As digital media artists and technicians, we deal with many different software applications daily.  They vary in quality, from barely usable, unstable, unreliable, obsolete nonsense to generally reliable, mostly stable, modern and user friendly.

In my experience, most artists think they’re too busy to do anything about painful software, so they throw their hands up and just work around the problems, then (not unreasonably) complain about the tool.  But complaining gets us nowhere except frustrated.  On top of this, the tool never improves.

You, as a production artist or TD, have an important and powerful voice.  Did you know?  And the time you take to campaign for change is like an investment in your own future time.  Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of rebuilding a scene that corrupted due to a repeatable crash, you were on the boat with your friends this weekend?

So How Can You Make a Difference?

You can get your tools improved by using the power of your professional voice.  You use these tools every day.  You know the ins and outs.  You know the annoyances and ‘work-arounds’ that constantly keep you late at work.   Only people like you have a valid reason to call for change.  So, get to it!   You can do this via application specific forums and also via the support portals of various software vendors.

Remember:

  • If you can get enough people to agree with your requests, the vendor is likely to act on it.   But if your software vendor will not listen to your repeated requests to fix bugs that are decades old, you should seriously consider finding a better tool.  There are many good tools out there.
  • If it is a feature request, show why it would be a great improvement, mainly by demonstrating how it will make you faster.  All you need is a well-reasoned argument and a demonstration of how this change will improve the cost effectiveness of the tool and its users.  (Note that if you simply say, “Booleans suck”, you probably won’t get much traction)
  • If it is a bug, or something that you think is a bug, create a point form list of repeatable steps that guarantees hitting the bug every time and include that list in your communication.  Developers really like this.  There is little point reporting a bug that you cannot reliably repeat.  We need to show patterns.

Going Forward

This is a long-term strategy that should be a part of your normal workday.  The more time we spend asking for improvements to our tools, the more vendors will act on issues that are important to us, as on-the-box artists, rather than spending the development budget adding some new bell or whistle that sounds cool but doesn’t actually work.

Know that there are software vendors out there that are very responsive to real production needs.  There are also vendors who rarely, if ever, listen to the community.  If you have been in industry for a couple of years, you have probably already figured out which is which.

Anyway, stop letting your tools rule your life.  Get in there and make a difference.

And spend the weekend on the boat!