A fear of motion (3.0)

Here’s an animation I made in late 1998:

I was experimenting with some new plug-ins for After Effects 3.1. The brief was to create an introduction to the new IBM of 1999. Ross MacLennan came up with a script, I chose the music and animated to it.

Almost 9 years later, I face a dilemma. Should I take my experience in graphic and title design and learn how to do complex animations in Apple Motion 3? It comes included with Final Cut Studio. Why not?

On the one hand I find that I can learn Mac applications in a few days, and be comfortable to hire myself out using that application after a few solid weeks. On the other, I want to spend my working life collaborating with people who specialise – who can concentrate being the best sound editor, grader, animator etc.

What if the animation work starts coming in again and I can’t spend the time working on developing my editing career?

It reminds me of the tip given to me when I was a freelance graphic designer: never admit that you can type. If you are the one person in the office that can type the copy into the computer, you’ll be given the typing task – not the chance to design the best layout for the content.

I suppose the trick for freelance editors who aren’t yet working on major films is to learn enough about companion applications so that you can do a ‘good enough’ job on no-budget shorts. There’s a good chance that producers and directors don’t want the hassle of finding crew members who will do the job for free. It’s difficult for some professionals to be able to get their required equipment for free too. That means the editor should be able to do that ‘good enough’ job. If the film gets picked up for some sort of distribution beyond festivals, there might be time to add more professionals to the production.

Maybe it would be a good idea for sound designers and graders to be able to do favours using kit that they wouldn’t normally use in their professional life. As long as they can do the job on their own hardware and software, they’ll be able to do favours. The favours that are part of the networking imperative. The networking that can develop careers in new and interesting directions.

So, editors – learn how to use Motion (or LiveType) to do the kind of typographic effects small productions need. Learn Soundtrack Pro to fix audio problems and create temp tracks. I don’t think you need to know Color, as the built-in features are good enough for small productions. On the Avid side of course you also need to know Pro Tools.

I also think that it would be a good idea for graders to learn Apple’s Color application – it might get them in with people who have no way of paying time in a professional grading suite.

…but those 3D particle effects in Motion 3 look like fun. Oh well.


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