Back to Blog

A Blueprint to Expand Your Career with Remington Markham

By Adam Korenman

There's no "right" way to build your motion design career, but we may have found a blueprint for success

Building a career in motion design can sometimes feel like getting started in Cross Fit. There's a ton of new terminology, you have to buy specialized equipment, and you end up spending a bushel of money just to get started. It's hard to know how to take your career by the reins and steer it in the right direction.
Article-mkt-120-Remington-Markham.jpg
While there is no one true blueprint for building a motion graphics career, there are some best practices that have worked for a majority of the community. In today's podcast, we're going to discuss a few of those lessons with someone that has been there and done that. The proof is in the pudding, so grab a spoon and meet our guest.
Remington Markham—a.k.a. Southern Shotty—is a motion designer at a small startup called The Facebook, as well as an instructor at MoGraph Mentor. Remington is an absolute beast with the well-know and underused Blender. We've talked about Blender before. It's the FREE 3D design and animation software that has become quite the powerhouse. The open-source software has had a reputation for a steep learning curve in the past, but a thriving community—as well as a dedicated development team—has ensured a constant stream of tutorials, courses, and updates.
This is just an April Fools joke video, but you can see how Remington uses the power of Blender, his brand of humor, and a good ol' fashioned poop joke to sell himself
In our conversation, Remington talks about how he has utilized social media to act as a powerful marketing arm for his career, networking and advertising in equal measure. If you've been looking for some tips toward building out your own career, these are the keys to the kingdom.
Grab a big bowl of ice cream, dump a double-helping of sprinkles on top, and set on down. Remington is serving up sundaes, and you don't want to miss this.

A Blueprint to Expand Your Career with Remington Markham

Show Notes

Artists

Studios

Pieces

Tools

Resources

Transcript

Joey Korenman:
Have you heard about Blender? It's making waves in the 3D world and it's not surprising because Blender is free. In case you're unfamiliar, Blender is an open source 3D app that has become quite the powerhouse in recent versions. It's had a reputation for being difficult to learn, though luckily, there are some folks out there who have been producing tutorials and classes for the software like today's guest, Remington Markham, who goes by SouthernShotty on YouTube and Instagram. Is a motion designer at Facebook, a creative director and teacher at Mograph Mentor, and a top teacher at Skillshare. He's a busy dude.
Joey Korenman:
In this episode, we talk about the impact Blender is having on motion design and the differences between the industry standard Cinema 4D and this newer app. We also dive into Remington's online presence, which he's built up over the last few years. On first glance, he's clearly a 3D Blender guy, but in truth, he does far more 2D animation and uses his online presence to provide some passive income and outlet for teaching, and a way to network and get opportunities that would be hard to get in other ways. If you're looking for a modern blueprint for how to expand your career, this episode is for you. Let's meet Remington.
Joey Korenman:
Remington, it is awesome to have you on the podcast. It's always good to meet another southerner. And welcome, man. I'm excited to chat.
Remington Markham:
Yeah. Thank you. I'm really excited to be here. I've listened to this podcast quite a bit and it actually played a role in me early on picking this career a couple of years ago, pursuing after this, listening to the podcasts like this and Animalators.
Joey Korenman:
That's wild, man. I'm going to chalk that up to just having stuck around long enough, and I'm going to try to let my ego just get out of the way. That has nothing to do with how good the podcast is.
Remington Markham:
For anybody listening, if you are listening to this podcast, I recommend going backwards because what I did is listened to all of your podcasts to familiarize myself with the studios and artists out there that I now follow for inspiration and sought out after for advice and trying to pursue the type of work I wanted.
Joey Korenman:
That's so great to hear, man. Well, thank you for saying that. And I actually thought it would be interesting to start... A lot of times, I'll try to start with like, "Okay, what was your childhood like? And how'd you get into this?" But recently, very recently, I think you made a pretty big change and moved for a job. So why don't you talk about what you're currently doing and how this opportunity came about?
Remington Markham:
Yeah. In June, I started working at Facebook as an animator and I moved from little old Kentucky to big old California, right in the middle of the forest fires. So it was quite the big move with COVID, and the forest fires made things a bit difficult, but we're happy to be here, and I'm really enjoying the job. And previous to this, I'd worked at small studios and small agencies, and at one point, I'd even worked at a pet company. So quite the change to go from these small little companies to this big tech company, but that was a very intentional move and something I was really seeking when I was job hunting this time around.
Remington Markham:
I was talking to my wife as I was planning out my career and saying that, "I want this next job to be something that I want to stick at." Because previously to this, I bounced between companies and jobs, every two to three years, it's like I'd be switching. And I was like, "This next place I go, I want to go somewhere where I want to be there for a long time." And in the short term, I began seeking out these jobs and I sent out just a ton of applications. I may have even gotten referrals to places like Google and things like that. And I really didn't think that I was going to go from a small agency to a big tech company like Facebook. I didn't think I would make that jump.
Remington Markham:
So actually when I got an email back from Facebook, I had to Google the name and Google the link because I thought it was a joke. I thought it was a spam email, like one of these resume sites who'd reach back out like "Hey, here's the job," but it wasn't real. And lo and behold, it was real and after a very long interview process, I was part of the team and excited to be here.
Joey Korenman:
What are you doing at Facebook?
Remington Markham:
I'm an animator on the visual systems team and they produce artwork for the entire Facebook platform. So I actually work on quite a variety of things, but a lot of what I'm doing are spot illustrations and what we call quick promotions, which are animations and things that you see as you're scrolling through your feed. For example, they just released a COVID response tab or they just released a voter empowerment tab. I'm doing a lot of the animations and things that are in those tabs. And it's funny because I think most people that are familiar with me online, see me as a 3D artists and specifically a Blender 3D artist, but at Facebook, the majority of the work I do is actually 2D and After Effects.
Remington Markham:
And I would say that I actually have more experience in 2D After Effects, but for some reason, nobody wants to watch that stuff on my Instagram. So my Instagram is all Blender 3D because that seems to be what people are more interested in consuming from me. So my day to day, I'm doing a lot of 2D After Effects animation, primarily, character animation, and usually between three to seven second animations that loop. So there's a lot of similarities to what I do on Instagram, but at the same time, it's radically different in terms of style and medium. I do mix in some 3D at work, and Facebook's always exploring new opportunities. So maybe there'll be more room for that in the future, but right now, primarily 2D animation and After Effects the style they popularize with alegria and other things like that that they're working on.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. We were talking about this a little bit before we started recording, I even said to you, when I found out you were at Facebook, I was like, "That's interesting." Because in my head, you occupy the 3D Blender guys shelf. And I think that that's, I guess, it's almost like an occupational hazard of getting notoriety for a certain style that you happen to be really, really good at. So we'll get into that a little bit. What I'd actually like to do now is go backwards in time a little bit. It's clear even from just your first answer that you're very intentional and very methodical with how you approached, ending up at this tech company with this great job. So where did this start for you? How did you end up discovering that motion design was a thing and getting into it?
