April is Tip Month

My turn! In April I aim to post a tip a day, despite the distracting spring weather, my birthday, and NAB. If you also get distracted, celebrate your birthday or just forget to check in, I will also ping these daily from Flowseeker on Twitter.

I’m doing this as a kind of penance, and to test a theory. I admit that when I think of posting here as a founder of Pro Video Coalition I tend to think of crafting a long and/or weighty article. something more along the lines of what I would have sent the magazines where I used to write with some of these people.

I also have 29 topics already outlined, many of which have been kicking around, and I’ve even grouped them (in my own mind, at least) into 7 subtopics, one for each day of the week. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind, and to offer a May Day Bonus if the mood strikes me (and I haven’t collapsed by then).

You may expect these tips all to be about After Effects, since my book focuses on compositing and designing effects in that software, and quite a few of these will at least involve After Effects, but many will go further afield. If you’re interested in more tips and workflow having to do specifically with After Effects, check out the new April term at fxphd.com beginning April 13, where I’m teaching a class that uses my book as a starting-off point, and delves into some of the many areas that are either easier to show than write, or just further explores topics that are worth exploring further.

Ah, but if I didn’t leave a tip today, that really would be like April Fool’s, wouldn’t it?

Today’s tip is not really a tip at all – at least, not like the others to be posted – it’s my strategy on how I plan to weather the current economic conditions.

Focus on value.

Maybe you’ve done jobs in the past more for the money than because you cared about doing them. Maybe you even still have the opportunity to do so (although I’ve noticed a lot of those dumb jobs with half-baked concepts just kind of going away this year).

Why value and not money? It’s my impression that the value question is being applied to everything right now. It’s as if a bunch of bullshit detectors just had their batteries replaced. Until capitalism capitulates (and I’m not holding my breath) there’s money out there, and there’s plenty of waste, but money has become much more allergic to waste lately.

This is great news, by the way.

If nothing else, the current climate means that you now have more reasons than ever to do things you might have only been thinking about doing.

Maybe there’s a new skill you want to learn. Now is an excellent time to do that. Skills help you stand out from the unskilled.

Maybe there’s a reason you got into this work in the first place and you haven’t done it. Now is a good time to get creative about how you can get underway with your own goal today. If someone else isn’t hiring you to do something, or work is slow, that leaves you more time and energy to take your own work to the next level.

Finally, the best thing about adding value to the work you do is that, to paraphrase Depression-era advice about education, “they can’t take that away from you.” Providing value adds security – the security of knowing that you stayed focused on what you could offer. No matter what is happening in the world around you, that sense of knowing your own value, of what it was important for you to do, helps you to keep doing more of it.

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VES Member, author of courses on After Effects at LinkedIn Learning (lynda.com) and the After Effects Studio Techniques series.

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