Adrian Winter stops by the podcast to chat about the evolution of the motion design industry, Flame vs After Effects, and what it's like to be a commercial VFX artist.
18 years ago I was an intern at a big post-production house in Boston, MA. This place had all the toys. A machine room filled with, probably, MILLIONS of dollars worth of gear... Flames, Smokes, Avids, a telecine machine... shoot, I think they even had one of the first High Definition suites in the city. And amidst all of this expensive, high-end stuff sat one man in a small, lonely office doing After Effects on one of those old colorful iMacs, I think it was teal...
That artist, was Adrian Winter. Adrian, probably unbeknownst to him at the time, was a huge influence on me. Here was this young, cool guy (in contrast to the older, more established artists working on the high-end machines) and he was doing amazingly cool stuff on this tiny little computer. I think Adrian might have actually been the very first After Effects artist, I ever met.
Later our paths crossed again at my first real job out of college, when he came in to freelance, doing some design and animation work for a pilot we were editing. He eventually moved to New York and became a Flame artist, and later a Visual Effects Supervisor which is the role he currently holds at Nice Shoes, a high-end creative studio that can handle soup-to-nuts productions that require everything from shooting, to motion design, to fancy visual effects.
In this episode, Adrian and I reminisce a bit about what it was like to come up in the industry in the early 2000's. We talk about why Adrian decided to move to New York and pursue a career using Flame, which was not an easy thing to learn back in those days before FXPHD and YouTube. We talk about the current state of the industry as far as the "all-in-one" post house goes, and where those high-end tools like Flame still fit in a world where the entire Adobe Creative Suite can be had for about $50 a month.
If you've been around the industry for a while, this one is going to make you nostalgic, and if you're just a few years in... you are going to learn a lot about the big changes that have shaped our industry over the past 2 decades.
This episode was a blast for me, and I hope you get a ton out of it. Enjoy!
ADRIAN WINTER SHOW NOTES
- Spontaneous (Now LVLY)
- Element Productions
- Company 3
- Andrew Kramer
- John Oliver
- Giant Ant
- Viewpoint Creative
- The Mill
Podcast Transcript Below 👇:
He's about 455 yards. He's going to hit a button.
Joey Korenman (00:00:07):
This is the school of motion podcast come for the MoGraph stay for the puns. 18 years ago, I was an intern at a big post production house in Boston, Massachusetts, and this place had all the toys, a machine room filled with probably millions of dollars worth of gear, flames smokes. Avids a Telus, any machine shoot. I think they even had one of the first high definition suites in the entire city and amidst all of this expensive high-end stuff. Sat one man in a small kind of lonely office doing after effects on one of those old colorful IMAX. I think it was teal. Actually that artist was Adrian winter. Adrian, probably unbeknownst to him at the time was a huge influence on me. Here was this young cool guy in contrast to the older, more established artists working on high-end machines and he was doing amazingly cool stuff on this tiny little computer.
Joey Korenman (00:01:09):
I think Adrian might have actually been the very first after effects artist I ever met later. Our paths crossed again at my first real job out of college. When he came into freelance doing some design and animation work for a pilot, we were editing. He eventually moved to New York and became a flame artist and later a visual effects supervisor, which is the role he currently holds at nice shoes, a high-end creative studio that can handle soup to nuts productions that require everything from shooting to motion design, to fancy visual effects. In this episode, Adrian and I reminisce a bit about what it was like to come up in the industry in the early two thousands. We talk about why Adrian decided to move to New York and pursue a career using flame, which was not an easy thing to learn back in those days before FX, PhD, and YouTube.
Joey Korenman (00:01:58):
We talk about the current state of the industry as far as the all-in-one post house goes and where those high-end tools like flame still fit in a world where the entire Adobe creative suite can be had for about 50 bucks a month. If you've been around the industry for a while, this one is probably going to make you nostalgic. And if you're just a few years in, you're going to learn a lot about the big changes that have shaped our industry over the past two decades. This episode was a blast for me and I hope you get a ton out of it. Enjoy it. Alright, Adrian winter, do you are a blast from my past and I'm very excited to have you on the school of motion podcast.
Adrian Winter (00:02:40):
Thank you. It's good to be here. And I'm like, it's the holidays, right? So it's the ghost of, uh, the ghost of MoGraph past coming back
Joey Korenman (00:02:47):
And we're in more ways than one. So let, let's start with this. Uh, so you are currently a visual effects supervisor for nice shoes, which I always loved the name of that company by the, um, yeah, so, you know, I mean visual effects supervisor, that sounds kind of like a big muckety-muck to me. Um, so if listeners are not familiar, uh, could you tell, tell us a little bit about nice shoes and then what your role is?
Adrian Winter (00:03:13):
Um, yeah, a nice to is a creative studio in New York city. Uh, it recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and it's been, it's been around for a long time. It got its, um, it made most of its reputation off of doing, uh, color correction and VFX finishing. And recently within the last five years, you know, the market being what it is, they, they saw the need to sort of expand, uh, out into different creative venues. So they opened up a creative division and brought on some creative directors. And uh, at that point, um, I was, I kind of came in as, as a, as someone that, that knew a little bit more of the other sides of the industry that is to say they, they basically graded in baseline and they, they did visual effects in flame and they were looking to do some more 3d works, some motion design work, and my sort of skill set ran across a lot of that gamut and kind of came on to, I came in to sort of help them navigate that a little bit and, you know, took the role of sort of a supervisory role there.
Joey Korenman (00:04:19):
Excellent. So let's, let's now go way back in time. And for everyone listening, I met Adrian at this point, it's probably got to, it has to be like 18 years ago, like a really long time ago and it was in Boston. Um, and so obviously somehow you went from Boston to New York and when I met you, you were using after effects, you weren't using flame. And from what I saw, you were doing more sort of standard MoGraph stuff, not as much visual effects, but so I'm wondering if you can kind of, you know, and take as much time as you like, tell us, how did you end up in New York at nice shoes in this role?
Adrian Winter (00:04:58):
Okay. Um, well I had, uh, I had gone, I actually hadn't even gone to school for this. Um, I had gone because I originally wanted to be a writer and, uh, while I was at school, I had discovered the design department at my college and, you know, sort of learned a little bit about graphic design there. And through that, we're in about video and, you know, as part of the, you know, the, the process of storytelling, uh, really kind of became enamored with it and started, uh, got out of school, um, went and got, uh, you know, took an avid internship and learned editing and then sought out trying to find a role as an assistant editor. And, uh, when did a gig at a, you know, a post shop in Boston. And because they knew that I had kind of had a little bit of a design background, kind of came in and started doing some design work because all of their editors could cut, but they couldn't really, you know, potentially do a logo animation or they didn't really understand layout or anything like that.
Adrian Winter (00:06:01):
So I kind of learned after effects on the fly with the goal to become an editor while I was there, it was sort of like, um, you know, we need you to, for one thing, but you want to become this thing, so let's help each other out. And while I was there, uh, I kinda, I kind of decided that I liked, you know, motion design, you know, a little bit more than editing. And after doing that a few years, uh, you know, I kind of saw them, uh, th they had some, they didn't even have flame there. They had a, they had a smoke and a fire, and I became really intrigued by this whole idea of compositing and doing effects and putting things together, you know, like with design, uh, there was, there's this idea that, you know, you're, you're sort of making something, you know, um, you're sort of painting a picture, but with comping and visual effects, you're sort of like taking disparate elements and putting them together and making them fit and making them work to the point where, you know, if you've done your job very well, no, one's done, no one knows that you've done anything.
Adrian Winter (00:07:02):
And, you know, that I kind of was like, wow, that's, that's, that's a pretty cool thing. So I looked around Boston and there weren't a ton of shops there. Uh, the positions that you could find there were, were pretty slim. All of them were filled. And I eventually decided that I was going to move to New York, uh, because that was where the work was. And I landed a job as spontaneous as, uh, and like sort of went back into the machine room after having been working professionally for a few years, sort of learned the trade and then came back out on and got on the flame. Um, after a couple of years went freelance. And then from there, I really kind of bounced back and forth between doing after effects work and flame work. And after a few years of freelance and I landed a gig at Superfad, uh, which is a now defunct shop in New York, but they were really, they kind of marketed themselves as sort of like a design production house.
Adrian Winter (00:07:53):
And like I came in as a composite of there and sort of helped, you know, sort of lead them in a direction of, of, you know, again, putting together their design elements in a way that, you know, worked from a, like a video deliverable standpoint. And after that close the, the owner of, um, Superfad sort of very briefly when did it nice use and, and sort of help them set up their creative division and called me. And I came on, I came on there and, you know, he's since departed for other projects, but I stuck around. And so that is the story of how I went at night
Joey Korenman (00:08:26):
Shoes, very twisty, windy path, indeed.
Adrian Winter (00:08:29):
Yes. It's a windy way.
Joey Korenman (00:08:31):
So let, let's talk about a couple of things. So you, uh, we're going to get deeper into this, in this conversation. Um, just for anyone listening, uh, Adrian's throwing around a bunch of words that you don't really hear very often anymore in motion design anyway, with flame smoke fire. These are systems I want to, I want to definitely talk about those. Uh, it's interesting, you know, to reminisce. So the way I met you was I was an intern at finish and you were the after effects artists hidden this tiny room on the second floor, I think. And, um, you know, it's funny because now in hindsight, I almost feel like Finnish was a little bit ahead of its time then realizing, because th th that was in the days of, you know, the, the very expensive box. And that was, that was almost how post houses marketed themselves. You know, I mean, if you'd go to their website and they would not have one picture of the artist on the box, but they would have a picture of the suite and the nice couch that you get to sit on if you pay the rates, right? Yeah,
Adrian Winter (00:09:25):
Yeah, yeah. To the, I mean, to, to our credit, uh, you know, your first boss in mind, try to very hard to, to really sort of market the talent, but the, the, at that time, people, the budgets were such that, uh, you know, agencies really wanted the bragging rights of being able to say, well, look, we, we did this on a, we did this on a flame and what, how much this cost, you know, we went and did it with, you know, we cut our spot with this rockstar editor and we went over and, you know, I did the color grade on this type of machine, you know, as if, as if, uh, that's the validity of, of, uh, of any sort of any sort of spot, you know, like we did it on this, so it must be good. So,
Joey Korenman (00:10:05):
Yeah, it's a hard thing, I think for newer artists in motion design, especially to wrap their heads around, because it's just, it's such an alien concept, but I know what you're saying. I mean, I remember, you know, my, my first real job where I actually got a salary was I'm at element productions in Boston, which was sort of, um, you know, a production company that did shooting, but had started to expand like a lot of production companies ended up doing into post-production. Um, and, you know, there was, it was just a very interesting time, uh, to see that clients were still saying things like, well, we have to edit with, you know, uh, you know, Pete BARR, STIs, and over it at a bar, but then we have to do effects down the street at Brickyard, even if it's really simple stuff. And then we have to fly to New York or LA go to company three to do the color grading, and then we have to go back to New York or back to Boston to do the mixing. And, you know, now it's like so much of that happens between one or two places that used to be three or four or five. Um, and it was really, uh, you know, the, the, the term, um, star, I think that's, that's the era I learned that term for fair assessment.
Adrian Winter (00:11:14):
Yeah. And I think a lot of it was, I mean, the, the, the thing to remember about that time was that it was a, it was before the notion of doing this stuff on a desktop was really even, you know, possible. Right. So you had these giant tricked out workstations that we could handle, you know, the, the huge demands of standard definition video, you know, and, and the applications and the programs that people used were no, there were kind of, um, there was a big gap between trying to between wanting to learn that type of stuff, and actually being able, like get through the door to learn it. And so I think there was a little bit of a, and then I think the agencies potentially understood a little bit of the process less than they do now. So, you know, when, when you're from their perspective, they don't necessarily understand or can quantify or qualify, you know, the work that's being done, but they, they can be like, well, this is what they did it on. Right. So that's the thing they could talk about. And there was a bit of a disconnect between like the magic and the magician, if that makes sense, you know, you know, obviously it took a certain type of person to, you know, there were the rockstar editors and the rockstar colorists, but along with that was the machinery they were using because all of it was big and all of it was expensive, you know, mysterious.
Joey Korenman (00:12:33):
Yeah. I, I remember, I remember it at one point, you know, cause I was fascinated by those high-end systems refrigerators when I was an intern, when I met you, I was in college at the time and I, and I had a copy of probably like a cracked copy of after effects or something. And I was teaching it to myself and I, and I recognize, and I was watching Andrew Kramer tutorials and I, I sort of intuitively got that, what I was watching, you know, the person running the fire system that I'm guessing probably cost half a million bucks or more, um, that what he was doing was the same thing I was doing. Just, he was better at it. Right. Uh, and, and it was a lot faster on that machine and it kind of had this cool interface and it was on, uh, it was showing you the result on a TV and all that kind of stuff.
Joey Korenman (00:13:17):
Um, but, uh, you know, I, I want to get deeper into that too, because those systems are still around. Um, and they still have a place, but let's talk about, you know, you were, when you, when I saw you doing after effects and later I think I met you again at element productions, you came into freelance and I believe you were doing graphics for a pilot that we were editing a mechanical bull riding reality show every bit, every bit as awesome as it sounds. Yeah. Yeah. Um, but you were kind of like, you know, you were one of the only motion graphics artists I knew back then. It was still so new. You were really like, you were in early man. So like, what did, like, were you part of that MoGraph scene? Were you hanging out on mograph.net? Like what did it feel like?