Remington Markham:
Not everybody's going to be interested in my childhood, so I'll keep it brief because everybody wanted to be an animator that's in this industry. I think we can all agree on that, so I'll skip over that, but it's important to mention that when I was a kid and I wanted to be an animator, I also knew that one day I wanted to have a big family and I knew that animators didn't make that much money back then. So I went to school for film thinking that "Well, I can work in advertising because I could climb a ladder and make good money in advertising." So I went to school for film with the intentions of working on short films and advertisements and that kind of work.
Remington Markham:
And a lot of those filmmaking classes and things like that, specifically lighting and how the lens work has really played a large role and how I handle 3D because it's so similar now that... I feel like a lot of motion designers really struggle with lighting and there's definitely better lighting artists than me, but I really feel like that gave me a leg up that I was able to pick that portion up pretty quickly when getting started. So it's interesting how those skills are cross-functional in that sense. But then as I got towards the end of college and started working agencies and studios, I saw that like, oh, motion design was at the time, which was mostly kinetic typography is very viable option for a career.
Remington Markham:
And I did enjoy working in motion design more than I did working with live action footage or doing basic After Effects, special effects like screen replacements and things like that. So I started pursuing doing that motion design more. And I was working at small studios and doing motion design there. And then I left that studio and took a job at a pet company. And the reason I took the job at the pet company is because I knew it would be easier hours, there wouldn't be these crunch days and deadlines and things like that, so that I could study after hours to pursue motion design more.
Remington Markham:
And I think it's really interesting, and we'll probably hop into this Blender later, but I feel the software really shapes the industry because Adobe Animate, it's really taken off and suddenly cell animation's become very popular. And the tools that artists have readily available for cheaply or even just ease of use, really dictate what direction the industry goes in. It's like you see illustrator add this new crazy cool gradient tool, and suddenly gradients are like trending the next year. And it's just those things are tied together and they influence one another. And as the software had gotten better for After Effects and things, it felt like I was seeing way more complex character animation. And I was seeing a lot of things being done in After Effects that 10 years ago I never would have even imagined were possible with shape layers.
Remington Markham:
And once I discovered those characters and things, I really locked in, it was like, "Okay." I actually wrote myself a curriculum of just all these different online sites, like The Futur, School of Motion, Mograph Mentor, like Skillshare, YouTube. I wrote myself a curriculum and I was like, "I'm going to specialize on 2D and 3D motion design, character animation. That's what I'm going to do." And for about two, three years, that's almost all I did after hours. I just would just go home and study and practice and pursue that path to get that because I had initially felt like, "Oh, I'll get a couple jobs here or there, freelance jobs and jobs at work, and I'll build up my demo reel in that direction," but I just wasn't getting it.
Remington Markham:
And you really have to make the work you want to get hired for. You can't expect people to hire you on a promise that you can do that work. And I got to the point where I was like, "Okay, it's time that I start making the work I want to get hired for." And that's really when I shifted my focus and my career, and that was a couple of years ago and one agency ago, but that was really the thought process I had during that period.
Joey Korenman:
Let me ask you a question about that. A lot of times if I'm talking to students or if I'm speaking at an event and specifically when we're talking about freelancing or how to get a job or something like that, that comes up all the time. I have a day job, in the day job, and you were working, I don't know if it was a pet store or a pet company, but regardless, it wasn't what you wanted to be doing, how do I get the job that I want? And what I always say is exactly what you said, you got to do the work you want to get paid for before you're getting paid to do it. Okay. Well, how do you do that?
Joey Korenman:
And my answer is always, you have to sacrifice something, either sleep or time with your significant other, or watching Game of Thrones, or whatever it is, going out with your friends, you have to give something up and spend that time instead practicing. And so I'm curious, what were you sacrificing to be able to come home from your day job and study and work, and make that work?
Remington Markham:
A lot of relaxation time and a little bit of sleep. I definitely agree because I've gotten asked that question before when they find out that I'm doing things on the side, "How do you do it? How do you do this and manage it?" And I definitely synthesize with certain people because I know that once you have kids or people who have certain ailments or other burdens, I know that it can be very difficult for some, or for some people they're working so much to make the money they need to live, they don't have time to take off. So I don't want to be insensitive to that, but I also think it's worth mentioning that you're not going to stand out doing what everybody else does.
Remington Markham:
So it's not normal for a person to work and then go home and sit down and study and work. That's not normal, but if it's what you want, you can't be normal. If you want an abnormally good job, you have to work an abnormal amount of hours. And I don't promote working long hours all the time or anything, I think managing your mental health and making sure you have on one time, relaxation is very important. And for myself, it's a very delicate balance and I definitely went overboard a few too many times, but I think of my brain like a creative muscle, and just like I'd go to the gym, you got to work it out constantly, but if you push it too hard, it's going to break and you're going to be down for a while. So you got to find your limits.
Remington Markham:
So I found out that I could operate on six and a half hours of sleep instead of eight, so there's an extra hour and a half. And I decided during that period, I just wasn't really going to watch any TV shows or anything, I decided that for my own one time, I'll play a little bit of games, but I won't have time to play games and TV because I'm going to study. So really picking and choosing what you can sacrifice. And then I think also getting into a routine. So for me it was like, "Okay, well I start work at 9:00. So if I wake up at 6:30 and get ready, it gives me about an hour and a half that I can work in the morning before it gets started. And then if I come back and I have dinner, and I take a walk with my wife and I go to the gym, then I have about an hour before I go to sleep that I can work on it or before I begin unwinding."
Remington Markham:
So it's definitely a careful balance and you need to make sure you're managing your mental health, but you also have to accept that if you want to achieve a job that's difficult to get, it's going to be a lot of hard work. And I think anybody can do it, but you have to put in the extra work to get to it. And I know that's easier said than done and especially for certain people's situations, but that's how I was able to achieve it. And just being rigid and focused and creating a routine and creating a plan and doing your best to stick to it, but that also includes making sure you take some time to maintain your mental health as well, because that's also very important. Otherwise, you may crash and burn and never accomplish the goal you want.
Joey Korenman:
And I think that there's of course, like whenever I talk about this stuff, I'm doing the same thing you're doing, which is trying to be sensitive to the fact that it is way easier generally for a 23-year-old to burn the candle at both ends than a 45-year-old with the mortgage and children. But there's also reality. There's also like, "This is the way it works." And you're exactly right, by the way, I love what you said, if it's what you want, you can't be normal. I wrote that down. That's excellent. Let's get into a topic that I actually do not know a lot about. And in prepping for this, I asked EJ actually on our team, EJ Hassenfratz. I was like, "EJ, do you have time to talk to Remington because you're both 3D guys, maybe it'd be better?"
