Insights for Non Artists:
A World of Choices - One Year Later
February 15, 2002, marked my debut column for DIGITAL MEDIA
FX. I'd been let go from INVADER ZIM the week before with no
idea of where the future lay. As things had been, I'd stopped
producing a smaller but similar column for a competing site for
a variety of reasons, but primarily because I though INVADER
ZIM would keep me too busy. I discovered DIGITAL MEDIA FX while
job searching on the Internet, and really felt it would be a
home for what I'd wanted to do and reluctantly given up. Even
in the midst of my own uncertain career, I wanted to share what
I'd learned with others.
A year later,
I'm glad I made that choice. Not just to share from my experience
and observation, but getting the opportunity
to talk in-depth with others. Making sure my readers get a detailed
wealth of information is why I've made quite a point of bringing
mini-interviews to the column every other month, and intend to
as long as I don't run out of new concepts to bring you. I can
research heavily on subjects, and bring my own slant, but it
to me that you hear these professionals in their own words about
their own experiences. Some of the people that you've read in
this column were already friends of mine (Monique Beatty, Christy
Marx), but it also encouraged me to stretch myself and really
get to know people I'd only met briefly in the past (Patric Verrone,
Dean Stefan, Tad Stones).
Some of you have written asking if I can put you in touch with
my interviewees. Unless they specifically give me permission,
I cannot honor these requests. Most of the people I feature either
have their own websites or interact as part of a moderated forum
associated with shows they are or have worked on. A little detective
work will find you most of that information. Surviving in this
business depends on a lot on doing your own investigative work,
both in networking and job leads.
Another thing I've learned from the e-mail I receive is that
artists do read these columns, although they weren't the primary
audience I set out to reach. This pleases me in that I believe
artists and non-artists should better understand one another.
Though, sometimes, people ask me questions I don't really know
the answers to (such as the going rate for a 3D animator). I'll
research those as time permits, but to be honest I'm feeling
fortunate to find time to share information on the non-artist
area I've devoted myself to. Having said that, I want to publicly
welcome any artist who wants to read these columns and learn
more about the industry.
My own life in this field really changed over the last year
as well. As I'm writing this, I have just finished my first week
of graduate school at California State University, Fullerton,
in the Mass Communications program. My goals now are to ready
myself for communications management positions -- preferably
in the development of animation and/or live-action children's
programming -- and also be able to teach extension courses or
at community college part time while pursuing a professional
life in this business.
Don't think for a minute though that I'm going to be out of
the animation arena while I'm spending my next year-and-a-half
as a graduate student, though. The other big event that's happened
over the course of the past year is that I'm currently at work
on my first animation script for a foreign company -- a culmination
of a dream that began seventeen years earlier. Unfortunately,
contractual obligations prevent me from telling you more at the
time I'm writing this. If and when I can share more, I will.
Believe me, none of this is where I'd imagined I'd be a year
It's still a tough industry out there. Nearly everyone I've
talked to seems to be working for less than they're accustomed
to be paid, or trying to find some outside work to supplement
their income. As I said when I started this column, I want to
try and present the state of the industry as honestly as possible.
Yet, I don't want people giving up if the passion for this medium
truly burns inside them. Just know what you're up against.
Welcome to the next leg of the journey. I hope you'll continue
along for the ride.
here to discuss this column in the dFX
is known in the animation industry for her work as a production
coordinator for Nickelodeon's Invader Zim. She also served as
a Production Coordinator for Extreme Ghostbusters and a Production
Assistant for Jumanji: The Animated Series. Muir is an accomplished
writer and often participates on panels or as a guest speaker
at conventions like Comic Con International. Muir moved to Los
Angeles in 1996 from Cheney, WA (population approximately 8,000),
knowing she wanted to be part of the animation business. Since
then, she's never strayed far from making that dream reality,
whether it be actively working on a production or writing articles
about the industry.
You can email
Shannon Muir at email@example.com.
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