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A new motion graphics career at 35?

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katy yungA new motion graphics career at 35?
by on Jun 22, 2010 at 9:25:16 pm

Ive been working in TV broadcast for 8 yrs but in a technical role and now I would like to return to my creative roots and manoeuver into a career in motion graphics.
i would like some advice on best how to do this, and is 35 too old to change career?. (Im a young 35 :))
I do believe you have to follow your heart so Im not going to let the age get in the way too much but it would be good to get some real practical advice.
will it be worth studying a post grad/masters in a related subject? (that means giving up FT job and moving countries as here is not native english) or will it be possible to get a job based on a showreel alone? I feel further study will give me time and scope to develop skills but its expensive and time consuming. i spend all my spare time trying to develop my AE skills but although I have creative vision, i feel my skills still have a way to go in honing original style and also in comparison to the amazing showreels i see out there. will a course teach me something that self study cant ? will this reflect on employability?
alot of questions but it would be good to get some feedback.....


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Joseph W. BourkeRe: A new motion graphics career at 35?
by on Jun 23, 2010 at 2:55:33 pm

Never consider ANY age too old to change's people that feel trapped for one reason or another that make broadcast news top stories! I just changed careers at 60 years of age. I had been Art Director at a broadcast station (and Senior Motion Graphics Artist as well - a working art director), and was laid off over a year and a half ago. Prior to that job, which lasted fourteen years, I had been a writer/producer. Prior to that I had earned my living as a musician for almost twenty years. I have now gone into business with a partner who does exhibits, large format graphics, and photography, and we're just getting rolling with our own successful business. I've been doing everything from 3D animations to high-end motion graphics illustrations, to Camtasia based tutorials for the web. There's loads of work out there, especially on the industrial side.

That said, you may want to get into graphics through the side door. At the station I worked at, Directors and TDs were always given the chance to cross-train in areas of interest. We even had people from Master Control sometimes move into the News production side of things (which never interested me). There may be a chance to land a job which will pay you AND train you in your areas of interest. There were always jobs at our station which were combination jobs, such as a PA/Graphic Artist. They spent four days a week as PA, running camera, prompter, being floor director, and then they were the weekend Graphic Artist.

I honestly don't think that you need to go back to school, with the wealth of teaching materials which are available through the web, and various tutorial sites ( immediately comes to mind), both paid and free. I would suggest that you learn and get advanced with Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Flash (which is a lot closer to AE as of CS4), and maybe a 3D package (I have worked with 3D Studio Max for about ten years, but Maya, Cinema4D, and others do the job). Also get up to speed with the audio side of things - I use Soundbooth now, but am familiar with a number of other technologies from the broadcast world. Everything you've learned on the technical side will serve you well on the creative side. Knowing the nuts and bolts makes you more valuable as a creative.

Start out duplicating other people's work, and stuff you like that you see and say "how did they do that?". You'll gradually come to develop your own ideas, but at the same time, when a client (or News Director) asks for something they've seen (they never have an original idea that I know of), you'll be able to do it. Look at those amazing showreels and figure out how they did it - it's not magic! Most of the coolest looking stuff these days is a combination of 3D, motion graphics, particle systems, and lighting effects, composited together so that the indidual effects look seamless. Look on the Focal Press website - there are loads of books on effects and compositing. I really believe you can be self-taught, but there are those of us who can sit down with a manual and figure it out, and those who have to be shown. Figure out which type of learner you are, and go from there. Good luck!

Joe Bourke
Creative Director / Multimedia Specialist
B&S Exhibits and Multimedia

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Mark SamuelsRe: A new motion graphics career at 35?
by on Mar 1, 2014 at 12:59:11 am

Thanks for the advise. So as far as a reel goes does it matter if its not created from work I have done for others? Can it be made from projects I have worked on myself like as in non commercially during my learning process. Because I have never had a single client but I do have some creative projects.

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everton sebbenRe: A new motion graphics career at 35?
by on Mar 1, 2014 at 2:38:07 pm

Hi Mark,

Yeah, thats it! I remember that in the beginning i used to feel more creative than now! Hahah thats because i had spare time to experiment, discover, with no strings attached. Doesnt need to be a reel. Could be a short film, short sequence, intro titles, something inspiring.

Good luck!



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David BraswellRe: A new motion graphics career at 35?
by on Jun 28, 2010 at 9:03:53 pm

A course or curriculum may not teach you the technical parts of working with software. That's where your time spent in front of the software and on the forums will be beneficial. However, some school may help you channel your creative vision into the kinds of skills necessary to be a productive graphic artist. You may not need to seek a full degree, but if you can audit or take a class or two that deals with design basics, perhaps that would be beneficial.

Regarding After Effects and other Adobe products, the best way I know to become proficient is through constant use and seeking out the techniques and workflows of other professionals. Based on some of the work I've seen from designers with "degrees", school won't necessarily enhance your software skills.