Joey Korenman:
And he's really busy finishing up a class and so I'm like, "Okay, I'll talk to him about Blender." But I don't actually know much about Blender. I know it's open source, I see this amazing stuff everyone's doing with it, but I've never opened it, I've never used it. I couldn't tell you one thing about it other than it is a 3D app. So this is going to be interesting conversation because I'm going to be throwing darts and hoping I hit something. And what I wanted to start at was most people who are familiar with you through your social media and your YouTube channel, things like that, they probably did the same thing that I did at the beginning of this conversation was I said, "Ah, there's Remington, the Blender 3D guy."
Joey Korenman:
Why Blender? Because at least in my experience in this industry, especially when you get into the world of studios, Cinema 4D just has such market share, and there's these network effects that trickle down from that. And so as a professional, I always tell people, Cinema 4D is most likely what you will encounter in the world, Blender isn't there yet. So why did you start with Blender?
Remington Markham:
The reason I started with it is actually pretty simple, the reason I stayed with it is a bit more complex, but when I started, it was in high school because I wanted to learn 3D and I couldn't afford the programs Maya and Cinema 4D and things like that, at the time, were much more expensive than they are now. And they didn't have as good of student options at the time I looked. From what I understand now they have some pretty competitive student pricing options, but I didn't want to steal software because I felt like that was wrong and I didn't want to do that. So I found Blender for free, and that's why I started learning in Blender. And then I put 3D down for awhile to focus on After Effects.
Remington Markham:
And in that time, Maya and Cinema 4D and things like that started coming out with more competitive pricing for students and even some free options for students. And I picked them up again because I really wanted to learn those. At that point, I wasn't like a Blender, 3D guy, so to speak, and I couldn't find much material online training how to use it. There wasn't a Video Copilot for Maya, for example. I couldn't find tutorials on YouTube for it and things, whereas Blender being free and having a no-entry barrier, there was a lot of training online, so I was able to teach myself online how to use Blender 3D. And then they came out with version 2.8. Blenders started getting popular in version 2.7 that's when it started...
Remington Markham:
It was popular before that, but 2.7 is where it started in my opinion, truly becoming viable for artists to use this consistently for work that was fast enough and strong enough. And then they came out with version 2.8 and that's when it came out with the Blender EEVEE render engine, which is the real-time render engine, which started trending on Twitter. And I think that's where it got a lot of traction and popularity. And 2.8 also redesigned the user interface to make it much more artist friendly. And because they're not like. And because they're not beholden to this old code from 20 years ago that they have to hold onto keep things moving, they just rewrote the way the whole program works, that it's very intuitive for artists to use and it really took off in popularity.
Remington Markham:
And that's why I stuck with it as it has so many features and tools. And we can dive into some of those if you want, but that's how I got into it.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. That makes sense. And if I watch anything and Blender's mentioned, the price of it is obviously the killer feature that gets everyone in the door, it's free. There's no cost to it to even try it. I do want to dive into the way Blender works, because one of the things that I've heard, and I've also heard that this has gotten way better over the past few releases is that it's not as intuitive as Cinema 4D is a little harder to pick up, but for people listening who aren't as familiar with Blender, one of the things I wanted to ask you about is, what is the effect of it being open source? And for anyone that doesn't know what that term means, it basically means A, it's free, but really it means the source code is available.
Joey Korenman:
And so anyone who has the know-how theoretically, I'm sure it's more complex than this, can work on Blender and add features to it and build literally the next release version of Blender. I don't know how all of that works, but I know that that's the spirit of it. And I'm curious, what are the advantages and disadvantages of that because I'm sure there's both from your perspective?
Remington Markham:
Yeah. Ton Roosendaal is the guy, kind of the driving creative force behind Blender, who oversees everything. And he's talked about that a bit as well, that it's basically like a ship, and the people working at Blender can steer that ship, but the community controls the wind because anybody can contribute to the source code. So he had an idea of what direction he thought Blender could go, but the community had a different idea and it swayed the direction of the ship. So it's interesting in that regards that anybody can contribute and it's also worth noting that because it is free and there is no barrier to entry, that they've released their statistics and they get more downloads than all the other softwares combined in a month, what they get in a year, it's crazy how many people are downloading and trying it.
Remington Markham:
I'd imagine the retention rate is probably pretty low because if you're not paying for it, you're not committed to it necessarily, but it's still impressive that that many people are familiar with it or using it. And in that regards, basically anybody with knowledge of code can actually get in there and contribute. And it's really interesting because it's constantly updating. So if you're using a big software like Adobe or Cinema 4D, it'll get like one big release a year and one or two hotfixes, sometimes they'll get some new features mid-year, but with Blender, it can almost be hard to keep up with the update cycle because it's constantly updating.
Remington Markham:
They actually have daily updates that you can even subscribe to. And usually, if they're working on 2.9, then they feature lock it and then they have features for 2.91 and 2.92 incoming, and if you're downloading on their website, it's pretty simple. You download the current version and you use it, but you can get into all these different branches and all these different versions and be downloading like two, three versions ahead. And there's actually YouTube channels that thrive off of doing nothing, but just reporting Blender updates. It's crazy how many times they're updating this program and how many new features are coming about.
Remington Markham:
And in a way, that's really cool because with the open source community, the artists really gets to shape the tool to be what they need, because it's in the hand of the people using it and they're contributing code to get it to do what they want to do. And at times, I've seen in the past where it had seemed unfocused where rather than getting really good at one thing, it's suddenly now it has this entire visual effects suite in it, when you would think "Well, why isn't it just getting better at 3D animation?" But that's because anybody's contributing to it. But since Blender's 2.8, and it's really taken off and they've hired a lot of developers and things, I feel like the core functions of Blender are moving forward at a steady pace. And then now you also get the benefit of all these people latching on and adding new features.
Remington Markham:
For example, they recently just overhauled at sculpting system. And a lot of people saw the Cloth Brush that got popular on Twitter and Instagram that they created. And that was actually from somebody on the outside and now they're working at Blender. So it's really interesting how people in the community can contribute code. And I know for example, it has a large 3D printing community, and those people are writing 3D printing add-ons and things like that to you use Blender better for that. So you can even go and download special branches because anybody can take the code and make what they want. So you can really use it however you want it.
Remington Markham:
And it is really interesting to see what software looks as the community shapes it, the downside of that being, like I said, it can at times be almost overwhelming to even keep up with.
Joey Korenman:
Interesting. Do you have any idea, and I know that the Blender Foundation takes donations and that's one way that they pay for things probably the S3 bucket that gets hit with a million downloads a day of Blender. But also now, they're hiring developers and things like that. How else do they make money? Are there other things you can buy from Blender or are there plugins that they sell or something like that?
Remington Markham:
I don't know if they still do this, back in the day, they used to have people that were Blender specialist and they would come help you at studios and things, set it up. I don't know if they still do that. I know now public facing, they have the Blender cloud where people can subscribe, and then they have Blender donations. And because of where they've gotten to, a lot of large companies have contributed. So if you look in their contribution list, it's companies like Google, and Epic, and Ubisoft, and companies that are now contributing to Google regularly. And I think Epic donated, it was something, particularly large sum. I want to say it was like a million dollars at one point a year or two ago.
