What led me to my education in Motion Graphics
I don’t know what you were doing in the fall of 2008 when the economy crashed, but I’ll tell you the path I was on at the time.
I had been working throughout my career in the hospitality industry. My main jobs were mostly in customer service; Bellman, Concierge, and some time spent at the Front Desk. It had always been rewarding to work with people who were travelers.
In my last position, I became an Auditor in the Accounting department. It was a dead-end job and I knew it, but it payed a reasonable wage to live my life pretty comfortably. I had worked my way into these different positions and assumed I would continue doing so. Without a college degree though, it was obvious that climbing the ladder any further in Accounting wasn’t going to come easily.
The year before, I made a decision to follow my interests in video editing. It was something I had recently considered a hobby. I took a class that looked fun at the local community college and it worked well with my work schedule. I enjoyed the process of learning and got really into depth with the program.
I became focused on learning Final Cut Pro, but struggled with the basic motion graphics instruction that our teacher gave us. Key-framing was an important part of motion graphics animation, and at the time, I found it was too frustrating. I completely dropped his suggestion when he mentioned that I should look into the motion graphics field at the end of his class.
A new path
Later that year, the Accounting department decided to save payroll costs, and in what felt like a split second, my services were no longer needed. I lost my job, my studio apartment, and over the next few months, moved back in with my parents in a new city.
I wasn’t exactly sure what this meant for my future or my hospitality career. I was disappointed and confused at first, but I knew I wasn’t the only one this economic crisis was hitting at the time. Strangely enough, that made me feel better for a while.
A few months later, without an income, I started stressing over what I was going to do with the economy in a downturn. I took some time off to ask myself how I would choose my next steps before I decided what to do next.
In my search, I found a professional editing school in Burbank and felt I had really lucked out. It had the credentials I was looking for–Certification– and was glad to know that my recent move allowed this school to be a reachable 45 minute commute away.
I took this opportunity to look for the positive in the entire situation, and finally decided to get the full-time education I had been wanting; I moved towards the direction of going back to school to become a professional video editor. Or, so I thought at the time.
My student loans for the Video Editing program required a co-signer, and my parents weren’t able to help in that area. I looked into another direction instead and qualified for the next best thing; the Motion Graphics program.
I was intimidated at first because I had struggled with the subject before. Knowing that Motion Graphics played a growing part in film editing, I felt that if I went in this direction, these new classes might give me an advantage.
3D Graphics and Animation
At the end of the 10 month Motion Graphics program, when I first started learning about how to integrate 3D graphics into my toolkit, I had an involved teacher who was very passionate about character animation. His information inspired me, and soon I bought the books he recommended; The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams and the Illusion of Life by former Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas.
He also led me to AnimationMentor.com, a very detailed character animation online school. Although I couldn’t attend, I started to prepare to go there one day and studied on my own. I started obsessing over animation, learned about the 12 principles of animation and signed up for video lessons online at Digital-Tutors.
By the time our two week class was over, I decided to only focus on becoming a 3D Animator from then on. I wanted to do all of the cool acting I had seen in the theaters, even though I didn’t know much about how to accomplish that. Most of all, I liked the idea of telling stories and I had a few in my head already. I saw my future in 3D and decided to find a way to brand myself specifically for that market.
I first needed to build a place for a demo reel and resume online, and became interested in building a website. I started searching and came across MatadorU travel writing program that I had been interested in. I decided to try it out for a week at $10.
I was interested in how people made money blogging online from their travels and it opened my eyes to how I could do the same. I signed up shortly after because I enjoyed the advice they were giving me and how their student blogs were designed and successful.
After the 12 week class was over with, I realized there was still a lot more of Maya to learn. The only way I was going to start a blog portfolio using Matador’s advice was by learning more about 3D animation, while using those skills to create a good demo reel.
Previsualization and Autodesk
I was still learning animation, but it frustrated me. I had a lot of great ideas, but the complexity of animation was a struggle. This path was going to take longer than I expected. I wanted to get more schooling and attend AnimationMentor, but by this time I didn’t have the time or money anymore. I still had previous student loans to pay off.
Continuing to be frustrated with the detail that animation took, I googled about rough animation and found out about Previs, and Animatics and how they were being used in the film industry today. I knew I had found exactly what I needed: A path to animation, using less time to get the stories I wanted to tell across. It was easy to spot the potential that this will bring to film.
3D Previs is still in its infancy, but it’s quickly growing now. There are a few highly regarded previs companies, like The Third Floor, Inc., that are interested in helping director’s reduce production costs, while focusing on story and film form.
Autodesk is a 3D company that supports where the future of this industry is going. Autodesk Maya is leading the way in providing the tools to be a Previs artist. Autodesk Maya is the main software being used in the industry today and is only going to grow. I’m excited to see the new possibilities ahead.