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Tim Wilson
No, seriously, learn EVERYTHING
on Sep 7, 2010 at 9:49:48 pm

Just saw a post go up on the Job Board. Are you kids checking those? As Rob mentions in the thread below, people find jobs there. I have also heard from companies placing ads that the COW has provided their best hires.

But I was struck by this one in the Jobs Offered - Higher Pay forum. It looks like a terrific job - a senior position in charge of developing and improving "our existing in-house pipeline, asset management, production management, and tools suite."

Sweet! A high-end job in a leading VFX house! I LOVE VFX! This is what I've always wanted to do! And this job sounds like a LOT of money.

Here's what they're looking for:

- film or television production experience

So far so good.

- working knowledge of Linux, OSX, and Windows

Okay, credible knowledge of Linux is easy enough to get. Mac guys looking for actual paying jobs: you're INSANE if your Windows expertise isn't 100% equal with your Mac knowledge.

As Bob has noted, you will likely be responsible for managing your end of the network. Understand how to troubleshoot it, on all 3 platforms.

But still, so far so good.

- artistic ability such as drawing, painting, photography

Uhm, you can probably get away with photography if it's really know they're going to ask to see your portfolio...but yes, they want experience in film and video, general OS stuff AND art with your hands.

This is very, very VERY common in VFX work. No hands-on art experience, no job. re: education at Full Sail: you don't get to touch a computer until after learning both painting and drawing. They make no bones about being a trade school, but they understand the trade as it exists in the real world.

Anyway, film and video, OSes, art - still totally doable with a little effort.

- degree in Computer Science, Mathematics, or a similar hard-science field
- proficient knowledge of C++, Python, XML/XSLT, MEL, and JavaScript


Take that for what you will. But I can imagine math and engineering guys who would LOVE to be in visual effects thinking, "Film and video experience? Oops. I'm hosed." (I say "hosed" because the job is in Canada.)

But seriously, don't forget, this is a real, live VFX job, whose requirements include

- VFX-related packages and APIs, especially related to Maya and Nuke

So there you have 3D, compositing...and one single bullet point.

There are a lot of high-end effects guys in the COW, and almost all of them have to custom-design unique effects pipelines for every single shot, even if these artists have nothing else to do with the rest of the facility's workflow. And they all know math.

This might sound ridiculous to you, totally beyond reach, but I've met quite a few people with these very skills along the way. They're all making serious money. They all use pretty much everything they know, pretty much every day.

The only question is, how badly to you want to work in VFX? Start with painting, math, and programming languages, not After Effects. Any monkey can learn AE. Many monkeys DO learn AE. Don't be a monkey.

Now, this particular forum tends to be focused on hardcore video rather than VFX, and you may have no interest in anything related to production pipelines and asset management. In the video business, they're most often called "workflow" and "media management"...although as the ever-ebullient Bob Zelin will tell you, asset management is one of the fastest-growing areas in which you NEED expertise, for every job.

Regardless, the point is the same: Want a big job? Think big.

Tim Wilson
Associate Publisher, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW Magazine

My Blog: "Is this thing on? Oh it's on!"

Don't forget to rate your favorite posts!

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Bill Davis
Re: No, seriously, learn EVERYTHING
on Sep 7, 2010 at 11:10:53 pm

These guys are making things FAR too difficult.

They just need to post what they REALLY WANT. Like this.

Help Wanted:

Video Shooting Philosopher King.
Must be comfortable making global decisions in all areas relating to human interactions flawlessly, without mistake or fault.
Technical and engineering skills mandatory at board level repair including the ability to hand re-solder semiconductor traces at a micron level even tho nobody in the rest of the industry bothers repairing anything beyond the level of replacing the entire host unit.
Artistic skills must be in the general range of Michaelangelo, Klee, and Picasso, with at least one portfolio sample which has functionally changed the direction of modern thinking about what ART might be, ala Velázquez, Dali, or Keyboard Cat.
Must be able to conceive and solve Math problems in the range of establishing that Xeno's Paradox, really wasn't, isn't and may never be depending on the nature of all conceivable parallel universes.
Solid business skills also a must. We'd prefer someone with demonstrable talent in market prognostication and global trade to a level that he or she has accumulated wealth to a degree where the salary we might offer becomes essentially meaningless.
If female, must look HOT in standard business attire. If male, must be described as either "studly" "cute" or "possibly dangerous - but in a bad-boy cool way" by a majority of the female employees in HR.
We're an equal opportunity employer. Which means that we maintain a working environment where every associate is guaranteed to be be equally ignored or annoyed regardless of national origin. (Arizona employees see employee handbook dated 06/10/2010 for modifying language and the latest definitions of "immigrant", "hispanic" "illegal" and/or "muslim.")