Remington Markham:
So they're getting quite a bit of funding from these other companies that are using the software and want to see it alive because it's quite popular in the game industry.
Joey Korenman:
That's really interesting. And I have to say, when I initially heard about Blender and that it was free and open source, this is just a failure of my imagination, I did not understand how something like that could possibly survive. One of the things I wanted to ask you about, it did seem at least from the outside, and again, I've never opened Blender, but just from what I've read and YouTube videos I've looked at, it did seem initially, it was pretty difficult to use. And there's actually a pretty funny video I saw of Captain Disillusion, who's this amazing YouTuber, and he's on stage at some conference and he's poking fun at how silly the user interface was of Blender. And now obviously, it's gotten better.
Joey Korenman:
Is that one of the downsides that eventually, through crowdsourcing in the high of mind, it's going to get where it needs to be, but initially when you have 100 cooks trying to bake one cake, you're going to end up with some weird features and buttons in weird spots?
Remington Markham:
Yeah. That was definitely when I first started using Blender in high school, and gosh, I can't even remember what version it was on, it was really old. It was pretty early on, and I definitely remember feeling that at the time like, "Geez, this is hard to learn, and I don't really understand what direction it's going." But since 2.8 and the rise in popularity and the rise in funding, I actually haven't had any of those concerns, that it really is on track now. So maybe that was the case at a point in starting in open source, but at this point been around for what? Like 20 years or something.
Remington Markham:
So now that it's gotten steam and it's moving forward, I don't feel that's an issue anymore, but I could definitely see how that would have been an issue in the beginning when they didn't have all the funding or the team now. But it certainly feels more focused and more streamlined and very user-friendly now, but yeah, early on, it was pretty difficult. And one of the weird things that gets pained for is you used to use Right Click to select everything instead of Left Click. And there was a lot of weird things like that. And I don't really understand where those stem from or why they stuck around so long, but thankfully, they're not there anymore.
Joey Korenman:
That's so funny. Have you used Cinema 4D? Can you talk a little bit about the differences that you've noticed?
Remington Markham:
Yeah. At the last studio I was at, or the last agency I was at, they primarily use Cinema 4D, and the person I worked with, his name's Brandon, he uses Cinema 4D and he loves Cinema 4D, he's always in it. And so because of that, I used it through extension of him. And then there was a couple projects we actually animated in Cinema 4D. So I can't use Cinema 4D in the same way that it can use Blender where I can do a little bit of everything. I can do a little bit of rigging and a little bit of animation and a little bit of rendering, but I did some of the lighting and Redshift, and then I did all the animation in Cinema 4D.
Remington Markham:
So I'm certainly familiar with it and I've put a good bit of hours into it and it is a great piece of program. But if you want to speak to the differences, I oftentimes compare Cinema 4D to Illustrator, and I compare Blender to Photoshop. And what I mean by that is that if you want to create an illustration in Illustrator, you have to sit down and you have to think a couple of steps ahead. So if you want to create a character space, you're going to be putting together a couple of squares and circles and triangles and using tools like the Shape Builder and things to adjust it. And in Photoshop, you're just going to sit down and start drawing with a pencil.
Remington Markham:
And that very much is how Cinema 4D versus Blender feels to me, that in Blender, I'm going to hop in there, I'm just going to start modeling right away. I'm just going to get in there and start moving things around, but it's very destructive and hard to go backwards, whereas in Cinema 4D, you're going to be using this layer system, you're going to be using all these MoGraph effectors and all these modular tools and piecing together things, and bullions. And Blender has some of those things, but that's not really how people do it. They're going to hop in, sculpt mode and edit mode and hit the ground running that way. And then of course, Cinema 4D has, they're just unparalleled MoGraph effectors.
Remington Markham:
Those are just incredible. They're like After Effects effects, you just drag it on 3D and makes things look good. And what people come up with those is just so incredible. And I think that's why Cinema 4D is just so powerful for motion design and why anybody's had a hard time competing with them in motion design. And Blender doesn't have those kinds of effectors, they have what they call modifiers, and they can do some of the similar things, but not to the quite to the same extent that Cinema 4D you can do. And Blender is actually working on a new system which will make it more like Houdini, where you'll actually have a node-based workflow system where you can control anything in the program.
Remington Markham:
I've even seen where people have done animations in the UI using these nodes. And once they have that implemented, it'll make it a lot more powerful for motion design. But even then at the same time, a node-based workflow similar to Houdini is very complicated, whereas even an illustrator can hop in Cinema 4D and learn how to use these effectors pretty quickly to do some cool results in simple animations. So definitely hard to be done on that. Where Blender stands out as they have the real-time render engine that is also implemented directly into their Ray tracing engine. So those you can flip the switch back and forth with minimal work.
Remington Markham:
And that also creates a much more savvy viewport. So you have a pretty good idea of what your renderings going to look before you ever hit render. And that's really nice. And then everything's built in, whereas with Cinema 4D, a lot of times you're using external render engines like Redshift and Octane sitting on top, and you have to deal with the third party aspect, whereas in Blender, it's all built in. And then Blender also just introduced the grease pencil, which is a full 2D animation suite that can be used in 3D space. And that's an incredibly powerful tool that I hope really takes off in the motion design community, because there's a lot of room there for innovation.
Joey Korenman:
The things that I've heard about when motion designers talk about Blender, it's things like grease pencil where it gives you a different way of working than really any other app gives you. That was actually a really good, I think, comparison. I feel like I have a pretty good... That was excellent, Remington. I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what I would expect going into Blender. Now, do you think that, and it may be hard for you to answer this because you know Blender very well and you know Cinema 4D less well, but for someone starting out, is one easier to pick up than the other, or do you think they're almost parody?
Remington Markham:
With the new updates, I'd say they're pretty close and easy to pick up. It really depends on what you're trying to do. If you're trying to do typography animation and abstract like motion graphics, I think Cinema 4D is probably a little bit easier to pick up. If you're trying to do characters or if you want to do fast renders, it's like Blenders is going to be better because the tools just seem to do a little bit better for character. In my experience, you can do character animation on both. I see plenty of great character animation in Cinema 4D, but in my experience, the rigging and the real-time viewport, just make it a little easier in Blender, but of course, Blender has the 2D grease pencil.
Remington Markham:
So if you're not familiar with 3D at all, and you're familiar with 2D, you can pick up the grease pencil in a day or two, and really get started running with that if that's the route you want to go.
Joey Korenman:
That's really cool. Do you think there's a case for a motion designer to learn both, or do you feel like at this point it is just going to make sense to get really good at one?
Remington Markham:
Yeah. That really depends on the strengths of your skills, some people pick up software very easily. Like my friend, Brandon, I mentioned earlier, he's very software fluent. He can pick up software and learn it in a week or so very easily. And some people are just created that. And he actually bounces between Cinema 4D and Blender quite frequently, depending on what he needs from both one and which one will do that faster. And I do the same thing with After Effects. I could get fog in Blender pretty quickly, or I could get even quicker in After Effects with the depth pass. So I just do that and bounce between the tools.
