“does gear matter?”

this is not a yes-or-no question:

tools matter, the right tool in skilled hands can do amazing, unique things that can’t be done by another tool

tools don’t matter, if you don’t have the faintest clue what you’re doing then you’re not going to get great results

tools matter, if a beginner’s using really shitty tools it’ll make the whole experience even more frustrating

tools don’t matter, if an expert’s using those same shitty tools they can still make magic

tools matter, along the way to expertise you will find needs for a lot of very specific tools, which can do very specific things much faster than more general tools, sometimes you have to make these specific tools yourself

tools don’t matter, you can easily spend apocalyptic amounts of money on filling an entire workshop with tools only to find that you don’t need those very specialized tools anywhere near often enough to justify their cost when you use them

what do you need for the job at hand? what do you need for the jobs you want to be doing in the future? what do you find a voice in the back of your head whispering you need without any idea what you’ll do with it? what do you want simply because it’s something you use every damn day and you want a nice tool that feels good in your hand?

All of the above is a comment I decided not to make over at Hacker News regarding a post by the same title from someone chronicling his journey as a photographer. Which ultimately came to the same conclusion of “it matters, and it doesn’t matter”.

I’m having that little voice whisper that I need to be spending a thousand bucks a year on the priciest version of Toon Boom. I’ve been fooling with the demo and I keep on being impressed by all these little features that have a lot of thought and observation of the complex process of having a group of people come together to make drawings move, it’s got so many things I couldn’t even begin to wish for when I was using Flash around the turn of the century, it’s all so beautifully integrated in a way no workflow I cobbled together with Adobe’s suite could ever be. But I also think about how much of the process of Making A Cartoon feels like boring work I don’t want to do. Is this a case where if I start doing stuff, people will show up to help? Maybe. I dunno. I gotta spend some more time exploring the demo before the trial runs out and I have to either cough up a month’s rent on my home for a year of running Toon Boom, see if I can get a key from my acquaintances in the industry, or put on my pirate hat. There’s just a bunch of ways I feel like I’ve reached Illustrator’s limits lately and I’m looking for some very specific kinds of functionality that I think I might find in there. And annoyingly one of these very specific functions is one of the things that Toon Boom sharply limits in the cheaper version.


So fucking weird to feel myself pulled towards animation again.

  1. I would put on your pirate hat (if the key didn’t work out). You can always buy it later once you’ve gotten a handle on it and seen how much you can do with it and how much you can’t.

    I remember being told (back around the 2000s) in college that Adobe, Alias (now Autodesk), Autodesk, et. al would look the other way for piracy knowing that we were students and learning and that “once we got our jobs!” THEN they could ask for the money.
    (Then of course they had student subscriptions that didn’t allow you to do anything with your work… now I think they no longer over look it)
    Basically that they’d overlook it if you were learning, not sure that applies now. Probably still a good excuse though.

    • Yeah, there’s always this sort of “we don’t care that much if you’re not making Serious Bucks with these tools” vibe going around with these high-priced tools. Tracking down a zillion small-timers just isn’t worth the financial reward, catching big studios with a thousand people is. I’m kind of hovering at a point in my life where it’s almost easier to just buy the damn thing than it is to figure out where to go to get serials/keygens/cracks and take the risk of some kind of trojan coming along with it, I am pretty sure Surfer’s Serials is long gone in the twenty years since I started being able to pay for my tools.

      (But looking that up made me try searching for its successor Serial Box and there seems to be a 2023 edition, holy cow.)

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