Salary: Trade for credit.

Come join a state of the art modern organization where your hard work will generate an incredible return for others (us) in an environment where a visible fraction of the success you generate for the company will come back to you after no more than a decade or two of effort.

Unless we decide to let you go before that.

Apply at the front office.

(Be sure to list on the FRONT page, if you're a blood relative of someone we already know and like, particularly anyone working in the executive wing.)

Thank you.

FCP since NAB 1999
creator: muti-track movies

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Walter Soyka
Re: No, seriously, learn EVERYTHING
on Sep 8, 2010 at 1:11:54 am

Bill, I got a nice chuckle out of your post -- surely you've spent some time in HR...

In fairness, though, I thought the linked job posting was unlike the standard comical job ad. I found it both reasonable and specific about what kind of talent they were looking for. When building tools for artists, you need the artistic skill to understand how the tool will be used as well as the technical chops to implement it.

My business is based on the premise that design and engineering are interrelated, and I think it makes perfect sense to look for talent with artistic sense and technical skills in the same cranium. It's a huge differentiator on projects that push the envelope.

To Tim's point about learning everything, it's not enough to be deep or wide anymore. I think T-shaped knowledge is becoming critical: deep in your specialty and wide in areas around it.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events

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grinner hester
Re: No, seriously, learn EVERYTHING
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:47:27 am

thinking big is the key.
I can't tell you how many people laughed at me when I was a kid when they asked what I was gonna be when I grow up and I told em I was gonna make movies. It was the same reaction when my brother told them he was gonna be a major league baseball player. It was part pitty and part... well, I think it was just pitty. I was in the video industry full time for well over a decade before my Dad stopped asking me if I was "still doing that video thing?" Today I make little movies every day. Not to spite the nay sayers but because I'd rather do something I love rather than get in line like the rest of the drones. If I didn't make it happen, it'd simply not happen.
The key to thinking big? Man just freakin love it. Ya don't have to really think about it then. Folks ask me my business plan sometimes. It always gets a laugh from me. I'm in a rapidly evolving industry so the plan is to lead the evolution, not follow. I don't have to write that down. John Lennon was wise when he said life is what happens when you're making plans. I'd rather spend time living than planning and missing it.
Bottom line, if you aint goin' woohoo, you aint doin' it right. Do that everyday and success gravitates to you. Seek success while deciding what ya wanna be when you grow up and you'll remain too lost to find it.

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Craig Seeman
Re: No, seriously, learn EVERYTHING
on Sep 8, 2010 at 1:09:16 am

So does that mean this is your brother?

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walter biscardi
Re: No, seriously, learn EVERYTHING
on Sep 8, 2010 at 3:05:00 am

[Tim Wilson] "Regardless, the point is the same: Want a big job? Think big."

Absolutely. Cooking, photography, science, astronomy, computers, sports, opera, farming, Christmas, etc... all hobbies of one sort or another to me.

If for no other reason, all things outside of television or video production give you a connection with other people. When you meet a client for the first time you can talk about common interests, show that you actually have a little bit of understanding about the subject matter to be worked on, just enjoy talking about anything BUT video production.

I tell all the "kids" I meet today to learn all they can about video or film, but definitely have interests that go beyond the digital realm. Cooking and all things cuisine are always great as are anything else that gets you using your hands that doesn't involve a keyboard, mouse or tablet.

Always goes a long way here that's for sure. The biggest question I get asked all the time is "how do I get invited to your Christmas eve feast?" And that's got NOTHING to do with video or film production. :)

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" featuring Sigourney Weaver coming soon.

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Cory Petkovsek
Re: No, seriously, learn EVERYTHING
on Sep 17, 2010 at 2:07:13 am

Well, they are looking for this position: Senior Technical Director - Pipeline Developer. And they have a pretty decent professional reel, so they probably know what they are looking for.

It would be unwise to hire someone WITHOUT all of that experience for this role. This isn't a posting for a technician or an artist. Nor is it for a 20 year old unless they are a prodigy.

I have a CS degree and am proficient in almost everything listed. For the remainder, I could learn python in a week, mel in another week, but the rest of maya a couple months (it is big!).

However they wouldn't hire me to actually do any of those things. That would be foolish (ie poor business).

They're looking for someone with proficiency in all those departments who can effectively bridge the gap between technicians, artists, and business managers.

