Someone on Facebook brought up a good point about sharing knowlege. He said that if you share all your secrets at the beginning, you won't have any unique value to bring to the table when it comes to trying to make a career out of it.

This rings a bell with me, because the most useful knowledge I've ever gotten, I had to pay and work hard for.  The most punished I've gotten, was for sharing something that was supposed to be a secret (I'm more careful now).

Stop motion is no longer in danger, which was the reason a lot of people opened up about how they do things. Now we have casual lurkers who read the articles but contribute nothing to them- not even a "thank you". I've even seen knowledge one of us has shared passed off as someone else's knowledge without attribution. 

What are your thoughts on sharing or not sharing your techniques? Do you think it's good to grow the community while possibly endangering your bottom line? I'm opening the floor to debate.

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That's an excellent point. It's tough to know! I think it's valuable to share and advance your like-minded community, but also wise to patent something particularly innovative. Tips on efficiency here and there are great to spread, but if there's a revolutionary concept under your belt it probably makes sense to get some kind of copyright before the interwebs eats it. And I think it's important to keep expanding on the initial idea and making it better, so that a month after you share you've already come up with a method that trumps your old one that might get stolen anyway.

Not sure - not smart enough to come up with something innovative enough to worry about it!

Here are all my secrets:

This is a tough one, Don. Lots of variables and varying opinions, I'm sure. As for plagiarism and the lack of gratitude, that's a hard nut to crack. People are going to be people, and some of them are selfish and greedy. I think you'll find they can be that way no matter what the circumstance may be.

Despite that, I've always been very adamant about sharing knowledge, especially in artistic/collaborative mediums. I feel like the ultimate goal is survival of the medium itself. One creative person with one-hundred creative secrets does not guarantee that person success or the medium any improvement or longevity. In order for the medium to survive, every creative vehicle (be they large studios or a single person) should be producing work of the highest possible caliber, with all the latest techniques and tools at their disposal. That requires shared knowledge. For this reason, I personally don't agree with the current education systems in most countries. But that's a topic for another thread.

As far as keeping knowledge to one's self because of financial investment or hard work, I don't really agree with that as a basis for withholding information that could help someone else either. I spent a fortune bouncing around creative majors in college, and for a while I was a major contributor of tutorials and lessons to a number of forums and other outlets in my field. My reasoning was that if kids/amateurs knew what I knew then, by the time they put in the hours I had they would take it to the next level, and I wanted that. As far as drawing and animation goes, I am mostly self-taught. Started as soon as I could hold a pen/pencil, and haven't ever stopped drawing for more than a couple months since. That's a lot of time and hard work, but, if I can chop off a year or two of mystery and confusion for a beginner, I never hesitate to teach anyone what I know. I love art, and I want to see more of it from more people. 

Apart from that, success itself isn't determined solely by what you know that others don't. Success comes from being able to execute that knowledge with skill, precision, clarity, and style. How many walk cycles and bouncing balls have you seen traced straight out of The Animator's Survival Guide and posted on YouTube that still look amatuer compared to Richard Williams' own originals? Plenty. It's not what you know, it's how much you understand it, and how you use it. Same goes for equipment: I've seen camera moves done with a professional motion control rig, costing thousands of dollars, that look almost unwatchably jerky and amatuer. Then I've seen camera moves done by hand with a DIY rig made of wood (probably cost $100 total) that look nearly flawless. So, in a broad stroke, it's not what you have - it's how you use it.

Going back to sharing knowledge, sometimes a little act of selflessness can even have profound consequences. A few years back I came to know a very troubled young guy who was into all sorts of bad stuff, and had actually just been released from prison. I was hired as a temporary IT guy at a small re-upholstery shop. The man that owned it was the father of this guy's girlfriend. He didn't like the guy, but he gave him a job to attempt to teach him some discipline and responsibility. The guy saw me drawing one day while I waited for a cab, and told me he used to love to draw. Long story short, I started inviting him to my apartment to teach him how to draw. It gave him an outlet that wasn't dangerous, and allowed him a vehicle to sort out his head and express himself. I moved, and a few years later he called me to thank me. He stopped hanging around troublemakers and doing the things he used to do, he got a job at a bank, married that girl, bought a house, had a baby, and the dad grew to love him when he saw him taking positive steps forward. I'm not extrapolating an exaggerated point from that either. His own words were, "...hanging out with you, and you teaching me to draw gave me something better to do with my time, and got me on a better path..."

So my creed is: "knowledge is power", and it's a wonderful thing to be able to give someone else power. They may use it to do amazing things, or they may end up teaching you something you wouldn't have figured out yourself. It's a win win no matter what.

And if ego ever gets in the way with thoughts of losing power, or being surpassed because you've shared knowledge, just remember that "knowing is half the battle". It takes a lot more than knowledge to put that information to good use.