Remington Markham:
So if you feel like you can bounce between programs without diluting your skillset, by all means, they both have great tools that I think any emotion designer would really love to take advantage of. But if you struggle with software fluency, I don't think there's really any fault at sticking to one and just specializing in it, doing what works best for you as an artist.
Joey Korenman:
Another thing that I'm curious about is, because you're making Blenders sound really, really nice. I totally get the appeal of it. And the stuff that you make with it's amazing work, we'll link to Remington's... You have many different channels you're on, but we'll link to, your Instagram is probably the best place to look at your 3D work. And it's really great.
Remington Markham:
Thank you.
Joey Korenman:
I know EJ loves it because it's characters and it looks... You're really good at making things look they were touched by human hands, little imperfections in it, stuff like that. Now, do are there studios and advertising agencies and people doing what we typically think of as motion design using Blender? Or is it still pretty much the land of Cinema 4D, but every once in a while you run into an artist that has Blender on the machine and bounces back and forth?
Remington Markham:
There's this website called Blender Nation, which posts a lot of Blender news, and they still do it. They used to do it a lot more, but I think it was called Blender in The Wild. And they would show segments and things from Blender being used out in the professional industry. And I can't be for certain, I haven't asked the writer, but I would believe that would be because at one point it was pretty rare to see it out there. So when you saw it, it was like, hurrah for the team Blender. And they still do that, but it's interesting because the projects have increasingly gotten bigger that they put it on.
Remington Markham:
For example, Blender was actually in some of the frames of the Oscars one year. They snuck in Blender and some of the transition frames. And it's actually quite popular in the game development industry. I see a lot of indie dev studios using it. And I think that's of course, because of the price and saving money there, but Ubisoft and Epic and those companies are starting to contribute a lot of money. And I've heard Google uses it quite a bit too, I don't know how true that is, but I have heard that. And with these companies reaching out, I started asking some of my friends who work in the game dev industry. So I have some Instagram friends and then I have some college friends that work at Sony and companies that produce these AAA budget games.
Remington Markham:
And they said they use Blender, and Blenders pretty common at the game development studios, mostly because of an add-on that is developed for it called HardOps, which introduces these hard surface modeling tools in Blender, which are hands down the best hard surface modeling workflow out there. It's incredible. It's really powerful and really quick and really smart. So I know that's got a lot of popularity among the game dev community, and I know that Netflix picked it up, or a couple of studios doing animations for Netflix, I should say, has started using Blender. I don't know if you saw Next Gen, John Krasinski. It was on Netflix and that entire film was made in Blender.
Remington Markham:
And then some other animated studios have picked it up because they like that they can switch from 2D to 3D and use the two together. So we're certainly starting to see it been incorporated in more studios, In terms of motion designers, I don't think it's quite as popular right now. I'm sure there's a lot of solo artists working with it, and I've been using it for years. So I definitely think it has potential and it's out there, but Cinema 4D has a pretty strong hold on the motion design community as far as I can tell. That being said, you can never tell what the future is going to be because when I started college in 2008, everybody made fun of me for using Premiere to edit because everybody used Final Cut.
Remington Markham:
But Adobe came out with the subscription and then took over, and Blender's now a pretty viable tool for motion design and it's free. But I think that that competition breeds innovation and new products and appeal to customers. So it's exciting to see how it might help shape the future of the industry because now there's more competition and what software will do to kind compete with one another and the customers.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. And I think in the end, it's just going to help everybody, it's like, what's that? The tired cliche, iron sharpens iron or something like that.
Remington Markham:
Yeah. Well, as you mentioned with it being open source, anybody has access to the code, so there's nothing from stopping these other companies taking a peek under the hood and seeing what they're doing. And it's like having access to an entire development team for free almost, you can look at what they're doing and how they're doing things and how they're optimizing themes and learn from that. So I'm sure it'll lift everybody up.
Joey Korenman:
That's awesome. All right. Well, I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more about Blender over the next few years, and I'm going to keep an eye on it, I know EJ is. Now I want to talk about the way you've been able to create, obviously you're a motion designer, you've worked at studios and now you're at Facebook, but you have this other thing that you do where you're the 3D Blender guy, you have this YouTube following, you have an Instagram following. Maybe you could just give us the overview, what are the various platforms that you've built this personal brand on and what was the motivation behind doing that?
Remington Markham:
Yeah. We can start with the motivation behind doing it and why it got started, and then if you want, I can dive into the various platforms I'm on, but I got started... I told you that at one point, listening to podcasts like yours and Animalators and seeing companies like Mograph Mentor and School of Motion, that I got it into my head that like, "Oh, I can do character animation for a living." And I started studying after hours. That's really when my social media began. So I started my Instagram at the time as a way to hopefully get more freelance clients for that kind of work. And I also was going to use it to motivate myself to create that type of artwork. So I started on Instagram making these little character loops.
Remington Markham:
And then I just started AB testing, creating artwork I liked and seeing how people responded to it. And it was a very slow start. As I started to learn what people to start posting 3D and people seemed to like my 3D work more so I started doing that. And then as my Instagram started to grow and I started to do more 3D work on Instagram, people started constantly asking me in the comments like, "How did you do that? Can you make a tutorial? How did you do that?" And I talked to my wife because I knew starting a YouTube channel would be a lot of work. And she was like, "Go for it." Gave me thumbs up, and I was like, "Cool."
Remington Markham:
So I started a YouTube channel, and I have another friend who runs a YouTube channel, his name's Ducky 3D. He does more the abstract animation that you would typically see in Cinema 4D, but he doesn't them in Blender, which made his channel take off in popularity. He gave me a lot of advice, and that's why I think it's really important to be friends with people in the industry. And a lot of people are nice and we'll help you if you reach out. And he gave me some advice for YouTube and shared my channel. And then that took off. So then as YouTube grew, my Instagram was growing and they were growing simultaneously feeding off one another.
Remington Markham:
And then I believe Skillshare has a mass email they send out to anybody that might be tagged in their fields of education because I got an email from Skillshare and I decided "Well, I'll go ahead and try that because they don't really have much content like I do on there." So then I did a class on there. And at the time, it was entering in some Skillshare contest, and I won that contest, and then it prompted them to reach out to me and asked me to make more courses. And they put me on this potential teacher category list where they think you might be a top teacher, quality teacher. And then they coached me through my next course. And that took off on Skillshare.
Remington Markham:
And around that time, I started reaching out to companies like Mograph Mentor, School of Motion, Motion Design Schools saying "Hey, I'm doing this Blender 3D stuff, it's starting to gain traction. I think it might be useful in the motion design industry." And Mograph Mentor was like, "Yeah, that sounds awesome. Let's try it." And then we recorded our course together. And then since then, all these platforms have just grown together. So now I'm a creative director at Mograph Mentor where I teach more intermediate courses. And then on my Skillshare, I teach long form beginner tutorials for 3D in Blender. My YouTube channel is pretty much entirely Blender and those are 15-minute beginner tutorials.
