Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
hiytrebla

How specialized are you?

Recommended Posts

I've been in industry for the past year and have been trying to figure how important it is to know multiple mograph programs. I hear people tell me its better to be a master at one program rather than just being average in all of them.

 

Since starting, I've gotten pretty decent at using AE and have picked up FCP. So I'd say I specialize in AE. But more and more instances have come up lately where I've feel like I should pick up a 3d program (c4d) so I can have more variation in my work and the opportunities I can go experience.

 

So all in all, just interested in finding out how everybody's chosen to progress as a motion designer and where you see yourself going in the future?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One important thing to note is that you're working in Portland (as do I), which is a relatively small town, and not having a diverse skill set will probably prove to be limiting simply due to the smaller number of fish in the barrel.

 

I'm primarily a video editor (Avid primarily, but plenty of FCP and Premiere), but I also spend a lot of time in After Effects and, in the past few years, more and more time in C4D. I was told essentially the same thing coming out of school, that I wanted to be an editor, so don't worry about After Effects, etc. Then I figured out that it's a lot easier to pick up work if you can offer a deeper range of talent to your employer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's largely decided by what you're interested in and by the regular work that is available where you are. My entire nation has less people than many cities so there are very few specialised motion graphics roles around. I enjoy a variety of work so that works out well for me.

 

Of course the Internet is changing everything. Once HD video communications are cheap and easy I can see physical location becoming less important.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

get ready for some more bumps in the road, After Effects is on it's way to significant 3D with CS6 and the VCP Element 3D plugin. The Valve moviemaker studio is mixing FCP and Maya character animation tools, and who knows what will come of all the touch-based hardware on the horizon.

 

I say keep up to speed as much as possible with all the current software trends, but take healthy breaks to talk to Lightwave, Modo, blender, fumeFX, Mari, Zbrush, Nuke users. I've known guys that totally switched gears with what they called their "primary" software because they fell in love with another UI, or a different "feel" in the creative process (Zbrush modelers).

 

At the end of the day, it's all about the graph editor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

At the end of the day, it's all about the graph editor.

 

ha ha..so true. I was working with a very experienced After Effects guy once. He had never used a 3D program in his life, but was able to read my Cinema 4D graph editor curves like a champ.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The simple answer is: learn as much as you can about the things that help you do what you want to do in the present.

 

The harder answer is: if you're just learning software, you're not really a motion designer, you're a machine operator, and your value is extremely limited. That may sound snotty, but ultimately it's true. You may know every single function in After Effects and how to access it, but it's your design/art skills which give you reason to use those functions. You're not nearly as useful if someone has to sit over your shoulder and talk you through the entire process of making something more meaningful, or beautiful, or compelling. There's no button for that. Yes, you have to be able to wield tools to build a house, but knowing how to wield tools does not mean you know the first thing about building houses. So learn how to build houses and pick up the tools to do so along the way. Cutting things with scissors does not make you a hair stylist. The scissors do not tell you how to do anything amazing that someone else couldn't do. Wielding a cooking knife does not automatically give you the ability to make a memorable meal. Knowing how to use MS Word does not make you an interesting writer.

 

Learn composition. Study color theory and lighting. Learn to draw, photograph, storyboard, collage, sculpt, write, animate. A guy who understands the principles of animation and storytelling but doesn't know AE very well is going to make something WAY more interesting than a guy who knows all of the buttons but nothing about animation.

 

So learn whatever you like. C4D is a great asset sometimes. So is a camera. So is a paintbrush. And so on. But know that the tool is only as good as the artist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always been more of a generalist and i enjoy being able to handle every single task of a project myself (sans the audio in my case). But as mentioned above it will always depend on your environment and personal preferences: small shops will most likely prefer a generalist while the bigger studios might prefer to hire a bunch of specialists. I like to work in small teams but others might like the big "high-end" studios better…

 

But know that the tool is only as good as the artist.

Always listen to the wise sage of mograph!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Word up Binky. I wield MS Paint like no other.

My other specialty is using the Brainstorm function in AE. Hot damn, it's like my clients are paying me to just sit there!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Specialisation is a legitimate idea but it's not the same as specific software. Specialising in software is best left to complex workflows like high end 3D and compositing, if ever. If you specialise in After Effects without being involved with Extendscript etc then one day soon you're either going to wish you had picked Nuke, or that you weren't a specialist. It's pretty limited on it's own. But specialising in circles or something makes a lot more sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's funny because the market changes a bit some times. I'm a generalist, mostly working as an editor, but I also do motion graphics and occasional compositing (in AE). I've also worked in production as well. Years ago (mid 2000s), working for a producer he told me that he really only likes to hire specialist and was kind of pushing emphasis for me to move in that direction. The thought was, he'd hire the right person for each step of the way to get the project done right. This was while working in Colorado, a smaller market in comparison to most. Fast forward to earlier this year and he hired me on a corporate job because I was a generalist. He came out to me in LA because he knew I could edit and do the motion graphics on the job, and get it in under deadline. With budgets being a bit smaller, he really couldn't bring multiple people on board to do the job. Specializing in one skill and it's associated programs is great, and there are many talented & successful artists that do just that. But, depending on your location and the type of work you're going after you may need a broader set in today's market.

 

 

I totally agree with what Blinky says, learn the theory and the technique behind what you're creating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was going to come up with some witty and sarcastic answer, but too tired. Binky nailed it. You should be more focused on the messaging, story, connection, etc and being a visual designer than what program or another you need. Overall the more you know the better but is really how you apply that all and put it together.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Uggh. Not that I disagree with Binky, but every time someone asks a practical question, do we have to tell them to go learn design theory? Yes, learn theory, but there are also practical questions with practical answers.

