I think we all need at least one really nice positive thing about the entertainment business every single day of the year, including weekends. Sometimes it may be something simple, like a video that showcases something fun and sometimes it may be a movie poster that embraces the aesthetic we all want Hollywood to aspire to. Sometimes it may be a long-winded diatribe. Sometimes it’ll be from the staff and extended family of CHUD.com. Maybe even you readers can get in on it. So, take this to the bank. Every day, you will get a little bit of positivity from one column a day here. Take it with you. Maybe it’ll help you through a bad day or give folks some fun things to hunt down in their busy celluloid digesting day.

By Jeremy G. Butler  (Author Page, Twitter Page, Facebook Page)

What I’m Thankful For:

Web Tutorials.

People always ask me how long I had to go to school to have the job that I do.  They’re subsequently always a little surprised when I tell them I’m a junior college dropout (and I was going for a paralegal degree as my first stop on the Road to Law School) who lucked into my entry-level job and, for all intents and purposes, taught myself how to do everything I know how to do.  From Photoshop to shooting, editing, web design and motion graphics, I’ve never once sat foot in a classroom.  But I’ve been doing all of these things in various professional capacities for right at ten years.  But I’d be lying (and a self-important ass) if I said I did it totally on my own.  Point-and-click educations are valuable in and of themselves, but nobody does it ALL on their own.  Photoshop, Motion, AfterEffects, FinalCut, Avid, Flash, Dreamweaver – these are all extremely complicated and sophisticated programs and just knowing the very basic functions can carry you to a point, but you’re never really gonna know what sort of power you have at your fingertips without someone acting as your guide.

Enter the web tutorial.

They exist for practically anything you could ever want to do in any software you’d want to do it in.  Effects and techniques and shortcuts and plugins and detailed click-by-click instructions on how to pull off some incredibly complex things and, for the most part, they’re all free.  They’re put out by people who just want to share what THEY’VE learned and what’s amazing about these tutorials is that yes, while they’re holding your hand as a means to a very specific end, if you’re paying attention then you’ll realize that you’re getting a personal guide through the inner-workings of the software.  Yeah, the video you’re watching or the tutorial you’re reading is telling you how to get from A to F (and if you can’t figure out A to B on your own they have tutorials for you too!), but it’s telling you how B, C, D and E work independently.  So the next time you’re working on something, you’ll be able to go from A to Z and hit every letter in between in whatever order you want.  It’s one thing to sit at a desk and have a teacher explain to you what the Bezier tool does or tell you the benefits of nesting when you’re using a 2D layer group in a 3D workspace, but the value grows exponentially when you can see someone use it in a real-world, practical way and you can see first hand how it lends itself into a finished product.  Just Google “[name of software] tutorials” and you’ll be amazed.  Look for an effect or an end that fits what you have in mind and build it – but don’t just download click-click-click and call it done (or download the example file and pass it off as a finished product), take the time to figure out what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, HOW they’re doing it and how you can apply those things in the future, otherwise it’s not a tutorial, it’s a cheat sheet and that won’t get you anywhere.

Now, earlier I mentioned teachers, and even if you’re not sitting in a classroom with a professor it never EVER hurts to have a Guru – just a buddy who knows how to do what you want to learn how to do.  I can say I taught myself how to use Flash and I sorta did but I always had my Guru to call when I got stuck and between him and Google there’s been NOTHING that I haven’t been able to accomplish, even if it took me a week to do what it would have taken my guru an hour, I learned that shit and I knew how to do it in an hour the next time.

Also – I don’t want to disparage going to school.  It certainly has its benefits –  if you sat Renn and I down and told us each to make a short film, his classical education would certainly give him a head start and would very probably best me, but even if it did I’d come in a very respectable second.  So if school isn’t an option then don’t fret – all you have to do is figure out what you want to do and there’s SOMEBODY out there who’s going to show you how to do it.  The important thing is that you take the time to listen and learn.  It’s how I’ve built a career for myself and for that I’m thankful.