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Motion Design as a Career?

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A blog post over at GSG got me wondering just how good an option motion design is for a CAREER, not just a job to last you through yours 20s. He was talking about how having so many young people in the industry makes it easy to exploit motion designers by paying them a young persons salary basically. Its hard to find a clear answer for what a motion designers salary is because its all based on how good you are/where you work, I know...But, I feel that there are plenty of people on this site who freelance or work at successful studios who can give a realistic answer as to what the job makes. Can someone actually survive as a motion designer into their 40s without making it to a huge studio like The Mill or Psyop? Can a guy actually support his wife and kids working at "Montgomery Studios" down the street making bumpers for two and a half men, or is the normal life reserved for the top 5%?

 

I guess what im really asking is whether or not your average motion designer is making more than 40k a year after a few years in the industry? If theres anyone out there working at a mid-level studio who could give me a breakdown of the money situation, Id really appreciate it. I just wanna know what im getting myself into before actually pursuing this into college and then finding out im stuck making 20k a year for the rest of my life.

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There are plenty of people way more qualified to answer this on here than me but here is my 2cents anyhow.

 

The problem is not money, you can easily make over 40K. For a lot of people the problem with motion design as a long term career has more to do with the crazy hours, and overall lifestyle stuff especially when you want to have a family. The other thing is a natural progression eventually you want to not just be a motion designer but become an art director, director or something related to move higher up the food chain and further challenge yourself creatively (there is also the slight possibility after a while you might eventually become dissillusioned with advertising and want to do something more meaningful with your talents/life :D ).

 

If all you want to do is work in motion design and make over 40k until you retire at 65 it can be done no problem. Just make sure you stay fit so you can keep up with the all nighters, and young whipper snappers.

 

Edit: Actually kind of interesting that people are considering Motion Design a capitol C career now. I'm not sure when I started messing with this stuff I even realized it could be a job. I think if you are in it for real it all just comes from a drive to create and if you are smart you find a way to hustle that into a living, could be Motion Design this year and something else in few years. Don't all the business gurus say the idea of a traditional career is over anyhow?

Edited by anothername

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I think you're more likely to jump of a bridge than make bumpers for 2.5 men till you're 60. What kind of attitude is that for a Motion Designer anyway? As far as i see motion graphics is like being rockstar, everyone wants to be one, but only very few become them. The rest drop out and get a real job.

 

If you want a job where you can sit on your ass and collect a paycheck every 2 weeks till you're 60 this is probably not the career for you. Especially if your expectation is that you are gona be average.

Edited by vozzz

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It's 15 years since Se7en, and the 'motion graphics' industry hasn't really been mature enough for long enough for us to give a satisfactory answer to this question, but I have a feeling there still won't be a simple answer in another 15 years.

 

When my Dad was young in the 50's he was also really into technology and creativity. He made his own radio's, learnt about how TV works and started his own company, even designing his own printed circuits. When he started a family he got a job as a TV engineer and from then on left the creativity to his problem-solving abilities (and his kids, thank God) and just worked on the technical side, fixing broken rental TV's. By the time he was 60, TV's didn't go wrong anymore and they had become so cheap that if they did people just bought a new one, and the bottom had dropped out of the rental market. He lost his job and just about found enough work to see him through to retirement.

 

My point is this: technology, politics, social attitudes, international relations all (potentially) move so fast that this career, in the GSG/VC sense, might not even exist in 40 years time. Production could largely move to other territories as it has to some extent with traditional animation. TV and Advertising may not exist in the same way they have done. I think that if you're after longevity then that will only come from the creativity and design aspects of one's career, definitely not the technical and probably not even the sector or genre one starts in. Long term - be a designer, be wary of being a motion designer.

