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 animationmentor.com 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!