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deepsky

Questioning self taught AE artist's rates

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I'm curious what the mograph studios (production managers) are dealing with paying some young freelancers asking hourly rates. I'm pretty surprised on the growing amount of young motion artists sending in their reel and it's full of Video CoPilot graphics. This topic may be touchy for some of you, but keep in mind I see a good designer and a good animator aren't easy to find available and of course should be paid well. Lately I'm seeing more and more self taught artists (all through Video CoPilot) learning from home over a year and maybe have worked on several paying projects and are asking 50 pr hr., I find this misleading to studios and unfair to graduates who have spent 2-4 years and a lot of money for their degree to work in this field. In some cases these self taught newbies are working a fulltime job making maybe 15 pr hr. To be clear I'm not bashing or saying self starters shouldn't be paid well, not at all, but I do feel I should hire someone who went to school for motion graphics (digital media, whatever your degree was called). Now I don't want us to be talking about pay rate here, I just like to get your opinion (PM's, graduates, newbies, etc) how you feel about the growing rate of self taught AE artists, studios that hire them and what if the average hourly rate still applies...

 

Personally I don't bring on self taught AE artists. I don't feel it's fair to all the other talented graduates that apply, as well as our team of artist's who spent years to get their foot in the door and rely on someone working with them to know more than just After Effects. Besides just using the AE application, I take into account other skills, understanding/having studied animation, design, entertainment business and law, etc.

Edited by deepsky

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Monstro, you did complete a four year degree in 3D, animation and design so you would most definitely be considered for a job. I am referring to self taught AE artists who did not get a degree in our field (design, animation, vfx) and taught themselves through free online tutorials. Tried to be clear about that, don't be irked, you're fine.

Edited by deepsky

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There is self taught and then there is tutorial taught. I don't even think there was such a thing as a motion graphics degree when I was in university (there was graphic design, or there was film school). So I'm self taught but not just from AE tutorials I've also read books on design, art, history, gone to lots of museums, done tons of pencil and paper drawings, done a heap of bad short films, taken any opportunity I can to be on sets and observe (working as A PA or Extra), talked to whoever I could in the industry to learn from them, etc.

 

My point is a degree doesn't make you a motion designer, but neither does knowing what buttons to push in AE. Either someone has the knowledge and talent or they don't who cares where they got it. For sure don't hire people who just have a bunch of tutorials in their reel but don't hire them because that shows a lack of creativity and maybe they don't know how to execute and problem solve in the real world. If someone has a bunch of cool original work in their reel who cares if they have a degree.

 

As far as people rates, they can ask for whatever they want, whether they can get it or not is up to the market to decide.

 

I wouldn't worry too much Monstro most people just care about your reel, and your experience, from what I've seen it's pretty rare to have someone concerned with whether you have a degree or not.

 

That's my 2cents.

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In my (somewhat biased, I admit) opinion, where an artist got it's education shouldn't matter in the slightest. A solid reel is a solid reel, no matter the education. Likewise, a shitty Video CoPilot reel is a shitty Video CoPilot no matter the education. The reel is king in this industry and I dont know why it shouldn't be. I'd be less likely to hire a formally educated AE artist with a average reel over a totally self taught guy with a great reel.

 

In my couple years as freelancing as a (well-paid) AE artist, not once has a client asked about my education. It's always been about my reel, my experience, and my design sense. Oh, and I am 99% self-taught. I took one basic compositing class in college :)

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I'm not sure I understand the issue here. Are you simply questioning the fact that these videocopilot-taught freelancer's are ASKING that much, or that they ARE GETTING PAID that much elsewhere? If they ask for something and you don't hire them, maybe nobody else is hiring them either and so sooner or later they'll have to lower their rate...right? It's just supply and demand, no?

 

As a side note, I don't really see whether someone is self-taught or not as being some kind of first principle of employment; this isn't the middle ages... Generally speaking, good schools tend to be associated with good practitioners - a lot of it comes down to their being in a position to select the best students in the first place. There is good work and bad work, in your eyes and everyone else's. There is work which shows the promise of a unique vision, a deeper understanding of design or an eye for beautiful movement; and there is work which is highly derivative, lacking in enquiry or over-stylised. Both are produced by the self-taught and the college-taught. I just don't see it as a big deal... For the record, I studied fine art, and 'taught myself' everything I know about design, the business and technique. I never watched anything by Andrew Kramer.