Remington Markham:
And then my Instagram's mostly where I share my personal artwork and stuff and try and get people's interest on the next tutorial.
Joey Korenman:
That's so awesome, man. I remember the way that I found out about you is through Michael. He moved recently, but he was living in Sarasota, which is the next town over from me. And we were talking and he mentioned that he brought you in as a creative director. And I checked out the class that you taught there, just the sales page for it. And it looks really cool. And I think Michael to his credit, he saw I think earlier than me, that Blender, it's still the early days, but I think it is going to be pretty impactful on our industry, maybe as the younger generation of artists come up.
Joey Korenman:
And it's been great to see Maxon has responded to it, their pricing's changed, they have a cloud subscription now. They have a really, really great student pricing now. And I've met a lot of that is in response to Blender doing what it's doing. I want to ask you about Patreon too, because you also have a Patreon. And I've always had very mixed feelings about Patreon because I've seen it be this runaway success for people, and I've also seen it be just basically completely fall flat and become a treadmill that someone can't get off of ever now. I'm curious what your opinion of Patreon is these days.
Remington Markham:
My Patreon, I casually push my Patreon because I do a lot of sponsored videos on YouTube, which is where a lot of my YouTube income comes from, and I can't promote my Patreon in the middle of their promotion. So my Patreon only get soft promoted on videos in between sponsored videos. And it still pulls in a couple extra 100 a month. It pays for groceries for a couple of weeks, which is nice without that much effort. Some people like Ducky, the YouTuber I mentioned earlier, he pushes his Patreon on all the time because he basically does YouTube full time. And so he's always producing videos and pushing his Patreon. And I don't know where he's at now. Last time I looked he was well over 1,000.
Remington Markham:
And with where he lives, he could pay rent and some groceries with it I'm. Sure. So it's certainly a viable option, but yeah, I've seen people fall flat and I've even seen YouTubers in the Blender community that have larger followings and they're pushing their Patreons and they have three times follower account than me and their Patreon is one fourth the income. So yeah, I know what you're saying, it definitely can be a treadmill that you get stuck on. And that was something I was worried about. You can quit at any time, but at the same time, you feel like you can't quit it. If you're pushing it, it can certainly be a viable income source. YouTube just launched their own version of Patreon with their Creators Program.
Remington Markham:
And I don't know if that'll take over because it is built into YouTube. So maybe more convenient, but regardless, crowdsource funding is definitely a viable form of income. The majority of my YouTube income comes from my Patreon and my sponsorships. And if I was promoting my Patreon more like Ducky was where I was constantly putting out exclusive tutorials and exclusive shaders and things, then yeah, it could become a major source of income, but it is work to keep up. I think when you see these ones that fall flat, they're oftentimes creators looking for support in addition to their channels.
Remington Markham:
It got really popular with animators and game streamers on YouTube when they changed their platform algorithm, and it suddenly became harder to get views on short form content. So people started seeking out additional funding so that they could keep producing that content. And there are people out there that will pay just to see good art, but I feel like that's much more rare than if you're offering somebody something. So if you create a channel and you're like, "We're going to make a podcast and we're going to make good short films," you might get support. But if you're doing like Ducky or I, where you're releasing exclusive tutorials and shaders, people will pay for that because they're already invested in your content and now they're getting extra value.
Remington Markham:
So I think if you're giving people a value, they will totally pay into it. And then the benefit of it being a subscription is it's hard to get people to do a one-off payment, but when people do a lower grade subscription, they might end up giving you more money than they would for a one-off payment, because it's just a little bit each month. So it's actually easier to get signups on Patreon than would be for an expensive course, for example.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah, exactly. Well, that's interesting. And I've talked with people who have Patreons that were successful and then once it became successful, they realized they had just picked up a boulder they could never put down. So I was wondering about that aspect of it. You've talked a little bit about this, and I know it's different for everybody, but how do you look at the educational side of what you're doing being on YouTube, you have Skillshare classes, you've got MoGraph Mentor classes, but your day job is at Facebook. And we don't have to get too specific, but I know Facebook they pay pretty well.
Joey Korenman:
So, how do you look at this? Is this for you sort of, I want to basically have a little bit of passive income and just like you mentioned, groceries and stuff like that, or is there some greater ambition here, maybe one day this is actually your primary income source?
Remington Markham:
When I started the educational platforms and using that as a source of income, it was because I was getting tired... I needed the freelance money to save up for a home and for travel money and play money for my wife and I. And when I started the educational stuff is because I was honestly getting tired of the client feedback dictating my schedule and I'm very much about respecting the client and trying to be a good artist for the client, but at times, it was getting too difficult, it was just spiraling out of control. And it was I didn't have control over my evenings because it was on the side. Whereas with the educational content, I would set my own schedule.
Remington Markham:
And then of course, as an artist developing your own content, I felt like that was as close as I could get to selling my own artwork, because unless if you're Banksy, people aren't going to pay enough for your artwork to make a living. So I felt like, "Well, this is the closest I can come to making a living off of my personal artwork." At the time, it was to free myself of freelance, but maintain the same level of income. Then it took off better than I thought. And at that time, and I still believe this way, I think that with your career, you're never entirely sure exactly what direction it's going to go no matter how hard you try and veer it in the direction you want to go. So it's always good to have two to three doors open.
Remington Markham:
And at the time, I had like 10 doors open and I was working all the time, but I knew that it was going to be a very short-lived burst. And it really became a matter of, what doors am I going to keep open? And I got the Facebook job and the creative director role, and MoGraph Mentor, and the Skillshare, and YouTube were doing well. So I just closed all the other doors, so I quit freelancing and other things so that I could focus on these forms of income. And that's how I still view my side income. So my side income is my savings money. So I live off of my job. And then my side income is where my savings or travel money comes from, saving for a house and things like that.
Remington Markham:
In terms of the future of my career and the future of that income, I think any artist would really jump at the opportunity to live off of their own work. And I feel with tutorials and things, you are creating your own artwork and then teaching other people how to do it. And I think that can be extremely fulfilling as an artist that people want to indulge in your artwork with you and that you could potentially make a living through your own artwork in these educational platforms. And admittedly, that's still a pretty appealing career path towards me, but at the same time, I also love what I'm doing at Facebook and working with a big team of people.
Remington Markham:
So I would say right now, both doors are open and I don't know where I'll be in five years. Right now it serves as the supplemental income on the side. And at the time of recording this podcast during the pandemic with COVID, it was a harsh reminder when I saw a bunch of my freelance friends suffer pretty dramatically at the beginning of this year financially, how unstable freelance careers can be in terms of sources of income. So that's where I'm at on the two sources of income at the moment.
