August 8, 2019
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In this episode we talk about getting older while still having a career in Motion Design.
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I enjoyed you guys talking about that fine balance of work vs. life. Getting older in this industry is challenging, it starts to get harsh as you watch others around you or on social media have the extra time for xyz as you watch that render on the other screen.
I got into motion graphics in my late 30’s around 2003. Made the transition from print production in 1999. Got my BFA from Art Center College of Design, started freelancing while still in school. My first staff job was at a TV production place. I met a guy who in 2005 was in his 60s, he had been doing graphics in tv for decades. He was making the transition from quantel machines to desktop. He would say stuff like “Your next boss is graduating high school now”.
A lot of my work went to air, worked on award shows, a couple of movie titles, tv show opens and some really cool ads. At a point in my career where it’s just sorta work now, but I still really love what I do. I haven’t become a “rock star” yet, I am a really good designer and I have a lot of short cuts and tricks in my bag.
As far as life goes, divorced, freelance schedule didn’t help. I do have a home and a mortgage that doesn’t care if I’m at a fancy design shop working on perfect particles or doing end credits on a music video.
I’m at a point where I have been looking for a job, I live in Los Angeles you’d think they’d be easy to find. Right? Hey, maybe it’s ageism now?
Saul Bass, one of the fathers of motion graphics, worked well above his 50’s. Though technology was a lot different, it was still motion graphics.
Saul Bass is exactly who i was thinking of as they were talking about age and the fear of getting out of touch with current design and making the choice between family or work. Saul Bass’s first film title sequence was in 1954 at age of 34 and his last was in 1996 at 75! That’s 40 years of professional work.
Interesting thoughts guys, something I’ve thought about over the years and a few of your points have informed decisions that I’ve taken. I also have to think about the financial situations that people have gotten into as they started careers, it’s not just about working for the agencies, seeing about kids and futures and whatnot, as the country continues down it’s path of high student loans and debts to better ourselves, what thoughts come to mind when you’ve invested so much to just get started in the industry. A thought that goes through my mind is, well I paid so much to get into it, how long do I stay? And I wonder if others think the same thing. Great watch guys, keep it up.
Saul Bass is the man
I`m with Chris on Prometheus.
Thankyou so much for this topic .
Thank you. Enjoyed the podcast quite a bit. This episode really stood out to me because I am a 40-year old, looking to transition from web design TO motion graphics.
The insight about the hours and workloads was interesting. I particularly took notice when you were talking about being on the wrong path and the wrong mountain. That’s kind of where I am with web design. I wanted to do it… Did it… And realized I don’t want to do it any more. It’s run its course.
I would like to study motion graphics and transition my career into motion graphics and video production. Being vets in the field, is the industry welcoming to older designers making the transition into it?
I think since the business is so new that many younger people have been taken advantage of. So as more seasoned professionals move into older age they will be revered. This is not unlike what happened in the film industry last century.
You know this guy Robert Legato was born in 1956 and he won the Oscar for best special effects for the Scorsese movie Hugo Cabret, that was in 2012, he was 56, so, he´s my example that you can be still good at motion graphics, 3D, F/X, etc. even after 50, of course he has been in the industry for long time, he was responsible for the Titanic movie f/x, I think around 50 he installed his own studio in the basement of his house and called it “The Basement” hahaha, here´s his story: http://tv.adobe.com/watch/customer-stories-video-film-and-audio/the-basement/
This was interesting, but my question is: how did you go from freelance motion designer (or working in a studio) to running your own successfull company? Who develops the plugins?, how did you meat these people, where did the idea come from? How does one make that step from being a one-man-band to the one that tells others what and how to do things? The one who pays people to do things.
I think that many of us have become well paid and appreciated freelance motion g designers ( thanks to your cotribution too and people like A.Kramer, etc…), but how do you start phase 2? I am 45 now, got kids …and am very often up till 4 am. It was ok the first 5 years but now this has become a problem. The only logical step to take in order not to lose all the efforts made so far is to open a studio and hire people, but how do you do that? It takes lots money… doesn’t it? You always seem to really care to give people good advice and share your knowledge and experience, but what’s the point in recording 1 h podcats around the topic but never go into the details of your own experience? Don’t get me wrong, you’re obvioulsy free to set boundaries and share what you decide to share, but still…there’s something important that you are not discussing here. Please forgive me in case my statement is somehow inappropriate. The prometeous talk is fun…but there’s lots more to be discussed if you are really interested in giving advice. No disrespect meant. Like I’ve said, I owe you guys a lot. Peace.