 

edit: anothername pretty much said it all whilst I was typing this...

Edited by kitkats

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I'm curious what the mograph studios (production managers) are dealing with paying some young freelancers asking hourly rates. I'm pretty surprised on the growing amount of young motion artists sending in their reel and it's full of Video CoPilot graphics. This topic may be touchy for some of you, but keep in mind I see a good designer and a good animator aren't easy to find available and of course should be paid well. Lately I'm seeing more and more self taught artists (all through Video CoPilot) learning from home over a year and maybe have worked on several paying projects and are asking 50 pr hr., I find this misleading to studios and unfair to graduates who have spent 2-4 years and a lot of money for their degree to work in this field. In some cases these self taught newbies are working a fulltime job making maybe 15 pr hr. To be clear I'm not bashing or saying self starters shouldn't be paid well, not at all, but I do feel I should hire someone who went to school for motion graphics (digital media, whatever your degree was called). Now I don't want us to be talking about pay rate here, I just like to get your opinion (PM's, graduates, newbies, etc) how you feel about the growing rate of self taught AE artists, studios that hire them and what if the average hourly rate still applies...

 

Personally I don't bring on self taught AE artists. I don't feel it's fair to all the other talented graduates that apply, as well as our team of artist's who spent years to get their foot in the door and rely on someone working with them to know more than just After Effects. Besides just using the AE application, I take into account other skills, understanding/having studied animation, design, entertainment business and law, etc.

 

 

i don't care if you ever took a class, went to school.

 

show me your reel, tell me what you did on it, tell me your rate and i'll determine if you're worth it.

 

at the end of the day, your relevant experience/talent, professionalism and the ability to deliver is the most important thing (to me).

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I agree with you guys, I am not going to hire someone most definitely not because they have a degree... who does in this industry, you hire by reel and experience. I've been doing motion design for ten years now and there was nothing like Video CoPilot then and I don't believe there was a degree you could get that was specifically for motion graphics. My point was, graduates spend 30-80k for their degree in animation, design, etc. During those 2 years they got a lot of experience beyond understanding copyright material, design, history (art, film, animation). Last thing I want is a self taught AE artist that looks like they have a good reel but used AE project files and swapped out graphics, not understanding copyrighted material like grabbing images off of Google, Flickr, etc. Same goes for someone ripping off/copying an animation/concept like a broadcast open. That's been discussed here before.

 

If the AE guy/girl is rotoscoping, screen replacing or just animating, then sure, pay that artist by their reel and how good they are. But I don't think a lot of people are going to catch everything in their reel was from Video CoPilot files... What I was looking for was your opinion with artist's charging 50 pr hr for just knowing AE their 1st year. I'm just really irked lately seeing so much CoPilot project files being used in reels with graphics swapped out, they are most definitely not going to be up to speed in After Effects and not as efficient. Here is what I have run into lately. An artist has a slick reel, I recognize some CoPilot work and shrug it off. The artist can't produce good motion work like in their reel with the outline, storyboards and material provided. Not only did that company lose 2k or whatever it is, they can't deliver it to their client, spend extra money and time to redo the work. Or the artist is charging 40 pr hr and is 3 times slower than a pro motion designer charging 80pr hr.

 

Eh, I feel like I'm repeating myself. Personally I pay more hourly if that motion artist has a degree and is educated in animation, design and entertainment business law. I see a big difference in work produced and it's helpful when we're working on mixed media projects. We are not always going to hire good artists and be efficient, but it would be much appreciated if newbies stop using CoPilot files making it look like their work, as well as being realistic with starting hourly rates. What is very strange to me I'm getting self taught AE guys with less than a year's experience asking intermediate wages when local graduates want work for free to get their foot in the door. Shouldn't it be the other way around...

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In my (somewhat biased, I admit) opinion, where an artist got it's education shouldn't matter in the slightest. A solid reel is a solid reel, no matter the education. Likewise, a shitty Video CoPilot reel is a shitty Video CoPilot no matter the education. The reel is king in this industry and I dont know why it shouldn't be. I'd be less likely to hire a formally educated AE artist with a average reel over a totally self taught guy with a great reel.