Best wishes

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grinner hesterRe: A new motion graphics career at 35?
by on Jul 2, 2010 at 2:43:54 pm

Just build that reel, man. Your age is not something that will come up during negotiations.

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everton sebbenRe: A new motion graphics career at 35?
by on Jul 12, 2010 at 4:18:48 pm

Go go go!

Im a motion designer today - im 32 - at 17 i was an audio operator at the newsroom but already studying design. Then i started as an editor - wich took me to the cg department as i could 'see' things coming together. My work as a motion artist started at 23, and now, almost 10 years later - only now, i feel i got it. Its not easy to stay alive and happy while you watch sooo many beautiful things that are done by zillion others marvel artists out there!! But i keep going and still trying to apply the best of me - if i can have some really original going on - i realize this 'original' thing has tons of pieces of others work and creation!

If you feel you love art, curious about how things are done, how machine have the heart of a designer. If you know Goethe and his color teories, you can make a good use of that. Observing nature and how it works its a good start i guess. Studying new technologies makes me very inspired too!!

If you mix web development with all that motion skills, then you can have real power i guess - html5 is so powerful today - the sky is the limit.

Good luck!!

Everton Sebben // freelance motion designer

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katy yungRe: A new motion graphics career at 35?
by on Jun 26, 2011 at 1:29:57 pm

Thanks so much for all your informed responses!(sorry, Ive only seen these now!)
Its a year on and Ive chosen not to go back to study and am filling every second outside of my FT job learning all aspects of motion graphics, its a bit of a hard slog, I feel like I have two jobs but im working hard on a showreel and I love it.
So thanks for your good advice, its encouraging to know that you can build upon all your work experience and change direction without retraining in academia.

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Mark SamuelsRe: A new motion graphics career at 35?
by on Feb 27, 2014 at 11:43:05 pm

I have found that trying to create a career in motion graphics is more difficult than getting blood from a stone. Its all well and good for people to say just teach yourself but there really is only so much you can learn sitting at home alone searching google and doing tuts. Its very limited in how far you can go without others to guide you and offer feedback, and especially without the concept development skills.
Self learning does help a bit with the technical side of things but its very difficult to stay motivated working by yourself with no clear hope of employment on the horizon. Im not sure what its like in the USA but here in Australia its still quite a small but growing industry. The most important thing is people skills. This is how you get your foot in the door and this is how you grow as a designer/artist. Without the ability and desire to network you have buckleys chance.
I have completed a degree in media arts which included some motion design and after 4 years at university and what feels like thousands of hours in front of a computer I get turned down for so called "internships" that offer no real training but ask for an "awesome motion graphics junior ready to show the industry what you got" to work full time for zero salary. Seriously how can they expect an "awesome designer" to work for nothing. It really infuriates me. I feel like I am getting nowhere fast. University cost me $40,000 and taught me very little but how appalling the education system is.
As much as I love it, I am seriously beginning to feel I have chosen the wrong path. I would be happy to do what I enjoy and work with creative people on very little money, the money is not important but there are too many companies ready to exploit those who are desperate for a start. As far as junior positions with a salary go, if they exist at all they are not advertised.
This is my experience. It may be different elsewhere but this is how I see it here.

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everton sebbenRe: A new motion graphics career at 35?
by on Feb 28, 2014 at 12:21:55 am

Hi Mark,

I see, you feel frustrated. And you are right about almost everything. To start, you really need to build up a good reel. With no reel, you are no one. At the time i wrote the first post in this thread, i was a freelancer. Now i own a business, still on the same field: audio and visual pieces. Focused on education now.

You have a point about networking. But networking its also = job done. One happy client, could be the owner of your near grocery store, that will bring you more clients. Thats what happened to me. I started freelancing for regular people - not companies. But even knowing lots of people, you need to show them something. With no reel, its hard to believe that you will deliver what the client needs.

Its important to me that everyone that works for me, makes money. I never, and will never put someone on a job to work for free. I have a small studio ( - but i know that big agencies do that. Ive worked for free in the beginning (i had a part time job in the tv field already, but i had to build a computer graphics reel). I can say to you that since a did a whole succesfull job, then another, i was ready to charge for it. After 2 free jobs - thats all i did - 2 free jobs. Everything else after those 2 was paid. This is a mix of good sense of doing business, sense of justice, balance between those relationship skills + skills to deliver what the client needs.

Build up a reel. Put your heart and soul on it. Publish online, be part of behance network, put your work on the web. You did well studying. Now its time to learn the real life gig, and go for it. If you feel sad, not creative, or even without the ''drive'' for motion graphics, maybe you are in the wrong field. Consider that. You are already lucky enough cuz you could go to a university and get your degree.

And you are right not working for free. Every work must be paid. Thats the way i think.

If you deliver, you must be paid. Can you deliver?



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