Career change at 47? Apprenticeships?

So here I am. 47, two kids, wife, house, etc. I make good money running a governmental local tv channel and video services department, but my heart isn’t in it anymore. I’m just either logging in to my laptop and mindlessly droning away or I’m in the office on my laptop mindlessly droning away. I manage so I’m not even shooting or editing anymore; I push papers and work in spreadsheets.

I know that I can continue to do this indefinitely and do it under the guise of “doing it for my kids and my future retirement” bullshit. My dad did it and I watched all those plans fall apart when my mom got Alzheimer’s in her early 60’s. I don’t want to be in that boat. I want to live my life before it falls apart for whatever reason.

So back to flame. I’ve been messing with node based comp since shake, then combustion, smoke, etc. I’ve always loved the problem-solving aspect of it, the “aha” moments when you figure something out and the fact that you are always learning new things. My problem is that I was usually just working on the 30-day trial or early warez versions so time limited. I didn’t really have anyone like Grant Kay in my life to show the way. I live in colorado so there aren’t a lot of mentors around here. I’ve got a FXPHD account and work on it pretty regularly.

However, I am strongly considering leaving my job. I have about 8 months of runway before I have to take whatever job I can get.

I guess I’m looking for advice on how to break in to the market as a 47 year old rookie. I fully expect there to be some ageism, but I can work through that. With the remote nature of things these days, does that make it easier? Do shops farm out low level jobs to remotes or is it just for the high end folks?

Do I just need to shoot/comp some shots and apply to any of the freelance positions on indeed or LinkedIn and pray I get a roto gig or something?

I’m just so miserable at my present situation and I’ve loved flame for so long that I figure I should jump on it before I get older and too stupid to do it.

Thanks for your advice,



How many hours/week do you work now, vs how many do you expect to work a week as a successful flame artist? As a data point, I work 50-60 most weeks, but can easily ramp to 80 or 90 on big crunchtime projects. I work in the high-ish end of the advertising market.

I’m usually 60-70 hrs/week. I do my 9 hours at the office, if not more, but then another 4-5 after the kids go to bed. It’s just kind of the routine now. My wife is on the same schedule.

I get that at the front end it’s going to be doing long hours and boring work, but that’s the way things are. My family is cool with that; they just want me to be happy.

DMd you.


Lots of positives to share. Many members of the community have reached out to me asking how to help Flame and our community. Well, LOOK EVERYONE…HERES SOMEONE THAT WANTS IN. Introduce yourself and let’s get acquainted quickly.

Currently, the market is enjoying pretty strong performance. Freelancers are enjoying favorable conditions due to the volume of work and what appears to be many, many new startups breaking off from the traditional large studios of The Mill, MPC, Framestore and Method. These are amazing studios churning out great work, and now with the official mingling of The Mill and MPC, and the eventual (likely, I think) consolidation in some form or another of Framestore and Method, there’s certainly going to be some moving, shaking, and opportunities for hungry tigers.

Our industry is very much an industry built on trust and relationships. In tech you have certifications and education and other traditional goalposts and barometers of skill. In our world, its quite a bit more wild west. So, its really down to who you know, not necessarily what you know. So make sure you start to figure out who is where and who is doing the work you’d like to accomplish.

Our community is stronger than ever, and thanks to COVID has likely made a big leap in terms of scope and scale of the relationships. We have new ways to meet people…these forums, Logik Lives, the Podcasts, and most importantly, jump into the Discord today. The Discord is great because its not necessarily Flame focused all the time, and its casual. Geographic separation isn’t really a think any more. Over the past 2 years I’ve only worked for a local client for 14 days. Everything else has been coastal. Remote work is a great possibility. If you have some tech chops and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then, you can build a solid workstation to learn with and start making some money.

So, let’s dive in.

What do you have to work with? Computers at home? Do you need access to license? What kind of time can you spend each week on learning? Are you comfortable in Linux? What are your current capabilities? What can we do to help? What are some of your basic hurdles?

And then, you don’t have to post this publicly, but, find out what kind of emergency fund you have. How many months can you comfortably go? What would be a solid monthly gross income to buy you some time? Are you okay to travel? Some basics to consider.

@Josh_Laurence @Sean @Mbemigh @digitalbanshee @DannyYoon @andymilkis @marcwellington


You’re not too old and its never too late.
Remember that :slightly_smiling_face:
Jump in discord like Randy mentioned and you said you have FXPHD and a few other sources which is a GREAT start…If you need help setting up discord hit me up and I can also show you how to screen share and people can jump in and watch and even help you while you try some comping out…I do it from time to time and I just let go of thinking people are judging and think I suck at it, but its been fun every time I do it and artists totally dont mind helping me out if I get stuck…but its mostly like background noise as they chat and occasionally ask what im working on…Its fun! …Keep us updated on how things are progressing for you and if you get stuck dont be afraid to reach out again…and again…! Ive totally been there and happy to help!


Welcome! Right now the closest thing to an apprenticeship would be a HiveMind; we are between sessions and putting together the next round soon. Meanwhile just show up here and in Discord and jump into the conversations which will keep you on people’s radar and get to know your skills. Next thing you know someone might be calling you to help out with a shot :slight_smile: Good luck!


go for it paco, its never too late to be happy at your work. Most roto work is farmed out these days but you can concentrate on simple clean up work,. that is always needed and wanted and a good way to get in to a company without having the pressure of being the best senior flame artist around. I would find out the Head of 2d in all the places you like or want to start working for and contact them on linked in or here on logik to ask if theres a need or a place for someone to learn. good luck!