 

In my couple years as freelancing as a (well-paid) AE artist, not once has a client asked about my education. It's always been about my reel, my experience, and my design sense. Oh, and I am 99% self-taught. I took one basic compositing class in college :)

 

 

I know the struggles graduates have when they first get out, it wasn't easy getting into this field 9 years ago. With the time and costs for education I suppose I personally rather hire someone with a degree in this field even if it's fine art (nothing to do with mograph). I feel I've been helping out, though most of the reels I see lack or don't see enough promise. Whether it's the college fault not helping the student build up a reel or the graduate not having what it takes. A couple of years ago I did see more creative work, not saying copilot isn't creative, I'm saying I see too much of it newbie reels.

 

After reading these replies, this thread's title should be changed to 'Self taught AE newbies & rates'.

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I'm not sure I understand the issue here. Are you simply questioning the fact that these videocopilot-taught freelancer's are ASKING that much, or that they ARE GETTING PAID that much elsewhere? If they ask for something and you don't hire them, maybe nobody else is hiring them either and so sooner or later they'll have to lower their rate...right? It's just supply and demand, no?

 

As a side note, I don't really see whether someone is self-taught or not as being some kind of first principle of employment; this isn't the middle ages... Generally speaking, good schools tend to be associated with good practitioners - a lot of it comes down to their being in a position to select the best students in the first place. There is good work and bad work, in your eyes and everyone else's. There is work which shows the promise of a unique vision, a deeper understanding of design or an eye for beautiful movement; and there is work which is highly derivative, lacking in enquiry or over-stylised. Both are produced by the self-taught and the college-taught. I just don't see it as a big deal... For the record, I studied fine art, and 'taught myself' everything I know about design, the business and technique. I never watched anything by Andrew Kramer.

 

edit: anothername pretty much said it all whilst I was typing this...

 

There's no issue. Yes, if someone asks too much and their reel and experience isn't there yet, they simply won't be hired. Again, I was curious what your opinions are, not making this an issue. Seems like no one here cares whether a motion artist has a degree (animation, design, fine art, etc) and be paid the same.

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I think its the studio's fault if they hire someone who's online tutorial taught. Studios should be on top of the common things out there, and be able to recognize duplicates of prominent vfx and motion graphics artists out there offering free tutorials. Don't hire those people. I think that makes sense. Look at their reel! If it has copied shit all over it, I think the answer is obvious. If you come across someone who's self taught, however, they don't have duplicates of tutorials online and actually USE the knowledge they glean from the online tutorials... thats a keeper. Shows the person is trying, understands why they do something, is experimenting, and trying to be different! I don't see why this would be such a delicate issue. It seems like a very common sense decision to me.... Am I missing something here? And favoring someone who graduated with a degree in motion graphics or vfx or whatever doesn't make them better than a self taught person. You can get shitty work out of people who've graduated with a degree as well. It goes either way.

 

it all comes down to the reel. And maybe a personal interview. Take some time when hiring. It makes sense.

Edited by dotcommer

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Jesus, what Dotcommer said. I typed practically the same thing.

 

How about a short test using one of your old projects to see how they do? give them a problem and some time to solve it.

 

Dan

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And maybe a personal interview

 

That's probably the most important part to see what someones really about, as there are more and more good tutorials out there it's going to get pretty tough to stay on top of all that stuff. Someone can also have a great reel and just be flat out nuts too. Seems like a personal chat serves as bullshit detector and sanity check in one. I'm not sure what standard operating procedure is, but seems to me most places have wanted me to come in, or at least interview on the phone before I freelanced for them the first time.

 

How about a short test using one of your old projects to see how they do? give them a problem and some time to solve it.

 

It's funny but anyone who has worked in more traditional animation knows that doing a "test" is common practice, I was put off by it at first but if it doesn't waste too much of your time why not, it takes all the bullshit out of the process.

