were specialists out there generating that content.
My YouTube content started with trying to make the tutorials I wish I had in the beginning of this journey. If I had been desperately seeking someone to teach me a certain technique, surely there were others out there doing the same. I was on Lynda.com through my university account trying to learn as much as possible and trying to problem solve my way the the result I wanted. As anyone specializing in a very specific area will know… sometimes you just can’t relate the content closely enough to what you really want. I decided to bite the bullet and once I graduated, I started making content that specifically targeted people specializing in (or just interested in) medical/scientific animation and illustration. I believe that sharing content and techniques not only helps others but it also opens up a conversation with people working in similar fields. I have had lots of suggestions and alternative methods shared with me through the comments on my videos. These are such valuable pieces of information that I would not have known had I not been open and shared my own techniques. It has been a great learning experience for me and has built my confidence and I have learned that it was okay to put myself out there and be vulnerable. Being terrified of criticism has held me back for so long and I was very surprised when the world did not come crashing down once I clicked that upload button. I have found that generally people are very supportive and really appreciate the effort I am making to help others. I may not be perfect and I may not get it right every time but at least I am trying my best to help and inspire others to take an interest in 3D animation and medical illustration. My videos did a lot better than I thought they would have…and this lead me here — to sitting in Los Angeles Airport coming home from a week creating a video course giving an introduction to medical animation.
I arrived in Carpinteria on Saturday 14th April in the evening. It is a beautiful little place just 20 mins South from Santa Barbara on the coast. It is very quaint and the locals are all warm and friendly, they seem pretty accustom to having people visiting to work with LinkedIn. I spent the Sunday in Los Angeles with my Dad (my travel buddy for the week) on an sightseeing tour to try and cram in as much of the area as possible in the short time I had for exploring.
On the Monday morning, I met my course producer in the canteen for breakfast (they sure know how to look after their staff there, the breakfast and lunched provided were always amazing… not to mention the free snacks and drinks).
It was not as intimidating as it could have been as we had quite a few video conference calls whilst I was planning the course. He is a great guy and made me feel very much at ease throughout the week. After a quick tour around some of the campus, he showed me to the booth where we would be recording.
It was a cosy little set up with me in my booth with a desk, computer and the microphone headset. The producer sat on the other side of a window in a connecting booth with all the main equipment and we spoke to each other through microphones. I had done a lot of preparation for the recordings so everything went relatively smoothly. When I started stuttering through areas of my script, I learned to compose myself and rephrase. It was strange having someone else listening whilst I was recording as I am used to doing it when I am alone at home. My course producer was very encouraging and it helped me to get through each video in a couple of takes. We got through 26 videos in 4 days, leaving me with a day to relax and get some sunshine (or more accurately, for my Scottish complexion to get sunburned).
The main thing I have taken from this whole experience is to be open and honest with myself and with others. I have always been my harshest critic and I think that I assume that others are thinking the same about me. I took a leap and let myself be vulnerable and open for criticism. The thing is, that criticism never really came… only opportunity. So I took another leap and travelled to the US and although I have been so anxious for the past few months about it I still did it.
I will continue to do it.