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Bootcamp Advice from 6-Time School of Motion Alumni Melanie Aratani

School of Motion

We sit down with Alumni Melanie Aratani to talk about what it’s like taking every single School of Motion bootcamp.

Today we’re talking to alumni Melanie Aratani of Denver, Colorado about how perseverance and an education from School of Motion helped springboard her career as a Motion Designer. Along the way we’ll learn how she was able to grown in her confidence as a freelance MoGraph artist.

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Melanie first joined us for Design Bootcamp back in the Fall of 2016 and has since taken every single School of Motion course, so she has lots of sage advice for incoming students!

Interview with Alum Melanie Aratani

Hey Melanie, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. First, we want to ask you about your influences. What are some of your favorite studios?    

Melanie Aratani: My favorite studio is State Design. A few others I love are Giant Ant, Oddfellows, Gretel, and Golden Wolf.  

Wow, all great picks! What kind of personal work have you been up to lately?

MA: Haha, School of Motion is my personal work! I’ve been so busy running through every course SoM has to offer that I haven’t had a lot of time to do additional personal work. However, I think I’m finishing up my last bootcamp for awhile, and I have plans for a couple personal projects once I’m done … so maybe check back in a year.

Haha, guess you’ve had a full plate lately. Since you’ve taken all of our courses and they admittedly have a reputation of being tough, we’ve gotta know, was there one you found to be particularly challenging?

MA: Every course came with its own challenges. I think my biggest overall challenge was trying to absorb so much new information so quickly. These courses throw so much at you over the weeks it can be easy to get discouraged, fall behind, and want to give up. But I made it! And looking at it from the other side feels like such an accomplishment, and it’s honestly astounding for me to see the difference in my pre- and post- bootcamp work.

From a technical standpoint, Animation Bootcamp was the toughest for me. I “knew” what the principles of animation were when I started, but I quickly realized I didn’t know how to use them in my day-to-day work.

The assignments in this course were so deceptively challenging, I would sit down thinking I would just bust out an animation really quick, and eight hours later I’d still be trying to get my overlap and follow-through to look right. Yet the skills I learned in this course translate to my work daily, and for me, this course changed my career.

We’re glad to hear you’re putting what you learned to good use! Could you tell us a bit more about how our Bootcamps impacted your professional work and your career?

MA: After taking a few bootcamps, I felt ready to shift from my non-creative career, and quickly landed a job doing motion in-house at DaVita. I never would have had the confidence or skills to make this huge, scary leap into a new field if it weren’t for School of Motion. Now, I’m getting ready to shift into freelance, and it’s a lot less scary because I know I have an awesome support system in the Alumni Group to help me if I ever run into a problem I don’t know how to solve.

This community has been one of the greatest things to come out of bootcamp with. It’s been amazing to be able to problem solve and bounce questions off of a bunch of people going through the same types of situations as I am.

This industry can be confusing to navigate at times, and I have found the Alumni group such a friendly, unintimidating place to ask all my novice questions. Plus, now I know I will always have some friendly faces to meet-up with at any conference or city I go to!

We’re always happy to hear the community’s had such a positive impact. Finally, on that note, what advice do you have for incoming students?

MA: My advice would just be to do the work. There will come a time in every bootcamp when you feel like you’re an imposter in the field and don’t belong. There will also come a time in every bootcamp when life gets busy and you get behind, and you think you might as well give up because you probably won’t be able to catch up, plus it’s not like you’re being graded anyways. But if you can just push through these thoughts and complete the work, you will look back and be proud of what you have accomplished, and surprised by how much your work has improved without you even realizing it.

Also, don’t forget there’s an extended critique at the end of the course! Even if you don’t finish within the normal course time, you can still use the extended critique period to get feedback and help from your TA. Take advantage of the resources. These classes cost more because they offer way more than tutorials. SOM gives you TA’s, access to the instructor, and access to other students; if you’re not taking advantage of everything they’re offering you, you are missing out.

Great advice Melanie! We hope to see more great work from you soon and wish you the best in your freelancing career!

You can check out more of Melanie’s work over on her portfolio page and Vimeo!

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