Edited by anothername

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I think its the studio's fault if they hire someone who's online tutorial taught. Studios should be on top of the common things out there, and be able to recognize duplicates of prominent vfx and motion graphics artists out there offering free tutorials. Don't hire those people. I think that makes sense. Look at their reel! If it has copied shit all over it, I think the answer is obvious. If you come across someone who's self taught, however, they don't have duplicates of tutorials online and actually USE the knowledge they glean from the online tutorials... thats a keeper. Shows the person is trying, understands why they do something, is experimenting, and trying to be different! I don't see why this would be such a delicate issue. It seems like a very common sense decision to me.... Am I missing something here? And favoring someone who graduated with a degree in motion graphics or vfx or whatever doesn't make them better than a self taught person. You can get shitty work out of people who've graduated with a degree as well. It goes either way.

 

it all comes down to the reel. And maybe a personal interview. Take some time when hiring. It makes sense.

 

Most definitely! Interviews in person is a must. As far as only hiring mograph artists with a degree, it's recently I've been seeing reels with no degree. I want to keep helping graduates out that are really trying to apply themselves but may have been too busy with school to make a flashy reel. Now, I'm referring to new motion artists in their first one to two years. Not questioning the pay for experienced artists, if you were self taught and working for 3+ years you should have more than enough experience! I'm still at ends whether to hire a new self taught artist that hasn't spent time and money for a degree and if I do is it fair for them to expect the same rate? (mentioned above a few reasons why I consider a degree in animation, design, etc to be beneficial).

Edited by deepsky

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Look at their reel! If it has copied shit all over it, I think the answer is obvious. If you come across someone who's self taught, however, they don't have duplicates of tutorials online and actually USE the knowledge they glean from the online tutorials... thats a keeper. Shows the person is trying, understands why they do something, is experimenting, and trying to be different! I don't see why this would be such a delicate issue. It seems like a very common sense decision to me....

 

Exactly! Though, personally, I don't place too much value on reels at all, regardless who did them. Doesn't tell you anything about the person, his skill level, his resilience under pressure, his likeability. Having applicants in for a few hours and tasking them with something is much more revealing.

 

And favoring someone who graduated with a degree in motion graphics or vfx or whatever doesn't make them better than a self taught person. You can get shitty work out of people who've graduated with a degree as well.

 

Amen to that.

 

Mylenium

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I'm still at ends whether to hire a new self taught artist that hasn't spent time and money for a degree and if I do is it fair for them to expect the same rate? (mentioned above a few reasons why I consider a degree in animation, design, etc to be beneficial).

 

Would you hire me? Would you pay me senior rates? If yes, than you can just as well hire someone with much less a reputation and track record as long as they deliver the goods. I've never had any academic degree, not in arts, not sciences, nor do I at this point care for one, but I do think that I have some things down to a T that some academics haven't - in my own geeky/ nerdy ways.

 

Mylenium

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Would you hire me? Would you pay me senior rates? If yes, than you can just as well hire someone with much less a reputation and track record as long as they deliver the goods. I've never had any academic degree, not in arts, not sciences, nor do I at this point care for one, but I do think that I have some things down to a T that some academics haven't - in my own geeky/ nerdy ways.

 

Mylenium

 

Yup, it's all about the work. The industry deals quite well with people who charge rates that are beyond their skill level.

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I think I'm in a good position to answer seeing as I'm at university currently about 4 months from graduating.

 

Bear in mind that this is a Graphic Design degree.. I think there's maybe 1 or 2 'motion design' degrees in the country (UK) and even then they probably have ridiculous titles..

 

Bottom line is: I would not hire 99% of the students on my course. And despite the fact I'm a school; what I know about motion graphics has been entirely self taught.

 

Nobody has taught me after effects, nobody has taught me final cut, certainly nobody who taught me even knows how to switch on cinema 4D. Tutors are there to push your own development, the nice idea that Nick Campbell always talks about with going to school is to be pushed by people around you doing similar work and talk about what you're doing etc has never applied to me really. Unfortunately nobody on my course that I've seen is really doing motion graphics to a level were you could say they will be looking for work in a motion studio or getting regular freelance when they graduate, so my benchmarks are set by looking at people here and reading the feedback others give and get.

 

I've been given a lot of opportunities through school, when starting out it is who you know, but I've also worked hard day and night, weekends, all that stuff you'd expect from someone in my position to learn software and from what I can tell hundreds of others around me are not. I'm getting straight A's because I work hard, but everything I know is pretty much self taught except a few basic print design pointers in the first few months of year 1 which have been invaluable.