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Well, I'm just turned 44 and have never set foot in studios the likes of Psyop or The Mill. I've been freelancing over six years and before that severn years in a new media department. I've been a designer for nearly 25 years (no Macs when I started kiddies!) and am still making a living. I'm not as talented as many who frequent this board, I work mainly in corporate environments with occasional forays into broadcasting and I use AE and C4D. I make a living but don't earn a wedge and have good relationships with my clients.

 

I think you can survive as long as you have integrity, honesty and a touch of humility (often difficult to find in this game, but those people are out there), and you need to be flexible and not stand still, both in terms of design and technology. One thing to focus on is your core skill set, keep working and practicing whatever. Draw, draw, draw and keep a sketchbook and keep pace with the zeitgeist even if you don't like the styles. Have interests outside of work and don't neglect art history, remember everything will inform your ability as a designer, work on colour theory and study the old masters and young upstarts. Did I say draw? Draw!!!

 

Finally, keep up with modern technology and software but remember it's not an end in itself. There are wonderful, brilliant tools out there to help you realise your or your client's vision, but a the end of the day they are just tools. Good design always shines through.

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High Five, there are also opportunities in motion design outside of broadcast work. I work in the digital signage.

 

Great posts, Zook and Kitkats.

 

This might be a stupid question...and I don't want to hijack this thread...I do think it goes along with the O.P.'s question...

 

Do studios in smaller markets require motion designers to work long hours on a regular basis?

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Well, I'm just turned 44 and have never set foot in studios the likes of Psyop or The Mill. I've been freelancing over six years and before that severn years in a new media department. I've been a designer for nearly 25 years (no Macs when I started kiddies!) and am still making a living. I'm not as talented as many who frequent this board, I work mainly in corporate environments with occasional forays into broadcasting and I use AE and C4D. I make a living but don't earn a wedge and have good relationships with my clients.

 

I think you can survive as long as you have integrity, honesty and a touch of humility (often difficult to find in this game, but those people are out there), and you need to be flexible and not stand still, both in terms of design and technology. One thing to focus on is your core skill set, keep working and practicing whatever. Draw, draw, draw and keep a sketchbook and keep pace with the zeitgeist even if you don't like the styles. Have interests outside of work and don't neglect art history, remember everything will inform your ability as a designer, work on colour theory and study the old masters and young upstarts. Did I say draw? Draw!!!

 

Finally, keep up with modern technology and software but remember it's not an end in itself. There are wonderful, brilliant tools out there to help you realise your or your client's vision, but a the end of the day they are just tools. Good design always shines through.

 

Words to live by! Seriously. I think that's dead on. A lot of it is what I tell myself I need to be doing but don't always have time to do. Luckily the reason is that I'm always working. I'm 40 and have been freelancing for 3 years (maybe 4?) and worked at a post house for 7 years before that...and TV stations before that. There are PLENTY of guys that can design and animate circles around me. But like zook said, integrity, honesty and humility are equally important to being successful. Being easy to work with goes a LONG way. Be the guy that your clients WANT to work with...and not just because of the quality of your work.

 

As far as a career goes, it's all about mindset and what you want to get out of it. Success doesn't just mean working at the big studios. I think it means loving what you do, pushing yourself whenever you can, treating your clients well and somehow managing to make enough money to be relatively comfortable. I think the last one is the easiest. As far as longevity goes, there are other options as you grow in the industry. Starting your own shop, directing etc. I do think about what my future holds but things are solid now. Very solid. I have 2 kids a wife that doesn't have to work (although she works twice as hard as I do being a great mom). If I can manage it, I will always work for myself and never be an employee again.

 

Good luck!

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I guess what im really asking is whether or not your average motion designer is making more than 40k a year after a few years in the industry? If theres anyone out there working at a mid-level studio who could give me a breakdown of the money situation, Id really appreciate it. I just wanna know what im getting myself into before actually pursuing this into college and then finding out im stuck making 20k a year for the rest of my life.

 

 

One thing to note is that these big studios don't usually pay as much as the small ones, for a few reasons. One being that your going to be doing a lot more work at a small studio because you don't have help of a big team.