Joey Korenman:
That's great, man. Because I get asked about this a lot too because of the way School of Motion started and I've talked about it on podcasts before, but originally, I always had ambitions for it to be the thing that paid the bills, but of course, you never want to count on that. And so I actually really liked the metaphor you used of having multiple doors open and being careful about shutting them. Even I think three years into School of Motion, I was still doing voiceover work because I didn't want to close that door. And the first time I told someone, "No, I don't do that anymore," it was really scary.
Joey Korenman:
So I get what you're saying, and I think it's a good philosophy for artists to have, especially in this day and age where there's lots of companies out there like Facebook, that if you're good at this, they'll give you great salary, great benefits, move you across the country probably, and you can have a great job, but I always, I don't know where I got this from, maybe my father, but I have that mentality of easy come, easy go. So you might as well have a safety net under you, if you can.
Remington Markham:
Yeah. I see a lot of artists that are very risky, I'm a risk-averse person, so that's why I chose the path I did and have to have that safety net under me. But some people like Michael for example, they'll just jump right into it and succeed. And it's just some people, they're just good at that. So, if you're good at that, more power to you, jump into it, but I'm a risk-averse person.
Joey Korenman:
You're definitely right about Michael. He's an entrepreneur. There's no other words to describe that, man. I love that guy. So I want to know also about what the side income things have done for your... You're not freelancing anymore, but while you were freelancing, did they actually help you get freelance work? It's an enticing idea that you can teach some things and build a little bit of a following, but then does that actually turn into extra work?
Remington Markham:
I feel like it's getting a little more commonplace and people are starting to get a crap with it, but certainly the last five to 10 years, I feel like a lot of motion designers have been wrestling with how does social media play a role into my freelance business? And I get a lot of questions about that regarding, can it grow my business? Do I need to focus on this? Will I make more money if I have a bigger following? I think it was what it really boils down to. And the answer is yes, but also no. So, do I get more freelance offers as my following grows? Absolutely. I get people messaging me all the time asking me to do freelance jobs.
Remington Markham:
But that being said, most of them are jobs that I would not really want to do. They're either too small, don't pay well enough, or it's just a person looking for a one-off job. And you can't really make a living in the United States at least, off of that type of income. But at the same time, my social media has also brought about much larger freelance opportunities, but in a different context. So one of those being that because I'm constantly bolstering my social media, I'm really building up my demo reel and building up my work that I'm able to share with clients and to seek out better work. So if I want to be hired for character animation work, I now have 10 pieces of character animation to show clients when they ask me if I can do it.
Remington Markham:
So in that sense, it brought about some work that way with larger companies. And prior to working at Facebook and to doing the educational stuff, I had worked on projects through agencies and things, but companies for like ADI and Facebook and Google. So you can get pretty large clients that way. And then where it's honestly affected the freelance the most is the connections I make through social media. So the motion design community is pretty tight knit, I know a lot of people talk about that on this podcast and it seems like everybody knows each other, and we're all separated, but we can all find each other through social media.
Remington Markham:
So I've actually made a lot of what I call Instagram friends at all these various companies and studios and things through my Instagram, where they see your artwork and they like it and will reach out a message and will be like, "Hey, I love your artwork." And I've made friends through that and that's where the majority of the good freelance offers have come from is using social media as a network. You can't just build it up and sit there and wait for the income to come in unless if it gets absolutely massive, but if you can just get a couple of thousand followers, you can start reaching out to people. And it almost in my experience, legitimizes you a bit that if you have a couple of thousand followers and some good artwork on there, more people are likely to respond.
Remington Markham:
And I was able to make friends that way and then able to get freelance contract offers through friends. So did the Instagram just sit there and make me money? No. But did it make it much easier to make money? Yes. So I definitely think it's worth investing in. At the end of the day, even if it doesn't take off, you're producing more artwork and you're going to get better and have more artwork for your demo reel. So in that sense, yes.
Joey Korenman:
It's interesting, that used to be Twitter's purpose in our industry, and that not necessarily showcasing your artwork, although that was a piece of it, but that was how you could start meeting people and networking. And it seems like Instagram really has become the new Twitter. And you were making me think, and you kind of answered this already, it's one thing to have an Instagram following like Beeple or something where millions of people follow him. And I'm sure that gigantic brands DM him and want to hire him to do things. But for the average civilian, right, with a few thousand followers, is Instagram now... there's this concept of social proof, and a lot of brands use it, and I've seen freelancers use it where they'll literally have testimonials from old clients on their site and stuff like that, which always seems a little strange to me.
Joey Korenman:
But Instagram follower account, is that a form of social proof? Is that a way now to say, "Look, I am good at it. And the proof is, look at my follower account"?
Remington Markham:
In my personal experience, I would say, yes. I don't think you have to have social proof through Instagram to be successful because there are plenty of artists that, the company I work now at Facebook that are better than me and some of the people that are teaching or doing courses at School of Motion and Mograph Mentor has smaller followers than me, but they're making a really hefty career out of it, and they have good notoriety in the industry. So is it required? No. But is it helpful? Absolutely. And is it one viable lane to take for social proof? Absolutely.
Joey Korenman:
I love this. Let's start to land the plane here. I want to ask you about how you avoid, if you have avoided, being pigeonholed as the 3D Blender guy, because I tried to find a portfolio site for you and I couldn't really find one. I found your Dribbble, I found Instagram. It looks like you used to have a portfolio site, but you don't anymore. And so everything that I can find that you've done is the 3D style that you teach on YouTube and Mograph Mentor, but you mentioned that at Facebook, you're not doing that, you're primarily doing 2D. So how do you balance that, where I'm sure a lot of your client work that maybe we don't see, is that 2D stuff and how do you actually tell people that you can also do that?
Remington Markham:
Yeah, I actually did have a portfolio website and I actually got rid of it because using that metaphor I had before of how many doors are open, most of my work was coming through Instagram and YouTube and people contacting me via email through those platforms. And my website was just another burden that I was holding onto that I didn't. Now, that's why I think it's always good for an artist to analyze everything they're putting their time into and then just deleting the things that are burdening them, but not necessarily benefiting them. So I actually got rid of my website for that reason. And the only reason I needed a demo reel was for job hunting and my resume.
Remington Markham:
So, after I got the job at Facebook, I got rid of the website because it wasn't benefiting me anymore. But in retrospect, I don't think I ever would've created the website, I would've just done the demo reel and then shared my Instagram. And I think that would have been just as successful. In terms of my artwork and not getting pigeonholed in that, it's really funny because as you say, when you look at me, you think, "Oh, he's the Blender 3D guy, he's a blender 3D guy." But I've actually spent more time in After Effects than I have Blender. And in terms of my paying work, I have done way more 2D work than I ever have 3D work. I would say it's 80/20%.
