Where are the Junior Flame Artists?

I love this conversation, but I’m calling bullshit on a lot of it.

If you don’t live in a major market, you’re fucked. Long and short of it. You won’t have post houses interested in paying flame money for a junior. You won’t have access to seniors to take you under your wing. You won’t have access to user groups now that they’re starting back up again after COVID. You’re pretty much going to be on your own, hoping that someone gets overextended and hoping they’ll throw you a bone from time to time (thanks @marcwellington). Most seniors that are freelance are hesitant to give up the time and money to mentor someone on a paying job.

Logic academy is awesome, but you have to have the drive and determination to stick with it without any practical application of what you’ve learned, outside of comp club. Truth be told, it’s really fucking hard to balance real work, kids (if you have them) and the real desire to get better at this. I get down about it.

I know this topic resurfaces from time to time, but both sides of this have to be willing to work with each other. Some of us are trying to fit this in to a schedule where we are moonlighting with flame while the day job pays the bills. It’s not ideal, but taking a week of vacation or sick time to work a job is a reality for some folks, myself included.

Then, if you can get the app, the hardware, academy, then you have to do something to recoup your investment. Then you’re down the black hole. You have to really have some skin in the game just to play. And then you’re on your own.

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Don’t the Nuke folks all complain that the juniors get promoted to mids too soon and the mids promoted to seniors too quick though?

Sounds just like any consulting, agency, or bank. They pretty much start the career journey with the ‘Vice President’ title at age 25, since they realize nobody would answer the phone for a ‘Junior Analyst’…

Titles are just like metadata tags. They give hints about the content, but no guarantees about the content. You have to trust the person applying them to be honest. Most of the time treat them as a suggestion at best.

@snacks Thanks for the honest expression of your frustration and not trying to impress by sweeping it under the rug.

It does go back to my comment that Flame is more of a destination than a trail head app. It’s incredibly hard to learn effectively if you’re what some call a weekend warrior. You don’t get enough support, you don’t get enough practice, you can’t bid for serious jobs because you can’t work on that revision on Wed at 3pm after they sat on notes for 2 weeks. And everything you expressed well.

I learned this all the hard way 15 years ago. In my experience there are 4 phases:

A) You fall in love with the new thing. You do it on the weekend for yourself. Then you envision doing this full-time because you can’t stand the day job any longer. You do a few weekend warrior projects to see if you could get hired in theory an what that might look.
B) You quit your day job, and take on any type of work that pays (but is in the same field), that is easy to find in your market, and that can be done with limited expenses & investment. That phase will suck, because you’re starting over as a junior, except you have more maturity as a person. At that time you’re not using Flame yet - it’s too expensive, and jobs are too sparse.
C) Once you’re working regularly, and during regular business hours, you upgrade step by step. You take jobs you can do in Resolve/Fusion which costs nothing. Eventually you get a Flame license with Flex tokens and start doing select jobs that a low-risk in Flame, which you could have done in Resolve, or can fall back on Resolve if you get stuck. You don’t sell yourself as a Flame artist yet.
D) You get to the point where your rates are solid, your portfolio looks good, and you sell yourself as a Flame artist and take full bookings.

I had the advantage back then that I had finances that could bridge the gap for some time, though it took way longer that I thought it would take.

And your CQ (curiosity quotient) has to be off the chart to stay motivated through this journey, because even once you’re getting more comfortable, you’ll still be working 60 hours a week. It also helps if you move to a bigger market (assuming the family is supportive enough).

It’s a labor of love, and I had many tell me they would love do what I had done (change careers), but that they can’t do it for xyz reason.

But don’t underestimate the need to move your day job adjacent to your new direction. A good friend was an actress and we hired her many years ago as a line producer when she didn’t get the role she auditioned for. As many actresses in the early years, she babysat to pay the bills. I told her to pursue producing as her pay the bill work in stead of babysitting, because she would get to network with people in the same industry. That was almost 10 years ago. Today she has her own production company, has worked globally and and on big shows.

I do enjoy mentoring people.

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Funny - I always thought that V.P. meant Virtually Pointless or possibly Vague Parasite.

15 years ago, a friend and I, we also work at flame, decided what we would do in 10 years, when younger and promising people would come. Today we are fifty and more years old and young and promising people have not come, at least here in the Czech Republic.

5 years ago, I was looking to hire a junior, not just for Flame but the entire production/post range. Up to then i was a one-man facility, but needed to expand.
I advertised the post with an “industry talent agency” - we got one application from someone who had not read the job description!
So i advertised on LinkedIn, got over 200 applications from Media graduates. Many were easy to whittle out quickly, then i made a shortlist and interviewed a few. The quality of media graduate seemed incredibly low. The only standout applicant was the one who had not done a media course but had taught himself to edit and shoot, and who had an obvious passion for the subject. He was the only one who bothered to make a reel specifically for the job, rather than send in the usual carbon copy media student videos that all showcase absolutely nothing!

He has been working here for 5 years and is going from strength to strength, and has just made me more convinced than ever that traditionl media courses are seriously failing the students.

A bit of a ramble but i guess my point is…when looking for Juniors cast your net further afield than just the media colleges.

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Here in Mumbai things are a bit different.
Lot’s of assistant/juniors, who can come from any field or from any position from the company. I heard stories about kitchen boys becoming flame artists.
Also I noticed some senior artists here are mostly called senior because the years of experience. But if I open their comps they still live in the 90s. Sure they know the software. But part of it is also how to set things up efficient, keep renders fast and interactive and easy to change. In some things I don’t call myself senior. I also don’t know everything… but…

If delivery is socials, please don’t import all artwork in 12K and use 25 samples motionblur in action :upside_down_face:
And keep comping in 12K and don’t use mux nodes, even if nothing changes.