 

If your thinking of going to college for design, just realize your not going to be making a doctors salary out of school, but if you love what you do.. like a lot of people here do... then go for it.. fuck money and be happy with yourself because you make good work... money will come soon enough.. :D

 

hope some of that helps

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My point is this: technology, politics, social attitudes, international relations all (potentially) move so fast that this career, in the GSG/VC sense, might not even exist in 40 years time. Production could largely move to other territories as it has to some extent with traditional animation. TV and Advertising may not exist in the same way they have done. I think that if you're after longevity then that will only come from the creativity and design aspects of one's career, definitely not the technical and probably not even the sector or genre one starts in. Long term - be a designer, be wary of being a motion designer.

 

 

+1

 

 

As with any technology-based career, things will change. If you keep at it, the unique experiences you pick up along your career will eventually come around in full-circle and land you a job you can't even fathom at this point. A career may not necessarily mean you are doing strictly broadcast design the entire time. You may start in animation, get a gig doing project management, then end up as a creative director or something.

 

Take Harry Frank for example... Creative director (I think) of the largest software plugin distribution companies. Pretty sure he didn't see that coming 4 years ago.

 

There are also a lot of jobs out there specifically for the more experienced. Yes, abuse of the younger generation is a bit of an issue, but it really pays out for those who have the passion and desire to keep doing it.

 

 

I just wanna know what im getting myself into before actually pursuing this into college and then finding out im stuck making 20k a year for the rest of my life.

You should never take a job that pays 20k. Thats insane....

If you don't jump in because its what you absolutely love to do without question or hesitation, you may want to consider if its your true passion or if its a cool thing you stumbled upon recently.

Also, I don't know where you are located, but don't expect anything magical to happen in Idaho or wherever.. Besides the local news, maybe... You have to be willing to go where the work is.

Edited by AromaKat

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I feel like KitKats hit the nail on the head. No one knows where this industry is heading. The most important thing is to be versatile. My favorite artists and those that seem the most successful aren't the ones that hold themselves down to one medium or program. Its the ones that have a great sense of design and flexibility and can work on any project. After Effects may be dead in 10 years but design theory won't. A perfect example is Nando Costa, http://archive.nando...115871/About-Me. Nando has a very versatile portfolio and has spent some time in some great studios. And from the looks of it is because he is a very flexible artist whether it be print, 3D or illustration he has a distinct style and can get the job done.

 

@Trione: I feel it all depends on the size of the market you are in and the company itself. In my limited experience, I worked in a small market news station which also functioned as a local production house. The station was the only option for businesses when it came to production needs, they had a monopoly, which you think would be great for the artists but that place was like a sweat shop. They knew there were the only option so they overcharged the clients and undercut the employees. It was hell. Granted that is just from my experiences. I have heard amazing things from people who work at small shops in smaller markets.

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if you love what you do.. like a lot of people here do... then go for it.. fuck money and be happy with yourself because you make good work... money will come soon enough.. :D

 

THE TRUTH

 

You only live once, no use spending 5 days a week at a job you hate just for a paycheck when you will end up hating your life because of it.

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You only live once, no use spending 5 days a week at a job you hate just for a paycheck when you will end up hating your life because of it.

 

Kind of from left field but saw this the other day and found it really inspiring, great illustration of the above (is making pizza a great career? not for most but if you love it it is). WARNING: This video will make you very, very, hungry.

Edited by anothername

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To add to this lifestyle of a career. You need to make big sacrifices to move up sometimes. My biggest was leaving my home of 19 years. Laid back Hawaii. To live in the fast space world of LA. Got a new job and a big salary increase.

 

Im not just motion graphics designer though. Thats not why I was hired really. My experience spans to having managed people and trained. I know how to edit, sound design, direct, project manage and problem solve across all media platforms whether it be print, web, or broadcast. Being a jack of all trades while having a strong specific one will increase your worth. If all I did was motion design. I would be worth about 20k less to a potential employer in the market that I target for jobs. Also, it helps to have a cool head.