I've never done programming professionally, but I have done quite a bit in non-professional projects. I can certainly tell the difference between a good coder and a poor one, and can and have hired them. I'm not spectacular at drawing either; I can draw, and I've trained my eye as an artist and can thus evaluate and work with them.

However rather than become a technical director I started my own company! ;)


Cory Petkovsek
Corporate Video

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Elin grome
Re: No, seriously, learn EVERYTHING
on Oct 21, 2010 at 9:55:32 pm

Hi guys,

Having read all your posts - im gonna swim against the tide a little.

It's obviously great to aspire to be a true renaissance man, but davinci's are few and far between - this Job may be one of those rare examples where they can find a niche - but the truth is I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people ive worked with who truly have a mastery of left/right brain disciplines...

and I really dont believe any business model can really rely on these exceptional individuals - there are just few and far between.

Not to say I havent met many a programmer who was convinced they had "a flair for design" or designers who were thought that knowing some javascript makes them programmers...

I dont wish to say that theres nothing "creative" about programming, mathematics or science - I certainly wouldnt dare suggest that Einstein or Feynman werent highly creative people - but Id rather hire, say, a really skilled editor than a mediocre editor who dabbles with after effects, cameras

Again, I repeat that the terms of this particular VFX job may be a little different, but as a general rule there are very few genuine right and left brainers out there...

It's all the those pesky details :p

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Craig Seeman
Re: No, seriously, learn EVERYTHING
on Oct 21, 2010 at 10:07:03 pm

There's a difference between what people can do "best" and what they can do. As the economy continues ti tighten one person is often expected to do several jobs.

Before I went off on my own I had a staff position as an Engineer even though I'd previously been an Editor for many years. Even it that Engineer position I became compressionist and also did Photoshop work when it turned out that no one else could do either and neither demanded a separate full time employee.

Today you should probably expect to fill even more shoes than the job description although often the job description may ask you to wear multiple hats from the get go.

The question is not what's "best" but do you want the job or do you want to be replaced by someone willing to do things that are not their lead skills. Granted if you have an excellent lead skill and find the right job that may be all you do but that's becoming less common today.

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Tim Wilson
Re: No, seriously, learn EVERYTHING
on Oct 22, 2010 at 4:52:57 am

I'll give you my favorite example.

Tony Hudson worked in the Lucas creature shop. You can imagine the kind of things he worked on in the 70s. He became one of the leads of that team. He designed and operated the whales in Star Trek IV.

Then when things went digital, he added those skills. His first digital character was Dobby the house elf in the Harry Potter movie. His also designed that effect in Men in Black where Tony Shalhoub's head gets blown off and regrows.

He first came to the COW because he needed to learn Final Cut Pro. He was doing some work on the side for Ray Kurzweil, and needed to do his own assemblies. (Along with a couple of music videos, it wound up being 600 shots...on his own. No team.)

He's now the Pre-Production Asset Supervisor at Lucasfilm Animation - a job that encompasses art, science, database management and people management.

He didn't show up at the top. He started operating puppets for Sid & Marty Kroft as a teen, and didn't stop. He became a generalist, which allowed him to not just be on teams, but to lead them.

And, he came to the COW as a newbie. :-)

Here's the story he wrote about it for Creative COW Magazine.

And here's his reel at you should all be using. There's a whole section in it with matte paintings he created and hand drawn conceptual art, using his fine arts skills.

Learn everything.

Tony Hudson 2009 Demo Reel

Tim Wilson
Associate Publisher, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW Magazine

My Blog: "Is this thing on? Oh it's on!"

Don't forget to rate your favorite posts!

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Elin grome
Re: No, seriously, learn EVERYTHING
on Oct 22, 2010 at 12:44:18 pm

I guess Im in danger of comparing apples & oranges to some degree, because theres no doubt that in many fields most of us will need to widen our skill sets to progress. Moreover I think that to a large degree the kind of ever-curious, never-stop-learning mindset that quite often characterizes ' technically creative fields'' will always drive those same people to carry on learning, its a kind of virtuous circle.

As an aside Guillermo del Toro is a high profile guy who reminds me of this quality; I would recommend an interview he gives here:

The distinction I think I would make is in regards to truly working at a high level across very different disciplines. Tony Hudson's reel is obviously wonderful in many respects, but you can see that he has developed several skills across fundamentally the same, albeit very broad, field: VFX.

However, and ok this might seem like nit-picking, his use of type, for example, tells me that he probably would not make a really good traditional graphic designer - or at least he would need a little focus in that area to up his skills. Please understand, im not criticizing his typography just making a point; this level of obsessiveness at every level of production is, to me, what makes the difference between the cream of production companies and the rest of us.

It's all the those pesky details :p

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