Adrian Winter (00:14:01):
No, actually it was interesting because the place where, I mean, obviously I was we're going to finish, which was, was, it was an editorial facility and I was sort of teaching myself as I was going, as you were mentioning, we all, we all kind of where there wasn't really, I mean, these are the days for, for context, there's no YouTube, you know, and, and when I was coming up, there was no real Andrew Kramer. There was, you could mail away for like videos. And I remember getting a 21 VHS, uh, set of like, you know, um, you know, total training was the way to cope and then eventually they moved to DVDs and then to the web, but like I had a, you, you know, you wanted to get a refresher on something you needed to like fast forward. They don't find the spot where, you know, they, they talked about a certain plugin.
Adrian Winter (00:14:42):
I wasn't really online a lot because I didn't really know where to look. Uh, I think it was a little bit before, before that stuff started even popping up. Um, I think that, you know, MoGraph and Mo design motion design was started, uh, considered a, you know, you bring this in on, uh, you bring it in at the end, you know, you've done your cut, you've laid everything down. Now you need to put your supers in your legal and your mouse type and maybe do a little graphic treatment on like one or two shots, but you're going to hand that back to the, the finishing artist. And then it's just going to kind of be finished and done. And I think what we are, one of the things that, um, you know, when we were talking over it over the summer was that I was reminded of the fact that in 2000 there was a sag strike and it lasted a few months, but really that kind of ground everything to a halt in terms of, uh, you know, commercial production, uh, cause you couldn't film actors, you know, so suddenly, you know, you got to these, these brands that need to put out commercials and they're like, well, what are we going to do?
Adrian Winter (00:15:36):
You know? And they, uh, they turned to motion designers at that point in time. You know, I think that's when suddenly people kind of shifted their focus towards, away from video and, and more towards design and motion graphics to, to deliver their spots. And it was sort of like a show us what you got and what can you do. And people stepped up to the plate and started making, you know, animated commercials for, for a hot second and then the sec strike cleared. But that kinda, I think really broke through the ceiling of people considering, oh, well, you know, we can get these after effects artists and they can come in and sort of, you know, do design as a method of, of, of doing commercial.
Joey Korenman (00:16:16):
I remember when you mentioned that to me in an email and I literally had never connected those dots and that, I mean, it, now you'd be pointed out. It makes a ton of sense. Uh, but you know, that's a bit of historical trivia that I was completely unaware of until you called it out. And I think that's really fascinating that it took something seemingly completely unrelated, a bunch of, you know, actors being, you know, unwilling and unable to, to act in front of a camera for a while. And all of a sudden animation is the only tool at your disposal. And, and so, you know, sort of coming up in the industry at that time, you started as an after effects artist and in, and this was, uh, you know, I experienced this, I'm sure you did too. Where after effects was seen as a toy, even though the design and the animation you were doing to my eyes was a lot more sophisticated in, in many respects than the stuff that I would see. Like, you know, not, not, not everybody I'm generalizing of course, but I mean, you could be a flame artist and get away with just knowing flame and knowing how to do what you're told and then after effects. Um, I don't think that was really an option at that point. So I'm curious, like, you know, were you aware of that, that sort of, uh, I guess the reputation after effects had, and, and, and by proxy, the reputation motion designers had in relation to like the flame artists, the smoke artist,
Adrian Winter (00:17:35):
I was, I mean, when you think about the name after effects, it is literally comes from its relationship to like premiere or, uh, an edit edit, or a non-linear editor, you know, it's literally after effects. There is no. Um, and that was sort of how it was conceived, you know, it's evolved since then, but that was how everyone looked at it, you know, and I don't think there was any idea, any sense that, you know, we'll hit. I mean, and again, I'm speaking from my own personal experience and I was working in Boston. I was not in New York or LA at the time. So anybody starting their career at that point in time might be like, what is this guy talking about? But I don't think there was any, any consideration that, you know, you're going to bring after effects in at the beginning of a spot.
Adrian Winter (00:18:18):
And, you know, one of the things that ended up happening at finish was that was sort of what we started doing. However, after effects, it, it, it has evolved quite a bit since version, I think four when I started using it, and while it could do certain things, it couldn't always do them well. And the tool sets that were available, um, in, you know, a flame were much more powerful and much more catered towards client interaction. And th you know, that was just where the energy and the budgets went, you know? Yeah. And I think that after a while, like, I mean, when I moved to New York and, you know, I, I went up to Montreal to the Autodesk headquarters and took like their week long crash course in flame, and then moved to New York and was like, ready to try to like, get on, get on the flame.
Adrian Winter (00:19:02):
And as I started learning the flame, you know, there were times where I would be sitting there next to the, you know, the person that was teaching me, uh, and being like, oh, well, you know, we can kind of do that in after effects. And he'd be like, no, no, no, whatever. And he did it, he looked at it like it was a toy. And I, from having like having no other choice, you know, for the first few years of my, of my career, but to do things in after effects had to very much advocate for error after effects as a production tool and say, well, no, no, no, if you, if you know what you're doing, um, you can do this stuff. And in some cases you can do it better than inflame. You know, I think that there was an assumption that because flame was so powerful on like 80% of what was required for any sort of, uh, post job that, you know, why not, why shouldn't it be just considered 100% capable? And I would sometimes be like, you know, I see you trying to do a type animation here, and I can tell you that you're probably better off doing it here and exporting it and bringing it in, um, then trying to figure out whatever you've got going on in that very expensive machinery Hussein.
Joey Korenman (00:20:03):
Um, I want to come back to the, the, the differences and similarities between flame and aftereffects, because to me watching and having to, at one point in my career, make a decision, am I going to learn flame? Cause that's where frankly, at the time that's where the money was. Right. Or am I going to focus more on this MoGraph thing and get better at design and animation? So, so I guess like Adrian would, I would be curious, is, was there a point at which you realized, you know, that, oh, the tool doesn't matter, everyone thinks it matters, but it doesn't actually end sooner or later, like everyone's going to catch up and realize after effects can do, you know, 75, 80% of what a flame can do.
Adrian Winter (00:20:43):
Yeah, I think so. I mean, now it is a bit more common for people to jump. Um, but back then, you know, to be on a flame was to have gone to, you know, some sort of film score, technical school run, uh, work your way up through machine room with the sole purpose of getting on a flame and the, for the other part, um, on the other, on the other side of the equation you had after effects artists who potentially went to design school or, uh, through design programs, and then we're picking up, you know, after effects and animating and creating art, you know, but you didn't necessarily have the, you know, one person shifting and going to the other or vice versa. Uh, at least not for the first few years of, of my own career. When I, when I shifted to flame, I not, I mean, you're looking at flame as, as a tool in a very powerful one, but suddenly there were all these, these rules that came along with it.
Adrian Winter (00:21:32):
And, uh, you know, because it's literally built to deliver video, you know, to a tape with sync, that's going to be sent off and then go to air. And I think that, um, there was a little bit of a tendency for the flame artists to kind of look at, as you say, look at after effects as if it were a toy and subsequently discredit a lot of the abilities and skill sets of those people using after effects. Right. And once I was on the other side of Flint and using flame a lot, you know, you sorta, you know, you don't really necessarily realize the things you're doing wrong when you're just making stuff in after effects and then handing it to someone who is going to correct your mistakes, judge you for the mistakes you make, but never circle back around with you and be like, Hey, you know, your colors are not legal.
Adrian Winter (00:22:14):
And you know, you, you did an animation on top of interlaced footage, which is stupid. And I said, um, but once you know, I was on the other side, I was like, oh, well, look, you can, as long as you know what you're supposed to be doing and the rules with under which you're working, you can generate, you know, imagery. That's just as good and after effects as you can inflame or any other tool. Um, you know, our boss had finished. He used to say, it's not the car, it's the driver. And it's 100% true. I mean, you said that from the first day I worked.
Joey Korenman (00:22:44):
Yeah. That's, that's excellent. And I love that you brought up interlaced footage. I would love to know what, what percentage of people listening, remember that? Uh, yeah. Yeah. I'm, I'm not going to explain it either.
Adrian Winter (00:22:53):
That's a rabbit hole.
Joey Korenman (00:22:54):
I don't know how I would explain it, so, okay. So let's talk a little bit about, um, before we get into the, the, the nerdy details of flame and after facts and the differences. Let's talk a little bit more about, you know, your current gig, so nice shoes. I've never been there, but from what I can tell, I mean, it, it, it feels very much from the website, like, you know, the big all-in-one, high-end probably beautiful office, um, like full service post houses is how I would put it. And, you know, in, in Boston where we originally met, there are, there might be one of those that still kind of still kind of around. And, um, you know, there's, there's a visual effects shop there, Brickyard, that's amazing. That's sort of done, it sounds like a little bit of what nice shoes has done and sort of expanded their, um, their skillset, um, to provide other services.
Joey Korenman (00:23:42):
But the, this all in one, you know, you can come in and edit and, and do color and design and online and all these things in Boston. Anyway, that's kind of gone away and it's been replaced by these smaller leaner shops that are using, you know, like the Adobe creative cloud, and they're delivering everything digitally and they're using DaVinci resolve, running on a Mac to do color. Um, so what's the current state of this big sort of legacy post-production shop. Is it still like, is there still plenty of work it's still very healthy or is there any, any strain on that model?
Adrian Winter (00:24:19):
I think, uh, man, that's a complicated question. It's a good one. Um, I think yes and no. I think, I think any, um, any shop that started out as one of those big monolithic post facilities, you know, from 20 years ago, ultimately, you know, at least within the last 10 years saw the writing on the wall saw that, you know, they're the smaller boutique-ish type shops were, um, able to act a little bit more nimbly in terms of how they approach work. And if there were smart, they took steps to correct that and, and adjust and, and sort of adjust their, their, their strategy, uh, as far as nice is concerned. Um, I think they've done well in terms of trying to adapt to the changing market. I mean, there is a, uh, obviously budgets have shrunk considerably and over the last, you know, people talk about the last 10 years.
Adrian Winter (00:25:07):
It really, even in the last 20, uh, so you have like, they used to run two full shifts of people just doing coloring color correction and, you know, uh, spot finishing. And eventually, you know, the agencies sort of gotten wise to that and they started doing a little bit more of their, their finishing in house and editors out there are saying, well, you know, maybe I can do a little bit of coring myself and suddenly, you know, you're the thing that you're making most of your cash on and your, and your, your money on is sort of being eroded. Um, so you need to sort of look towards for ways to try to, uh, expand the types of services you offer, uh, what they decided to do. And right as I was coming on board was to sort of reposition themselves as sort of like a, with a more idea of, of a studio mentality rather than a facility one, they can handle, uh, you know, concept to completion at any point in between, you know, so if you are editing elsewhere and you needed to come dip in for color, great, you can do it.
Adrian Winter (00:26:09):
Uh, if you need color and finishing the effects, fantastic. If you need someone to creative, direct, you know, a CG spot, but then you're gonna grade it elsewhere. Fine. Uh, and, and it's really more about trying to figure out new, you know, the most appropriate types of services you can offer to a client as they need them. And that way you're not pigeonholed into one specific type of work where in that if that work evaporates, uh, you suddenly no longer have a business. So I think that, um, you know, if you look at nice shoes, a site, they, they, we, we began with, um, we began that sort of creative division with offering, uh, creative direction, uh, you know, 3d, uh, sort of long, more, more long form. And what I mean by that is sort of like a six weeks, rather than like a, you know, a two day finishing session and you're onto the next job.
Adrian Winter (00:27:06):
Um, and from there branch down into AR and VR, and then we just opened up a creative, um, editorial division, um, officially I think earlier this year, although we've had some editors on staff a couple of years ago, we also opened up a nice shoes, Toronto office, um, which, uh, helped us, uh, access some work, uh, through that city. Um, the artist we have up there pred predominantly after effects and cinema 4d, but we do have a colorist on site and there's, there's a flame up there as well. It's interesting because looking to find ways into newer markets. So I think it's one of the other things that helped nice, who's adapt a bit. They reached out to form strategic partnerships as well with shops that are in, uh, smaller markets and non traditional markets. We have a colorist, um, uh, sort of embedded in a edit bar in Boston, uh, and also a couple of shops shop in Chicago and Minneapolis as well.
Adrian Winter (00:27:58):
But we also do a lot of, um, uh, remote color, uh, work as well in a lot of other cities around the country. And that helps us, um, start relationships and build relationships with, um, you know, agencies, you know, that are, that might be a bit isolated, but are still doing very, very good work. And, you know, we re we, we connect with them first through color grading. Um, but if, you know, there's in each of these, uh, partnerships and, um, you know, satellite, um, offices, there is a, there is a line back to the main office through Toronto or, and back to New York. So if any of those, um, agencies are, are, you know, needs on any particular spot are more than just traditional color grading. There's a way to get back to nice shoes and this, you know, the other surfaces that we offer, uh, and it works well. Uh, but I think what you need to do is sort of be able to deal with their clients, um, and figure out how best you can position yourself as sort of a creative partner, rather than simply just a vendor.
Joey Korenman (00:29:06):
I love the way you, you put it as a, it's a studio versus a facility because I, I, I've never thought of it that way, but that makes total sense. I mean, the, um, even if internally, a company would not call themselves a post-production facility, I think for the clients that were coming in back in the, in the heyday, you know, with a couple hundred grand every other week, uh, they thought of it as like going down the street to Kinko's to get like, you know, the, their daily dose or their weekly dose of, of color grading. So, you know, like this lean model is really become popular in the motion design world. Um, and obviously, you know, most of the audience listening are, are fairly focused on motion design, maybe a little editorial. You're what you're talking about is the full gamut of like an entire high end production process. So I'm wondering, like, if you could talk a little bit about what the sort of advantages are when you have all of that under one roof, like, what does that let you offer clients that, you know, say, um, you know, a company that just really does design and animation, but can, you know, also edit and can also do some color correction that they won't be able to offer?