*Yes... My creed comes from the combined wisdom of Sir Francis Bacon and G.I.Joe... That probably says a lot about me. lol

I'm kind of caught bertween a rock and  a hard place on this one. That is to say, "torn". My first exposure to sites about stop motion was this one, and everyone shared freely. I got used to nothing being a secret, and discovered in 2008 about NDA's and how fiercely companies guard their trade secrets. Not sure whether to share my own personal knowledge or sit on it.. None of it came easily, and at one point someone has asked to be trained in clay animation, as though they were doing me a favor by letting me teach them. Because I had to work two jobs to afford to learn the information,  I ultimately directed them to the $1,900.00 classes I took where I got the information (which are worth every penny, despite the fact that I needed to work two jobs to afford them). But I still feel the urge to share unselfishly if I think I can help someone who is struggling. It's an endless struggle between the professional sensibilities and anthropological tendencies.

It was an easier question when posts on this site were not Google-able, and I pushed for them to be, but now I wonder if the fact that anyone in the world can find this stuff somehow cheapens it. I don't think I enjoy watching animation as much, after learning how it's done. The mystery was part of the appeal.

Hello to All!

Knowledge is inexhaustible. Sharing knowledge can only open up to other fascinations and ideas.

That someone on FB limited his/her vision/idea/possibility when that VERY same creative energy transferred toward concerns: " won't have any unique value to bring to the table..."

Secrete is NOT inexhaustible.  And there aren't that many. We do not have the capacity to withhold that many secretes.  I'm glad we have the web/google/search engine/youtube available to the world (except to some foreign countries limiting WEB usage).  

I also spent fortune toward colleges and universities. Even at those institutions that I attended, knowledge was withhold by few teacher/professors.  Fortunately, I had some very memorable teachers/professors whose were wise in sharing their knowledge and experiences.

In 2013, I've decided to travel to poor country, in remote areas where education and modern technology isn't available to those children, to teach art for free. I campaigned days and nights for the funds to be used toward art materials and space.  My project came in second; it didn't get funded.  But running that campaign had gave me an extraordinary knowledge and experience.  Sometime, fundamental skills and knowledge can only reach certain distance, but that didn't deter my goal. 

Art, as a vehicle and as a tool, used in wartime and implemented during peace-time.  There are necessary secret-knowledge that protect other from being harmed. And there are secret-knowledge that must be revealed to prevent future disaster.  Choosing to keep knowledge as a secret or to share is a judgment-call.  

For me, the more I learned about games the less I enjoyed them, but the same hasn't been true for movies or animation. The more I learn, the more I enjoy them, and the more I appreciate good execution. 

But... I think you're issue is more of a moral dilemma. The answer is: whatever feels "right" to you.

I'm trying to figure out what keeps clay animation unviable. In the 80's and early 90's, it was exploding with popularity. It's always a shame when an artform is regarded as just a fad.  No reason I can find that it should't be seen more on television, etc. It's insanely popular on Youtube. Never been cheaper to do, either. I thought that maybe sharing some of the techniques would help it come back. Maybe nothing will. It's probably a lost cause. But I hold out hope that if enough people believe... (geez, you'd think I was Gideon in One Magic Christmas).

I agree with Mike when says: in art, secret techniques are not the important thing but the skill when you applies them. All world knows how a picture is painted: you take oil painting, mix it and applies with a brush, but knowing this you cannot paint a realistic picture; you need years of experience and practice.

On the other hand, really is there anything about stop motion techniques that is not already in internet? All we can do is apply little improvements or tricks to the standard things "allworldknown". And I think this "little secrets" are not relevant. What really matters is transmit the general techniques for helping the dissemination and expansion of this art form.

Ultimately a dabbler (successful or not) is potentially a fan/viewer/buyer of our own work.


Antonio- That is a good point! I mean, I have developed a way to make clay quickly with no special exquipment, and even then it's easy to do something that causes the batch not to turn out right. Skill + Knowledge are definitely the winning combination.

If this is about your clay, you've engineered a potentially marketable material from scratch. That's your own special formula. There's no shame in keeping that a secret if your goal is to sell the clay. Although, even if you did reveal your ingredients, I would think more people would buy it for the convenience of not making it themselves anyway. 

Yeah, making the stuff is kind of a pain. But part of the reason I wanted to make it from scratch is similar to why Vinton Studios attempted to make their own clay: there was a time when they worried that the company that made the clay they used might go out of business because the original brand, Avalon, did. More recently, Klean Klay was sold... So, clay companies don't stay around forever, and you have to consider that if you're planning to use a particular brand exclusively. Otherwise, it would be like, "oh no, my favorite clay manufacturer is gone. Now what?" Making your own clay in-house removes that variable entirely, and you can make as much as you want of a particular color more cheaply than going from store to store and hoping someone has that much in stock.

Companies are so quiet about their clay ingredients that to this day, the secret Vinton formula is still safe. It was extremely valuable in the Claymation years because it was kind of the studio's secret weapon against imitators who were also doing clay animation commercially. It was not taught in my Claymation classes at NWFC. Getting the consistency just right makes a huge difference in the ease and speed of the animation. It was everything to the look and feel of classic Claymation.

advantage of the presence of leading experts in the field, I want to ask something: 

do you know some clay that hardens like "fimo" but without baking?

I tried "Air Dough" but texture is not the same and it shrinks a lot when hardens

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