And please forgive my spelling mistakes.
The first 10 minutes, I was there there thinking : “what are they talking about ?” But the discussion of getting older is very interesting.
I feel pretty much like you, I’ve been doing motion graphics for 15 years now, 10 years as a freelancer in France, but since I’m 40 now, with a family life and a different perspective (my family is my priority above all), and I’m not gonna spend all my time behind a screen, for health reasons too. You need to get that balance between all those aspects, doing what you like, earning money, raising your family, staying in good shape, learning new techniques and plug-ins endlessly (sometimes you want to shoot to developpers : hey! stop releasing new plug-ins ! We’re fine like this ! make a break !).
As you say working late at night is becoming harder, and cannot be a way of life if you want to success in your personnal life. It can happens some time, but that whould be an exception, not a habit. Otherwise you are disconnected with your family, and it definitely leads to failure.
I still love graphic and motion design, but I the thing is I have less time for it, and it is not “the only thing I have to do in life” anymore. And staying on the technical waterline with all those new techniques can become tricky if you don’t have enough time to get into it. And then you can get out of date, because you don’t do motion design now the same way it was done only five years ago. Updating your technical skills is a key to last in this job, and energy can miss at some times to always learn over and over again. Some times you just want to capitalize on your skills.
I think getting older is easier if you work for a company that if you are in freelance, beacause as a freelancer you have to care about EVERY side of the job, that means legal things, commercial things, network things, purely technical things like hardware and software, training, and so on. If you work for a good company, each employee has its role and you can focus on your creativity without being overloaded by things that are not really your talent.
hey WB, it’s so good to know one’s not alone in this situation at least. I think that this new era of communication and technology has led us to live these stages of difficulty in more solitude than ever and that is really a paradox! One sits behind his own screen in the dark of the room and deals with life and issues and wonders how the hell did Nick & co get to reach the goal where they can sit and record a 1 hour podcast discussing this and that! And no matter if he runs out of topics during a podcast, he’d rather chat about prometeous rather then telling you how he got that right!! hahahaha Just kidding Nick!
Man this speaks to me, good podcast! For my self I can say that doing mograph FT has been fun, but it is very hard on you and your family (I got 3 daughters and I am 38). I don’t know where I will be when I’m in my sixties… Will I just be a middle man eventually hiring people? I still very much enjoy making things with my hands and learning new concepts and design. So for now, I haven’t burnt out yet….. but it is still very hard life especially when you have a family that needs those hours of your life too. But I know that when I get older I don’t want to be up until midnight most nights out of the week…… Maybe Realestate!
Your job won’t end in this (or any industry) just because you shift your priorities and can’t keep on the cutting edge of cool.
ALL industries require 9-5 grunts to do the boring work that needs doing… Which is actually what 95% of the work is anyway, once you know what you’re doing.
I started looking this up lately. Do I already have to worry about ageism? Do studios find a difference between an animator in their 20’s vs 30’s in terms of quality of work? Will my passion and creativity wane and I grow out of the subject matters? Oddly enough, I never thought anything of this until I started getting a bit older and before I assumed people animated until they were 100. So…I think it’s more of a crisis thing.
Mograph is art. A painter or illustrator doesn’t retire until they stop doing art. There is more technical know-how and evolving…But sitting back and reading these comments, I realize how young 40 + is…People in their midlives are still comedians, artists, chefs, etc…Those don’t stop, why would mograph? You guys are youngins.
I always felt that I would own a studio and if I did, I would hire someone 100 years old as long as they were talented and wanted to do it.
To Chad’s point about moving people off the box when they’re really excellent at their job. It really comes down to money, right? There’s a ceiling on how much studios will pay a motion designer, even if he / she is a complete rockstar; this is due, in part to the billable rate associated with job titles. A lot of agencies can justify billing their clients at a much higher rate for a creative director’s time than a motion designer’s time. So if you like getting your hands dirty, and actually doing the work, there’s not really a long term career path for you (at a studio / agency).
For me that meant starting my own studio. Yes, you end up doing the job of a creative director, project manager, and everything else when you’re starting out, but it also means you get to continue to actually do the work. The biggest sticking point for me in the typical career path was trading in After Effects and Cinema for Keynote and Acrobat. That just won’t do, no matter what the salary is.
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