 

I am pretty average when it comes to motion design. Although, I think it's good to be well versed in other things relating to the field. Know sound design. Learn to add sfx to your work. Its adds great depth and even hides mistakes if your good. Editing is key with storytelling. If you can't make insane complex animations that last for 30 seconds, then learn to chop. YOu would be surprised how may animators I have met that are really good at motion design but couldn't edit to save their lives.

 

You can probably make a decent salary if you work for like a local broadcast station. I work for one. They pay really well and the benefits are phenomenal. I have to say I really haven't touched the NEWS yet. They put me on other projects that are not really NEWS related. You get to have a little bit more freedom in those projects. Hell I even have a decent amount of time to work on them as well.

 

I have no idea what it is like to work for a production house or a studio for that matter. So I assume the atmosphere is different and the work force. It would be to late for me to jump into a studio working at entry level since my living status will not allow me to do so. I would give anything to be in your shoes and start from scratch working from the bottom up at a design studio or production house rather than a Local TV station.

 

To reiterate. If you love what you do, then thats all that matters. The money should be the bonus. Especially in this industry. GOOD LUCK!!

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Thanks for all the posts, there's a lot of good insight in this thread and its encouraging to see the older guys in the industry still feeling so optimistic. I feel a bit more comfortable taking this stuff head-on now.

 

Im not some money-hungry tutorial geek looking to cheat my way into the industry or anything by the way. I respect and love motion design as much as the rest of you but I never jump into anything without knowing the facts, especially when that involves dropping a ton of money on art school. Im not afraid of hard work, but theres more to it than that I think. Im sure theres plenty of sculptors, dancers, and jazz musicians who work their ass off just to be told their efforts aren't worth all that much, solely because of how the industry is perceived. I think kitkats had the best approach in saying how important it is to be versatile within your craft and to simply to be a great designer. It seems like as long as you can do that then theres someone out there want to work with you. Thanks guys ;)

Edited by highfive

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Im not some money-hungry tutorial geek looking to cheat my way into the industry or anything by the way. I respect and love motion design as much as the rest of you but I never jump into anything without knowing the facts, especially when that involves dropping a ton of money on art school.

 

From my experience. I went to a Community College for Graphic Design for print. I did editing and motion graphics as a hobby on the side because it was fun. When I graduated college, the design industry was not fond of my style of work. It was very grungy if you will and Hawaii's market was anything but grungy. I made a small little reel on the side to hand over to my first potential employer. The reel was utterly god awful but it was enough to get a foot in the door. At the time, I didn't know you could get paid to be a editor or motion graphics designer. Keep that in mind before becoming in debt for 120k school loan.

 

I am not saying going to Art school is a bad thing (I wish I did). I am just saying not all schools are going to prep you for the real thing. You may land in a school where they only teach you design theory with hardly any projects. You may land a school where they give lots of projects but the design theory isn't forced enough. You may get a school that is all 3d animation but has no focus on design. The main thing to focus on is GRAPHIC DESIGN or JUST DESIGN. The tricks in Photoshop, AE, cinema 4d will come later. DESIGN is key.

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Long term - be a designer, be wary of being a motion designer.

 

I agree with these sentiments. Everything that was "graphic design" is going to be "motion graphics" as we transition more and more from print to screens. "Web and Interactive" will become "Mobile".

 

And you know what? The same great design principles will apply to all those mediums as they evolve. It's up to the non- tutorial followers to figure out how to design for the new stuff, how to monetize it, and what forms and functions it will take.

 

Also - all this stuff can just only be your career. It doesn't have to be the end all, do all, expression of all of your passion in the universe. Priorities shift as you get older, and one often has different obligations. I'm only 29, and I've noticed this already.

