Hobby or Career?

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Hey everyone,
So I'm an entire 9 days into learning Houdini. It's rough, but I absolutely love every minute of the struggle so far.
Naive? Yes.

Anyways, I'm seeing that the market isn't so great, and I've seen very smart people say that you probably can't make a career out of Houdini without having team environment experience. And I really respect the people I've heard this from.

And that's OK! I'm still going to learn Houdini, because it's so cool, and I have personal projects I'll use it in.

I guess the question becomes, how would someone transition being self taught, with no references or experience, into a career?

If it's just unrealistic, even with a timeline of a few years from now, better to plan for that and keep it as a personal project.

I'm more into motion graphics, but I'd lean into VFX happily if it was feasible, either way is cool. I'm just happy to not be a suit anymore.

Thanks a lot, and be safe and upbeat!
Edited by KZLCR - April 28, 2020 18:56:25
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KZLCR
I guess the question becomes, how would someone transition being self taught, with no references or experience, into a career?

There are a number of people who go the route of attending university, a lot of which have programs to work with bigger studios. (Highly depends on where you go however).

This method will cost you in the form of a lot of debt.


OR

You can simply work on your stuff. Treat it like a job and create a portfolio or reel. It will be all you need to get a job. I never went to university, i just wanted to do cg. So that's what i did. Not every job is like that but i like how this industry doesnt care what qualifications you have. They like proof. (If you want to be a developer in vfx that can be a very different story).

If you make a reel of anything amount of decent work, you will get a job. And not as a runner like a lot do out of university, i mean straight into an artist/technical role.
Senior Groom TD @ Industrial Light & Magic - abvfx [abvfx.me]
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for me (and I'm sure many others) it started as a hobby then turned into career, sort of, still feels like a hobby
the most important thing is that you are passionate about it and self driven, no need for degrees if experience speaks for itself
Tomas Slancik
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KZLCR
how would someone transition being self taught, with no references or experience, into a career?
Do the work, make sure the right people see it.

Also: There's a whole world of difference between your own projects, client projects and working for an employer. Its three different occupations, all make images, but under different conditions, supporting skills, risks & rewards. I suggest some 1st-hand research first before deciding on what path to take… though for some that research becomes their career :/
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don't overthink it too much
many of the most talented people in the insudtry are self thaught, school is not a golden ticket, 90% is about the attitude towards learning and progressing
Tomas Slancik
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abvfx
Treat it like a job and create a portfolio or reel. It will be all you need to get a job.

this!
get some exposure. self promotion thru social media is a great tool.
http://www.sekowfx.com [www.sekowfx.com]
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abvfx
You can simply work on your stuff. Treat it like a job and create a portfolio or reel. It will be all you need to get a job. I never went to university, i just wanted to do cg. So that's what i did. Not every job is like that but i like how this industry doesnt care what qualifications you have. They like proof. (If you want to be a developer in vfx that can be a very different story).

This is what I was originally thinking, but then was kind of dissuaded from it when I get overly pragmatic at times, and question what I really know. It's heartening to know success stories like yours, that come from humble starts! (BTW, what do you mean exactly by VFX developer? And you do most your CG work in Houdini?)
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sekow
this!
get some exposure. self promotion thru social media is a great tool.

I need to acclimate myself to social media more, I always avoid it. I have a bad habit of avoiding anything popular out of some unspoken irrational principle.
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tamte
many of the most talented people in the insudtry are self thaught, school is not a golden ticket, 90% is about the attitude towards learning and progressing
If that's the case - then I'll be good to go. I'm obsessively dedicated. Thank you
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cpb
Also: There's a whole world of difference between your own projects, client projects and working for an employer. Its three different occupations, all make images, but under different conditions, supporting skills, risks & rewards. I suggest some 1st-hand research first before deciding on what path to take… though for some that research becomes their career :/
Hey thank you! Can you expound on this a bit? What type of research ought I pursue ?
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tamte
for me (and I'm sure many others) it started as a hobby then turned into career, sort of, still feels like a hobby
the most important thing is that you are passionate about it and self driven, no need for degrees if experience speaks for itself
As long as that “experience” can come in the form of spec work from a reel, instead of having to have references in the industry. That's the tough part. But I am passionate and driven. Thanks for the encouraging message!
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tamte
for me (and I'm sure many others) it started as a hobby then turned into career, sort of, still feels like a hobby

Yea i look at it as a hobby that pays.

