Career path question

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  10 October 2003
Career path question

Okay, not quite sure where to put this question, or if it's appropriate for this forum, but I'm a newb, so you can excuse this once, right?

Basically, I'm interested in several fields of video/film work, but most interested in editing and post-production. I'm currently enrolled in the digital video program at my college (James Madison University, has one of the best media arts and design schools in the state of VA). But my program seems to focus more on editing and "lower-end" (as compared to some of the stuff I see discussed here) effects, using a Final Cut Pro and After Effects workflow.

What I want to know is how much of my college education really matters once I get out "in the field?" It's obvious I'm not going to learn Shake or combustion/fire/flame here at the school, but will what I learn here lead into that kind of thing enough? I'd love to do vis effects, but does this require more of an art background? Is grad school a must, or a waste of time?

Basically, how much and what college path leads to the cool stuff, and am I on the right one? :P

  10 October 2003
I'll reply to what I know, but I'm coming from the full visual effects side of things...

You need to distiguish between art and tool. Concentrate on the art of editing, composition, pacing, etc. Once you know all the skills related to that you'll easily adapt to the tool. Whether it's avid, discreet etc. it just becomes, "where's this button?"

Also, depending on how long your course is, will sort of govern how much time you need to spend in the field as you move up the experience ladder. It comes down to the hours you put in. More hours in school will generally help you polish the skills above. Aim for a short but brilliant reel, rather than a long mediocre one.

Now in order to get into previz, I don't know. Any experience I have with that has been primarily through co-workers, and they seemed to do a lot of it as 3D mockups.

Any extra education you can get won't hurt, but as to whether or not it worth the time and money is hard to judge. I'd be tempted to try and get work as soon as possible, and then at least you're being paid to learn If all else fails, and you don't get work, you can go back to school and learn some more of the craft.
Jason Kolodziejczak
Digital Fusion Consultant
Toronto, Canada
  01 January 2006
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