Hi Paco - Im originally from Boulder - I learned Flame and Smoke in the '90’s in Boulder. Once I knew the software i made my way to LA. I would highly recommend trying to get work in Denver before leaving your job. There is a company in Denver called Honest Films - Id try to contact them first. Further, Id say the remote aspect makes it harder to break in - you need to be working closely with veterans who can bring you up to speed & doing that remotely is difficult. Try to get a staff job where you can learn & don’t expect to make much money for at least 2 years. Switching to this industry and more importantly making a living doing it in CO will be a hard journey. Good luck.


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Interestingly enough, when Joel Osis was doing all his videos that were step by step how to build and configure a Linux build, I paid a lot of attention and saved up a lot of money.

I’ve got a x299 i9 with 128gb ram, a5000, ssd master drive and a 7 drive zfs ssd raid. For the work that I anticipate doing for a while, this should be more than adequate, right?

I don’t have full-time access to a license outside of the non-commercial license from FXPHD. However, getting a month to month, license and later a full year license as/if work allows.

As for how much training I can do, between 15-20 hours a week. I can start reserving my evenings for this.

I’m pretty comfortable with linux and have gotten everything working and functional, I can do some light troubleshooting and can google like a champ.

I think my biggest issue is figuring out where to focus my efforts. I know there’s a million different facets of flame and I also know that it’s impossible to master them all. But it’s kind of hard for an outsider to know from the ground up what the basics are and how to find my direction. I’m so scattered with what I know it’s hard for me to find the links between two processes and how to make them work in a shot.

I guess my end goal is not to be the big name actor with the high profile, I’m more of a character actor who makes a decent living and gets to pick what they want to work on.

I’ll be sure to get discord up and running and I’ll see you in there.


I have to be upfront with you all: I’ve been stalking you for years. For some reason, someone let me in to the old Logik facebook page. I never really contributed anything, but tried to keep up to date and see what was going on. When everything migrated to, I bounced with it and kept up the stalking. From Renderdomes to OFOW and Randy’s webcast and the NFT debate, I try to stay up to speed because you guys are cool and love what you do enough to band together. And that’s admirable.


2D_Skills_Breakdowns.xlsx (22.3 KB)

Then start here. This is way old, and, I’d likely change some stuff, but, at least this is how I felt at one point in time. Use this as a method to the madness. Have a peek through and start to understand where your Flame skills are. This is not an exhaustive list, nor does this list really carry any significant weight. Think of it as simply a document where you can begin to organize your training and education efforts with the finite time you have.

Have a look, a think, and start attacking specific areas so you can put together some basic skills.

And, don’t laugh, focus on screen comps. It’s the starter drug of compositing. You get tracking, surface types, blend modes, some light roto, some integration, some edge work…everything a young compositor needs. :slight_smile:


Hey @snacks,
I applaud your bravery man. Reading your words, “a-ha moments” and “problem solving” I’m sure you will have a lot fun and challanges working with Flame.
You will find a lot of support here, just ask.


Agree! join the Discord chat and say hi!


This is the reason why I’d argue moving away from Flame is a good idea. I’m of a similar age and situation and covet the idea of a job with some security so that I can take time off, plan vacations, refuse a few gigs, just chill out and not worry about work drying up. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, I have a good reputation, and yet I’m still scared of where my next paycheck is coming from.

There have been only a handful of times where I felt job security. It’s tremendously stressful. I’m fine with the job challenges, clients, all that, but the fear of it going away has shaved years off my life.

If this is something you wanna do, I’m 100% here to help, but it’s important to acknowledge how much stress the job causes just as a job-entity, outside of the work we are tasked with, even amongst those of us considered successful.


@andy_dill I totally get where you’re coming from. The unseen and unaccounted for baggage that comes with a per job basis job is brutal as hell. Back in the day I was a partner in a design firm and would regularly only be able to pay myself $1500/month which was about $1k short of my expenses, rent, etc if we could pay ourselves at all. Back then, I was desperate for the job security, the ability to go have a beer with my friends without maxing out my credit card, praying my car wouldn’t break down, you get it. After 4 years, when we had become much more successful, I had had enough and sold out.

Thankfully, right now I’m in a very different place financially, I have a very supportive wife who also works and makes a salary that could float the household and a we have a good little nest egg.

We recently had a major fire in our little town that ravaged about 1000 houses and it really caused us to both reassess our priorities. While we evacuated, we came up with our plan B: if the house was gone when we came back we would head to Belize and be digital nomads. My wife could do 3d apparel work and I could do something else. Thankfully, the fire didn’t make it to our house, but the idea of reassessing what was important to us stuck. We both did a lot of contemplation about our careers and what we want out of them and I decided that now was as good a time as any to start making things happen. My wife is going to keep her job. But between the pandemic, dealing my my mom and dad getting older, all the bullshit life stuff that happened in the last two years, I kind of said fuck it and have been focusing on what makes me happy and cut the other stuff out.


Well welcome! I’m glad you’re here and will do what I can to help.

my one big tip: ask all the “dumb” questions. For one thing, we all love answering things that we know, so you’ll get twenty detailed responses, and for two, then you never have to worry about whether or not your question is worth asking; they’re all worth asking.


:100: welcome


Welcome Paco,

Randy’s list and advice is spot on. Please, if you need any guidance on shot strategy or ideas on ‘how I’d approach that type of fix’ don’t hesitate to reach out and DM me.
Sean :sunglasses:

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Hey Paco!

Welcome aboard! As you’ve already seen for yourself, Logik is an extremely friendly and supportive community. I’d like to echo Andy Dill’s suggestion of asking anything and everything that comes to mind. We’re all here to help.