A Senior Post Producer turning Flame Artist

Hi everyone, I wish you all a (late) happy new year 2022!
This is officially my first post on the forum.

I was until December working as a Senior Post Producer in an advertising company working exclusively for the beauty industry (big luxury houses like L’Oréal, LVMH, etc…).

After 3 years talking and being in company of flame artists everyday, I decided to quit the job and all its pressures to become a flame artist myself. I am currently under training in an “Autodesk Official Partner” company for three weeks.

During my 10 years in the industry up until today, I had the chance to learn and work with many softwares like AE, Nuke, Resolve, Premiere, Photoshop so I’m familiar and know all these pipelines quite well.

After reading some threads here and there about the infamous “Flame is dying and Nuke will prevail” I had a pretty long discussion with some french flame artists and vfx shops owners and, even though, we all agree on the fact that indeed, Nuke can do heavy comps and do 90% all of possible shots, there’s still one area where, as a post-producer, I couldn’t keep up with the demande and needs:
the beauty retouching.

There was not a single day without the need of a flame artist.
Most of them worked from home, never had to handle clients or anything as I did that job.
They just received the feedbacks from the clients and my team, then sent back the new shots.

But that leaves me with a question to you guys: What is your main job with flame? Beauty? VFX Comp?
In my country, I feel like that Flame is solely used for beauty retouch and it kinda leaves a bittersweet taste to me as I feel that I won’t be using half of what flame is capable compared to what beauty jobs involve. And now I’m kinda scared to only retouch skins and replace product facings for years to come haha.

Is Flame in 2022 really “only” a beauty retouch software?
Because no one here dares to use or even mention Nuke when it comes to beauty retouch. Brands and ad agencies don’t wanna hear about it. It’s all Flame.

I’d love to hear your opinion and thoughts on this as my background was not on the creative side of the industry and I don’t know all the “flame stories”.

Overall, I’m pretty happy and excited for this career change!
Thank to you in advance, I’ll make sure to be active, hear and learn from all of you.

PS: If you have questions about the “other side”, reasons for decreasing budgets, why sometimes studios and post producer are a pain etc, I’ll gladly answer and share all my experiences and knowledge with you too!

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Flame is unmatched for speed and agility when it comes to the nuts and bolts work of finishing spots. The tools resemble both those of editorial, such as Avid and Premier, as well as comping tools like nuke, and a bit of cgi like maya. The versatility makes it the tool of choice for us in the ad world.

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Hi…personally I have never done any beauty work. I use Flame for all edit and post production work on every commercial my employer makes. The only other software i use these days is Protools for audio and C4d for 3d (when i can’t do whats needed in Flame).

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Flame for me is the best all round tool, both extremely versatile and powerful and it is very fast. In terms of client facing work, Flame is a lot easier to work with due to the way it works (if Nuke Studio worked as advertised then that may not be the case).

I do finishing for series as well as a lot of VFX. Beauty work would be a very small percentage of that VFX work. For cleanup work, (e.g. object removal/replacement) I find Flame to be the fastest tool for the job and I often only need a handful of nodes to do the job. The GPU accelerated engine tends to make renders faster than other software. It is also a highly capable compositor that in a small to mid-sized facility hasn’t got any/many drawbacks in comparison to going the Nuke route. We do some more complex shots and the occasional CG shot and there is yet to be a time where I haven’t been able to achieve what is required from Flame lacking a tool. Not saying that I don’t occasionally have to go to a third party software like Mocha Pro or a 3D tracker like Syntheyes, but that would be the case on Nuke/Fusion/AE also.

I would say though, with a more complex pipeline, with multiple artists working and collaborating on a large number of complex shots, I can then definitely see the advantages of Nuke over Flame for compositing. Sacrilege saying this on here of course, and you could definitely still use Flame/Flare in a similar way, but Nuke has some advantages in that environment. In saying that though, we have built up our VFX offering around Flame over Nuke. We have also had a lot of positive client feedback on how quickly we can turn around quality work which I believe is in large part to Flame and the mindset of the Flame Artists we use. In my personal experience (and this is a large generalisation and not true for everyone/everything), Flame artists will look to creatively problem solve shots themselves (not needing as much creative direction or feedback), will more thoroughly QC their own work and get shots done in less time.

