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Professional industry-standard software workflow?

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Freddie Hill
Professional industry-standard software workflow?
on Aug 15, 2011 at 12:43:13 am

Hello. I work in music production and i'm wondering a few things about video production.

I'm about to move into video/visuals to help compliment my music. I want to get a set up of my own so i can get a higher knowledge of this stuff.

I learnt how to produce music on a piece of software that not really anyone uses professionally, and then when i entered a professional environment i found that my peers were using totally different programs to me. To keep up with everything going on around me i had to relearn totally new programs which set me back a bit.

So, if we were talking about video production that has it's origins from the computer i.e not filming on a camera, at a professional level, what programs are the industry standard? I know After Effects is one that is used wherever you go.

Is there a certain 'workflow' through specific software applications that everyone sticks to no matter where you are in what studio?

I know the general workflow is 3d modelling software like 3dmax maya cinema4d - compositing software like ae and i've tried a few from each types. Which one is most often used?

By professional i mean special effects on tv/film, 'title' sequences, movie trailers etc. That kind of work. Not that i'm saying i would like to do that, but i want to get a bigger picture of things before i dive into software that isn't widely used by other people that will be doing the same work as me.

Thanks in advance for anyone who shares their experiences on this topic.


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: Professional industry-standard software workflow?
on Aug 15, 2011 at 11:28:19 am

AE is used a lot in Motion Graphics and Nuke for film effects. That would be the simplest way to put it - however, AE can do almost anything Nuke does. If you want to build knowledge for your own setup/production, stuff that you will do for yourself, AE and the Adobe suite ( Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Media Encoder together with Encore) will give you all you need. One other thing mentioning is that AE is made even more powerful by the 3rd party plugins that you can ad in time as you need them.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Walter Soyka
Re: Professional industry-standard software workflow?
on Aug 15, 2011 at 2:43:22 pm

[Freddie Hill] "So, if we were talking about video production that has it's origins from the computer i.e not filming on a camera, at a professional level, what programs are the industry standard? I know After Effects is one that is used wherever you go. Is there a certain 'workflow' through specific software applications that everyone sticks to no matter where you are in what studio?"

Different studios with different work choose different packages because they have different requirements. No, there is no one standard set of apps across all studios, but yes, the workflows are very similar.

You're right that 3ds Max, Maya, and C4D are all used professionally, but then again, so are Lightwave, XSI, and Houdini.

I'd also agree with Ted that the vast majority of projects will eventually go through either NUKE or AE for compositing, but there's also Flame on the high end. Shake and Fusion are still hanging on, too, and I'm sure there are a handful of hard-core Maya Composite users, somewhere.

While you could achieve the same results in compositing with AE as you can with NUKE, they have really different compositing toolsets, and there are many cases where NUKE will be much faster or simpler to use. I agree wholeheartedly that AE has the best toolset for motion graphics, and that the strength of its third-party developer ecosystem is unmatched.

Honestly, if you're completely new to computer graphics and compositing, you've got a big and daunting learning curve in front of you, covering many diverse skill sets. 3D covers many sub-specialities, all vital, and compositing is an art and a science all to its own. Apologies if my music analogy isn't perfect, but you're asking about learning to compose, perform, record, mix, and master by yourself. The question is too big to answer well.



[Freddie Hill] "By professional i mean special effects on tv/film, 'title' sequences, movie trailers etc. That kind of work. Not that i'm saying i would like to do that, but i want to get a bigger picture of things before i dive into software that isn't widely used by other people that will be doing the same work as me."

Again, different studios will use different packages. Sometimes, different packages will be used on on different parts of the same project because it may offer a very specific feature that simplifies the work.

What work exactly is it that you want to do?

If you want to learn deeply about one specific area, let's talk about that separately.

If you want to learn the entire process from start to finish to self-produce visuals for your music (as you described above), I'd focus on learning skills first, building your own self-contained workflow second, and specific packages last. The skills you learn in one package will be transferrable to another, and knowing about the process in general will help you pick the specific package that's best suited to your own needs, timeline, and budget.

For example, you could learn 3D with Blender for free, actually using it in production, and then pick up another package like Maya pretty quickly thereafter -- not unlike a complete beginner learning to play music on a flute, then switching to the oboe.