KZLCR
(BTW, what do you mean exactly by VFX developer? And you do most your CG work in Houdini?)

I mean someone like a pipeline developer or RnD. These types of people are like software developers but sometimes specialise in cg work. A lot of times it useful to have someone who has a computer science background in that case.

And yep most of my work nowadays is in houdini, but not always. I'm a groom td, so i might use Maya like when i was @Framestore they have their own custom tools. But i use Houdini for now and loving it.
Senior Groom TD @ Industrial Light & Magic - abvfx [abvfx.me]
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abvfx
I mean someone like a pipeline developer or RnD. These types of people are like software developers but sometimes specialise in cg work. A lot of times it useful to have someone who has a computer science background in that case.

And yep most of my work nowadays is in houdini, but not always. I'm a groom td, so i might use Maya like when i was @Framestore they have their own custom tools. But i use Houdini for now and loving it.
Awesome to hear. Thanks for the info! Loving what you do is so key, it's the entire reason I'm shifting careers. Congrats to you and all your success, if only we could all be so lucky! (Lucky isn't quite the word I'm looking for, I just mean to to find oneself in a situation like that.)
Edited by KZLCR - April 29, 2020 12:31:05
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I am self-taught as well. Some of the best FX TDs/Artists I worked with were also self-taught, which is expected, as it requires one to have impeccable discipline, motivation and self-reliance to draw your own path and keep going.
Senior FX TD @ Industrial Light & Magic
Get to the NEXT level in Houdini & VEX with Pragmatic VEX! [www.pragmatic-vfx.com]

youtube.com/@pragmaticvfx | patreon.com/animatrix | pragmaticvfx.gumroad.com
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it requires one to have impeccable discipline, motivation and self-reliance to draw your own path and keep going.
This is so encouraging, coming from you especially (I just checked out your links!)
I'm definitely a tough taskmaster (on myself.) A smart guy once said “discipline equals freedom,” and I try to live it.
Thanks for your response, and I hope everything is going well for you in Singapore. I've recently become very interested in that country, I was listening to Melissa Chen talk about how the communities are structured, and how beautiful and clean everything is there etc..
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Late to the party - but …

I am not a heavy Houdini-user by any measurements except for actual heaviness, of which I have plenty. Houdini, to me, is a tool like many others - it does some things nicely, others badly and most of the time the latter is due to my inadequate use of it and lack of daily exercise (in Houdini, I mean, I value my heaviness). Understanding how 3d tools work seems more important to me than mastering a single one of them - I can always invest the time to learn it properly if a job would require that …

School - German school, not comparable to US schools - has been a waste of time for me. They didn't teach me how to learn, that part I had to grasp on my own expense and it took me a few decades to master it. I am over 50 now and I am learning new tricks every single day.
What I rely on instead of education is: I make mistakes. Lots of them. And I have learned to embrace them, figure out what I did wrong and either find a way to make it work even though it's not supposed to (driving my wife crazy) or how to do something else that looks like I figured it out (driving everyone else crazy). I can be persistent. That includes writing comments in forums.

Most of my support gigs - not only in the movie/TV industry but just as well elsewhere - I get because I LISTEN, think, dig through my collection of mistakes and workarounds and then come up with something that might just do the thing or at least look like it does. The latter, here, works brilliantly in the make-believe-and-fake-the-rest-in-post industry: Understand that the VISUAL outcome is more important than actually fixing a problem seems (so far) to be how this industry “ticks”. They'll just fix the same problem again with the next film doing something else.

