Been lurking here for a bit, decided to finally ask the question that’s been on my mind.
My colleague and I own a small post-production house in Boston. He’s primarily a colorist in Resolve, and I do animation and light VFX cleanup work via Mocha/After Effects (we also edit and have an associate editor on staff.) Our clients range from in-house agencies to large standalones, and the work is mixed (social media, broadcast spots, marketing, etc.) I’ve personally been wanting to take a bigger plunge into finishing (clean up jobs, conform, etc.), as we have another colleague who’s interested in joining us who does 2D/3D animation that’s phenomenally better than what I can do.
My question is, is it worth it to learn Flame and expand our offerings, or should I focus my energy elsewhere? I figure I take the year to learn and work primarily in Flame with the clean up jobs I typically do in After Effects, and try to add more to my toolbelt based on newer requests that come in. It’s a big price point (about ~$10,000 up front assuming we don’t swap a PC to Linux), and our clients either have no idea what Flame is, or the ones that do mostly go to bigger production houses.
What I want is enough flexibility within our post-house where we truly become a one-stop-shop for high-quality work, but I’m not sure how difficult that is to sell in a place that’s not NY or LA.
Also, keep in mind that you can dual boot a windows machine in to linux.
I say get the 30 day trial, follow some Grant Kay videos and play around. You’ll get an idea of what you can do and figure out if it’s something you want to explore further and invest the time and money in.
Welcome! There are lotsa ex Boston / Brickyard people floating around these parts, so keep an eye out and I can introduce you a bit if that’d be of interest.
After 13 years at a major facility in New York and Chicago I went freelance a week before the pandemic and 98% of my work is from a different market.
There are also many artists here from traditionally smaller markets…Atlanta, Dallas, Austin, Indianapolis, Tallahassee, Colorado Springs, Michigan, just to name a few. If I were you I’d really hit networking hard with the Boston/Noreasters, and then look to other non-LA and non-NY markets and lean in there and find some friends.
Is it worth to learn Flame? Well, only you can really know that. What kind of work do you do now? What kind of work do you want to be doing? What does the world need and what will it pay for it? That kinda thing.
There are also several people floating around here that are new to Flame after long careers in tangental areas. So, there is a great opportunity for support and kinship.
I think you’ve got a couple of options to think about here. But first of all welcome to the Flame community. As you will see/have seen, we are predominantly a friendly bunch of folks willing to help each other out.
Anyway, back to your question.
I will play devils advocate here. Another option for you would be conform/cleanup/finishing in Resolve. It is highly capable, Fusion can definitely do that sort of cleanup work, and it may sit better within your workflow. That being said though, there are certain limitations and issues (the cacheing system in Resolve is awful) that can make a client attended session not as smooth or nice an experience as you would have in Flame. I can speak from experience on this having used both. One thing I would say though is Resolve supports more formats than Flame, but on the flip side, if you deliver a lot of ProRes and are not on a Mac then that would be a real issue going the Resolve route.
If you are solid in AE, have you considered finishing in Premiere? I don’t think it would be as good an option as Flame or Resolve but definitely worth considering if it suits the work you are doing and what you know. I’m jealous of the text/title tool in Premiere as it is much better than Resolve or Flames (I prefer text in Flame over Resolve).
Flame is definitely king for the client experience. You can just do everything so quickly in a session. I’ve even had clients specifically request us to finish in Flame because they have a better experience than when we finish in Resolve. Another real benefit of Flame for you, working in a smaller city, is that an additional revenue stream for you business could be remote Flame VFX work. Whilst every prosumer/vlogger/hobbyist and their dog has a copy of Resolve (and won’t pay for the Studio version as it’s too expensive?!!) the same can’t be said for Flame so you would be taken a lot more seriously if you did want to offer remote services. Get talking to some of the friendly people on here about getting overflow work for instance. I use Flame freelancers with their own kit all the time. I could go on about all the benefits of Flame’s toolset but you already must know them or you wouldn’t be here. The only caveat with Flame would be running it on Linux if you are not used to it. However, Rocky Linux makes it a lot, lot easier for someone like yourself to manage so I wouldn’t let that deter you. Or buy a Mac.