 

The very simplified answer to this is that usually generalists are limited to smaller projects, smaller shops, and smaller markets. The bigger the project, the more specialization. Once you get into larger projects you really need to decide where your interest lies: design, 2D/compositing, or 3D. Most people we work with get hired for one of these roles. We work with a handful of people who are true generalists, but they mainly work on smaller projects which they handle from start to finish.

 

Design is still mostly Photoshop and Illustrator, although more and more some knowledge of 3D seems required, but it doesn't matter which package you are comfortable with.

 

2D is mostly AE, although higher end compositing (film and heavy 3D work is better handled in dedicated compositors. Nuke is fast becoming the standard here in NY). More and more, I think even AE generalists need to have some familiarity with a 3D program. In small shops, Cinema4D seems to be widely accepted and is pretty easy to learn

 

If your interest is 3D then you have a bunch of software choices to make. Maya is probably the most common for film and TV. 3DS is more common in game development. SoftImage and Cinema have much smaller market share, but both have very loyal shops. A lot of smaller shops are Cinema and some of the top shops (Pysop for instance) have a large SoftImage base.

 

In answer to your direct question, yes more and more it seems that you need to have some familiarity with a 3D program. I would consider learning one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...every time someone asks a practical question, do we have to tell them to go learn design theory? Yes, learn theory, but there are also practical questions with practical answers.

Totally agree. It's a tired answer. Although, in its defense, the question suggests that hiytrebla is surrounded by advice that's focused on a narrow band, and needs the wider view. It suggests that he's got the horse blinders on because his peers have the horse blinders on. Like, when movie stars are all anyone is talking about, movie stars end up seeming all-important. So yes, learn tools. Learn as many as you can, as deeply as you can. You need them. But know what you want creatively first, and learn them in service of what it is that you want to accomplish.

 

Hiytrebla's question is akin to "I see a lot of people wearing Gap khaki pants. They're telling me that people like Gap khakis. Should I wear Gap khakis?" Well who the fuck knows? The question that needs to be asked is "what are you interested in, and what do you want to accomplish?" The answer is going to follow that question, and it's gonna be pretty obvious. Yes, lots of people are using 3d. Ideally they're using it because it helps them do what they want to do. Too often, they're using it because everyone else is using it, and that's pretty fucking sad. As creatives, we should be naturally innoculated against following-the-herd syndrome, but it's a strong pull. We're human, after all.

 

90% of the people in this industry are so nearsighted as to think "motion graphics" is running light streaks around dancing product shots or flipping a fucking logo around in space with lens flares or flying through a matrix of widescreen tv panels or pulsing cubes or whatever other ruined cliche they're stuck on. The fuck is that? Is anyone actually interested in that? Maybe. Is it 90% of us? No. You can do "motion graphics" with crayon and paper and a still camera. You can do "motion graphics" with Krakatoa and Nuke and spiders on the ends of sticks. You can do it with pen and ink and acid wash. You can do it with generative coding. You can do it with pinhole boxes and hydraulics. You can do it by drawing faces on your fingers and putting hats on them. When you quit worrying about whether you have enough toys in your toolbox for bored producers and you start exploring your own interests, you'll find that after you've gone off and played by yourself for a while, if you're having a great time, people will come play with you. This is the longer road. It's the harder answer. It's not the comes-in-a-box fruit loops breakfast, it's the singularly studied and developed gourmet brunch. No one with any taste seriously takes the former over the latter.

 

Learn what's of use to you, creatively. The fundamentals are always going to be of use to you. 3d apps might. Compositing apps might. Watercolor might. Clay modelling might. Don't learn these things because someone told you there's more money in it. There's more money in investment banking. Learn these things because they service your creative interests and your goals. And it's your interests and goals that are important because they help define your voice. And you're going to want people to come to you for your unique voice when you get violently sick of being a drone who makes grids of shiny boxes with bevels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Because the question mentioned software the answers seem to have kind of side tracked the real question of specialization. No one really specializes in After Effects, you specialize as an: Editor, colorist, compositor, character animator, story board artist etc. none of those things is software specific it's skillset and interest specific.

 

It's sounds cheesy but if you are meant to be specialized your specialization will find you one way or another. I mean you can only dedicate lot's of time and energy to one narrow area without going totally insane if you absolutely love it and find it rewarding (and also throw in a good dose of luck and stumbling into some good mentors and teachers in that field).

 

There is no such thing as a total generalist either you are going to be stronger in some areas than others. So even generalists have certain areas that are more their specialities than others.

 

So I'd say go on trying stuff until you find that thing that sucks you in totally, and if no one thing really grabs you, you can also be happy and successful being a kickass generalist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You can do "motion graphics" with ........ and spiders on the ends of sticks.

Hey Binky, i always wanted to specialize on motion graphics utilizing spiders on the ends of sticks! Do you know of a decent school that teaches this technique? Was this used in the latest Spiderman Movie?? And what types of spiders would you prefer for a lower third???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hiytrebla, here are a few things ive picked up along the years...

 

follow your curiosity, heart, gut, and natural instinct. do what gets you excited. regrets are few and far between if you do that and listen to those.

 

listen to advice, but take it with a grain of salt. from my experience the advocates preaching for specialism were always generalists. Each was older than I and had completely different set of responsibilities in their personal life. and they always asked questions like "have you seeeen what a flame artists day rate is???"

 

your career is young. specialize in learning. Learn everything. Learn techniques, aesthetics, storytelling and design. Be a sponge. Make things all the time. Try things and fail. Try things and succeed. Then who knows, one day you could find something that grabs every bit of your attention. Then after learning it, practicing it, failing and succeeding you could find yourself waking up and saying "shit, im want to do this all time".

 

high fives.

p

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...