Welcome to what is a great and supportive community.

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Hey @Codekayne

What is my main job on Flame? This changes from company to company and artists. It changes depending on where you are in your career. When I got out of being an assist (clean up and roto) I spent almost 9 months working almost exclusively on retail work for a large supermarket brand (Tesco). Not glamours work but a worthwhile experience. Heaps of pack clean up and basic graphics.

As I progressed I was lucky enough to be at companies with sizable CG departments so I was often doing a lot of CG compositing and that is one of my favorite tasks at the moment.

It all depends on what you want to do and whether you are in a position to go chasing it like a digital nomad. I think if your are worried about getting bored or not having the opportunity to flex your skills then you will be please to know that there are always a dozen or so ways to approach any task. Some more technical and complicated than others.

Sometimes to stop me from getting bored with mundane tasks I will attempt to do it in a different way. Maybe a new tracker or feature. I have thrown the perspective grid and the vector warp tools at the most obscure shots just because I fancied having a play with them. The world of beauty and clean up is a vast playground but if you grow weary of it then you might need to move on to pastures new.

Good luck on your new adventure

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Hi there and welcome to the dark side!!

I have been a Flame artist now for over 20 years and can tell you there is not just one thing that Flame is good at. I’ve offline/onlined with it for many years, done a ton of hi end visual effects for features, TV, and commercials, conformed a plethora of feature films, and even done mundane things like converting tiffs to QuickTimes or changed the bitrate of 1000s of audio files. The point I’m trying to make here is Flame is an incredibly powerful tool and can be used in many post production environments.

Many of us artists specialize in one area or another. Commercials, VFX, trailers, DI Conform/color, and many more. Others, like myself, have bounced around in many of those areas. For me it’s a lot of fun seeing different workflows and how different artists handle different challenges!

If you haven’t done so already, check out the latest “One Frame Of White” competition where Flame artists created AMAZING videos with their only source being a single white frame. This will give you a taste for the power of the Flame and the incredible talent of the Flame community.

Good luck in your new endeavor! You’re in for a hell of a ride!

Best,
Michael

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Welcome! What an interesting topic and background. Thanks so much for sharing. Everybody says Flame is dying, but, next year is what…the 30th Anniversary? Not many apps have been around for that long…MS Paint? Excel?

In the U.S commercials market, there is a fair amount of beauty work, and, it is absolutely a sub specialty of Flame in our market. Typically these accounts are in New York, near the fashion brands of course, and a few out west in LA. Beauty, at least in my experience, is a small, trusted group of artists who’ve built relationships with those agencies/clients. For example, at a major commercial vfx studio with 45 artists in the 2D department, perhaps a handful would specialize in beauty. There are of course a few boutiques still serving that market. Off the top of my head, here’s a few artists that I know that are specialists in that world are @pbusta3 , @AnneT @Josh_Laurence @zorrofx , @andymilkis , @Jeff , @GPM , @digitalbanshee .

My main role is typically high end commercial conform and finishing. That could be anything from electronics manufacturers international releases to burger spots. Whilst yes, I have performed beauty work, I wouldn’t consider myself a specialist for sure. Typically my work is project management, strategy, and photoreal or invisible effects. Not a specialist cg computer, but could if I needed to.

I’d say that due to specializations, few of us really use the entirety of the software. Many artists here would say that they only use a portion of the overall capabilities. Timeline, Grade, Project Management, Batch, Python, Matchbox, Particles, 3D Environments, heck, even creative editorial and audio…there’s a lot features.

Here’s a little cheat sheet I’ve been developing over the years. It’s an Excel doc that lists a bunch of skills and attempts to categorize those skills per experience level. Meaning, at this level, one ought to know these particular skills. It may not be applicable but at least it might be a good way to add structure to your learning and development as a Flame user.