 

I can't tell if this more of an attack on people who haven't got a degree or people who are too lazy to even utilize the stuff they learn from Andrew K. We're all learning from the same resources and all that separates us is the content we produce and show on our reels... I'd rather hire/work with someone who knew what they were doing and worked hard rather than someone who thinks they are a designer because they scraped through doodling for 3 years and have a piece of paper to say they have a degree.

 

Maybe it's different over the pond - but from day 1 in uni (when I barely knew what graphic design was) the emphasis, no scratch that.. 100% of the course is put on personal development. You don't know what blend modes do in photoshop after 2 years? You really should have googled that by now. You never opened after effects by the end of year 3? You're probably not going to be equipped do do commercial motion work for anyone when you leave.

 

It's all about the individual and how good they are at what they do. You'd think I'd be on the side of 'well I spent this much on school, I deserve to be hired over the guy who sat in his room learning cinema for a year' but if they're better at me at doing what a specific job needs then why shouldn't they?

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I know the struggles graduates have when they first get out, it wasn't easy getting into this field 9 years ago. With the time and costs for education I suppose I personally rather hire someone with a degree in this field ... I feel I've been helping out,

Well, there it is in a nutshell. Because of your own life experiences you feel the need to help someone else who is struggling. You want to give a little something back to the next generation. It seems like you're asking for validation of your personal choice. If you only want to hire those whom meet your criteria that's your decision - no need for validation. I think the confusing bit about this thread is everyone is discussing the education/rates question with a business perspective and you're discussing the subject with a philanthropic perspective.

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but it would be much appreciated if newbies stop using CoPilot files making it look like their work, as well as being realistic with starting hourly rates. What is very strange to me I'm getting self taught AE guys with less than a year's experience asking intermediate wages when local graduates want work for free to get their foot in the door. Shouldn't it be the other way around...

 

This seems like the the real point to me, no pun intended. I think VideoCoPilot is one of the best tutorial sites ever, Andrew Kramer is one of the BEST SOFTWARE INSTRUCTORS ever and I've probably learned more from Andrew about AE than I did from any instructor in a software class at school. (Had VC been around before I started going to school, I probably wouldn't have spent the ton of extra money I did on software classes after getting an Art / Design degree, but I digress.)

 

SO AS A MESSAGE TO SAID NEWBS OR ANYONE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER: YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO COPY THE WORK ON VIDEO COPILOT EXACTLY AND THEN PUT IT ON YOUR REEL.

 

That's the same as if you took a software class in school, the instructor gave you some scene files to help you understand some of the animation techniques you might use in your assignment and then you go and turn in those scene files and / or copied layers from those scene files as the assignment. You'd get an F.

 

You're supposed to take the knowledge and create something new with it or at the very least, something different than the example. Entirely different than the example, not just change the colors. Something that maybe employs the techniques you learned in class or from the on-line tutorial by analyzing the examples / files you were given, like say how to make cool "dust" particles and / or visible light; that DOESN'T use it exactly like the example / sample file in a similar design or the same design with a few minor changes like color and some images swapped out.

 

Back to Deepsky:

 

As far as where people learn stuff, it doesn't really matter in my opinion. It's how they apply what they've learned or if they apply it as opposed to just copying it in, in a manner that is noticeable. If you have a problem with VC or people learning from VC then I guess that's your problem, but I'm assuming for the benefit of doubt that your problem is more of how people are copying VC work / scene files into their reels as opposed to applying the techniques taught by Andrew into their own work.

 

As far as self taught people with less than a year's experience asking for $500 a day, well that may be annoying to you, but you obviously don't have to pay it or hire them or even interview them. Likewise, I hope you're not one of those turn em' and burn em' types who gets new people / recent grads in for $200 - $300 a day and then works them 12 to 16 hours a day because they were too inexperienced at negotiating to tell you up front that a "day" is 8 to 10 hours.

