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How to ask for more coding time (and investment)

One of the big focuses of becoming a Technical Director surfaces around Python and coding. Being able to solve technical issues with technical solutions is the backbone of the trade and coding is one of its key components. My masterclasses reflect that with Python for Maya, Python for Nuke, Python for Max and Python Advanced.

Just learning to code in Python isn't enough. Writing scripts and apps that help your and your teams work is the final goal. A common complain and question I hear is:

How can I integrate my (newly acquired) Python skills into my work?

Let's imagine you've learned the basics of how to write decent Python apps (through my masterclasses or others) and are now looking for ways to integrate this new skill into your daily work. BUT your work is still mostly artistic with an occasional problem solving task: Maya crashes, Nuke slows down or the file opening takes 30 minutes. Your company or leads may or may not know about your (improved) skills but they don't integrate them into your work. What now? Sales is everywhere especially if we want a change, an investment or an update for the better. A lot of my students ask themselves:

How can I use my scripting knowledge and sell the idea of an improvement through scripts? Sounds fairly easy, doesn't it? You write a helpful piece of code and everyone's life is a little bit better afterwards. Why should your new and helpful skills go to waste?! Sadly the harsh reality is that the company often wants you to work on the tasks they know you can perform. At the same time we ourselves often wait for the permission to do things especially if they're still new to us. Don't be disheartened when you can't use your cool new Python skills on the first day of work. Sometimes a little bit of persuasion is in order to transition your work to include Python and be recognized in this position. A great way to include Python into your work is to do the following: Show how the (updated) script will improve the work in time, money, frustration, complexity, ... using clear data that the other parties value. Time and money often wins as an arguments when using cold and clear numbers. To get more time and money show that you will create more time and money. Producers can't understand your desire to spend 3 days on a tool when deadlines are burning on their EXCEL spreadsheets until you can express it in time gains. Leads or Supervisors are sold faster on your application or improvement idea when it removes an extra step or simplifies a complex process. Show how your coding skills can improve peoples lives instead of waiting to get asked.

Difference between manual and automatic publishing.

I used the graphic (above) to explain how much time batching and combining Save As + Publish + Package will save compared to doing each step manually. I collected the data by stopping the time on the manual work and estimated the additional in-between time for the automation. The result is a time save of 37% by combining all steps into one process. Since Publishing is one of the most important steps it's a huge time save for the production. If 20 artists publish twice a day the update will save 34 minutes/day, 170 minutes/week and 12 hours/month (1.5 days!!!) while allowing for faster iterations times (especially at the end), less frustration and mistakes.

The 1:10:100 Rule (by George Labovitz and Yu Sang Chang) shows how the costs rise exponentially when fixing something in the later stages of the production. Every $1 to fix a design problem costs $10 to fix a development problem ends up costing $100 to fix the same problem after product release.

Value your own time and create faster and better workflows for yourself and your team. How much time would a tool save you when it does the job with one click? Scripting makes this time save possible!

Thanks for reading,


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