 

Further thoughts though- when I see those crazy talented 20 year olds coming out of Hyper Island with essentially my skill set, 2 languages, and a desire to intern for free, it does make me feel like throwing up in my mouth a little.

 

c

Edited by Colin@movecraft

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I am not saying going to Art school is a bad thing (I wish I did). I am just saying not all schools are going to prep you for the real thing. You may land in a school where they only teach you design theory with hardly any projects. You may land a school where they give lots of projects but the design theory isn't forced enough. You may get a school that is all 3d animation but has no focus on design. The main thing to focus on is GRAPHIC DESIGN or JUST DESIGN. The tricks in Photoshop, AE, cinema 4d will come later. DESIGN is key.

 

 

^^ Agreed.

 

The whole art school thing is another debate in itself, but ive decided ultimately itd be a good decision to go. I have decided however to wait a while until im 23 to apply so im considered an independent by the financial aid board, which should get me a lot more support and hopefully leave a lot less in loans. Then I could ease my way into the new york mograph scene without having to worry about supporting myself for 2 years, which should give me lots of time to learn, take internships, and network.

 

P.S. - Lets not bash on GSG/VC :P those guys are super talented and an incredible resource for beginners; its not their fault if a few bad eggs rip off their style. Besides, not everyone was born knowing what an irradiance cache is like you all you guys ;)

Edited by highfive

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P.S. - Lets not bash on GSG/VC :P those guys are super talented and an incredible resource for beginners; its not their fault if a few bad eggs rip off their style. Besides, not everyone was born knowing what an irradiance cache is like you all you guys ;)

 

Right. I have nothing but respect for those two guys. They worked their butts off to build something. I get frustrated with some of the watering down of the general work that is labeled (motion graphics) as a result of free project based tutorials (and I wish all designers, even beginners, would purchase their software, then it becomes something real that deserves your time and respect, and maybe then you'll RTFM) but the democratization and decimation of knowledge over then net without barriers is something we all will have to come to terms with in all skill based industries.

 

c

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just turned 79 been freelancing for 2 years...

 

 

 

RTFM!!!! <<<<-------

 

good design never dies

 

be a cool guy to work with. don't turn into tyra when AE crashes. do what i do and act like you're high all the time (or be high all the time). smile a lot and don't stress out when shit gets crazy.

 

there are people who have been steadily increasing their rates and now are realizing they can't find work. this is not an industry where you can get comfortable with where you are. the main reason most of us chose this path as a career is because there is never a shortage of skills to master, things to learn, women to love.

 

experienced producers can pick apart a reel/interview better than you can fake one. so don't worry about those individuals capitalizing on free tutorials. they may fool some, but in the long run they're going no where but shitty studios.

 

there are a lot of hacks out there right now, working at reputable studios, who just haven't been found out yet. and as long as they can eventually bring their skills up to the level they're portraying themselves as, they may never be found out.

 

 

 

 

 

the point i'm trying to make is

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79? holy poop! Color me impressed =)

 

but you seem have lost the end of your post, unfortunately the one about the point.

 

And damn, i agree with you about the part "there is never a shortage of skills to master" so true. One of the top reasons im in this industry. I just love learning new stuff.

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79? holy poop! Color me impressed =)

 

but you seem have lost the end of your post, unfortunately the one about the point.

 

And damn, i agree with you about the part "there is never a shortage of skills to master" so true. One of the top reasons im in this industry. I just love learning new stuff.

 

 

bullshit youre 79! I want a pic of you giving a thumbs-up with your reel playing in the background NOW

 

and the humor goes undetected...

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Hey Guys,

 

such a good thread and im glad someone has asked this question. Its nice to hear the older guys stories and what they do and how long they have been doing it for.

 

ive just went to uni and im now 25 i was doing some basic stuff before but being at uni has opened up a new world of possibilty and given me the confidence to realise that a career can be made of this.

 

I also think that after 10-15 years (if the industry is the same) then i would potential like to move on but in all fairness i love what i do and when its time to change i will.

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