It took me 5 min to make the comp efficient.
SO instead of waiting 15 min for each render for every version, it took me 1 minute…

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As a struggling Junior Flame Artist, we are around. Ive learned what Ive learned on the job, never truly being mentored. Never under any one single Senior Flame Artist. Possibly an issue more with Covid and WFH. or as others have said, a lot of Seniors just dont want to take time away from their money making projects to mentor.

Been tossed in at lead positions because I controlled the timeline but never considered one. My conform skills are better than my comping but i can do clean up. Been lumped in with associate Nuke compers when only timeline work was thrown my way. Then when questioned about my comp skills, they wondered why i wasnt up to par.

I feel like we are treated like Wizards. There to save the day with magic tricks but shunned because our arts are mysterious. Most people still dont know what we do. Or even where we fit in. Sometimes I wonder where I fit in.

As for self improvement. I built a PC recently but I built it mainly with windows and the idea that maybe one day I will upgrade the enormously expensive GPU and perhaps get another SSD and stick Linux on it, but there is no way I was going to spend so much money on a box that was solely for Flame. Especially when finding or even attempting Freelance seems uncertain.

My hope is the ability to have your own remote stations becomes more of a thing. i read Amazon is doing something like this?

And Logik Academy seems great but how am I supposed to practice without my own Flame? I also cannot afford the Pro membership.

To be honest. I love Flame. I wish it was more accessible id use it all the time. It just isnt. and to me, I think that is whats killing Flame. Its kind of hilarious out of all the platforms you cant get it on is Windows.

With so many amazing and free, programs out there. You just dont need Flame. No matter how great it is. With Nuke and Fusion easily accessible and plenty of hobbyists able to pick up the software and take it for a test run, why would even studios put more effort into finding Flame Ops. Especially a Junior one? When there are plenty of talented artists using other software and getting better experience and are cheaper to hire?

and ya know I think a Junior Flame Artist is still probably more generally experienced than most other mid level artists. But i dont think commercially that matters for much. Especially for a higher pay cost.

So yea maybe up at the top, things seem ok. But i dunno, down here, I can’t imagine Flame being as a sustainable piece of software for that much longer. They arent teaching it it schools. Studio use seems pretty limited unless you work remotely. The only thing going for it is that it is niche. But how does that last?

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Been hearing that argument for 20 years, and yet somehow we’re still here!

maybe you should learn Nuke/fusion as well ? no need for the blasphemy, Flame On!!!

Best advice that I got when i started was to persevere, I also used other software simultaneously, for a few yrs, until I got regular flame work, but that was 20yrs ago or so, …so its its scarcity made it hard and easy then, but now its not as scarce, but just as hard I think, just on a different scale, and maybe becos VFX is taking a hit anyway. …and get a reel together and post it.

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I’ve had our apprentice with me for just under a year who wants to learn flame and in about a year he’ll be a junior.
In just under a month I will have a former producer at my side who I will also teach flame and try to get him to a super skill as quickly as possible.
I will then launch two junior flamer as soon as possible. I will be so proud :hugs:

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@randy Do we have a mentor badge? Could give some recognition and encouragement to those that do spend the time…

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This closely matches my experience. My learning path over the course of the past 4 years: Motion Graphics (C4D, Ae, Ps, Ai) > 3D/VFX (Blender, Maya, Zbrush, Substance, Houdini) > Video Editing (Pr, DaVinci) > CG Compositing/Colorgrading (Ae, Nuke, DaVinci)

Flame just feels like the logical next step for me. What really makes Flame appealing to me is the thought of having one streamlined, high-powered solution to replace half the tools I’m currently using. I started watching Flame tutorials last week in my spare time and immediately felt like this software was tailor-made just for me.

How are the job prospects currently for aspiring Junior Flame artists? I’m about to start looking for a fully remote position once I’m more familiar with Flame.

I agree that Flame is not more difficult to learn than Nuke. I took a visual effects class when I was in University 3.5 years ago, coming from Premiere Pro, Nuke made no sense. Flame at least has a timeline even if totality of the software is more intimidating.

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Adding to this thread, I am a Jr Flame Artist and became one after about 2.5 years in the industry. I did not learn Flame until after graduation and the first time I used a wacom tablet the pen basically exploded on me. I wish that was a joke. I was fortunate to jump into Tech Ops right out of University because of relationships I had, there I learned Resolve and how to conform a timeline, then export ACES EXRs as well as typical postings, legals, supers, QC + Deliveries. After a year I was fortunate enough to parlay that experience into a role at a start up boutique post house where I got to establish their entire Tech Ops workflow. I had the most amazing Flame Artist Mentors at that company. I had a mac studio with Flame and I just practiced. Any time I wanted to practice a shot, I conformed the timeline first, named the shots properly, and then did the shot. When my time there ended, it was tough, the strikes were going on and I almost gave up on Flame all together. I took some freelancing conforming and delivering out of Resolve, which was odd, but the experience of holding a timeline and putting it all together for delivery was very valuable. I finally had a chance to freelance as a Flame Assist and as I gained more and more trust I realized all the lessons I had were internalized. In a month as a freelance assist I did more shot work than a year as staff at another company when I was still learning the basics. I eventually was hired on as a Jr Flame Artist and I’ve never felt more lucky. The Flame knowledge, while obviously crucial to being a Flame Artist (duh), turned out to not be the most important factor for me. Learning to conform in Resolve, making slates, QCing, doing deliveries, those building blocks made it possible for me to understand Flame at all. I think its vital to worry less about program knowledge at first and more about the process from Project start date to delivery date. This was probably way too long winded but that’s my piece.

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