Obstinate Computers and the Animators Who Love Them

When you were a kid, did you ever have that friendship that just seemed … inconsistent? You know the one — they can be totally friendly and understanding one minute, but the next, they’re swinging a big stick at you and yelling, “I hate you!” while running home with your favorite Ninja Turtle action figure. I think I have that kind of relationship with my PC. Sometimes, my computer is great — we’re the best of friends, and I’m writing Flash code and exporting 3d animations until late into the night. Other times, though, I swear this thing has a dark side that’s trying to get me.

Example: I was rendering a 3d animation over the holiday weekend, so that it is ready for compositing when I return on Monday. Before leaving on Wednesday, I made doubly sure to check the time remaining, and see that the render was going smoothly. It was taking around a minute to render each frame, and the remaining time was estimated at around 45 hours. When I get back on Monday, though, to my surprise I discover that my computer had decided it was in need of a nap. It had become incredibly sluggish, taking over 10 minutes per frame at an estimated remaining time of 126 hours! thankfully, all I had to do was pause and then resume the render from where it was at, and it only took around 14 hours from there.

What else could have happened to make me feel this way, you ask? Weird Flash glitches, that’s what. Well, maybe it’s not even that. When I export a certain file that I am working on from my Flash to this computer, and then try and upload that file to the Internet, the animation loses about 4 kb of data and doesn’t work properly. Now, I can export the same exact Flash animation and upload it to the same exact server, but on a different computer, and it works perfectly. It is something about the combination of my computer, this Flash file and the upload process that just … breaks it. When I was a kid, if I threw a tantrum or was mad with you, I could be easily placated with a cookie.  Unfortunately, until they invent the Cookie Tray for inserting peace offerings to malfeasant computers, I’m afraid I’ll have to stick with work-arounds and blind luck!