The digital age has opened up exciting pathways for people looking to work in creative capacities. One way to get a creative job is to look for companies in the business of selling high-end entertainment.
Hollywood is a mecca for all things film but the increased access to affordable filmmaking has forced the industry to adapt. So while the world’s most prolific movie studios have their headquarters set up in L.A., the question is: From what talent pools are they hiring and what are the skills they’re looking for?
We’re going to look at cutting edge software platforms, programs and coding languages that can help you land the job of your dreams!
After Effects is considered by many to be one of the best and, up until recently, one of the most expensive multimedia editing platforms available. Since Adobe moved to the Creative Cloud format however, the price has come down by several thousand dollars and a one-off, commercial license will only cost $19.99 per month.
Why is this particular program worth investing in? Because it’s the go-to visual FX software for Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, including “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “Avatar,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Captain America,” to name a few. This is a learning journey you will find a use for and that can lead to L.A.
See how After Effects was used in Iron Man 3 and Oblivion.
Download: After Effects via Creative Cloud (19.99/month)
You might not realize it, but Photoshop can be a powerful tool for animating and video editing, provided you learn how to use it for such things. This speaks to the program’s versatility and like After Effects, the cost has come down considerably in recent times.
The traditional route uses the software to produce realistic concept art and that’s a whole other design specialization within the spectrum of what Hollywood execs look for when hiring talent. Once you get over the initial learning curve, you won’t be sorry you took it upon yourself to know Photoshop.
Download: Photoshop via Creative Cloud (19.99/month)
There’s a saying among those who use Java; “Write Once and Run Anywhere.” That should give you some idea of just how versatile the programing language is. Disney has invested in Java in the past and many have been able to make the move to CA because of it.
In fact, Java is now the leading language in coding with an impressive track record. Version 8 is now so refined that it edges out many of its competitors in the eyes of its users. You really can’t go wrong!
Download: Java for Developers (free)
Responsive design is the keyword here and that’s exactly what you get with a background in HTML and CSS. They allow for the creation of fully-functional websites, mobile apps with video and geolocation capabilities, and much more.
Both are staples of the web and you’d be hard pressed to find any company who doesn’t have either one of these skills listed as a prerequisite. After all, film studios are businesses and require access to the online infrastructures employed by others in other industries, albeit with a greater emphasis on video.
Pixar Animation Studios developed this in-house software for use on movies like King Kong, Cars 2 and Ratatouille but has since released a free version for non-commercial use as well as a licensed full version for $495.
If you’re asking whether it’s worth it, the odds are good as the platform has garnered numerous industry awards and the price is far cheaper than you might pay elsewhere.
And if that weren’t enough, RenderMan’s effective memory management functionality means you can produce work without needing a huge rendering farm. Definitely worth a look!
As an enhancement of C, C++ is a good multi-purpose coding language that supports reusable code and standalone applications thanks to the inclusion of object-oriented programming.
Hollywood studios are now much more than they were after subsequent mergers. With Time Warner now owning DC and Disney owning Marvel, their internal structures and business models have become like that of tech companies. Computer engineers are rewriting the world in code and having their say in the film industry.
Automation, while disrupting other industries, has had comparatively little impact on Hollywood due to a heavy emphasis on project-based outcomes. What is interesting is that industry has adopted technology on a sliding scale, allowing recruiters to hire teams consisting of specialists and creative individuals.
This allows you to be quite selective with your coding program options but it never hurts to pick up and learn PHP. It ranks quite highly as a programming language and is great for getting your foot in the door.
Download: PHP for PC (free) | Mac (free)
Structured Query Language or SQL is designed for querying data in relational database management systems and once again, is used by companies like Disney and others to a large extent. It will of course be difficult to move from one area of the business to another but acquiring some familiarity with SQL is always a good step forwards.
When MIT filmmakers asked whether they should learn how to code, the question was not about how this impacts their digital storytelling, but how it would impact their ability to interact with the people that do. And this is why it’s important to understand the basics of the coding language.
Red Giant Universe
Cross-platform compatibility is a big issue when using one or more visual FX editing suites. Red Giant Universe has, to the good fortune of many, included a number of plugins to facilitate a smooth working experience across After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro and a multitude of lesser-known programs.
This makes it a versatile toolbox for the coder and VFX artist, both of whom may work with others on big film projects. But there is a slight cost involved. The trial is free but a copy of the licensed version will run you $99 per year or $10 per month. Overall, the price probably justifies itself as long as you run the program often.
Countless movie studios have made use of this non-linear editing suite. The software has been used in films like “Hugo,” “The King’s Speech,” “Gangs of New York,” “28 Days Later,” “Pulp Fiction” and others, to put things into perspective.
The free version offers more than 100 presets and allows for titling effects in real time, multi-camera editing capabilities, and support for dual monitor functionality — everything you’d expect to see inside the editing room.
The subscription option is viable because the restrictions are lifted and an increased range of options become unlocked. But you will need to pay $279 outright if you’d like a copy to call your own.
Use Your Tech Skills to Get Behind the Big Screen
Your chances of landing a job in Hollywood will be greatly improved with a diverse skillset. Taking the time to learn how to code will fit you into the established structure of the teams behind the cinema events of the year.
Remember, now it’s a two way street with tech companies like Amazon, AOL, Apple, Google and even a disruptor like Netflix riding the entertainment bandwagon. That’s not all — a company like Epagogix is just one tiny example of how tech talent is foraying into Hollywood.
So if you’re still wondering whether it’ll be worth knowing a broader range of skills, the answer is yes — you just need to narrow down your specialties and focus on what will provide you with the biggest and most sustainable benefit.
Have you thought about it?