Alternately, you could learn 3D with a package like C4D (which many think has the gentlest learning curve), and which also integrates very well with AE. This is a relatively simple path to a very broad set of production capabilities. That said, while I think C4D has the best motion graphics toolset of any of the 3D apps, it has much weaker character animation tools and a smaller third-party developer community than Maya, the basic renderer is less than stunning, the materials system is out of date, and no one really uses it specifically for modeling.

Of course, these are just examples. Without knowing more about what you want to do, it's hard to give good advice, because each one of these packages has tradeoffs.

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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Freddie Hill
Re: Professional industry-standard software workflow?
on Aug 16, 2011 at 2:31:16 am

Thankyou for both of your indepth replies.

Walter, your first sentence just made clear what i was confused about. That helped me a lot.
When you mention about the 'workflows' being similar in your first sentence do you mean the workflow of going from a 3d app to a compositing app?

I have been working with the trial versions of Cinema4d and AE.

In your response to learning deeply about one specific area. The work i would like to do is logo animation. (i'm not sure if there's a specific word to describe that type of work) Here's a link to what i mean:






But also compositing onto footage that has come from a camera as well.
Exactly like in this music video, where computer generated material and camera footage is combined:







What you said about skills being learnt in one package is transferrable to others and i should worry about picking a specific package last makes sense, but i can't seem to get it out of my mind.
What would be the best 'package' to get for what i would like to do in the future?

Also, to check up on what Motion Graphics really means. I have researched on wikipedia and other sources. From what i've gathered it's a widely used term, but it means animated graphic designs with audio?


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Walter Soyka
Re: Professional industry-standard software workflow?
on Aug 16, 2011 at 12:53:07 pm

[Freddie Hill] "When you mention about the 'workflows' being similar in your first sentence do you mean the workflow of going from a 3d app to a compositing app?"

Yes. The mechanics may differ, but the fundamentals are the same, regardless of which 3D app and which compositing app you use.


[Freddie Hill] "I have been working with the trial versions of Cinema4d and AE. The work i would like to do is logo animation. (i'm not sure if there's a specific word to describe that type of work)"

That's a great start, especially for the motion graphics work you showed in your first reference clip.

There are some tools that will let you do 3D work in AE (including Zaxwerks Invigorator and Mettle FreeForm, as well as soon-to-be-released tools like Mettle ShapeShifter and Video Copilot Element 3D. These tools tend to be very specific in focus, whereas a full 3D app like C4D is much more general. As you learn more about 3D and compositing, it will become much clearer when to use which app or effect.

AE would be a great choice for the compositing and effects in both reference clips.



[Freddie Hill] "What you said about skills being learnt in one package is transferrable to others and i should worry about picking a specific package last makes sense, but i can't seem to get it out of my mind. What would be the best 'package' to get for what i would like to do in the future?"

I should clarify my original line -- clearly, you have to pick a package to learn with. My point was that you shouldn't worry too much about learning the "wrong" package now, because the skills you develop now will transfer.

C4D is a great choice for motion graphics -- I don't think any other app has a toolset comparable to Mograph, and there's a huge concentration of motion graphics-oriented C4D training available. C4D also has a relatively gentle learning curve, so it's a good choice for a beginner.

I've seen some people here whom I respect advocate learning with Blender, because the software is very capable, and it's both open-source and free. You can learn quite a bit about 3D and see if it's really a path you're interested in before investing thousands of dollars in a 3D app.


[Freddie Hill] "Also, to check up on what Motion Graphics really means. I have researched on wikipedia and other sources. From what i've gathered it's a widely used term, but it means animated graphic designs with audio?"

Motion graphics does seem a bit tough to define. I think that motion graphics is a mix of graphic design, photography/cinematography, choreography, direction, and very often lighting and scenic design.

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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Freddie Hill
Re: Professional industry-standard software workflow?
on Aug 19, 2011 at 6:52:50 am

Okay.
Thanks for making everything easy to understand and simple.
For now, i'm going to purchase AE and learn Blender alongside with it.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Professional industry-standard software workflow?
on Aug 19, 2011 at 3:28:05 pm

[Freddie Hill] "Thanks for making everything easy to understand and simple. For now, i'm going to purchase AE and learn Blender alongside with it."

You're welcome.

For AE, I recommend starting with Todd Kopriva's collection of introductory materials [link].

For Blender information, check out Cory Petkovsek's great post C4D, Blender, and others [link].

Good luck!

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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