2D_Skills_Breakdowns.xlsx (22.3 KB)

Welcome, good luck and see you around! Oh, definitely join the Discord server. Someone is usually around 24 hours a day to ask questions to if you need a quick help. Flame Logik

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Hi Alexandre!

Congratulations on the next chapter of your life! Flame is the Great Barrier Reef of the moving image world. It’s broad, it can be deep, it’s DIVERSE and it’s beautiful. It’s also loved deeply by all who inhabit it.

I’m familiar with the advantages of doing beauty work on this platform (thanks for the recognition, @randy!), but I believe that’s only because Flame handles photographed images better than any other. It can churn through footage at a speed that makes it fun to see the results, and inspirational to see how perfect you can make things look. So beauty work has gravitated to Flame because beauty means subtly idealizing photographed human subjects. But as everyone above have all said, it can be SO MUCH MORE.

It’s speed and accuracy make it the best tool for being the “last hands” on any project large or small, especially where there are a lot of opinions involved and they all have to be respected - which is a requirement of almost every project I’ve worked on. That’s deliverables. That’s advertising. That’s anything that needs a little extra help and has a deadline.

I don’t think it’s a fools errand to embark on this journey, even if this forum didn’t exist. Because Flame is still the thing to get it done.

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Honestly that Flame is dead argument has been happening since Shake on windows but it still around and you still have some highly trained artists to do all sorts of things, you can get stereotyped for the work that you do ie all beauty or all cg or ads versus film etc but really it does it all and just keep your options open and keep learning I haven’t done any beauty work in about ten years but do plenty of other type of work.

Hi everyone, thank you so much for all your answers and the time you guys took to bring details and important feedbacks! I really appreciate it and I’m now more confident about Flame and its community as a whole, can’t wait to properly work and get on with it.
I’ll keep you guys updated on my new journey!

@randy Thank you so much for such a detailed answer.
I tried downloading your excel file but I can’t open it, looks corrupted :o
Could you send it via wetransfer maybe? Thank you very much!

Yes, well said @randy we are all barely “scratching the surface” of what Flame can do most of the time so it’s up to you to take it as far as you can.
Whenever someone asks me which is the best software for waht, I say it’s all “tools in a toolbox” and Flame has a formidable set of tools. That being said, I’ve done beauty work in AE and, although not as fun, it can still be done. Same with Nuke, Fusion or whatever. There is however the need for a common language when interfacing with agencies and clients and this is where having an established tool helps to smooth the process. This is where flame comes in, with it’s very focused set of tools and a long established group of artists and workflows.

try this
2D_Skills_Breakdowns.xlsx (22.3 KB)

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I’m probably the outlier. I run flame but don’t consider myself a “flame artist”…its just the software i use.
I came from a linear online bkd, moved to Smoke 20+ years ago, then to Flint, to Smac to Flame Assist to Flame. I’m the weirdo who actually uses the software to cut, i do a lot of long form work…soup to nuts. Just finished a three part 6 hour doc…start to finish. I know…like i said, weird. I would say my sweet spot for the software would be cutting, grade, screen comps, beauty, basic clean up, design work. Honestly Flame is probably overkill for me…but nice to know if i need to kick it in the ass i can.

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Worked perfectly! Thank you so much for this document.

I refer to myself as a “commercial Video Artist.” I think it’s shortsighted to identify yourself with an application.

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Have you ever completed a ‘commercial video’ and not used Flame?

I just love the look I (used to) get at immigration when they read my occupation. “Flame Artist”

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Of course.

Lots of them in the linear days!

Codekayne –

For many years I freelanced with a US VFX shop that had a partnership with Mikros in Paris. I know Mikros had Flame Artists working on VFX comps as the US VFX shop would often fly Mikros’ Flame Artists to work in the US.

This US VFX shop has since closed but Mikros is still open in Paris, maybe that could be another option for you. I was always very impressed with the quality of work from Mikros and their artists.