Did you go to school for this?

I’ve always been curious. Who here went to fine art school / visual effects school? I fell into this later than most after cramming 4 years of uni into 8 and short careers in retail, hospitality, foodservice and recruitment. This means I’m strong in some areas but always lacked certain fundamentals. It’s super similar as to when I was working in kitchens. I never went to culinary school but enjoyed a short and intense career in amazing kitchens but couldn’t bake a brioche or fold a challah to save my life. Only now a few years later am I truly able to round out my skill set. I think.

I’ve seen people straight out of high school start as runners and a decade later we are all working for them in all capacities related to Flame. What have your experiences been? Also, I’m absolutely not interested in what’s better…this vs. that. I’m interested in your experience and what worked (or didn’t!) for you.

As a non classically trained…(ACK! I gotta stop sayin what I’m not). As classically trained in various sciences, I always struggle with design, layout, art direction, creative direction, drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, joke telling, story telling, musical performances, music in general, acting, singing, karaoke, to name a few. Those things TERRIFY me. I’m more a read the effing manual kinda guy and therefore found joy and peace in philosophy and medical ethics.

What’s worked for you? What’s hasn’t? If you did go to art school or film school, what do you feel your Achilles heels are?


I went to film school and studied scriptwriting and sound recording. Got very disillusioned so I went to live on a kibbutz. Perfect preparation for flame. Dealing with animosity between kibbutzniks, prejudice, finding solutions with bits of string etc.

Flame wasn’t really the plan. After moving to London I couldn’t afford to take the pitiful wage offered by De Lane Lea and so I bumbled around Soho until someone at the mill decided to take a chance on me*. I’ve had to work pretty hard to get some picture skills. What has helped is the invention of Brushes on the iphone/ipod which got me into painting. I later did a course at the Slade which was highly enjoyable.

I thought the sound and scriptwriting might have been useful in our collaborative environments but advertising, in my experience, often has too many egotistical barriers for that.

So I just try to enjoy the painting now, take it for what it is and try and have a laugh.

*I think in my first week I did see a lass working there on Harry Potter from the Fine Art course at my university.


No formal education but a lifetime spent watching tv!
That coupled with a curious mind, a practicality for things mechanical and creative, and the tenacity to keep trying to work in the field that interests me.

After falling lucky and being offered a place at a very small production company in the late 80’s, i taught myself to edit, do camera/lighting and sound recording. Four years later got made redundant, sold life assurance for 10mnths, hated it so got office work at the railway…convinced them I should be making corporate training videos for Intercity…made a couple then left as i had got a vt editor job in local news. After 5yrs of sick kid and talented pet stories wanted a challenge and got a job as offline editor/sound designer on a stop frame animation show.
Eventually left to set up a commercials editing dept within a large toy company….that was 16yrs ago, and i am still getting paid to play with toys and make them look good!




In high school I applied to art school with the goal of being a Disney animator. Freshmen year saw the THX remaster of Star Wars, rekindling my love of live action and I took a convoluted path through the Film/Animation/Video department graduating as a 3D animator with a two-year detour through live action.

Thinking back, the object I was most excited to use in the F/A/V department was the optical printer. So maybe Flame was subconsciously the plan?

I haven’t thought about that optical printer in decades. It’s staggering what I take for granted now when compositing.


I went to “film school” but it was more of an avant garde program than I really anticipated. I went in thinking I was going to be a re-recording mixer for films, but I got to try everything, and came out thinking I wanted to be an editor or a camera operator.

Interestingly, all of the classes on video art and experimental film have been more useful to me than any of my theory or production classes. Bill Viola, Tony Ousler, Stan Brakhage, The Vasulkas are still, decades later, what people are ripping off for their out there visuals, so it’s good to know the source material. My instructor, the late great Gene Youngblood, literally wrote the book on that stuff, so even though I was a very bad student, I ended up with a pretty good foundation.

But I was also, purely as a hobby, hoovering up info on photoshop and graphic design when the desktop revolution was just kicking off, and I came out of school at just the right time to combine everything into one job just as someone dropped a smoke/flame in front of me.

I still don’t know how I’d design a curriculum that would create a successful flame artist, but being conversant in every aspect of production and post, and having a decent knowledge of/interest in art history continues to be the common attribute I see in the flame artists I most admire.

