My First Industry Experience

In this video, I’ll tell you about my first experience with the broadcast industry. Maybe it will inspire you to share yours. Feel free to post your story in the comments below, or to make a Vimeo video and paste the link in the comments.

Looking for other advice or inspiration? Don’t forget to read my article: “You’re Not That Talented, and Other Advice.”

26 thoughts on “My First Industry Experience”

  1. Thanks Aharon, I really needed to hear something along those lines today. I’ve had a tough day, with the customer standing next to me, as I edited or attempted to edit his 2 camera video. He changed his mind several times while in the middle of me editing and I wasn’t doing it fast enough for him…

    I’m so thankful for my wife, as I spoke to her, everything negative just washed away.

    I also want to thank you for your openness and willingness to help people, with your many video tutorials. God Bless!

  2. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten is “you’re only as good as your last dub”. If the deliverable has errors, that’s going to leave a bad taste in your clients mouth. All those late nights and hard work are going to disappear if the final has a mistake in it. I always tell the assistants that 5-10 minutes of double checking can save you a world of grief. If you’re tired and drained, get someone else to watch it back. A fresh set of eyes can do a world of good.

  3. I was in talks with a producer about working on a film. I pitched a sort of winter end-of-the-world spiritual sort of thing, very low budget, minimal cast and locations. After a few minutes of conversation, the idea had been turned into a completely different movie with floods and religion and other insanities. Until that moment, I had thought the crazy idea warping that is often featured in shows about the industry was exaggerated. It was a bizarre and surreal experience.

  4. What a great story! Over twenty years ago (as an intern) I was sitting in an edit bay, head in hands, after an hour of trying to figure out “this concept of video tape editing” – but something wasn’t working and I didn’t know why. After a while, a staff photographer/editor (probably wondering why some kid was taking up so much time in a bay) stopped by to and asked if she could help. A simple fix, with a little knowledge, and I was on my way. Gratefully I pleaded, “How can I repay you!”, she smiled and simply said, “Years from now when someone else needs help- be there. That’s what it’s all about.” I have never forgotten that moment, and have through the years I have done all I could to assist, teach, mentor, help others in this crazy industry. Although the technology has changed and evolved, the spirit of helping has not. Just last night I was sharing, with a friend I had trained on Beta SP back-when, some of the new techniques I use for HD field production.
    When it comes to AE and post-production, everything I’ve learned has been through trial and self-teaching. Thank God for people like yourself and others would share their craft and artistry with the world. Things change, modify and release so fast, you almost have to have wings to keep up- especially when AE work represents less than 20% of your time.
    In an industry where some would rather eat their young, than share their knowledge, it is so appreciated to find those who embrace the “pay it forward” notion of giving to the professional community. Thanks for being out there and for making a difference.

  5. Hey Aharon
    I’m a fresher to the industry. Haven’t found a job yet, so my first industry experience after graduating was an advice I got from one of my uncles. Apart from being the first advice, I distinctly remember this one because he advised not join this industry.

    The conversation had started the instance I arrived home from the airport (having successfully graduated in Computer Science Engineering). He congratulated me and begin questioning me how I would lay my career path. I explained him why I liked the industry and stuff. He simply ignored each and everything I said, and advised me not to join this industry. When I snapped out a “why”, he simply said “It (vfx/mograph) isn’t a conventional industry. You will have to struggle a lot to get to places and why do you want to waste a precious engineering degree for an arts position. You’d be better off with an IT job at hand. Do not take these jobs you won’t be able to settle properly”.

    I was taken aback for that moment, I actually expected him to support me as he is a mid-level manager at a local news studio. But then after a couple of days of brainstorming and a lot of research I decided to follow my interests and here I am. I did say I was jobless, but that isn’t entirely true. I meant in the vfx industry. I am currently working as a freelance designer & compositor. What I actually absorbed from his advice was that following one’s interests (dreams) is always tough, but getting past that difficulty will yield me what I want. I know this is the comments section so I’ll end my post here and save it for a later time when I stand in a position where I can advice people.

