View Full Version : Learning flame* and compositing reel questions

06 June 2005, 03:56 AM
I graduated in Dec. with a BFA in 3d animation and video, and secured an internship with a local "production" studio that has turned into a part-time position, at least for the time being. The studio does a good job at what they do, mostly local spots or internal presentations/videos for national corporations, but of course there is more than a few lame powerpoints or websites that land in my lap.

I am able to suffer through all of the mundane crap because starting this week I am finally being trained to use their flame*. Nothing formal through discreet or Autodesk or whoever owns it now, but by the in-house flame artist who has about 8 years of experience. The flame artist is going to be in China for three weeks later this month so I have to be up to speed by then to take over the workload. Needless to say my brain is about to explode, but I know most people would kill to be in this position, and this is the whole reason I took the internship in the first place.

I really enjoy both animating and compositing (I seem to be a rare breed) but unfortunetly I didn't recieve a very good education in those aspects. I am currently taking classes at to really learn the art of animation, and I figure while I have the chance, why not learn the flame as well. My goal is to move to sunny L.A. and work in film (yes, everyone else says the same thing, but I am trying to take steps towards that goal) as either an animator or compositor, ideally in a position where I get to do both. I know that skill and attitude are far more important than knowing a particular software package but at the same time, the flame* is something that not everyone has access to, so I want to learn as much about it while I have the chance.

During the day I am tagging spots and whatever else with the flame artist over my shoulder. The nature of the work is as I said, fairly mundane, nothing too flashy or intensive, all local broadcast quality. Truth be told, I feel that the flame* is big time overkill, and I could do everything we do on the flame* in AE, and in a fraction of the time, but I think a lot of that has to do with the flame* still being so foreign to me. While during the day we don't do much that I think would pertain to features,(no wire-removal, very little keying or color correcting, etc; mostly broadcast motion graphics) I was given permission to come in at night and work on it doing whatever I please. Now being in AnimationMentor I don't have much free time so I really want to maximize the return of my efforts, and thus my questions...

What types of projects would you recommend I do to maximize my learning as well as content for a compositing reel?

What types of things should you put on a compositing reel?

How would I go about marketing myself in the future as a flame* artist?

Are there still jobs out there for "flame*" artists?

What are the major selling points of the flame* and what are the biggest benifits or uses of it over AE or combustion?

Why are/were flame* artists paid so much?

What are some good sites/books on compositing?

If you could start all over again(learning to composite) what types of projects would you do?

What would you do in my shoes?!

I realize this is a large post and a lot of questions, but I would really really appreciate any sincere and professional reponses that you could throw my way. I just realize that I am in a good position and even though I am stretched thin time-wise, I want to do everything I can to maximize my learning and growth while in this situation. Thanks to all for your help!

06 June 2005, 07:38 AM
Please don't be too offended by the strength of my repsonse. i will try to answer your questions in no specific order !

For God's sake make the most of this opportunity.

Flame is still a major star in the broadcast industry and is used in a number of film houses too. It is an amazing peice of equipment limited only by your imagination. I know AE very well and yes it has amazing motion graphics tools but have you ever tried to track a complex shot or do a head replacement in AE !?!?

Flame artist are paid a lot because the good ones can make tremendous images very quickly ! Flame is thought of by many as braodcast design box but trust me it is an awesomely powerful vfx compositig toolkit !

I spent 2 years, six days a week, during my MA teaching myself flame and despite my best efforts I have never been able to land a days work out of it. Luckily I know Maya and Shake or I would have straved. I would kill every member on this list for a decent flame job,I have begged and pleaded for jobs worse than yours ! You have one where they will pay you and let you learn as you go.

You are in an amazing position, get motivated and make the most out of it !

Read the mannuals cover to cover. Do all the tutes on and flame knowledge base.

Brinkman, R. the Art and Science of digital compositing.
and read

Wright, S. Digital Compositing for Film and Video.
try to recreate the tutes on my site (sorry for the plug ....five more comig soon!). Go to aruna's site and read up .... do a google search and read up !!!

Look at every peice of work you can and try and figure out how to do it. Take on any job that is in an area which you are unsure of or lack skills and try and improve. Don't wait for someone to teach you anything go out there and get your learn on !!!

Whilst you may not be doing the exact type of work you arer aiming for you are being given a massive chance to get right next to that kind of work. I sincerely encourage you to strive ahead with this job and attempt to get as much experience as possible, using every spare moment to try and learn the things you want !

06 June 2005, 04:43 PM
I don't know flame but I was talking to one of the guys here at work who was on flame back at version 1.0 when Warner Bros. bought two milllion dollar flame systems.

He was getting paid $100 an hour and this was a decade ago. He hasn't had a job in flame since then, other software packages have emerged cheaper and it seems like current flame artists are deeply entrenched in their companies and have been there for years.

That's just what he's told me.

As for learning compositing, I'd say some steps toward that are:

Dust Busting
Rig/Wire removal

Since you know 3D, you can try some green screen footage and incorporating live action with CG. Wire removal sounds simples but get the camera moving and you'll see the challenge (especially if the background is busy).

And like the other guy said, you are in an awesome position. I interned for free for six months, you're getting paid (?) and have some awesome software at your disposal. Good luck!

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06 June 2005, 04:43 PM
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