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Just like a race in which you have to find your way to certain checkpoints, you can run as fast as you want, but if you're running in the wrong direction, then you're not doing yourself any good.
In other words, you could be the fastest roto guy out there, but if you don't pre-plan, or use your noggin regarding how to most efficiently get the job done, then all you'll do is tire out your mouse-hand.
Developing your skills to a high level of competency is obviously important, but your knowledge of the software and techniques relating to that software is what will help you come up with solutions that are time-savers. Shake and AfterEffects are different apps. They work differently to achieve the same (or similar) results.
Speed is paramount in this industry, but nothing will ever be "fast enough". Keep developing your skills and understanding of various software packages. The more tools you have in your toolbox, the better of a troubleshooter you'll be. Familiarize yourself with lots of techniques, and practice them. Try to stay current with blogs, articles, magazines, forums, whatever.
Thanks Steve, that helps. I guess it's tough for someone straight out of art school to get in somewhere and get the necessary experience to even have the opportunity to perform quickly enough for a paid position. Does most everyone start out as an intern and build their skills that way?
Internships can be great. Paid internships can be REALLY great.
When you're looking for work without much experience, a foot-in-the-door, if available, always helps. If fortune is not that kind, a willingness to learn & good skills are really what you can sell to your prospective employers. You may have to freelance a bit until you find a good home. Everybody starts somewhere.
Then that leads to the question, where/how does one get the basic skills that will make a good compositor/digital painter? Should I buy a bigger Wacom tablet? Should I practice using the clone/stamp tool in Photoshop?
Have you taken any classes? How about any online training programs?
Have you read the After Effects online help sections?
Just reading through the various chapters and familiarizing yourself with what the software has to offer is a pretty good place to start.
Try checking out some books, like the "Creating Motion Graphics" series by Trish and Chris Meyer. There are many great resources out there!
Thanks! Yes, that's my route now, I'm just trying to cut through the cobwebs, so to speak, and get to the specifics. There's so much information out there and being on a limited budget with limited time for research makes it all a bit daunting.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have a lot of related experience, I just want to fill in the gaps in relation to compositing and digital paint work, so I can target my studies and save time and money.
Let me recommend a term at fxphd:
- Jonas Hummelstrand
Thanks Jonas! I'll take the free or prepaid route from Lynda.com and books I already own for now, but that looks great! I also like swdfx.com
I guess it's tough for someone straight out of art school to get in somewhere and get the necessary experience to even have the opportunity to perform quickly enough for a paid position.
That's the understatement of the year. IMHO, you don't get "fast" until you get "good"...and you don't get "good" without experience. There's nothing worse than someone that can promise work to be done quickly / cheaply...and it's sub-par. When I got out of Film School, I wanted to be an Editor / Compositor and work on Special FX. My demo was laughable compared to what was out there in my chosen field so I had to take a job with a cap company converting client's logo / image files (AI / EPS files) to stitch patterns that could be fed into a giant sewing machine that sews 50 hats at a time. I didn't learn sh!t about my chosen field...but I did learn about clients and as I got better at it...I got FASTER and started to develop my own proficient way of working that made me even faster.
Does most everyone start out as an intern and build their skills that way?
In my market (Florida), it's not as specialized as LA / NY. Here, the more you know the better your chances of landing a steady gig. Internships are OK if you can afford to work for free. I could not so I had to take gigs that were outside my target so I could take care of my family. That made me even more determined to make it so I started doing personal projects on my own time, posted up a website and flooded my market with demos & resumes - following up frequently with all of them via email. I got my first full time After Effects / Avid gig with an Ad Agency almost 9 years ago and the rest is history.
Persistence pays off. It's a cliché, but it's so true. To this day I keep an updated demo / resume / website & business card at all times. Nothing is certain in this business and you never know when the next big gig will come along (probably when you least expect it) :)
Good stuff! Thanks Joey. My usual gig in the software industry, is drying up more and more as the testig and dev. jobs are outsourced from USA to Europe and Asia, so it's time to take a career change more seriously. Fortunately, there seem to be plenty of opportunities in Northern California with more and more small post-production houses popping up. Then there's always ILM and Pixar and their offshoots. Rotofactory is nearby, and they're getting lots of good press. Financially, it is a few steps down from software dev. but feels like it will be a lot more creatively satisfying.