Instructors VS 3D Artists

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Old 07 July 2013   #1
Instructors VS 3D Artists

Have you guys ever thought of being teachers/instructors?
I know some people who have 5 years of experience with 3D software programs and only earning an average salary of $35K to $45K as 3D artists. And I've been doing my research and it looks like some instructors are doing better financially earning $60K to $70K a year like Ringling College of Art and Design. To any students in here, how do you like the instructors in Ringling? I've seen pretty good demo reels from students who get out of college there...
 
Old 07 July 2013   #2
When I was at AIP over 10 years ago, my 3d instructors sang the same tune - teaching paid better, or at least paid the same while being less demanding.

Personally, I would only try teaching if it meant that I'd have more time & energy for personal projects on the side.
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Old 07 July 2013   #3
Originally Posted by Lomax: When I was at AIP over 10 years ago, my 3d instructors sang the same tune - teaching paid better, or at least paid the same while being less demanding.


AIP = Art Institute of Pittsburgh right?
 
Old 07 July 2013   #4
In the UK, lecturers in university CG courses earn considerably less (around 10k to 15k) than working full time in VFX studios in London, earning an average senior salary. The working hours are, on average, shorter in teaching though (even when compared to a standard 8 hour day in a studio). A friend of mine left the London VFX industry to go teach at a major UK CG university and he does enjoy a pretty cool life, but it's definitely not a job for everyone, as teaching requires different skills to working in a studio, and not everyone is cut out for it. You need to be a very good communicator, for a start, and this is a rarer skill than most would think.

The rates you've quoted from people you know working in 3D are very, very low. They're the kind of rates I'd expect for absolute junior artists, so you can't really compare those to lecturers, in my opinion. If your friends are earning that kind of money after 5 years of experience, then they're either really bad at negotiating, are simply being screwed by their employers, are not actually working 12 months of the year, or are lying about what they're earning, for some reason. I was making considerably more than the figures you've quoted when I was working in California eight years ago, having around the same amount of experience at the time.

Having all that, I think the biggest problem with CG education is that most lecturers have little to zero actual industry experience, and I think that's very detrimental to students who really should be learning from people with actual firsthand experience. Far too many students graduate a course and then just go and become instructors, and that's why so many courses churn out useless students every year, who are in no way prepared for the industry because their instructors are useless too. It's shocking how bad most CG courses are - I know there are many exceptions to this, but there's a lot of truth in the old "those that can't, teach" chestnut - in other words, a lot of people become teachers because they failed to actually cut it in the industry they wanted to work in. Again, I know there are exceptions to this, but I honestly believe this applies to a majority of people teaching CG courses around the world. It's reckless and selfish of people to become teachers when they're barely skilled themselves, so I'd urge anyone considering teaching to only do so if they're truly skilled, have a deep understanding of the current industry and preferably have a large body of professional experience behind them already, otherwise ultimately they may end up doing more harm than good.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #5
I'd bet there are well paying schools and bad ones just like anything.
If a school has a stellar reputation its probably harder to get into (as a student) and harder to find a job opening (because staff is too happy to leave) too.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #6
What Leigh said.

Also, one of the biggest problems with CG education is the way schools are run for profit. Teachers are often forbidden from failing students because those students are seen as revenue flow. If you fail them out of class or school, you piss them and their families off (many people feel entitled to pass simply because they think they are paying for the right to do so), and take money awy from the school. This takes away any responsibility on the students' part (except financial), and makes teachers into moderately paid baby-sitters.
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Old 07 July 2013   #7
Leigh,
why did your friend decide to become a teacher instead?
Was your friend working at the VFX industry and decided to quit because he rather teach the subject than actually doing?
Some of my friends left the industry because they feel like it's more stable to have a teaching job...they feel more security

Last edited by MissOptimist : 07 July 2013 at 04:11 PM.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #8
Originally Posted by leigh: They're the kind of rates I'd expect for absolute junior artists, so you can't really compare those to lecturers, in my opinion. If your friends are earning that kind of money after 5 years of experience, then they're either really bad at negotiating, are simply being screwed by their employers, are not actually working 12 months of the year, or are lying about what they're earning, for some reason. I was making considerably more than the figures you've quoted when I was working in California eight years ago, having around the same amount of experience at the time.