Remington Markham:
So I spend a lot of time in After Effects. So how do I go about proving that to clients? Well, the reason I don't have much 2D artwork on my current social media sites is just because when I was doing all the AB testing, people responded much better to my 3D work in social media, which is why I pursued that route. But because of my work resume, I was still getting 2D artwork on the side. So when I applied to places, my demo reel actually had more 2D work mixed into it. And a lot of it was private work that I couldn't necessarily publish because it was client work, so I couldn't share it, but at the same time I can draw, but taking that sketch to a polished 2D form, isn't my forte. I can do an okay job, but not enough to get attention, but I can take that sketch to 3D and get some attention on my social media.
Remington Markham:
So unfortunately, a lot of the 2D projects I do are collaborating with other artists and things. So I can't really promote those on my own Instagram. So when it came to getting the job at Facebook, that was actually one of their concerns was that, "We really your artwork, but it seems like you primarily do 3D and we primarily do 2D." So what I ended up doing is I had some private links from clients that it was allowed to share in private without taking a public, but then also what I did, and they didn't ask me to do this, I did this on my own. I don't even think they legally can ask you to do it. I went ahead and created 2D artwork in the style of Facebook and sent it back to Facebook after my interview.
Remington Markham:
I said like, "I can do that." And then I just proved it by doing it. So just treated it a personal project on the side. So that's how I go about convincing clients and a roundabout way that I can do it. I have a lot of stuff under the hood that I'm able to share with clients since After Effects is such a popular method for clients.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. That's so smart that you just did that Facebook style and sent it to them. I think one of the things I'm learning about you through this conversation is just that you're willing to do the extra thing. It's not like watch TV for two years or whatever to do a spec piece for a client that you're hoping turns into a full-time gig. And that is such a constant thing with every successful person that come on this podcast. So everybody listening, take note that that is one of the secrets to being successful. The last thing I want to ask you, Remington, is about working at such a big company and I've never worked anywhere close to the scale of a Facebook.
Joey Korenman:
Worldwide, I'm sure there's 100,000 plus employees. So I'd love to know, just give me a taste of what is it like working there? Why did you want to take this job at such a gigantic company? And what's it like on the inside of something that?
Remington Markham:
That's a great question. And I feel like I'm in a unique position where I worked at small studios, I did some freelance work on the side, I've done educational work and now I'm at this big company. So I feel like I've really had the benefit of my career to taste a little bit of each meal for a motion designer, each career path even if I haven't gotten to dive into each one as deep as other motion designers. But when you work independently as an artist and you're freelancing, or you're doing something educational, all the burden falls on you, and that can be difficult, because maybe you're really good at character animation, but you're not good at rigging. And maybe you're really good at illustrating, but you're not great at animation.
Remington Markham:
So you'll illustrate something beautifully, but you won't be able to animate it well, and it can be very difficult to be a one-man band, so to speak, and to create these client pieces or these art pieces by yourself because you can't be good at everything. And then when you work at a small studio now, suddenly you're working with other people. So now you can work with this illustrator over here who's really great, and you can work with this animator over here to collaborate, to make a more complex animation. And suddenly, it opens up a lot of doors, but then it closes some doors because now you don't have complete creative freedom.
Remington Markham:
So now, you have to argue with the art director and you have to collaborate with other people that might have different viewpoints than your own. And sometimes they're good and sometimes things come out of that better, and sometimes things come out of that worse. And then also you're at a smaller company and you're producing work for a client and you're beholden to these certain deadlines. And sometimes those kinds of clashing viewpoints can interrupt the quality on the way to that deadline. Sometimes they can improve it. There's always going to be pros and cons. So working at small studios and going to Facebook, what I've noticed is that Facebook is so big, it's transcended those pain points that you get from working on a team, if that makes sense.
Joey Korenman:
It's so big, it's small.
Remington Markham:
Exactly. It's so big, it's like almost some of those pain points disappear. And what I mean by that is that in my experience at smaller studios, it's like illustrations come to you, you animate them, they go to client and they're like, "Oh, wait, let's change that." And then you have to rewind all the way back. And that could have been fixed if it had been called out with the illustration standpoint. But when you're working on such a small team, those things are just bound to happen. There's pros and cons to everything. When you work at Facebook, it's by the time the illustrations come to you, it's come through so many hands that when it gets to you, it's basically approved and you're good to go.
Remington Markham:
And because the company is so large and so efficient, you have ample time usually to animate this illustration properly. And then when you pass it off to the art director, my experience so far has been really great. I get very minimal feedback and it's all very good, thoughtful, intentional feedback that betters the product for the goal. And if you disagree, you can have a conversation, and sometimes it goes your way, and sometimes it doesn't, and everybody's very collaborative and there's a big focus on cross-functional. And a big part of me going to Facebook was learning how to work with other people. And I think because it's so embedded in the culture, it makes everybody work together much more efficiently.
Remington Markham:
That being said, you are at a massive company and there's top-tier talent from around the world. I'm sitting next to animators that are just so good at what they do and have these amazing resumes. And I'm sitting with these amazing illustrators, and it's been a real learning experience for me. And it can be very intimidating, and there's a healthy amount of competition in my experience, or at least it promotes me to compete with myself to try and be better and live up to the expectations of my colleagues because I work with such talented individuals. I feel I'm learning a lot just being on the team and doing my day-to-day job, which is something I hadn't necessarily felt.
Remington Markham:
You're always learning from your colleagues, but working at a big company like this, I'm learning quite a bit more than I ever have in the past. That's definitely the advantage of being at a big company. The disadvantage is that it is harder to stand out. You are the small fish in the big pond, so to speak. So at the last company, you might be, "Look, I'm the 3D guy. I do this 3D and I do this cool thing, but I can also do a little bit of character animation." But at Facebook it's like, "Yeah, but we got that illustrator over there and they're way better at drawing than you." You certainly have to do more to stand out, I would say. Then there's obviously the benefits that come with working at a large company like that, which are really nice.
Remington Markham:
So you're definitely giving up some creative freedom, but you're gaining a lot of improvements in the creative workflow. So at a smaller company, you might have more to say in the turnout of something, and on your own, you have complete say in the turnout almost. And then a company like Facebook, you're getting handed illustrations that are basically done, but they do include you in the process. So that's not to say animators aren't included all along in the process, but you certainly give up some creative freedom as well. Personally, in my experience, the creative team is so strong, they're producing anything better than I could ever do on my own.
Remington Markham:
So I'm just grateful to work on the team with other talented creatives to produce a product better than I could produce on my own. So I don't mind giving up that creative freedom, but for some artists, that's where their passion lies is in developing it from start to finish on their own, whereas here you're expected to work with the team.
Joey Korenman:
I want to thank Remington for coming on and sharing so many details about how he's done the things he's done. Check out his work on Instagram @southernshotty, and all links we'll of course, be in the show notes at School of Motion . And if you haven't already, you should probably head to School of Motion to grab a free student account, which will let you download hundreds of project files and assets, and also get access to Motion Mondays, our industry newsletter, which currently goes out to nearly 80,000 motion designers. I'm not saying you should worry about FOMO, but you know, FOMO.