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Working in visual effects and music

Discussion in 'The RedBanned Bar & Grill' started by Boris Bruchhaus, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. Hey all,

    is anybody here who worked in visual effects in his earlier life and is now working in music/composing - or vice versa - who could compare life balance, money, fame, glory? (ok, ignore the last two [​IMG] )

    The reason I'm asking (hope this doesn't sound too confusing): a long, long time ago (in a galaxy far away - late nineties) I worked as a EDM-producer in germany. We had lots of dance projects (DJs, dance acts etc.) incl. a few chart-entries. I made a fairly good living for 6 years. In 2001 then napster and ringtones hit the market and everything changed - it became a lot tougher and more messed up. I was pretty bound/dependant to edm-music industry at that time and couldnt find interest in making music for frog-ringtones or fake female singer for dance projects .. at the same time I gained more and more interest in visual effects. So I changed gears and got myself working in the visual effects industry (doing FX-simulations), first freelancing in germany and since 10 years mainly working - depending on film-projects and companies - in different countries, at the moment in New Zealand (fun fact: the last 3 vfx-projects I was involved in, JXL did the music (Dark Tower, Mortal Engines and Battle Angel) ... anyway - then last year something weird happened: the passion for music suddenly came back - out of nowhere and this time as it always should have been (as these were my roots): orchestral composing.

    Now I would be interested if anyone has gone through a similar process and can give his 2 cents comparing these 2 different worlds. How did you proceed? Going full risk? Working parallel?

    Didn't Mike Verta once said he worked as an animation artist? Did he also mentioned what changed his mind?

    Thanks for sharing your story [​IMG]
  2. I remember @Mike Verta fairly recently talked about considering to invest in some serious PC hardware for vfx work, so I assume he still works in that industry.

    Can't blame you, I remember that one :D.

    Good to hear your passion came back! You came to a good place to study and learn. Welcome to Redbanned!

    Personally I wouldn't want to work as a composer, based on what I see and read from that industry. It seems way oversaturated, underpaid and I personally believe it will be hit harder and sooner by new developments in AI than vfx will. I can't predict the future of course. But I'm sticking with music as "just a hobby".

    Some info that you didn't give us yet that may or may not influence the recommendations that people will give you are: how happy/unhappy are you with your vfx job, what kind of financial security do you need short and longterm, and when you say "orchestral composing" are you thinking of JXL and Hans Zimmer or of Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams?
  3. In vfx "machine-learning" is a big topic - tasks get more and more automated. AI though hasn't come up yet in our industry. Haven't thought about the possibility that might happen for the music industry...interesting thought.

    that's the thing I'm not too sure about at the moment :) .. working on these big projects is still a cool and great community. I do enjoy working on it - but you're such a small screw in the system nowadays. Credits show about 1k-2k names just for vfx for big blockbuster .. and - my early past (childhood) has not been playing games on atari or reading marvel comics - but sitting on dads piano improvising chord progressions. So the roots are definitely music - not graphics .. But of course I also realize the need for financial security - working in the vfx-industry gives you a fairly good income..

    Guess I have to take slow but focused steps and see how it goes ..
    Martin Hoffmann likes this.
  4. I still do a lot of VFX work - directing/creating a CG commercial for Timex as we speak, actually. In truth, I do a lot of different things - music, vfx, directing, designing/fabricating... I'm also the Director of Operations for a large African charity... lots of stuff. I just find that having a lot of wells to draw from stops things from getting boring; stops wells from drying up; provides a lot of different avenues for revenue.

    More than ever, feel free to craft your life however you want. You don't have to follow anybody, or any template. Do what you want, what you love, and be the best you can possibly be at it. That plus a shit-ton of hard work and you can make it work.
  5. let me know if you ever need some custom liquid simulations (houdini) :p .. thats what I'm doing most these days

    Thats how I usually progressed with music/internet design and vfx before divng down the vfx-in-massive-companies route .. I'm considering coming back to that
  6. VFX people seem to be valued a great deal more than composers in the media world, at least generally. From the little I've heard from VFX people, I wonder if the reason blockbusters require so many is also because of production laziness -- not taking spending the time to get it right on set and so having VFX people become visual janitors.

    I also think the AI automation issue will be one for music because of directors and the state of the industry ("score this 120 minute film in a week"), not because AI will be able to do the intricate work of writing a noteworthy story in orchestral-score-form. Maybe things will eventually turn around again for film composition after people get bored of CGI, who knows!
  7. well, thats a big topic on its own .. directors know they can change anything anytime in these days (tech will fix it), so they change everything - all the time. Production doesnt seem to be able to stop them .. and then they wonder why companies like Rhythm & Hues go bankrupt after winning the oscar for vfx (life of pi).

    depends on where you stand in the vfx-hierarchy. I know a lot of juniors who didnt make it in the (wall of) credits for Endgame - I myself had a hard time finding myself because of all these names .. knowing that vfx-credits still come after payroll, accounts, assistant driver and catering .. (nothing against good food though :p )
    But I guess vfx-people also dont see how many names are involved and possibly not named in the music department - we usually only recognize Mr Holkenborg in big letters
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.

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