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What makes a Compositor?

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Katie Wilshaw
What makes a Compositor?
on Apr 23, 2013 at 2:56:31 pm

For my final year project I am looking into Compositing and what is needed to succeed. I have looked at starting out as a rotoscope artist, trying green screen, the difficulties of compositing and what employers look for as well as different software. I would like to get the thoughts of professionals already in the visual effects industry and people that are starting out/learning the process. Which software is best to use? What are the main things to learn? The difficulties along the way, starting out in the industry, etc, etc.
Any useful comments will be much appreciated.


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John Cuevas
Re: What makes a Compositor?
on Apr 23, 2013 at 5:42:23 pm

Which software is best to use?

Broad question, but whatever gets the job done. I use AE/keylight with a handful of plugins and for the most part never felt I was lacking in the tools to get a job done. As AE has grown and added capabilities, I find myself using less and less 3rd party plugins to get most jobs done.

What are the main things to learn?

For a straight green screen composite, a knowledge of codecs is often helpful to understand how your footage was compressed/created. Along with that a strong understanding of your own tools. Different programs have different workflows and truly understanding them will go a long way for pulling a good key.

The difficulties along the way, starting out in the industry, etc, etc.
My main difficulty is over-coming the desire to choke producers who say "Don't worry about that, we can fix it in post".

Sorry, can't offer you much in the way of how to start out working as a compositor other than find companies that are doing that and see if you can hook on as (most likely an UNDERPAID) intern or assistant.

Johnny Cuevas, Editor
Thinkck.com

"I have not failed 700 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."
---THOMAS EDISON on inventing the light bulb.


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Walter Soyka
Re: What makes a Compositor?
on Apr 23, 2013 at 8:55:53 pm

I highly recommend The Core Skills of VFX [link] as an introductory read. For a more in-depth read, check out Ron Brinkmann's The Art and Science of Digital Compositing [link].


[Katie Wilshaw] "I would like to get the thoughts of professionals already in the visual effects industry and people that are starting out/learning the process. Which software is best to use? What are the main things to learn? The difficulties along the way, starting out in the industry, etc, etc. "

An awful lot of TV/film compositing is done on Nuke. If you want to be a compositor, I'd learn that.

Learn the technical stuff. It'll make you a better artist.

A lot of positions are freelance. Don't expect a staff position.

Getting started in any industry is basically the same: who you know will get you your first job, and what you know will get you your second.

Being good at your job is important, but being awesome to work with is more important. This will get you hired again and again. Awesome people stay busy.

There are a lot of other niches in which you can apply your skills besides theatrical compositing. For example, I think most of us here on this forum are in motion graphics.

I hope something here will be of use to you in career. 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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Katie Wilshaw
Re: What makes a Compositor?
on Apr 30, 2013 at 9:01:36 am

Thanks for your replies.
I have been told that having an artistic eye is a key aspect for compositing. How would you recommend developing this?
Also I am just about to move from using after effects to Nuke. What sort of things should I look out for, differences, what's easy/hard to do compared to AE etc?


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