Adrian Winter (00:30:18):
Uh, that's a good question. Um, I think being able to take an entire project, I mean, again, I mean, in the instances in which we can talk to people and say, well, listen, you're better off kind of maybe just keeping it all under one roof. Um, the, and this goes right back to what we were talking about earlier with, uh, in the old days of, of Allah cart, um, you know, picking and choosing which shop you're going to work with based on, you know, someone's a rock general sense of rockstar in his, or
Joey Korenman (00:30:46):
The restaurant, you know, downstairs.
Adrian Winter (00:30:49):
Exactly. You know, the budget's being smaller. It actually allows us some more options to sort of bring everything as in to one house as a, as a package. Uh, you know, if someone's budget is not necessarily, you know, very large in terms of the VXX component where we can say, oh, you know, well, I see you also probably need some color. We could probably bundle the color with the VFX and sort of give you sort of like a, you know, a group rate on that. And, and that can sometimes benefit the client. Um, it also, uh, you know, it, it helps in terms of, um, allowing us as a, as a studio to sort of, uh, control the entire process and also to be very transparent with the client about it, because we've got a lot of divisions within our company and say, if we bring in a, uh, a job that's going to start with, with some degree of creative direction, uh, maybe involve a shoot, uh, then involved in visual effects, uh, you know, editorial along the way, then color grading, and then finishing you have, you know, everybody within the company sort of generally aware of, of how the, the job moves through the shop.
Adrian Winter (00:31:53):
So, you know, we, we can do some pre-visualization, uh, we can, you know, go off on set. You know, when we come back, we can, you know, put the footage into editorial, but, you know, as me being a, you know, the on-set supervisor, I can come back from set and say, Hey, like, you know, these are the challenges they were running into when they were there. Uh, I know they liked this tape, but from a, from a effect standpoint, this one's just as good. And it kind of like eliminates some clean up stuff. So maybe you can work that one in, you know, the, the colorist can come in while during the editorial process. And, you know, for three minutes to sort of look over what's going on and then go back to what he or she is doing, uh, when it comes up to visual effects, you know, we're doing the online and the conform, you know, we have a question about what the editor has done.
Adrian Winter (00:32:38):
We can go back downstairs, you know, so all of us are sort of acting as if we're running it like a relay race and handing the Baton to one another. But any point in time, any of us can refer back. Uh, there are many times we send, uh, effects, plates down to color grading, and there'll be like, man, I really wish I had a mat for this because I'm having trouble pulling a key to, to grade. You know, this one portion is one shot and we're like, great. Give us like 20 minutes and we'll have one for you. Now, if all of those components have a job or spread across five or six different shops, that's never going to happen. Uh, not on the schedule and the turnaround times that are, uh, are required. So that's one very big, uh, benefit of having, you know, more than one piece of a job under one under one roof. Yeah.
Joey Korenman (00:33:19):
It makes total sense. And I would assume too, that, you know, having, for example, someone who is a colorist, you know, that that's their thing, that's what they're good at. That's what they love. Yeah. You're going to get probably a more artistic result than, you know, the, the editor that took a, you know, a DaVinci resolve class online and maybe is a pretty good colorist, but, you know, there's a level of artistry to that, that, um, you know, frankly, I almost feel like it's getting lost a little bit because, you know, um, cause I've worked with some amazing ones. So is that, do you think that's part of it too, is that specializing allows for a little bit of a higher bar?
Adrian Winter (00:33:54):
I think so. Yeah. I mean, I think that that, uh, especially when color corrections and I'm amazed, I mean, we have some of the best colors in the city at our shop. It's funny to see some of the jobs sort of like pop up at the last minute. I think, um, some of the, uh, the video components or, or, uh, videos, segments that are, that are on John Oliver's shell, like one of our colors grades those. And they come in like, you know, two days before it airs and he just grades it really quickly and they run off with them and that's always fun to see happen, but there's, um, there's something to be said for the distinction between, um, color correction and color grading. Um, you know, you can take footage out of a camera, you know, and sorta, you know, crush it a little bit and adjust the gamma and make something look pretty and nice and appropriate and good.
Adrian Winter (00:34:39):
Uh, but a colorist can sit down there and look at the footage and go, all right, well, I can grade this three different ways, you know, depending upon the mood you're trying to strike and take and take the same shot and make you feel three different, three different ways based on how he's injected color and grading and shading into it. I mean, that is something that is a lot of the artistry, you know, uh, that comes from that when they talk about, you know, it comes from that sort of a learned skill that's acquired, uh, from years of just doing that. So yeah, there's definitely a value add for, for dealing with like someone who's, you know, that's their specialty.
Joey Korenman (00:35:15):
I think colorist is, is the best example of a skill that when it's one of those things that I remember, you know, like I, we, the, some of the directors that I would work with at element would rave about working with a certain colorist and I just didn't get it. I was like, what final cut pro has a three-way color corrector? And it what's the difference. And then I actually got to go sit in a supervised session. Um, I think at company three and it literally, it just blew my mind. I could not believe what I was watching and it's like a whole different thing. And you don't really, you generally don't get that with the, um, you know, the sort of generalist editor colorists does a little after effects. You're not getting that level. Um, and so that's, that's really cool. And so, you know, the fact that nice shoes can offer all of that.
Joey Korenman (00:36:00):
Um, I'm assuming that that would also attract a kind of a different type of client, right? So you say, take, take a giant ant, which was my favorite, favorite studios in Vancouver. Um, and I don't know how big their staff is, but I guess it's probably around that, you know, 12 to 15 size somewhere in there. Um, and they're pretty focused on motion, design, animation, designing stuff. They also do production. Um, but they're not, they're not built up the way. Nice is. And so are there certain clients that still like that nice shoes and, you know, kind of vibe you walk in and you've got like the best of the best just down the hall, you know, and you can kind of run the whole thing there.
Adrian Winter (00:36:39):
I think so. Yeah. I mean, it's an interesting comparison, cause I look at I'm going to stop by giant ant. And I think that, you know, if you were looking for the giant ant look, you know, like their, their approach to how they, you know, do motion design stuff. And if you have a spotter or a piece of your that you're looking to make, and, and that fits, you know, your predetermined aesthetic, then of course you would approach them and, and, you know, have them work on your stuff similar to the way, um, you know, 10 years ago, you know, you could, you could tell what was done at PSYOP. You know, it's like they had that kind of, that kind of flavor. Uh, for us, we try to tend to approach the work as, you know, a client has an idea of already in mind of how, of how they want something to look and, and we need to help them realize it. So I think that people come to tonight's news for, you know, the work that we could do, you know, like we, we advise a lot on, on how to approach, you know, shooting and, uh, effects, but we don't really try to, if we don't have one single aesthetic or one single style of work that we try to, uh, stick to because the market shifts too much. Yeah.
Joey Korenman (00:37:48):
So, so someone goes to giant and obviously because of their, you know, the amazing work that they have on their portfolio, um, and there is, you know, I mean, giant and is super versatile too, but, um, you know, they, they have sort of their aesthetic that they're known for, I guess. Um, and, and when I look at nice shoes, I don't you're right. I don't see that. I don't see like, oh, when I go to nice shoes, I'm going to get this flavor. It's like, they're, they're just kind of, you, you guys can do anything. It seems a little, from my perspective, focus more on the, you know, like the types of things that you're gonna need to, to employ for a spot, like a commercial that, whereas, you know, giant ant can certainly do a lot of that. But if you have live action plus some visual effects, plus you need a, you know, a nice title card at the end. Um, and you're going to have to grade the thing like giant ant isn't, that's not their sweet spot. That's nice shoes, sweet spot. So like, are your clients, are they at agencies primarily, are you getting direct work? Are they, are they, you know, do small clients come to, or is it mostly, you know, you know, Saatchi and Saatchi coming to, to work on a campaign?
Adrian Winter (00:38:57):
I think most of our work is done through agencies, large and small. Uh, we have done some direct to client. We've taken that on. Uh, we've also looked at, uh, working with, uh, you know, we've done some museum pieces and some AR and VR pieces. And so I think we try to approach, you know, the work we do is sort of just, we, we, we make stuff, you know, and if you've got something you're trying to make, well, we can sit and try to work on the best way to, to make it, you know, now sometimes that's very straightforward where we're going to go and we're going to shoot this commercial and we're going to, there's gonna be a lot of cleanup. Uh, there will likely be some green screen stuff, you know, can, can you give us a quote on what that's going to be in the work that that's going to entail?
Adrian Winter (00:39:33):
And that's very straightforward. Uh, it's a very straight forward in terms of how, you know, you're making a commercial, but then there's other stuff that can kind of come in. That's a, you know, a little bit more ambiguous, like the client kind of needs help figuring out how they're going to do something and we can sit down and talk to them about, you know, all right, well, you know, this, this is kind of going to come in as a VR thing, but really the way you're describing it, maybe it's not, maybe it's more of an AR thing, or maybe it's more of a something else.
Joey Korenman (00:40:01):
It's almost like it's just a positioning thing. The way, the way I choose is positioned. It fits a certain type of job in a certain type of client a lot better. Um, and, and it's, what's fascinating to me about it. And one of the reasons I was so excited to talk to you is because that type of job in that type of client, I don't have nearly as much exposure to because I, you know, as like running school of motion, I'm focused pretty much on what you would call MoGraph for her motion design. Um, and you look at nice shoes work, and it's really well done, very polished. It's very good. It's just, there's a different, there's a different spin to it. Um, and so I was just curious, like, you know, what, like if, what the kinds of clients are, but it makes sense that ad agencies and people like that who can come in, cause I don't know how far into this you can get, but I would imagine the torque with nice shoes you're paying a premium for having all that firepower.
Adrian Winter (00:40:52):
I think obvious, certainly a shop like nice shoes has a certain degree of overhead, you know, but we're, we're always working to try to help the client get to where they need to get within the means that they have,
Joey Korenman (00:41:03):
You know, I really truly believe that you get what you pay for. There's a ton of truth to that, right. And you're right. Like if, if someone wants to come in with a visual effects, heavy spot that needs color grading and editorial and all these things, you, you can go to, um, you know, a two person studio that is run out of, you know, the, the second bedroom or whatever. Um, but you're not getting the same thing. And this actually kind of leads into my next question, which is, you know, I remember one of the, one of the big sort of rude awakenings I had. And actually I say that as though it's a bad thing. I, it was actually really good that I had this realization. Cause it's, it's just a fact of life. When I was an intern, you know, at the studio in Boston, I was the first day I came, I kind of came in, you know, young Joey, all excited to show off how much I knew, you know, I had spent the entire summer interning somewhere else.
Joey Korenman (00:41:58):
I knew how to edit. I knew how to run cameras. I knew like about interlacing. I was there. Uh, but really mostly what I did was make muffin, baskets, take lunch orders, get coffee. I was floored by the amount of client service involved in running a post production business. I mean, it was literally like you had to weight, hand and foot on clients and, you know, for better or worse, that's a competitive advantage if you're able to do that. Is that still how things are working at the high end, you know, like, is that, has that diminished at all?
Adrian Winter (00:42:31):
Um, I don't know if it's diminished, it's changed. I think it's definitely, you know, if you've got muffin baskets, which is the de facto indication that you are at the highest of the high end, right?
Joey Korenman (00:42:41):
Adrian Winter (00:42:41):
Signal to set up a muffin basket. I think that a that's that level of client service is definitely a hold over from the way things were running prior to the internet and the web, uh, becoming a very viable part of our industry. And if you've got time for a bit of a little bit of a history lesson, I can delve into that a little bit more now, back in the day, uh, you know, right now we sort of, we do our work and if we just got to show a client and the client is located elsewhere, we post it, um, prior to that being even possible, um, you actually needed to, you know, drop everything to a tape and then mail it to them. And that's fine if you're approving an edit, however, if you are going to finish your spot and that the next stop from, for this commercial is on air more often than not the client, like God, wherever they were a guy got on a plane and flew to wherever they were doing the effects or the, or the finishing, or even the grading and hung out in the office while this was happening.
Adrian Winter (00:43:42):
And this could take days, um, you know, and because of that, you know, the color suites and the flame suites were decked out with these really nice, uh, you know, couches and, you know, the, you know, the mood lighting was great. The candles were lit, you know, and, uh, as it were, and, you know, they, they hung out there for, you know, four or five days and were just available while the artist was working. And then when the artist said, okay, I need you to look at something they'd kind of like Rouse themselves from whatever they were doing. Uh, but they're still doing their own work while they're there. And, you know, that's been less of a factor now, you know, now that you can like post and, um, you know, do almost approvals via the web. However, there are still a good chunk of, of, of, uh, folks that work at agencies that are going to come over and hang out during a car session, or they need to, uh, really scrutinize the work that's being done.
Adrian Winter (00:44:34):
Um, be it either the cleanup or, or the visual effects, or at least, you know, give it the last looks before something finally is ready to go to air, because it's really the last time we're gonna be able to do anything about it. And while they're, while they're there, you know, in between the work that's being done, they need to be able to spread out and continue to do the work that they would be doing back at their back at their desk. So, uh, at, at the agency or what not. And so we've that level of client service is still there. Uh, we've modified it a little bit. I think that, you know, if you come to nice shoes rather than like, you know, the sprawling luxurious couches, what we've now sort of set up our common areas is, you know, sort of like almost like a coffee shop mentality,
Joey Korenman (00:45:12):
A co-working space or something like that.
Adrian Winter (00:45:14):
Yeah. It's, we've got charging stations everywhere. We've got rooms where people can go take calls because that's just what they've got to do when they're anchored to, you know, a suite where work is being done. I think that if you are the type of artists that works remotely and you know, it's never a factor that your client might come to where you're working, it's less of an issue. Um, but it's, but for us, when you've got a client or an agency that's, you know, very concerned with how something's going to look and needs to see on a broadcast monitor under controlled lighting, because, you know, they need to be able to put their stamp on it then yeah. If a client's coming into your shop, you need to be able to provide them, you know, that along with other things that they might need, they might be so busy, they can't go get coffee. So someone goes and gets them a coffee for them, you know, and that's a value add, you know, and, and, uh, as a reason, or it's a, it's a way to help establish a relationship with them that they feel comfortable, you know, either working in a room with us or out in the lounge, you know, having a conference call.