Long and short of it is, I definitely don’t think going the Flame route would be a mistake that wouldn’t work or that you would regret. In fact, it might open more opportunities for your business if anything. Best bit of all is you have the Logik community to support you too.
Adding a few more cents to the already good answers.
It does depend a lot on the work think you might get. Flame is the premium offering and well understood by agency and commercial clients, but it gets thinner beyond. Also not everyone is willing to pay Flame rates for finishing work. Some of the speed / client experiences will matter if you have attended session (in person or remote) or super tight turn-arounds. Can also help with margin, but all depends on your pipeline.
There is a lot of this work that can be done with other tools too. Resolve/Fusion, Nuke, SilhouetteFx, etc. but there are a few Flame specific features that register in specific areas like beauty retouch.
Flame has an above average learning curve because of how it’s designed. So be clear what you walk into.
The cost of entry (not counting your learning curve) can be quite manageable if you have a Mac and use the flex subscription. Does not take $10K. The cost of learning is another matter. Some of it depends on whether you go for one slice and then expand or go all in.
Is it worth it? I would say yes. After years im other apps, I’ve just recently done it and am loving it. It is a definite differentiator from the masses toiling in Resolve. There are rumored to be 3M active Resolve users. That’s every 2300rd person in the world including the babies and the blind. Easy to be forgotten in that community pool. Not sure how many Flame users there are, but you probably have to throw a few rocks and then some before you hit one. That can be a huge plus if your business is setup to exploit it. And with post having largely gone hybrid, it’s a lot easier.
I have always been a reluctant AfterEffects user, do not like it much. You might find the capability difference significant to Flame. Not sure if it’s easier to cross train from just AE or a broader app portfolio. In the end the principels are all the same, it’s a just a matter how they’re implemented. A 3D track is a 3D track at the end of the day, but not all 3D trackers are the same, nor are paint tools, color correctors, keyers, and so on.
I’ve found the Flame community very welcoming and helpful, so you already crossed the biggest hurdle by getting past the user manual for all the details between the lines.
Seems like a good idea to me. Flame is really, really good at being the solution to many diverse problems. It’s a great hub for all other post work as well.
It is costly up front (although this is weird for me to say, because if you’d told the me of ten years ago that you could get a top notch flame running for $10,000 I would be stunned.), but It’s very, very nice to have the online edit in the same machine where you are doing the VFX.
Cost-wise, you can do it for $5,000 in hardware. Get a Mac Studio with the slower M1 Max Chip and 64 gigs for ram for under $3,000 and spend the rest on storage. It won’t be the fastest flame ever1, but it’ll be plenty good.
1. I’m of the opinion that the flame speedtest is overrated. There are very few tasks in flame that require the sort of rendering horsepower one might need for, say, Houdini simulation. I work half my year on very fast machines and half on whatever gear I’ve got at home. Despite being a gear cheapskate I’ve never felt my home rigs were significantly slower in their operations or render time. I’m sure they are, but they don’t feel slow so it doesn’t matter to me.
nothing constructive to add here. just a massive shoutout to @andy_dill for his use of superscript and the footnote explaining the superscript at the bottom. I feel like he just set the ultimate legal line.
Appreciate the replies everyone (honestly way more than anticipated so the input from all of you is extremely valuable.)
I think I may take the advice on a dual-boot with Rocky Linux and try my hand at the free trial for 30 days on that. We run Windows in our office due to us being tinkerers so Linux is probably the cheapest option for now (and the most sane.) Worst case I could invest in a Mac Studio and run primarily on that to avoid headaches of swapping when I need to work in other programs.
If I can make a recommendation, use a separate ssd for the linux install. When you get rocky installed, the bootloader should recognize the windows drive and add it to the bootloader options. Makes it very easy, unless i fluked in to it. Which is possible.