 

If you want to give preference to people with actual Art / Design / Animation degrees, that's your business. You also mentioned preferring people with degrees in "Entertainment Business" over people without any degree or something to that effect? Business degrees, whether they are in "Entertainment" or not are business degrees, not Art / Design / Animation degrees. So I don't know why you'd prefer someone with a business degree, "entertainment" or not, over someone with a good reel / portfolio that may not have any degree. An "Entertainment Business" degree is something a producer would have, not an Artist / Designer / Animator. The reason I mention that is because your mentioning it reminds of the type of producer that thinks he's an art director too because he works in entertainment; when really he's had no formal art training what so ever and constantly harasses graphic artists / designers / animators with his fuck all "artistic" critiques.

 

On another side note / digression : I also hope you're not one of those types that asks for free interns. I see this all the time and it notably sticks out when it's a shop that has a reputation as being great at design / animation and a portfolio / reel to prove it. It tells me that shop may do great work but gives me the impression that they're probably shitty to work for. If you're really out to "help" the industry as you more or less say you are, then hopefully you're at least paying the interns $10-$12 an hour as they are people too and usually need money to live during school and / or shortly thereafter. Hopefully you're also not asking them to make coffee, answer the phone and get the mail: this is what Production Assistants and Admin Assistants are for, not Motion Design / Animation interns.

 

tvp

Edited by tvp

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TVP. Look at this way. If I have 4 motion artists working in studio with 2 or 4 year degrees and they are spending say 600 a month on their loans. I bring on a self taught After Effects artist with no degree and no loans, say they've been using the program for 1-2 years and I'm paying him/her the same rate as the other artists who have been using the program just as long outside school. If they discuss what they are making, now the employee may either feel they should be paid more because they spent the extra time and money on school (like they have an extra 2-4 years on them) or a freelancer may want to raise his rate. Make more since? So if I explain to the self taught AE artist why I would pay them slightly less than the artists with degrees, is that a fair validation or ignore schooling and pay by based on experience and reel...again I'm talking about the 1st 1-2 years.

 

Don't be confused with the reference to the entertainment business and law I mentioned. This was a class many years ago that taught you copyright laws for music, video and image usage among many other things.

Edited by deepsky

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I instruct at a commercial art school.

 

My personal opinion is that we are debating a much larger issue that is sweeping across multiple industries and academia - connectivity, and the internet. The world's knowledge is no longer under lock and key, or accessible only through expensive ivory towers - it's a short google query away. This changes the perceived value of post secondary education dramatically. The student and faculty are investing in constructing the knowledge base of an institution socially as opposed to any particular group of technical skills.

 

While I encourage my students to be as curious and technically minded as possible, the simple fact of the matter is that design and animation is not engineering- it's a subjective and social field. Learning AE may be enough to learn the processes of which button or which lever the designer needs to execute to get a certain required result but it is only a tool for the ultimate goal, which is communication.

 

Communication is the goal of graphic design and motion design brings all of the concerns, freedoms and restrictions of time based media. If communication of a concept is the product, there is no way I know of to improve this skill set then to present your work in front of a group of your peers, face to face, and get constructive feedback.

 

This allows you to build a social network either in school, a company, or an art collective. This social network is a flesh and blood one, not twitter or facebook. I'm not saying those tools are invaluable- but I have seen it in front of me- every time students get together and drink beers and bullshit about design after class, I notice their skills dramatically improve, even in technical areas.

 

In addition to creating a social network, we are all, beginners and veterans alike, required to do independent research and development everyday. To stay with the curve, no one course, experience, or education credential can keep you up to date- we all have to be extremely interested in this work and industry, as any apathy will sweep freelancer, instructor, student, intern and creative director aside with equal measure.

 

The reason we balk at demo reels full of Video Co-Pilot tutorials is simple- the designer is trying to demonstrate that they are effective visual problem solvers, but as proof of this, they are presenting some one else's solution. To our eyes this makes us feel queasy because we are aware of the shortcuts. The work is all surface.

 

As far as rates are concerned, in my experience, monetizing such a subjective and varied field is wildly inconsistent by its very nature. Their are as many business models as their are agencies. For some the value is technical aptitude, for some the added value is strategic. As the tools become more democratized, the value of critical thinking, broad academic experience, genuine artisanship, and savvy marketing knowledge all become important.

Edited by Colin@movecraft

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