Joey Korenman (00:46:10):
Yeah. And, you know, just to kind of, I guess, circle back on this, like I used to, I used to, especially when it was me making the muffin baskets,
Adrian Winter (00:46:18):
I mean, it's not fun to make the muffin baskets.
Joey Korenman (00:46:20):
Right. I used to resent it a little bit because I was young and kind of didn't know how things worked and I thought, why does it matter? And I think the thing I resented was not so much that you were like taking care of the clients who are guests in your office, like that's sort of makes perfect sense. It was more of the fact that I would hear clients, you know, talking and talking about how they can't wait to go, you know, to the color of session over here, because that means they get to have lunch at this specific place. And, and that, it almost seemed to be like a decision-making factor for them. And, and until one day I was the client and I got to go and get wined and dined and all that stuff. And then with the tables turned, it became very clear to me why this is important.
Joey Korenman (00:47:06):
And I think it was, um, you know, it was, it was, it might've been, uh, my first boss pointed this out that you gotta remember if you're working at an ad agency, if you're an art director or copywriter in most of your day is probably spent in a cubicle and working really hard. And, and depending on your boss, maybe getting beaten up a little bit creatively, and then you get this opportunity to leave office and go be a VIP for a day. That's pretty powerful. Um, and it's a really good sales tool, frankly. Uh, so now I totally get it, but at the time it was hard for me to write.
Adrian Winter (00:47:40):
Yeah, I, I I'm, uh, I see your point and I was, I was right there with you. I mean, one of the frustrating aspects of working in Boston, I mean, I loved Boston when I was there, but, you know, we had four or five agencies that were within a block of where, you know, Finnish was, and it was very hard for that to convince, you know, any of them to keep the work in town, because the option would be to jump on a train or a plane, go down for a couple of nights to New York where, you know, they're going to take you out to dinner. They're gonna probably maybe get you tickets to a show because that's the thing, it's a thing they want your business. And, uh, w you know, if it were you, would you do that then on them getting on that plane, you know, so yeah, I mean, it's, I think that, you know, and again, it was a different era.
Adrian Winter (00:48:24):
There was a lot more money being thrown around then. Uh, there's less of, of that happening now, uh, in terms of just the complete, you know, uh, lavish of lavish lifestyles of, of, of agencies and, and, and their post vendors. But I think that there's still a very important place for, you know, taking care of your client and making them feel comfortable when they're, when they're there. I mean, again, you're not getting clients for multiple days. It's not like it's less of having a house guest and more like having someone over for dinner, you still want to present, well, you want to be a good host and we have clients frequently coming in and out of our office. So yeah, it goes without saying you want to make it comfortable for them.
Joey Korenman (00:49:02):
Yeah. So, I mean, this kind of ties into the next big chunk. I wanted to go over with you. And I guess like the way, um, the, the, where I'm sort of sitting with this immensely right now is that, you know, I sort of, I think a few years back, I would've said something like, you know, the big, expensive post house that has to buy everyone lunch when they come all that kinda stuff. I assumed that maybe that would eventually go away just because of technology. And you've got frame IO, why do you need to be in the same room and that kind of stuff. And now it's clear to me that it's not really going anywhere. I th I feel like there's still like a very good argument to be made for that model. Um, and we're going to talk about that, um, in a minute.
Joey Korenman (00:49:43):
Um, but you know, I've, I've kind of changed my tune a little bit on that. I feel like now, especially with the amount of work that's out there that is just expanding infinitely in like at light speed. Um, I think the more options and the more companies that are positioned in various ways, uh, the better like for clients and, and for people like you that get to work in an environment that is like really well suited to your skillset. So speaking of skillset, let's talk about flame. So we talked about, we've brought up flame a few times on this podcast, and I know that, you know, anyone over the age of probably 35 has seen one in the wild and is familiar with it. Um, the younger generation is in the motion design world anyway, is probably not familiar with at all. It's it seems like it's just far more useful as a visual effects and finishing tool. Um, and so, you know, people in that world understand it. So, uh, let's reminisce a minute about a conversation we had. I really wish I had like an exact day for this, but we talked a long time ago.
Adrian Winter (00:50:44):
I think it was about 2000, maybe 2007, 2008. I would, if I had to get that makes sense, because I remember the apartment I was in when you called me. That's how I,
Joey Korenman (00:50:54):
Yeah, I love it. That actually makes sense. Cause I think this happened right before I made the decision to partner up and start toil, which was the motion design studio that I, I was creative director and kind of co-founder for four years. And I had, so I got to this point in my career where I was freelancing and I was doing really well. And I, I had this, I felt like I was at a fork where on the one side I had finally gotten to work with really cool studios and brilliant designers. And I realized that I needed to really improve my chops if I was going to try and succeed in that world. On the other hand, I looked at places like Brickyard. And even at that time viewpoint, creative and Massachusetts, and obviously, you know, uh, the, the big shops in New York where the flame artists were the rock stars, they were getting the best work and their work looked amazing.
Joey Korenman (00:51:44):
And I remember, um, you know, going and doing finishing sessions at Brickyard in Boston and just being blown away. I was sat with the founder, a guy named Dave Waller. Who's one of the, he's like the most interesting man in the world. Uh, and he's just such a, such an artist on, on that thing. Um, and so I, I was like, I need to make a choice. And I don't know anybody who has done the after effects thing and who's done the flame thing except you. So that's why I reached out to you. We had a conversation and asked you for your advice. Do you remember what advice you give?
Adrian Winter (00:52:16):
Yeah. And I, and I bring this up from time to time because, uh, anytime I give advice to people and they, you know, say, oh, that was really good advice. You always know what you always know what the right decision is. I always tell them no, because one time I told Joey at school of motion to quit his job and come flame artist. I'm not always right. It's true.
Joey Korenman (00:52:38):
Yeah. Yeah. So it was funny. Uh, so just for everyone listening, the context was, I was thinking of like really going all in to learn flame learning flame. Now I feel like it's a lot easier because you've got ethics, PhD, there's online classes and the price point has come way down. Like, like it's. So it came down so far. It's, it's kind of hard to imagine. And, uh, so I was going to do the same thing you did. You'd probably go to Toronto and spend a week or two weeks there, try to learn flame and then try to convince the, the one studio that I freelanced for the had flames to let me stay late and figure it out. Um, and yeah, and what you told me was really interesting. So what I had expected you to say is something like, well, you know, actually after effects in flames, they can kind of do the same things.
Joey Korenman (00:53:23):
Now, it doesn't matter which one you pick or for you to say, flame is a far more powerful tool. And if you really want to do the high end work, you need to learn it. And actually what you told me, um, was that flame artists get the cool work because, uh, you know, have sort of this legacy of them always being the tool that good work gets made on. And there's sort of this self fulfilling prophecy of there used to, there was a time where after fixed, couldn't do that work. It was, it just didn't have the capabilities flamed in and you, and you made a lot of money by the way, as a flame artist, a lot of money. And so the best artists would end up on a flame and by, you know, and so the best artists make the best stuff. The flame actually didn't have much to do with it. But then a side effect of that was that clients would bring big budgets to flame artists so that you could have well shot effects elements, and you could, you know, have designers helping you and working on stuff. And so it was more of like the ecosystem around the flame enabled that work. It wasn't actually the flame. It was just all the, all the things that the flame of.
Adrian Winter (00:54:27):
Yeah. I mean, I think that the, as you say, the ecosystems surrounding flame, at one point it was built to succeed, you know? Um, I remember, I mean, it, it it's, you can't do good work unless you get good work to do, you know, and all of that went to the flame because it had had an established track record doing the best work. It was, they, you know, they, they banded this term around, um, you know, and it shifts every, every few years, but it was, it was the industry standard for doing high-end visual effects work. It could play things back in real time. You did not need to catch it. There was no Ram preview on a, on a flame. It, um, you ingest the footage and, uh, you know, whatever you've done, whatever you've done five minutes ago, you can call that up and play it again.
Adrian Winter (00:55:13):
It's it was built for interaction and it was built for speed. And it was, it was that software was sitting on a lot of processing power, uh, the processing power of a turnkey system that was designed specifically to run it. Um, you put that up against, uh, oh, and it could, it could also, it also had the ability to actually, you know, lay something off to a tape and then pull something back in from a tape, you know, and you're going to put that up against, um, a program like after effects that, uh, at the time was running on, you know, uh, graphite, Mac G4S, um, couldn't play anything back in real time, didn't understand time code. Uh, and if you, you know, wanted to see what you just did, you know, go get some lunch while it renders, you know, you're just not going to get that type of, of, um, of work, you know? And so if, you know, at that point in time in your career and in my career where you're really, uh, your, your biggest concern is chasing that real, you know, you want to get the good spots on your reel to help you get more work, uh, your best bet at doing that was to put yourself in a position where that good work was going to come to you. And that was get yourself on a flame somehow.
Joey Korenman (00:56:22):
Yeah. And I remember, you know, when, when I had that conversation with you, I don't know if it had the effect you thought it would because I took that and I thought, I think that's going to change. And I kind of, you know, like, I feel like eventually, and, and it, and it has for sure. And, and, you know, I think the way flame was positioned 10 to 15 years ago, um, it had a lot to do with the, the sort of factors we're talking about this self fulfilling prophecy of there was no, there was nothing else that really could do the work. And they were very expensive systems and hard to learn.
Adrian Winter (00:56:51):
And so, you know, the best work was done on them and the artists that worked on them made the most money. And so it just had this, it made this illusion that the machine was somehow integral to it and not, and it was, I'm not saying it wasn't, but the artist was a far more important piece. Now, how, how does that compare with today? Like how, you know, how does the post-production industry look at the flame smoke sort of model? Yeah, that's a really good question. Um, you know, I can, I can tell you just real quickly, because this, this sort of dovetails into it a little bit. It, there is a, I mean, there's a, there's almost like a, uh, I don't know if sliding scale is the right the right term, but like there, there are things that, that a program like after effects really could do quite well.
Adrian Winter (00:57:38):
And I think a lot of people tended to leap for that. I'm just, I'm hanging on your, your last question a little bit. I think a lot of people initially, like we left frog, you know, working in a program like aftereffects or other programs and went right for the film because they knew that no matter what was going to come out of, it was going to be good. You know, you could bring whatever, whatever you had to work with, you know, go into a flame for a few hours, whatever's going to come out, was going to be as best as possibly could. And in that sense of drive around like a Ferrari all the time, you know, but a Ferrari is not necessarily the best story, like a car you want to take to the store or like some traffic for a while. And those are the types of jobs that, you know, after effects in something like that is completely suitable for.
Adrian Winter (00:58:11):
And I found that that those types of jobs, um, as budget shrank were what sort of eat away at flames market share a little bit as computers got faster as after effects became a little bit more of an easier program to learn there simply became more artists to choose from that. Um, could do the kind of work that you needed degree done, even though it wasn't being done in a flame. And that especially became the case when nuke emerged on the scene. Um, and, and I think that for the way flame was positioned, they were so expensive, uh, that, and there was the, you know, this is in the days before, you know, internet learning was around, you needed to get into a shop that had one so that you could sit behind somebody that knew it and watch them work so that you could word it.
Adrian Winter (00:59:04):
Right. And there was this big mystery surrounding how you learn the flame. And there were, there were folks that, I mean, I've heard stories, well, obviously all the people that taught me were very open about teaching me how to use that box. Um, but there were other ones that were like, I'm only going to teach you 50% of what I know because the other 50% is mine and that's my job security. Right? Meanwhile, you have a very open, open community of up and coming artists on the aftereffect side that are like, ah, yeah, I made this very, very cool thing. And then I'm going to upload to the internet, and then I'm going to show you how I did it. Hence, you know, we have, um, you know, Andrew Kramer and all the, and all the follow him. Uh, and so knowledge got spread around very quickly and, and that sort of collectively raised the bar across all aspiring after effects artists.
Adrian Winter (00:59:50):
And I think that, um, now flame is still very well positioned to drive client, uh, drive sessions where client interaction is, is, is like important and necessary, but it is not nearly considered as, you know, as high. I mean, it's still a very powerful, very powerful platform and the, and those that use it and use it well, do astounding work. But I think it's been dethroned a little bit by programs like nuke that can, that are less expensive, can run on more affordable machines can be catered and optimized, scaled up and down as teams are required. You know, it, it allows for a better approach towards running a business. You know, you're not, you're not trying to keep those flames going because you paid so much for them. You know, you can, you know, the subscription model of, of nuke or after effects even allows you to scale teams up and down. Whereas for a long time you bought a flame and congratulations you're, you are going to be paying that off for the next couple of years,
Joey Korenman (01:00:50):
Buying a house. Yeah. So let's talk about the pricing a little bit, like D do you remember, you know, so I, so I went and looked a couple of days ago at the price of flame, and I almost fell out of my chair because I remember when, you know, they wouldn't put the price on the website because you had to call and talk to a sales rep and it, you know, and it would be, I don't know, like half a million bucks or something. And then I remember, uh, you know,
Adrian Winter (01:01:15):
Ask you can't afford it
Joey Korenman (01:01:16):
Exactly. I mean, you, I think you, you, you said, you know, driving around in the Ferrari, that's exactly what you're getting. Uh, and the, and then at some point they began letting you run flame on these. Um, I think these like HP, uh, you know, sort of PC boxes, it used to have to run on these like silicone graphics machine and then the price dropped to only 150,000. And, you know, and, and now I think you can license it for like, you know, 500 bucks a month or something like that. Um, and that is not cheap if you're looking at it compared to say the entire Adobe creative cloud suite, but compared to where it was, that is, I mean, comically cheap is it is I guess the way I'd put it. So, but it's still, it's still 10 times the price of, of using after effects.