I would say they are just being screwed by their employers. It's all about options, I'm sure if they can get a higher paying job in the industry, they will take it. But maybe they rather be working in their field more than anything else even it means earning less.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #9
Originally Posted by MissOptimist: Leigh,
why did your friend decide to become a teacher instead?
Was your friend working at the VFX industry and decided to quit because he rather teach the subject than actually doing?
Some of my friends left the industry because they feel like it's more stable to have a teaching job...they feel more security


In this particular case, my friend is really not a big city kinda guy and he detested coming into London. After about five years or so of coming into Soho everyday, he'd had enough, and when he saw that this university, which is in a beach city on the south coast of England, was hiring he jumped at the chance. So it was more about his environment than the actual work.

I have to say, I went on a camping trip with him two weeks ago down there and I can kinda see why he made the move.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #10
I agree with most of what Leigh said. The rate doesn't sound right at all for the amount of time in. As someone whose worked freelance, at a studio, and at VFS, my experience is that full time instructors do not make more than their studio counterparts. Part time instructors make a better rate, but that's because a part time instructor is doing minimal hours. The reason the school pays so much for part time instructors is because those are the instructors that are usually working at a studio simultaneously, where as the full time instructors are clearly no longer currently active in the industry while they teach, possibly some freelance on a commercial or something small they can do remotely form home at best.)

Even as an educator within a studio, they pay is worse than if I was a production artist. It may seem like that sucks but educators are also typically staff, so slightly better perks/benefits, and in the case of the R&H bankruptcy it is certainly one reason I still have a job.

While you may be familiar with the concept that those who can't, teach, I should also point out that just because you can, doesn't mean you can teach. Not all teachers are made for doing production, it is sadly true, but most artists (it's a larger pool) are not good teachers. It's a unique type of people that are good at demonstrating and explaining concepts. At our studio we run continuing education and cross training often, and those are usually taught by an artist, not education (again the separation from production means the educator may not know the new concept or tools). We've had a lot of discussions with artists about the usefulness of some classes because they were so poorly taught. It's really hit and miss, and entirely dependent on the person running the class.

Before becoming a teacher, I'd try seeing if you can teach a workshop or single evening class.
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Old 07 July 2013   #11
Originally Posted by MissOptimist: I would say they are just being screwed by their employers. It's all about options, I'm sure if they can get a higher paying job in the industry, they will take it. But maybe they rather be working in their field more than anything else even it means earning less.


Leigh's is a good example. Our last education hire at Rhythm was someone who'd been a comper on Life of Pi before. He wanted to jump to education because he had started a family and was looking for a more secure position with less demanding hours.
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Old 07 July 2013   #12
The main thing is who you're teaching and what sort of background you come from. I teach private courses, a mix of private training and set scheduled courses at a training agency that are open to the public, where people pay anything from 250 a day to join part of a small class of 2-8 people for 2-4 days, to 500 a day for private 1 on 1 tuition.

Why do I teach? because I can, I enjoy it, I like seeing new people, I enjoy how excited people get when they see what they can do in 3D, I enjoy explaining things to people. And sure, it pays well, but teaching is only half my work, the rest is real work ;-)

I teach anyone and everyone, including other teachers; one thing which has always surprised me is the univeristy side of things. Ive taught about a dozen people each for a single day who will be teaching 2-3 year uni courses in 3D animation... They do this with no 3d experience based on one day of teaching, it is a little bit worrying. And yes you're right, they've almost always gone straight from uni, into teaching others without getting any proper experience themselves.

There are plenty of good 3d courses out there, but do your research, dont think for a moment that just because its an official uni course with a degree at the end, that it will be any good.
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Old 07 July 2013   #13
Did you guys know that the owner of Digital Tutors used to be an instructor at a university? And he would make video tutorials for his students to view. He found that the students were able to catch up faster with these video tutorials he had made and that's when "Digital Tutors" was born.

Have any of you thought about creating a website and earning money doing online tutorials?


http://youtu.be/o2P-9WaAIA4
 
Old 07 July 2013   #14
Originally Posted by MissOptimist: Did you guys know that the owner of Digital Tutors used to be an instructor at a university? And he would make video tutorials for his students to view. He found that the students were able to catch up faster with these video tutorials he had made and that's when "Digital Tutors" was born.

Have any of you thought about creating a website and earning money doing online tutorials?


http://youtu.be/o2P-9WaAIA4


That's what I did. I have also done lecturing, one-off events around the world and at Universities in Asia. I have done some face to face courses while in Shanghai as well. Granted, I was invited to do these things largely because of my previous experience. The reason I enjoy doing it, as someone mentioned above, is that it gives me the time and freedom to pursue my indie projects.

I have found that different students have different preferences. Where one student may excel with video tutorials, working at their own pace, another may desire face to face instruction.
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Old 07 July 2013   #15
Nice website Terrence, I especially dig that Independence Banner ad
 
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