BUT, and I was just having this conversation with someone last week, ours is fundamentally a customer service job, and in the last few years it’s been bartenders and servers that have taught me more about keeping my shit together with clients and compartmentalizing stress. Not saying you should adopt their coping mechanisms (large quantities of alcohol and drugs generally), but I’m always in awe of someone’s ability to walk from one table to the next and absolutely start fresh every time, despite what might be going on behind the scenes or in their personal lives.

Apart from that, there are some wonderful documentaries available on architects, photographers, painters, and even music producers that can jump start an education or round out your understanding, or just inspire you.

I don’t know if I’d get much from, like, a Masterclass or other online course for drawing or painting or photography (because I am very impatient), but you might! Certainly worth investigating.


Ha! Aeronautical engineering dropout here. But, my first experience with 3D was on a Commodore 64 in 1985.



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And to answer your last question, my Achilles heels are good Mai Tai and any tutorials longer than about 12 minutes.

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So …. Really a rocket scientist then?

No wonder you are so good at particles :rofl:


I was desperate to use the Steenbeck (remember him) and the Movieola. Then I did. What a faff. I was desperate to get back to good old video. I never used Avid until some years later in Soho. Best of both worlds.

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Film School.

I went to university and studied Mediatechnology, which was very broad, from game engine programming to photoshop, to video editing, to how cpu works…But I was always interested in everything postproduction. Sound, video, didn’t matter. To be honest I expected to end up working in sound post production, but somehow I ended up at a company which has Flame’s and I was mesmerised by those (with the help of some awesome IBC demo’s I saw at the IBC in Amsterdam. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: Never looked back… But I still love everything sound.
A lot of basic things I learned at school I could apply in working with flame, but the industry changes so fast, that a lot of it is outdated. The most I learned at the job, by watching fxphd, and now via Logik.


I’m doing mostly campaigning now for landscape conservation and climate warming mitigation as a writer and creative director. Flame is my creator tool of choice, so is my Leica, but I’d never think of myself as a Flame artist.

I started my career as a news cameraman; the falling of the Berlin Wall was my first gig. Then juped ship to the music industry became a DoP, shot tons of music videos, joined the advertising industry, changed my role from photographer to director, and became the PITA on the couch. Done that a decade, got bored and lost interest in TVCs, advertising, you name it.

My interest in nature, my kid’s future and the dreadful prospect of the climate emergency made me again jump ship. Now I’m 54 and feel a bit old. But Sir David just turned 95 and gave the most decent speech in Glasgow. So, definitely, I’m not old at all. I’m travelling a lot now, shooting videos on landscape conservation, creating 5 sec. Twitter videos and whatnot. Love that work. Still have to figure out how to pay the rent. Some things never change.


Flame is pretty good on the sound side. I use Flame’s sound tools all the time; the limiter is world-class. For VO and field recorded voices, I use Izotope RX to clean them up and add some candy before they end up on Flame’s TL. Brilliant team.


In all that navel-gazing, I missed the original question. No, I didn’t go to film school. But I teach practical colour theory and other film photography-related topics at film schools now and then.

OMG! I may need to license this phrase from you.


HvS - I like you style. Your name is already program and reading it together with “on the couch” is like fist on the eye. When people ask me about Flame, of course next to Grant’s hits your “Hans von Sonntag - Effects Tab & Master Grade Tutorial” from 2o19 is a must for explaining.

I went to a TV/Radio trade school in MI straight out of High School for like 10months (Specs Howard), so this business is pretty much all I really know. I was lucky enough in my career to assist and sit next to some awesome artists who had no problem helping me grow and me asking a million questions so I’m very grateful for them and still keep in touch to this day!, …they the real MVPs! Even though I originally wanted to do radio I fell in love with the editing program and ended up editing all the other students projects because everyone else wanted to be on camera. I thought about being a weather person but then they test you and pull the plug on the teleprompter and then I just froze…hahah so on camera wasn’t for me…So to editing I go!
Another fun story was when I was 20 working at an editorial house in Detroit and the Holiday party was at a super nice Bar so they had to sneak me in because I wasn’t 21! hahahhahahah

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Thanks for the kind words, Waldi.

Funnily enough Weatherman was one of my top career choices for quite a while.

I fell in love with the Apple Mac computers at my high school and set myself a very broad scope. I just want to work with computers.

Using “Computer Arts”, a magazine subscription, I learnt Photoshop and really though that I would end up doing photomanipulation.

Combination of a foundation in Art (2 years) and a Science Degree (Electonic engineering and Media, 3 years). Went to London looking for Photoshop work and landed myself a job as a runner and eventually got trained up on Flame (The Mill, 7 years).

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