I do pipelining. I have zero idea about what “art” is, my taste for movies is partially incompatible with my wife's (who really should get paid to be so receptive of the “art” that I help making possible, to some very, very unobservable extent) and the industry's but I love a good problem. A good problem always looks like someone screwed up, didn't think or pretended to be able to get something done and failed in covering up that she wasn't. I don't care who screwed whom, I love fixing the problem. Even if it's just as far as “looks good”.

School:
Outside of Germany a “degree” or any sheet of paper saying “you're so good, man, we confirm that you have paid a lot of money to receive this receipt that tells you that you have completed a set number of hours sitting in a room or not in order to get this receipt, now leave us alone, we're gonna spend your money for something important” is really only good for proving to your parents that you DID sit all those hours in that room. I know too many people with degrees and without much else - and enough of those who exist the other way around. People that insist on being called “Dr.” to me either are timelords or slightly off in their inner workings.
In my world, being able to DO what you claim to be able to do, is what counts. Personally, I would never ever hire someone based on her “reel”. I don't do reels. I don't look at reels. I have seen stuff I have put into video tutorials being copy&pasted into reels. Why would someone hire someone who has proven to be good at copy&pasting things they were too lazy to figure out for themselves? Reels are a waste of time.
IN MY WORLD. Not in the real world. The real world is about faking it, pretending and trying to cover up that you've got no clue.

TLDR: I have a few decades of experience to offer in software development and about a dozen other disciplines. In all of them, no exception, being able to DELIVER is what counts, not reels (again: I don't do art, period. I solve problems. A “reel” doesn't apply to solving problems - however, the video tutorials I published helped A LOT in making contacts … you could say those are “reels” of a kind.)
When I hear about a problem/issue/pain at a potential client's place, I do research, learn everything I need to learn to at least UNDERSTAND the problem - and come up with at least one or two ideas/approaches how to tackle the problem. I do that at MY cost. It always pays off - and be it with the next client.

With art, I guess a “reel” makes *some* sense (I am open to discuss this ^_^ ), yet, I'd always try to demo what I can ACTUALLY do. Send in a scribble for the show I apply for or, doing an interview, draw someone who's sitting at the table or turn her into a monster-flower (or a flower-monster) or whatever suits the needs. Show that I can deliver, not rely on something that took me months to put together.

Learn. Research. Talk the language (technically) a client talks (including “visual” languages). Understand the problem/task and demo that you can deal with it. Be aware of your limitations and make sure you can “work around them”.
(Personally I'd add: Be honest. But … my experience with this “industry” has been that honesty is, quite often, not appreciated, so I'll go with “work around your limitations”.)

Apologies for the text wall. I'll learn how to be more concise.

Marc
---
Out of here. Being called a dick after having supported Houdini users for years is over my paygrade.
I will work for money, but NOT for "you have to provide people with free products" Indie-artists.
Good bye.
https://www.marc-albrecht.de [www.marc-albrecht.de]
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malbrecht
I am not a heavy Houdini-user by any measurements except for actual heaviness, of which I have plenty.
Haha! Very funny.\

malbrecht
In my world, being able to DO what you claim to be able to do, is what counts. Personally, I would never ever hire someone based on her “reel”. I don't do reels.
I'm not sure how to reconcile this statement? How would a newcomer prove their abilities and worth, without the degree, if not wit ha reel? I'm not disagreeing with you, I just don't understand.
malbrecht
Why would someone hire someone who has proven to be good at copy&pasting things they were too lazy to figure out for themselves?
This is so true, it's actually what I detest about learning some things online, and I've learned to avoid - I don't want to mimic actions, I want to learn the “Why” and “How” and “When.”
malbrecht
Late to the party - but …



Learn. Research. Talk the language (technically) a client talks (including “visual” languages). Understand the problem/task and demo that you can deal with it. Be aware of your limitations and make sure you can “work around them”.
(Personally I'd add: Be honest. But … my experience with this “industry” has been that honesty is, quite often, not appreciated, so I'll go with “work around your limitations”.)

Apologies for the text wall. I'll learn how to be more concise.