Joey Korenman (01:02:01):
Right. Um, it's actually cheaper than nuke, which kind of surprised me nuke is more expensive depending on like, what version you get, stuff like that. So what do you, what are you getting for that premium? So, you know, you can get premiere after effects, Photoshop, illustrator, plus Adobe animate, Adobe audition, speed grade. I mean, you can literally have everything for 50 or 70 bucks a month or whatever material on, or you can get a flame, which also does those things. Um, what are you getting with that premium you're paying when you, when you get a,
Adrian Winter (01:02:31):
I think what you're, that's, that's, uh, I gonna have to answer that in two and two, uh, parts. I can tell you a little bit why the price dropped and how Autodesk, uh, positioned itself to be a little bit more competitive and why they dropped the price. Um, cause that's, you know, I think what ended up, uh, uh, happening with, with Adobe being the first company that said, you know what, you're not buying your software anymore. Uh you're you're, you're licensing it now. We're going to go subscription model. And everybody, when that first came out, it was like, that's ridiculous. I want to actually be on something. Right. And then, um, the Foundry did the same thing and Autodesk didn't necessarily really do that at first. Um, uh, it wasn't at all within their business model to do that, uh, because of what came along with, you know, purchasing a flame was a very expensive service contract.
Adrian Winter (01:03:18):
So you had like your support, you know, uh, you're buying a turnkey system, you're buying the software, but then you're also like, Hey, listen, our box crashed. Or we need you to like, you know, wire into our machines, figure out what's going on. Like that was the, um, possibly the most expensive component of owning a flame system was that, you know, on-call support from them. And they lost a lot of market share as a result of that. And they came to the subscription model late. Uh, they realized that, that they couldn't put their, their, their software on turnkey systems anymore. Um, and they needed to make it more accessible and it took them a long time to like write it so that it could appear on a Mac and they dropped to the service contract component of it. So that kind of drove the price down quite a bit.
Adrian Winter (01:03:59):
Now, if you are in a bind now, you're, you're kind of some, in some ways on your own to figure it out and you can argue the merits of whether or not, you know, that's, that's good for you as a, as a user, but that was sort of how they needed to position themselves to almost, uh, kind of, you know, survive and maintain some degree of compatibility or competitiveness when they're up against the creative cloud and, and the Foundry. Now what you're getting with a flame when you do get one, um, it's still a, it's still a very fast and very powerful and very robust box. Um, it is possibly the best system you can be sitting on when you're interacting with clients. Um, when it's compared against, um, against nuke, uh, I think it was, uh, I'm, I'm stealing this from someone, I think it was, uh, Jeff user that said that, you know, your, your biggest difference between nuke and flame is iteration versus interactive.
Adrian Winter (01:04:50):
If you're sitting with nuke and you need to make 8, 10, 12 different versions of something, you know, th the ability to sort of split off your node trees and, and, uh, version out of, out of nuke is like, it's very, very good at doing that. But if you're sitting, uh, in a room with clients and you play back a spot and at the end, they go, all right, listen, I want you to do, uh, you know, grade this thing here, you know, fix that thing over here. And then they just a laundry list of things you can be like, ah, yeah, give me some time. Um, I'll, I'll sit here and I'll do it. And then when it's done, I'll play it back for you. Uh, whereas you get you field requests like that on a flame, or even after effects, you know, your rendering is, is significantly longer.
Adrian Winter (01:05:30):
Um, you know, otherwise they're going to, you're going to maybe kick it to a farm. You're going to bring it back. It, you know, nuke doesn't handle real real-time playback. You know, now they're really does after effects. So in a flame, you have the best of both worlds. You've got, you know, modules that allow you to do batch compositing. There's also modules that allow you to do layer based compositing, or, uh, like you'd be familiar with an after after-effects, you've also got a timeline and handle audio. It can do audio mixing, it can do color grading. It can do all of those, those things in a relatively, nothing is real time. But like once you, you know, in, in a, in a very, um, interactive manner in turn those, those results in around and present them well. Whereas I think that, uh, you know, nuc is still in it's in the stage where it is, you know, very much a, a shot based compositor.
Adrian Winter (01:06:14):
And if you need to play something back in a timeline, you need to kick that over to new studio. A new studio just is not at the level of something like flame is right. You know, and, you know, you take that one step further. I don't know anybody that wants to drive a client supervise session and after effects, I had to do it when I first started. It's the most painful experience, you know, when you're just like, Hey man, w uh, yeah, no, you see that green bar when it's done, we can then maybe look at something provided we don't drop any frames, you know? So I think that's the most, um, you're not going to find anything else that can, that can run a room the way a flame can, and that's where the value comes in. Client-facing
Joey Korenman (01:06:49):
I think that sums it up really nicely that, you know, that, that was the impression I got too. And so I'm glad to hear that I had the right impression kind of confirmed, like, you know, in terms of what those tools can do, especially I think flame and nuke there's, um, a little bit more of a, of a one-to-one in terms of, you know, you generally use those things to do cleanup and tracking and, and, you know, paint and all that kind of stuff in after. But for example, I guess this might be an interesting way to kind of help our listeners like wrap their heads around the main differences, right? So a 2d explainer video, right? With like a bunch of vector layers and smooth animations and, and all that kind of stuff. I'm assuming you could do that in flame. Right. But what, why would you maybe, but maybe I'm wrong? Why would you not want to do that inflamed?
Adrian Winter (01:07:35):
I don't, I think that, uh, um, it's, I don't believe that that's the right tool for that type of work. Right. And, and when you're looking at something, um, uh, you know, paradigm we're in you're really more are, you know, now it is a business is more, you know, artists and user-driven, and that if you're someone that can maybe, you know, run a couple of types of different platforms, you know, for me, I've bounced back and forth between nuke, flame and after effects. Um, and I look at it more as a, you know, this, these are the, these are the tools I have in my toolbox. You know, I have a job that's coming in and I need to do something that's maybe, you know, a little bit more illustration based a little bit more, you know, something that's definitely more catered after effects. I'm going to pull that out.
Adrian Winter (01:08:14):
I can pull after effects out and do it there because if there's type animation, well, the type tools and after effects are great. The, uh, you know, the third party plugins and scripts here are going to make it really easy for me to just animate something in this, in this platform. Whereas flame is really, is geared more towards it's coming up. It's coming at it more from a effects standpoint and an editorially driven standpoint, um, and a, and a color precision standpoint. Now, all of these all like nuke, flame and after effects can all be positioned in their own little corners of strength. And they all kind of meet in the middle in some degree of, of a Venn diagram. But I think that, um, you know, your average flame artists flame is what they do, you know, and I find flame artists to be more contained in their own paradigm, as opposed to after effects by its very nature is built to interact with Photoshop and illustrator quite well.
Adrian Winter (01:09:06):
It's the same company, you know, so they're putting out, you know, you want to hotlink out to after effects, do an edit, save it. It's going to go back into after effects. That's, that's very versatile, you know, it's a very versatile approach. Whereas if you're in a flame, you're almost kind of locked into that system the same way like you are, if you're using an iPhone, you know, like, congratulations, you have all of the, the, uh, uh, the tools available to you that apple provides you. Right. But you're not, you're really going to step out of our, our little, you know, uh, house that we've built for you quite easily. Why do you sometimes see after effects? Uh, or I'm sorry, why do you see sometimes motion design stuff being done inside of flame? Uh it's because that job was handed to a flame artist and they know flame.
Adrian Winter (01:09:47):
Right. Simple as that, I think that there are artists that I know in flame artist said, I know that, you know, after effects to the degree that they need to know them and will quite easily stand up and walk across the room and sit down to the iMac, they've gotten the corner and go, yeah, I'm going to do this. Uh, because I'm gonna be honest with you. The warp stabilizer is better for this shot and get this out in a swing it right back into the flame. And when I was at a spontaneous and at Superfad, I was in a Roman, I had a flame and I had a smoke and I was like, I need a Mac next to me because I'm going to be doing a lot of work over here. And, uh, I will quite easily kick a shot out, work on it and then kick it back in.
Adrian Winter (01:10:21):
But there are artists out there that are, you know, they've been doing flame for 20 or 30 years. Flint came out in 95 and that's what they know. And so, you know, going back to the tool set analogy, you know, if you have only got a sledge hammer in your toolbox, every job becomes a sledgehammer, you know, like a sledgehammer job, like, yes, I've got this sledgehammer. I will just very daintily hit on this nail, but I'm still using a sledgehammer to hit it. Whereas, you know, if you're, if you have a lot of tools in your toolbox, you can say, no, no, no, no. This is the right tool to use for this.
Joey Korenman (01:10:47):
I think that is, it's a really, it's a really good way of explaining it, Adrian. Uh, I mean, it's like, I think at this point it's pretty, it's almost cliche to say, use the right tool for the job. Um, uh, back in the day there was a lot of, you know, like, like when I was coming up, there was the after effects as a toy thing. And I think that kind of influenced me to sort of push back a little bit. Um, and, and like, you know, with the benefit of, of age and, um, a few, uh, actually a few gray hairs coming in on my cheek. I saw the other day I re I really, yeah, it's modeled though. I
Adrian Winter (01:11:22):
Don't know if you've seen a recent picture of me.
Joey Korenman (01:11:24):
Well, you know, a gray Fox so temporary, we like to call it. Um, but anyway, you know, w where I was going is that I it's very, it's just like, that's the attitude. I think of the modern artist is that you've got all these tools, you know, and use the right one for the job. I do remember working at a motion design studio and watching flame artists jumped through absolutely incredible hoops to pull off things that would literally, you know, take, take two clicks in after effects. Um, but that, and it was just because that they, they knew that tool and they didn't want to learn another one. So speaking of learning another tool, one of the things that made me kind of decide not to learn flame was the learning curve of flame. And, you know, I've heard some people say that they thought it was pretty easy to learn, and it's very intuitive and make, make sense. It never did to me. And I think it's just because I grew up using Adobe stuff. And so like, you know, th that UI, that paradigm, that mental model of how a program works, it came naturally to me flames, and basically all of the Autodesk stuff smokes to, uh, the, the UI and the way you interact with it is completely different. So, first off, I want to know what the learning curve was like for you.
Adrian Winter (01:12:33):
It, it, uh, what it took was really divorcing myself from falling back on after effects when I got into a jam. And so just sort of trying to figure, figure things out, you know, on the flame and it, once you get it, once you're in it, um, it makes sense, but there is a deep program and it is not, um, it is not to build like a desktop program at all. You do not have like a pull-down menus where you can select what you need to do. Uh, you are jumping in and out of different modules a lot. Um, and back at the time I was learning it and it's since changed and evolved and all, I mean, Autodesk used to have back then it was discreet. It had, you know, four different programs and all of them kind of worked slightly differently, you know, and they've kind of turned all the kind of shoved all of them in together, you know, and, um, and the only product that really emerged out of there, uh, smoke, smoke, uh, fire Flint, flame Inferno, you know, cast of, of programs is flame.
Adrian Winter (01:13:29):
Uh, when I learned at flame didn't have a timeline. Once it got a timeline, it got a lot easier once it decided to say, oh, well, let's position ourselves. So that, you know, if you're approaching this the same way, you're approaching a, um, uh, you know, a nonlinear editing paradigm like premiere, you can do that, but if you all to just scroll through some frames and scrubbed back as, you know, back and forth, you can do that too. If you need to get into a node based compositing system, you can do that as well. You do that from over here. Uh, it's gotten easier, but it was very confusing. Uh, when I, you know, when I started learning it about a man 14 years ago, uh, and, uh, there are now, um, a lot more resources to learn. It was very much sort of had sort of an apprenticeship model.
Adrian Winter (01:14:14):
You needed to be sitting in a room with someone just sort of watching them work, which by the way, is not always the easiest way to pick something up. You know, the best way to learn is to be very, very hands-on. And so you'd kind of come in and, you know, in your off hours, it was on your, you know, on your own time, you need to come in and sort of like open up one of the artists projects, sort of like pick apart what they did and decipher what they were thinking when they did it. And then sort of try to replicate that on your own. And the only thing that could answer any questions for you is this, like, you know, yellow pages size manual, that was not very explanatory at all in terms of how to get anything done. So they've got, you know, it's gotten a lot easier to wear now, but you're not wrong. You know, when you were looking at it, when I first started, it was, it was.
Joey Korenman (01:14:53):
Yeah. And so this, this is, might be very difficult to do in podcast format, but I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about like some of the concrete differences between, you know, after effects. I think everyone listening is very familiar with, um, flame. They may not have ever even seen the interface. And so I'll just throw this out as maybe a starting point. I mean, I remember, you know, in after effects, if you want a red circle, you grab the circle tool, you pick a red color and you draw a red circle in a flame, you need a full frame of red, and then you need a black and white mat in the shape of a circle. It was like just there's extra steps to everything. Um, so that's, that's like the most basic example, but what are some other huge differences, um, you know, between those two apps?
Adrian Winter (01:15:37):
Yeah. Um, I mean, again, you, after effects is, is a fairly deep program and flame is a fairly deep program too. So, uh, I can try to go like, you know, reach down deep into the barrel and try to figure out, uh, or, or come up with an example of, of stuff. I think that, um, I find that, oh boy, this is, that's a very good question, Joey. Uh, let me give it, let me have, uh, maybe have a think about that.
Joey Korenman (01:15:58):
Yeah. I'll try to think of some, like, in the meantime, while you're thinking I could talk to a few other ones as well. I mean, I remember
Adrian Winter (01:16:05):
To that one, that's a good one. Cause it's, it's, it's, it's tricky because I'm trying to think, come up with like an easy example that doesn't require a lot of backstory, you know what I mean?
Joey Korenman (01:16:12):
Yeah. So, so one of the, one of the big things that I think, honestly, the, the interface was very difficult to learn for me. I think you kind of said it pretty well that it's not, there's not like a menu bar at the top organized intuitively to make it easy to find what you're looking for. It seemed very much like it's designed for you to know that that button exists and where it is and when to use it. It's not helping you to even discover that, that button. Right. Um, if you need to, you know, if you need to turn on a different type of key frame interpolation, um, it's, there's no right click on the key frame and a helpful menu pops up. It's kind of a different thing. The, the biggest, um, paradigm shift for me was in after effects. You're kind of doing everything at the same time. Oh, yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So maybe you could talk about that a little bit, cause that's a very different way of working.
Adrian Winter (01:17:00):
I agree. Even as I was hearing you talk just now, that was the first thing that popped in my mind. Yeah. Like all of your tools and aftereffects are roughly visible to you all at once. Um, if you've got an aftereffects project open, you know, that your project and your effects tab, or, you know, by default are gonna be on the left, your timeline is going to be down at the bottom. And your canvases in there is in the middle and your pallets are around the right flame has a, it's not really built that way. Um, a lot of stuff has sort of hidden off to the side and you do kind of need to know where to jump into a, uh, you know, what section to jump into to do whatever task you need to do. You know, uh, if, if you are now in terms of like, uh, let's see, there are the best way I can paint a picture is for flame.
Adrian Winter (01:17:44):
It's a sort of compare it a little bit to nuke because both are predominantly node based compositing programs. But whereas in nuke, if you are throwing out like a color crack tool or a grade tool, and you double tap on that, you know, you're going to get your pallet over on the right and you can start tweaking with that. Um, if in, in flame, um, each one of those nodes are actually modules. And so if you're going to go and, uh, you know, throw out a color, correct module and attach that to your node tree, double tap that you were now inside the color, correct module, you have left your node tree, right. And you do your work in there, and then you close it down, box up and then jump back into your node tree. And the way you need to, if you are in the car, correct tool, and you need to access your note or trackers, you gotta leave it and go elsewhere.
Adrian Winter (01:18:34):
You know, uh, also if you need to look at your node tree, even you need to like split your view and like, say, all right, on this view, I'm looking at my node tree, but on this view, I'm looking at my I'm looking at my color. Correct. And you know, it, it can get a little dicey and a little bit confusing until, you know, till you get used to that's how, the way you work. But I, you know, when I switched back and forth from nuke, I get frustrated when I go back into flame sometimes where I'm like, wasn't, I just wanna look at these two things at the same time. Why can't I do that? Right. But that's just how it was built. And it's very hard for them to change that now, because the programs, you know, 20 years old. So, you know, they're not, they can't be like, this is our interface now.
Adrian Winter (01:19:11):
And, you know, as, as the case with aftereffects, they can't completely redesign their interface bottom up because that breaks every project that came before it. So they kind of just have to keep building on top of what they, what has had what they've done before. Um, but yeah, it's a little, uh, I think that if, you know, if you're looking at your timeline or if you are in say, um, say an action module or an action node, if you want to you're right. This is difficult to explain on a podcast. Uh, if you are, want to work on, um, a shot, the way you would sort of work on an after effects and be able to say, all right, well, I'm stacking things, right? Like the bottom layer versus the top layer, you can do that in a module called action. And that gives you the ability to actually throw a bunch of inputs into one node, jump in there and say, right, I'm late.
Adrian Winter (01:19:57):
This is how I'm layering them. I'm going to mask this. I'm going to put this over here. You know, you've got your transforms and you can move them around, uh, and then rent and then, you know, kick out an output out of that module and go back your node tree. Uh, but your, um, key frames and your timeline is not necessarily always visible at the same time. You know, you're toggling between what would be analogous to your, your project window, which shows you all of your assets and your timeline. Um, it's hard to see both of those at the same time. Um, and if you do want to see both of those at the same time, you can't see your picture anymore. Uh, so that it you're right. It kind of sounds a little antiquated to describe it, especially since there are programs out there that have sort of been designed from the top up or bottom down, or however, to sort of handle this a little bit better, but that is how you use flame. Um, and once you figure out how to use it, and I know people were very, very, very fast at it and it doesn't bother them at all. Um, but for anybody that's spent any time in any other program, you know, you get inside a flame. You're like, what am I doing here? This doesn't make sense.
Joey Korenman (01:21:01):
Yeah. I think, you know, the way I describe it as the mental model is completely different, but here, but here's the thing just, you know, cause I don't want people to think we're like, you know, I'm bashing it or something like that. It's really, it was difficult for me to learn. And I think for most emotion design tasks after effects is just the right tool. However, I did learn nuke, uh, several years ago and I got pretty deep into it. I was using it a lot, um, at toil and you know, uh, new, um, the node based side of it is similar to flame. I know that the input and the output and, you know, the actual way you use, it's totally different, but it's designed as a composite thing tool, not as an animation motion designer. What was very interesting to me was that when I learned new and, and nuke like flame, it forces you to understand the fundamentals of what you're actually doing at a much deeper level.
Joey Korenman (01:21:47):
You can't just get away with, I want to circle, right? Like, I mean, I know nukes nukes gotten easier to use as well, but, um, you still have to understand a mat and a fill and you have to understand the concept of channels, things like that. And that made me way better at after effects, like in this weird roundabout way, learning nuke made me a better after effects artists. So what did you find the same thing when you learned flame? Did it kind of rewire your brain a little bit and make you better at after effects to,
Adrian Winter (01:22:12):
Yeah, yeah, it did. I mean, I think that there's, um, uh, you know, flame has the flame had the node-based, uh, compositing built into it. Uh, you know, even before new came along and once you start working in, and this is even evident in the video that you did with the aftereffects first nuke, when you're talking about the difference between layer based stuff and, um, node based stuff, what'd, you can do with a node based compositor. Um, you, you very quickly learn to, you know, eliminate redundancy when you're putting together a comp, you know, you can, you can split off and pump in a mat to like five different layers, but you're all, it's all coming from the same node, you know, whereas in an after effects, if you've got to do a bunch of track mats, you know, you've got layer, track, matte layer, track, matte layer, track matte, and, uh, you know, I, it made me try to figure out, all right, well, how can I do this a little more efficiently case in point, um, if you're going to stabilize a shot, right?
Adrian Winter (01:23:10):
Uh, in flame, you know, the way you would do that as you attach a layer to a stabilizer, you know, or an, or, or an access node, you know, and then you'd apply the data from a stabilizer to that access node, and that stabilizes your shot, that key frame positional data isn't necessarily attached to that layer. It's attached to a node that that layer is attached to, and you can stack up nodes and, you know, make adjustment to each of those nodes without having to mess up your route, stabilize your data. Right. And what I was working in after effects, you know, you watch any tutorial from 10, 15 years ago, you know, they're like, Hey, you need to stabilize a layer, apply a stabilizer to, you know, your layer and need to tweak it, just go on and mess around with these key frames.
Adrian Winter (01:23:55):
But that's destructive. And what I started doing when I went back to after effects was like, oh yeah, you know, what I'm gonna do is I'm going to start throwing Mel's out. I'm gonna throw my stabilizer dad on the Knoll. And then if I need to tweak that I'm gonna attach another Knoll to it. And then I'm going to attach this layer to this Knoll. And I started using no objects like, like nodes, and it was way easier to edit, to tweak, to, to, um, you know, and I, and I didn't risk like losing any important data if I decided, oh, I didn't like this. I I've already tracked it. And now I've lost all this work as I've got to start over and reapply the original key frame data you're in and build on top of it. Um, I also found that from a technical standpoint, once I started stepping into the flame world and the world of actual, um, you know, asset deliverables, uh, you know, you learn the rules of things like color spaces and, uh, you know, what's, what's legal and what isn't, and what's, you know, allowed for delivery and what isn't.
Adrian Winter (01:24:56):
And, uh, you know, when I went back and started working in after effects, you know, I, I, I'm still surprised that no one sets a color space when they open up an inmate new aftereffects project, you know, they, they kinda just open up and start working. And I think that kind of contributed a little bit, I mean, to go off to on a, on a little bit of a tangent that, that kind of contributed a little bit to, um, after effects in those that used after effects being kind of looked down upon because people that came up the flame route generally went in through a machine room and learn, you know, about tapes, about, you know, delivery about all of the actual rules that go along with delivering a spot that's fit for broadcast. And from then they get on a box and start working to make, you know, the content that, you know, then gets delivered this way after effects people, you can learn after effects, uh, and never really know, uh, the rules of color spaces or, you know, back, we mentioned like interlaced footage or three to pull down and like, oh, you know, that you don't really need to know that to get going.
Adrian Winter (01:25:58):
And it, um, I found that the flame artists got very frustrated with working with after effects artists, because they would kick a shot to them. And, you know, the after effects artists would do a little bit of work on it and then render the shot and then send it back to the flame. The flame guy would come up and be like, why is it color shifting? You know, like what happened in the after effects artist to be like, I dunno. And it's like, well, great, congratulations. You know, uh, I can't use what you gave me and now I got to go back and car, correct. What you gave me to match what I gave you the first time and the fact that you don't know how to fix it. It makes me frustrated and, you know, sort of, there's a breakdown there. And when I was on the flame side, I was like, all right, well, I get, I, I see the frustration on the other side, I need to go and figure out why this is happening, you know?
Adrian Winter (01:26:39):
And so I, I went back and really started delving into after effects, not as a creative tool, but also as a technical one as well. And, uh, you know, realizing that, oh, yes, they're handing me a piece of footage. It's rec 7 0 9 I'm opening. These guys were opening up in after effects or not setting a color space. And when you don't set a color space and after effects, it kinda just goes cool. And all the metadata that came along with this file, uh, I'm just gonna ignore that. And I'm gonna use some flavor of SRG B here, and then I'm going to render it out. And, uh, none of that metadata that came in with this source clip is going to go out with it. So, uh, that's just how we're going to do it. And then when it goes back to the flame, the flames, like, right, um, I'm bringing in rec 7 0 9 and it's not rec 7 0 9 anymore.
Adrian Winter (01:27:25):
And you know, that you get that collar shift. Right? And so, you know, we, we, with all of our after effects artists at nice shoes, it's sorta like if we're going to use after effects in conjunction with nuke and with flame, with which live in breathe, you know, color spaces and scene linear color spaces, you need to set a color space when you are working in after effects. Otherwise the shot that is given to you will not look that way when you give it back. And once we started doing that, um, suddenly, you know, things started clicking and, and, you know, whenever, wherever I was working on a project, whatever shop I was working on, you know, I got, uh, I got asked back a lot because the things that I worked on just slotted right back in properly. Uh, so I think, uh, in, in part to get back to your question, um, spending a lot of time on the other side of, uh, of the equation kind of helped me inform me on how best to prepare the stuff I'm building an after effects to be handed to someone, um, w you know, with the least amount of frustration, I think a lot of times, especially when you're working with design shops, um, that, you know, sort of make what they make, and then they send it off to, you know, flame artists at another, at another studio, you know, the flamers is going to get it.
Adrian Winter (01:28:39):
They're going to open it up. They're going to look at it and go, okay, well, the Red's illegal. So let me bring that down. You know, I'm going to look at it with, you know, the scopes and make sure everything's like falling within the area here so that, you know, the colors aren't going to bleed. And, um, you know, uh, you know, this is a little bit out of sync and the aspect ratio is a little weird and the frame rates off. So we just fixed all that and all that stuff is tweaked and made presentable and made. Um, and when you're just sending stuff off into the void and the job is there, the, what you've made is just fixed by somebody else. You don't necessarily need to think about it, but, you know, when you're sitting up the hallway from a flame artists, you know, they're going to come and knock on the door and be like, Hey, what, why, why is this?
Adrian Winter (01:29:18):
And they don't know after effects, and if you don't know how to fix it, then you're kind of at an impasse. And that makes any sense. So I came back to after effects with a lot of technical, you know, knowledge and an understanding of why the flame artists and the, or even, you know, the finishing arts or the colorists need things the way they need them, uh, when you're just opening up something and you're making something for the web, uh, you know, it's no big deal. Like you're just, you're making create, you're creating something and rendering it and then uploading it and great, you know, but, uh, there are, um, there's a world of, of rules out there that, you know, that your average after effects artists might not be fully versed in
Joey Korenman (01:29:55):
The broadcast world is full of landmines like that.
Adrian Winter (01:29:58):
I don't know how long winded that was, but you know, that, you know, that was my, that was my, my take on coming back, uh, into the after effects world, after having been on the Brooklyn.
Joey Korenman (01:30:06):
Yes. These kids today, they don't know about IRA.
Adrian Winter (01:30:11):
Joey Korenman (01:30:13):
Yeah. That's funny, you know, I, somewhere like along the line, along the way, we're going to, we're going to have to do like a tutorial or a piece of content about that kind of stuff. Because I, I mean, I remember when we started delivering a lot of spots at toil and I ran into that and like, it, it would get kicked back because the red was too red. Um, and you know, I had always had an online artist somewhere along the pipeline, like in between me and the client and all of a sudden that went away and I, I ran face first into that. So it's super super stream app.