Marc
I am pretty sure I understand what you're saying here, and if I do, it's something I will strive for. Literally and technically.

malbrecht
Apologies for the text wall. I'll learn how to be more concise.
No need to apologize, I appreciate you taking the time to really pour your thoughts onto the page in an effort to help someone you don't even know! It's extremely kind of you, I just hope I catch the meaning behind your words of wisdom. Thank you for taking that time, time is valuable, and it is not taken for granted from me!
Edited by KZLCR - April 29, 2020 16:38:08
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Hi,

> I'm not sure how to reconcile this statement?

It's a personal thing. If I tell people I can do something, I am confident that I can do it. And that I can give a time frame within which I can do it. And that I will work my ass off to keep that time frame.
If I am unsure, I will tell people that I am unsure. I will ask for some time to figure out if I can learn it, how long it will take me to learn it and how good I will be able to do it.
Or I will say “Sorry, haven't done that before, you need results now - I will learn it, but you need a better one than me right now”. It saves time for everyone, it saves nerves and motivation and it is what I consider “team-play”.

My experience over the last few years with this industry has been that people - and companies - CLAIM they can do a job. Then, when they got hired, they start thinking about HOW to do it. Sometimes they ask for help, more often they don't. They just “friggle” their way through it, things take longer than planned, don't work out as expected, clients get nervous, schedules go up in smoke, everyone's constantly pulling themselves together.
This is not a momentary frustration - I have seen this in the movie/TV industry time after time after time and almost never witnessed it anywhere else (I worked and developed for print, publishing, theatre, veterinarian documentation, schooling and other disciplines. You just DON'T PRETEND that you can do a job and figure out how to do it AFTER you got hired. Period.)

So what's my advice? Be sure that you can do the job or openly say that you need to learn things. As an employer, I'd always welcome both positions equally. If you apply for a job with the hope to LEARN something, SAY SO. Openly admit that you want to LEARN Maya (better than you can, a tiny bit of shine is welcome), that you want to dabble in Nuke, that you always wanted to blow things up in Houdini. Or say that you've blown up so many buildings that you just want to grow some feathers now. For a change.

Tell people your motivation. Say what you can, what you can't and what you want. Guarantee your delivery - which can be “she started out knowing nothing about feathers, but now watch how she blows up flocks of birds like she's done nothing else before!”.

If you have nothing up your sleeves yet - WORK on a “reel”, if that gives you a goal to strive for! I think what others here said makes a lot of sense: “See it as a job”. The only difference I'd make is that I (personally, for the reasons given above) wouldn't file in the reel - but tell a potential client/partner that I worked on a project for so and so long, learned that and that and can now guarantee that I can blow up a single feather (as long as it isn't too complex). Tell WHAT you can do - if necessary, show the IMPORTANT 2-3 seconds of that reel, but say that you KNOW how to do it and that you can do it again.


Marc
---
Out of here. Being called a dick after having supported Houdini users for years is over my paygrade.
I will work for money, but NOT for "you have to provide people with free products" Indie-artists.
Good bye.
https://www.marc-albrecht.de [www.marc-albrecht.de]
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malbrecht
So what's my advice? Be sure that you can do the job or openly say that you need to learn things. As an employer, I'd always welcome both positions equally. If you apply for a job with the hope to LEARN something, SAY SO. Openly admit that you want to LEARN Maya (better than you can, a tiny bit of shine is welcome), that you want to dabble in Nuke, that you always wanted to blow things up in Houdini. Or say that you've blown up so many buildings that you just want to grow some feathers now. For a change.
Extremely insightful. It's so magnanimous of you to break this down with so much detail. You and others have definitely left me edified and enlightened. I really appreciate you conveying your experiences with me, and how to present myself when I'm able enough to be in those conversations. I bet you could write an excellent blog post about this subject, you seem knowledgeable and very passionate about this. I'll file this entire thread under things I need to frequently reference when I feel a bit lost.
Thank you.
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as malbrecht said, it's a personal thing.

—————————————————————–

I just want to say that self-learning is a life-long thing for everyone.

no matter which reason you start to learn houdini, even no matter what you will do in the future, self-learning is necessary for delving deeper in any field.
Edited by zengchen - April 30, 2020 00:00:09
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