Adrian Winter (01:30:43):
And I'll tell you, that's another reason why, you know, at the very beginning, you know, we talked, we talked a lot about the emergence of MoGraph or why certain things went to flame. Artists is because a flame artists knew this stuff they had to, you know, there was the last, they were the last person to touch something before went to air. So, you know, and, and, um, when mistakes happen, you know, the last person to touch it as the first person to get asked why, you know, so you need to make sure you are checking everybody's work before it leaves your hands, because if it leaves your hands and you're like, I like it, and it's wrong, it's your fault. It's not the person that was three steps earlier, it's your fault. Um, you know, and so when you're, you're looking at someone who's, you know, an, a artist that isn't versed in any of this at all. Yeah. That's, that's, you know, it takes a while to, to be able to, you know, you need to be a certain type of person that, to earn that trust on, at least on the deliverable.
Joey Korenman (01:31:31):
So you start off as an after effects artist, you've learned flame, you kind of, you know, all of those skills coming together, all that knowledge. Now you've got all this capability and then you transition, you become a visual effects supervisor. So what does, first of all, what does that mean? Like, are you, are you ever on the box or are you just now sort of like, um, you know, VFX directing other people and, and what was that transition like for you going from the artist on the box
Adrian Winter (01:31:59):
Too? A little bit more of like a managerial position? Uh, yeah, it was, it was a bit of a weird, it was a bit of a weird transition. Um, I, right before I came to work at Nicea was, uh, you know, I was at Superfad, uh, Superfad closed. And shortly thereafter I had my daughter and I was freelancing around the same time as having a newborn. And, you know, that kind of is like, you know, before you have kids, uh, you know, you're, you're working until three in the morning. Um, and it's not a big deal, but after you, when you got a young kid at home and your wife's waiting for you to come home, you know, it's, it's trickier to manage. And also you have way less energy. And, you know, it occurred to me that like, you know, there's this, you, I mean, you wrote the article like it, this field is definitely geared towards youth.
Adrian Winter (01:32:49):
Um, because you've got that energy and you've got that time when you're young, you may not have the experience, but, you know, you've got the hunger and you can put the time in, and this, you know, this business will take as much time, uh, as you are willing to give it and correct, you think Leslie, but, um, it, it started to occur to me that, you know, I should probably start trying to think about, you know, what, what is, you know, eventually I will probably age out as being the guy that is on the box all the time and what that, what is that going to be like? And, uh, you know, through some confluence of events, you know, it was right around that time. I got the call from my old boss at super fed who had landed at nice shoes and was putting something together.
Adrian Winter (01:33:26):
And the, the type of the flame artists that were at niceties at the time were used to one very specific type of work. And he was having trouble balancing the type of work that Superfad used to do, which is a little bit more, you know, uh, as we talked about earlier, it's less, uh, less, less straight forward, a little bit more creative, a little bit more meandering in terms of the schedules and how jobs work through their way through the shop. And so I came in as a guy to try to set up the pipeline there for, for doing that kind of work and in doing so, um, said, all right, well, why don't I, you know, and, and when they were talking to me about what they were looking for, it was, you know, a person that, that gets into shoots the person that could sort of like look at a job coming in and go, or what's the right, what's the best way to approach this and who were the, who's the team we're going to want on this and act in more of a supervisory kind of role.
Adrian Winter (01:34:15):
And I was like, well, that kind of fits with sort of where I see my own career going. So that's kind of how I landed that. But in terms of like what I do on a day-to-day basis, I am, I am less on the box then I have, uh, ever been in my career. And that was a hard transition at first, because as an artist, your, your entire sense of worth comes from, you know, the work you're doing and the shots are putting out, you know, like you can look back and quantifiably say, this is what I've accomplished. This is what I've made. And you're doing that less as a supervisor, you know, uh, you're going into meetings. Uh you're, you know, you're getting asked a lot of questions over the course of the day boards come in, you've got to look at the boards and, you know, suss out the work involved in putting together a bid.
Adrian Winter (01:34:58):
Um, you know, you end up acting as a liaison, uh, more between, you know, the producers and the artists. You become like a single point of contact depending upon the size of the job. Like, so really you're acting more in advocacy for the job, and you're sort of supervising other people doing it. And, you know, that's the type of stuff that never felt like work to me. It was this sort of like the type of stuff you do in addition to the work you've already got to do. I mean, if you have to go to the meetings, it's your like, tool, I'm getting a seat at the table and I get to sort of help try to make some of these decisions, but more and more, that's what I'm doing more than really sitting down and doing the work. And it was sort of watching the sort of thing that I, that I derived my entire sense of, you know, my career and intent part, my sense of self worth, because we're all artists and we identify ourselves through the work that we do, you know, and if people like, we just want people to like what we're doing, you know, and, and, um, you know, uh, you know, appreciate the effort that went into it.
Adrian Winter (01:35:51):
There was no better feeling than like, Hey, check out this thing I made and everyone got oohing and aahing over it. Right? And so when you're less the guy doing that, it, it was a little tricky. Um, but you see, but you know, when you do it enough, it, it took a long time for me to realize that there was value in what I was doing as well, that, you know, being able to go onto a set and speak, not necessarily as a person that would ultimately be doing the work, but acting as the face of the company, almost in sort of a pseudo sales capacity where, you know, you're out there with the client, you know, talking about the work that's going to be done, even if it's not necessarily done by you, you know, and making sure that the, the stuff they're suiting is, you know, what the artists back, uh, at the shop are going to need.
Adrian Winter (01:36:37):
Um, and then also acting as like a go-between between client calls and sort of like, you know, speaking for the work, um, parsing out what client comments mean, and then going, and then explaining those to the artists. My, I think my biggest role is making sure other people get to do their job with the least amount of distractions, if that makes, you know, to elaborate on that. Like, you know, we're, we're working on a big job earlier this year, and there was a lot of Rodo that that needed to be done. And we sent a lot of it out. And when the rodeo was coming back, you know, I would sit down and, uh, check it, you know, and if there was a problem with it, you know, I would write the notes. I would red pen the still, and I would send it back to the, you know, the, the, a company that did it, uh, because the guy that was actually working on comping the shot, I did not want him to stop comping, you know, and the freelancers we have working on that job, or like way psyched that they could just come in and work, you know, and they weren't being interrupted a lot.
Adrian Winter (01:37:35):
Then I was acting, I act as that stop gap a lot between artists on the team. Um, and, and as a result, I also, uh, I will drive the edit, um, when, uh, shots are being completed and, you know, I've done the conformance side of flame and I'm updating the shots, you know, I'll run the review sessions, we'll all sit and look at it, play it back. Um, you know, I'm kind of que seeing the bigger picture, uh, and making sure that things are lining up in that regard. So, you know, that's sort of a, like a thin slice of, of what my day to day is. Um, I often joke that people ask me most of what I work in and, you know, like what program do you use? I'm like Google docs. That's the most of the time a Google docs, you know? Um, so
Joey Korenman (01:38:21):
Let me ask you this. I mean, w you know, the way you described what you're doing, it sounds insanely valuable and not, and not something that everyone would be good at. And, you know, there's, this is kind of a thing that that's come up a few times, uh, you know, in, in podcasts and in articles that I've written where, uh, there's a lot of pressure as you get older to keep progressing in some way in your career. And so, you know, you did it by moving up the food chain, and you're a VFX supervisor. You're not doing as much of the actual quote art, right. You're, you're not on the box doing the chest, but you're still doing something valuable, but there's probably people listening that listened to you, describe going on the shoot and schmoozing with the client and, you know, checking the Rodo. And they're thinking I would kill myself if I had to do that. So what's the alternative to that. If you didn't want to do that, what would you have done? Would you have just stayed where you were on the boxers or some other avenue for,
Adrian Winter (01:39:19):
Um, you know, I think that, that you, as long as you were doing the type of work you like doing, um, I think you will bring it upon yourself to find a way to stay relevant as your career progresses. Yeah. Uh, for me, I always, I've always liked teaching, you know, um, I like showing people things, and, and for me, moving into more of a little bit of a mentorship role is it was natural for me. And I also like client relationships, you know, I like doing the work, but I'm also a bit of a social person as well. And I like trying to help establish, uh, you know, good partnerships with the people we're working with, you know, there, uh, and so that, that felt natural. You know, I'm, I'm a chatty person, so, you know, if they're gonna send me on a shoot and, you know, being on a suit, by the way, it's not all smooth.
Adrian Winter (01:40:07):
It's like, you are, you are basically the eyes on everything that's happening. Um, and anything that could go wrong, that's going to cause you more work in the back end. It is, it is, uh, it's crazy. I often do more work on, on set than I do at the shop. But, um, the, but I, but I know what you meant about just sort of dealing with, you know, being the face of the company and unrelated. Uh, but if that's not your cup of tea, you know, it's, it's really more about just trying to, to, to be, keep your eyes on H on the shifts in our industry and trying to stay ahead of it so that you can continue to do the type of work that you want to do. Um, I think that, uh, there's a lot of, uh, I mean, the same thing can be said for those who are moving up from, you know, designer to art director, to creative director, you know, I think it's, it's the kind of, uh, goal that everybody thinks that they're supposed to be working towards and you don't necessarily need to work towards that.
Adrian Winter (01:41:02):
You know, when you get up to creative direction, you're also somewhat managerial and you're not the person, you know, making the art, you're the person talking to the client about the art they want to make. And then also fielding all kinds of weird personnel issues that are going on and resolving disputes or re you know, and, and I know a lot, I know a few people who in the course of their career have gone up to creative direction and then been like, uh, you know what, no, I'm going to change companies and go back. Cause I, I really just liked doing the work. Um, but I think that, uh, yeah, I, I think that as your career grows, obviously, um, you gain experience as you, you know, like talking about things like the work-life balance is very much like, uh, you know, uh, artists of a certain age type discussion.
Adrian Winter (01:41:49):
Like I, I was out with one once yesterday, or not yesterday last week, uh, with a freelancer that was in and kind of just talking about how, like, you know, they, they sometimes, you know, they, they do their work during the day and then they go home and they, they continue to work for other companies at night, or, you know, they're totally down with like going and, you know, working for on a film for like six months and just killing themselves, but then having time off, you know, and it's like, great, I'm glad you got that much gas in the tank when you hit 30, your metabolism tanks. And you just, don't like, you know, you can't throw the heat. Like it used to, that'd be the second concern, but you're not there yet. And that's awesome because you're doing exactly what you want to do.
Adrian Winter (01:42:24):
Um, and as long as you continue to do that, now, if you're a type of person trying to figure out like, well, you know, I think a lot of people were driven to, uh, to work on the flame because, Hey, that's the best work and Hey, that's the best money. Uh, you know, that's my easiest way route to achieve rockstar status. Fantastic. But if you put all your eggs in that one basket, and then 10 years later, it's not flame anymore. It's something else you're either going to make a choice of. Well, you know, is this really about the comping or is this really about just, you know, me wanting to stick with what I know and not being willing to, you know, evolve or change, you know? And I think that, you know, for someone that's, you know, I mean, we can change the, the, uh, you talk about, um, talk about it from the perspective of our, um, our CG supervisor, who was like, brilliant, you know, he was an XSI guy and, you know, then, you know, Autodesk killed XSI.
Adrian Winter (01:43:14):
They, you know, so he had to learn Maya. And now, as he's learning Maya, you still very, very good, but he's looking over at our, you know, our creative director for AR and VR, you know, he's seen unreal and unity and the stuff that can be done then, and, you know, he's like, oh, I'm probably gonna need to learn that, you know, and for him, the, the through point of that is continuing to do good 3d work, you know, and that will guide you to your next, you know, I don't want to say plateau, but your, your next, the next stop on your journey, you know, it's, it's really about the work you want to continue to do. If you're deciding that like, Hey, there's a niche for Houdini artists. I'm going to learn Houdini we'll know that in like 10 years, you know, Houdini will be something, but there might be something else that comes along, you know, for you, if it's about doing killer effects in core simulation, your drive should have already wed you to be looking towards where that next cool thing is going to be coming from. And that is what will kind of keep you relevant as the ground shifts underneath you. If that kind of makes sense.
Joey Korenman (01:44:11):
Yeah. That doesn't make sense. Yeah. And you know, this is, this is a conversation that that's happening on the motion design side, for sure. On the visual effects side. And it kind of leads into another question I had about the specific kind of visual effects that you work on in, in the kind of work that nice shoes does, which is commercial visual effects. And in my mind, not this, I don't have real world experience with commercial visual effects, except like in a couple of instances. Um, but to me, it always looked like there was a pretty big difference between going to a place like nice shoes and doing a 32nd spot that has visual effects in it versus being a visual effects artist on a Marvel film or something like that. And, and, and so, you know, the, the conversation around the film visual effects industry, uh, has been, I guess, you know, frankly, fairly negative in recent years because of, you know, some very big companies going out of business, going bankrupt, uh, artists not being paid off shoring as much as possible to save money and, you know, tax credits, driving work out of, uh, you know, California and other places and all that, all those things.
Joey Korenman (01:45:21):
Does that, is there any piece of that that's hitting the commercial visual effects world or are they pretty separate?
Adrian Winter (01:45:27):
Yeah, I mean, I think that, um, the feature film, visual effects side of things is a much larger beast and there are factors that affect that, that don't really quite hit the commercial market, especially since, you know, it's, um, and first and foremost, it's sort of the, the fixed bid structure, that'll drive shops out of business on the, you know, but there's also the, you know, which state is going to give us, you know, the best tax subsidy that we will then just open up a new shop somewhere else and abandon our old one, like a ghost town and strand, a bunch of artists that moved there to be in place a, and give them the option to either move to place B with us, or, you know, continue to figure and figure out a way to pay their mortgage off the house they just bought.
Adrian Winter (01:46:12):
Right. Um, that's not really what we're experiencing on the commercial side of things, but, um, you know, budgets, but just, aren't what they used to be. And it really, uh, but for, for us, um, as we try to bid stuff out, you know, we, we certainly get, we certainly get, uh, boards all the time where it's like, look, this is, you know, you, you, you look at the boards and you're like, well, this is a lot, this is a huge visual effects job. And, you know, on the agency side, you know, they're spitballing, this is what they'd like to see. Right. It doesn't matter that they have like $300, you know? And so at that point, you look at it and go, all right, we'll look, um, this is a tricky one. We'll, we'll, we'll work with you to try to maybe achieve, uh, some of this or, you know, uh, try to repurpose what your concept is into something that is maybe a little bit more attainable give based on your schedule and your, and your budget.
Adrian Winter (01:47:10):
But there is a, uh, I don't know that we've experienced sort of the, you know, the race to the bottom type type thing that, um, the visual effects market, as, um, as experienced, I think that there are, there are shops out there that potentially, and, or consistently probably underbid their jobs and then just like murder their freelancers to try and get as much work of them out of them as they can, you know, and that'll work as long as, you know, there's always a fresh cash of cachet of freelancers to work with, because if you, if you burn out your freelancers, um, you know, you're gonna have trouble staffing up for jobs. Uh, we don't really try to do that. I mean, we, we try to be realistic about bidding and there's some jobs we pass on simply because, you know, they don't have the, you know, the budget's not there, but we're always willing to work with people.
Adrian Winter (01:47:57):
Um, now, if, if there's a, uh, you know, if there's a job we really want to do, or we're in the, it's in the interest of building a relationship as is the case with any, you know, if you're trying to work with a new client, you know, you, you certainly try to bend over backwards to stretch the dollar, as far as it can go and put the money where you really need it. Um, you know, we, you know, you mentioned, I mentioned rotoscoping earlier. I mean, that is a, that is a thing that for the longest time was something that was done at night by the assistance. And when you're running two shifts and now that's not really the case anymore, you send that overseas cause you can get more value of, you know, like why would you pay a full-time artist of Rodo when you can send that over there, put the money where, you know, you need it.
Adrian Winter (01:48:39):
And we look for ways to try to, uh, you know, package where we can, um, stretch the dollars where they need to go and, um, you know, make the most out of whatever production budget a client has. Uh, but there, but I think that the film industry I think is, is fallen victim because you got a lot of studios that are all acting the same way. You know, like all of the studios are looking for tax subsidies. All of them are, you know, fleeing Hollywood, all of the stuff, all of them are sending overseas, uh, in the, uh, you know, in, in the shop world, you know, you just, you're really more about how you're trying to run your business and, you know, the shop up the street might be doing something, you know, different than, than you. Uh, so I don't think that, I mean, there are, there are challenges to everything, but I don't think there's like a necessarily like universal challenge. Uh that's that's facing, you know, the commercial VFX side.
Joey Korenman (01:49:41):
Yeah. That's really good to hear. And I assumed that also because commercial VFX, um, you know, it's still in that model of client service and supervise sessions, and that is not outsourceable yet. I mean, maybe at some point it is. Um, but that's also a competitive advantage, right?
Adrian Winter (01:50:00):
Yeah. Yeah. I think that, um, it is about trust. You know, I think that most of, uh, the relationships we've built with the clients that we have, um, come from the fact that, uh, or I've been built on the fact that, you know, we try to let them know that, you know, we care about as much about putting together a good piece as they do, you know? And so when, you know, they are in a bind, you know, we'll, we'll work them out, we'll work with them, you know, are, you know, within reason. And I, I, I think that, you know, especially with our colorists, you know, we have people that will only work with certain colors just because they, they have that rapport, they built this rapport, you know, uh, chorus knows, you know, they know my style, they know what I want. I always get what I want out of them.
Adrian Winter (01:50:47):
I'm going to go to these guys and we try to approach every kind of service we offer with that same level of, you know, okay, I see where you're going with this. Let's try to get there together. And that, um, that feeds a lot of work back into us, you know? Uh, we're also, I mean, while we're a large shop, we're not, you know, a giant giant shop. We're not like Framestore. We're not like the mill where, uh, while the work they do a spectacular, um, this is less of a risk of being lost in the shuffle. If you're a smaller client, when you come from over the us, you know? So, um, there's an advantage to that, you know, and I think that some of our clients feel that way. Yeah.
Joey Korenman (01:51:26):
Th there's a lot of similarities between what you're doing and what, you know, the, what the motion design industry is also doing in terms of, you know, fighting, you know, falling budgets, dealing with that w you know, leaning more heavily on relationships, things like that. I want to ask you, you know, one of the, one of the things that I keep hearing from studio owners and producers that book freelancers and stuff like that, is that, you know, in the world of after effects artists, cinema, 4d, artists doing motion design, there's a little bit of a supply and demand problem where there's way more demand for artists than there is supply. And in, in my world, you know, I think that it's, you know, it's mostly because there are lots of people that know after effects and know how to animate in it, but don't actually know how to animate well or how to design well.
Joey Korenman (01:52:16):
Um, and, and so, you know, that's, that's kind of been our sweet spot at school of motion is, is trying to help those artists get up to speed and it takes time. And we're, and we're trying now in your world, um, you know, I know that there's lots of young artists learning nuke, uh, you know, it's, there's a free version and there's lots of resources out there. Is there any danger of having sort of, you know, a generational thing where no, one's learning flame anymore, and I'm asking this out of ignorance because just don't, I'm not in that. Um, I'm not in that circle. I don't, I don't see people or hear people talking about flame, uh, except at the highest end. So how do you ensure that there will always be young artists coming up to replace older ones that retire move on, move into managerial roles? Is there an ecosystem for that?
Adrian Winter (01:53:03):
Yeah, that's a really good question. And I think that that's something that is, um, that is something that is as much to, uh, Autodesk as a company to decide or did as anybody else. I mean, it's not necessarily the job of nice shoes or any other company to make sure that there's always a place for a flame artist here, you know, um, there, you, as an artist at any point in your career, you need to make the determine whether or not the determination for yourself, whether or not you're gonna, you've picked your, you've hitched your, your cart to this horse. And this is the horse you're going to ride out the rest of your career on, or whether or not you need to be able to say, okay, uh, I'm going to learn this, but I may also shift and go this direction and a couple of years.
Adrian Winter (01:53:47):
And I think that kind of looks at where, you know, you got to look at where you are as an artist in your own life. I think a lot of the really, really great flame artists are probably in their upper thirties, you know, um, there are a lot of really good younger ones. Um, so, but, uh, I can answer your question a couple of different ways. I heard one story at, um, an Imagineer event. Uh, I was not even imaginary anymore. It's a Boris, it's boring, multiple events. All right. So, uh, I, I know the guys at mocha, uh, uh, pretty well. And I was, I went to an event there and they were, you know, they just released their, um, set, uh, because they also purchased a Sapphire and punching all of that. They're pushing all of that, you know, planar tracking capability inside of the Sapphire plugins.
Adrian Winter (01:54:34):
And that's gonna, you know, that helps out the flamers, so they don't need to leave the program, um, to do their work. Now, this is the story you told me about a flame user group where they were they're demoing this. And the F uh, the flame Autodesk team was down demoing the new version. And one artist, flame artist showed up in the audience and was like, I don't understand what the problem is. You you're sewing me the whole use new these new tools. Great. Get me an assistant. I cannot find anybody that I can like hand work off to because, uh, there are nobody around and I want to hand work to them, but you have made it so hard for people to one be aware that this program exists and be gain access to it. That I can't find someone an assistant. Uh, if I wanted one, I can find a full-fledged artist, but I can't find an assistant.
Adrian Winter (01:55:25):
And I thought, and you know, the guy who told me this story was like, I was very embarrassed for that, but it's, it's kind of true. Um, Autodesk was a big ship and it took a long time for it to turn, you know, and I think it didn't really fully get how the market was shifting away from a little bit. I think that they really doubled down on, you know, the, the client led session portion of stuff and the interaction portion, and the fact that they really, for what flame does very well and nothing else touch them. But that meant that they were seeding a large portion of the share of VFX work out to nuke, which was maybe, you know, you can't run a session with it, but you can do, you know, 90% of you can do everything you can do and flame a new minus, you know, a timeline and audio mixing and deliverables.
Adrian Winter (01:56:11):
And I think that they maybe didn't see the writing on the wall as quickly enough. And we'll see what happens in the next couple of years. Um, if they can, if they can entice people, uh, to pick up flame putting obviously a flame on a Mac and, and making, um, uh, you know, a student version of it was great. It's what they needed to do a few years ago. It took them maybe a little bit too long to do, uh, and they've also got their, their own, uh, learning channel on YouTube, uh, called the, uh, the flame premium wearing channel. And there are hours and hours and hours and hours of, of very, very good, um, tutorials available there. Um, which is also on top of this stuff that FX PhD has been putting out since 2006. Um, so, but I was at a, a was at a different event two years ago, where I ran into the, the head of compositing at the mill who used to be the head of flame, but now instead of compositing and I, it was a nuke event and I was surprised to see him there.
Adrian Winter (01:57:11):
Uh, cause I was, I was always known him as a flame guy and he told me, you know, I will not hire any flame guy that can't also run nuke to a certain degree of, of competency, um, because uh, companies need to hedge their bets on their artists. And as, as of right now, flame has a place maybe, uh, it'll have a place forever. I mean, I remember 15 years ago, you know, the after effects guys were calling the, you know, the flame guys are calling the aftereffects guys, you know, like, you know, toys, it was an after effects is a toy, you know, and after effects, people are like, wow, you're a dinosaur, you know, like you're, you know, and, and maybe, you know, 15 years later, Flame's still around. They've been saying that this is going to die for a long time. Um, it hasn't, it's still relevant.
Adrian Winter (01:57:55):
It's still is a very important place in, in the ecosystem and the artists that use it, use it exceptionally well. Um, very well. Um, there is, you know, there are tools in there that are probably rivaled together. What an if use, well, um, what a CG artist can generate and a composite, or can composite flame as tools to let you do that all on your own. Um, so there may be a talent gap coming down the road. Um, but I know that within NYSU is there are assistants that have come up through, um, through shipping an IO that have sort of looked at, you know, the type of work that's being done there, uh, and chosen the flame route. And they're very good and they will be very good. Um, so it's not, it's not a foregone conclusion that flame will disappear. Um, but I think any artist, especially in, in today's landscape where, you know, it used to be, you could keep up on all these programs, like, you know, the, the updates came once a year and they came in giant incremental steps.
Adrian Winter (01:59:09):
Uh, now flames being updated, new it's being updated after effects being updated multiple times a year. And it's hard to keep up on everything. But as long as, you know, you have some sense of another way, some ability to work in some other program, you know, you'll be able to, to, um, have some degree of, of more than some degree of, of job security. But in terms, I don't know that that in, um, in the way the industry is going to, to, to say, there's no room for someone that's going to be like flames. The only thing I know, and that's just the way it's going to be it 10 years ago. Yes. Not now. Uh, so it's on the artist to keep, to, you know, not put all their eggs in one basket. And it's also an Autodesk to, to continue to read the writing on the wall and, and adapt their product to, um, to, uh, to keep itself relevant.
Adrian Winter (02:00:03):
Now, what I can say is that, you know, they, uh, flame, um, uh, had another color correction suite called luster, uh, which was not necessarily ever really adapted as a sort of industry standard thing, but, um, you know, flame artists would often use Lustre if they wanted to do grading on their own. And they've rolled luster completely within two, um, within to a flame. And now in the new version, um, you can grade and you can comp and then you can go back and grade on your comp and then go back and comp on your grade. And you're never really out of any one of those environments. And that for someone that knows how to use all of those tools is exceptionally powerful. And even to, uh, to the level of some of our baseline colorists are kind of looking laterally at, um, at flame and thinking to themselves all look, I mean, we're, we're across the board.
Adrian Winter (02:00:52):
We're, we're looking at an industry that's becoming increasingly homogenized. Like everybody's being asked to do a little bit of something else that they don't normally do. There's a lot of cleanup work that gets done in the color suite, um, that traditionally used to go to the flame, but now if you're, you know, Hey, can you just move out that person's skin, there are tools within the Baselight to do that. Um, but they're limited, you know, um, tracking is in the Baselight, uh, but it's limited. Uh, and now some of our colorists are looking at flame and going, Hey, well, you know, if the tool set that the color science isn't changing, and if the tools are adaptable, then I can put myself into a flame. And then at my own leisure and my own level of comfort, I can begin to roll some visual effects in some comping into the way that I grade.
Adrian Winter (02:01:35):
And we'll see how that goes with, with, with flame. Like, that's, that's a big feature that, to my knowledge, you know, Ngukurr after effects is a long way away from being able to incorporate. So, you know, that we'll see how that goes, but that, that is very exciting. So now we've got a couple of young, um, colorless and, uh, a couple of young flame artists that are simultaneously learning color and flame on the same box as they rise up through the ranks and that good, you know, put out an entirely new generation of flame artists and kind of redefine what a flame artist is different from the way we've known them for the past 15 years,
Joey Korenman (02:02:14):
You can check out nice shoes and Adrian's [email protected]. I want to give a huge thanks to Adrian for taking so much time out of his busy schedule, to talk with me, as we all go through our careers, we're often meeting new people and in doing so learning about new opportunities that are open to us, Adrian started his career just a few years before me. So I was able to watch him progress and to have a bit of a role model in terms of what does it look like to be a successful motion graphics artist. Now, obviously our career paths have diverged since then, but even the short time we had interacting together made a huge impression on me. And I feel like I owe this guy all the beers. So I'm not totally sure why I'm saying all of this, but hopefully if you're in a position to help a young artist wrap their head around the industry, I hope you will. Just like Adrian did for me all those years ago. And that is it for this one. Thank you so much for listening. All the show notes [email protected] and I'll catch you on the next one.
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