    Oh! almost forgot. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us Aharon.

  6. Heya,
    During my first official freelance job after graduation, where there was a super tight deadline involved and where they mashed another video project on top. Were impressed and thanked me for being so calm during their hectic times and deadlines. i dont think they expected me to be confident in what i was doing or even to my reactions especially since i was so wet behind the ears….
    Although i was a bit apprehensive about the deadlines, i took a chance and trusted in myself to finish. It was my third time touching Aftereffects and Premiere.
    What i took from this is experience was about how and attitude towards oneself and towards another(client) can show a level of professionalism and challenge yourself to reach that next level of your skill. Also the ability to problem solve on the fly and thank goodness for the internet.

    here are some good quotes that i was once given:
    “work hard now so that later you dont have to”- Pasha

    “If you have it and you know you have it, then you have it. If you have it and don’t know you have it, you don’t have it. If you don’t have it but you think you have it, then you have it.”- Jackie Gleason

  7. Nice story, Aharon. I had a similar poor experience for my first job in this industry.

    I was a paid intern at a company in Pittsburgh, PA. Most of my job consisted of running errands for producers and clients. One of my many fun tasks was to drive out to a Sam’s Club to buy paper supplies and junk food for everyone.

    Once, I brought back paper towels that had a flower print on them (the only kind I could find), and upon return, was scolded by a production manager for not getting “plain paper towels.”

    I never understood that complaint, and still don’t to this day.

  8. very good story, my English is not very good, I am using the google translator, thanks for all the excellent tutorials that have helped me a lot to learn, I greet you from Argentina, and thank you very much

  9. hello aharon.

    great story, makes me think a lot about the hardships of being in this industry. I am grateful for you and the cow gang that have been helping my kind (the guys who try to figure out new ways to broad their horizons in the vfx world).

    I am an animator first, and started working in after effects seriously only 2 tears ago, and apart from books, the internet has been the best source of knowledge out there. here in Israel, its hard to get good advice and the industry is not as big as you would think.

    one of the very first advice that I got was “even if you don’t know exactly how to do it, it doesn’t mean you shouldnt take the job”, vfx world is always in need for new directions and as a vfx person you should teach yourself how to take what you know, and push it forward. out of the tutorials and books that I’ve seen and read, I managed to get so much more, and reach different places. don’t fear to explore. that the way to move forward.

    thanks a lot for sharing all your information. we are an international community. and keep on doing new things, I will definitely be watching.

  10. Hello, am James from Uganda,Africa,Aron Yo story, ummm.. quiet touching abt my experience ‘ave non may be for now, i got to like this industry from watching the making of spiderman 3,b4 ‘knowing’ that all those moves done in animated movies are aided by some programmes, i used to call them ‘camera tricks’ en i would sit down after watching ,by the way in most cases i woundn’t follow the movie but just imagine how those moves where shot and still imagine how those cameras looked like,like pirates of Caribbean ghosts at night,Matrix, Hellboy,Movie intros and so many other movies.
    aaahhhh.. thats the small bit of my story about you Aron,am serious man!!! if it wasn’t for your tutorials i watched some time back i would still have the same ‘camera tricks’ locked in my head,have got myself Adobe cs3,3D Max CDs plus loads of tutorials.
    am doing coverage for some company in kampala en through this experience may be with all these tutorials,how about ‘A MATRIX’ movie from Uganda en your the guest for the premier.. funnnnny

  11. I didn’t do an internship in college so I had a difficult time finding work after graduation. Eventually I broke down and decided I needed to do an unpaid internship. After asking around I found a production house in Philadelphia, about 2 hours away from where I was living. I took a train to Philly two days a week (40 bucks each way) so I could work at a place that wouldn’t pay me. I actually had a great time there and it ended up strongly influencing what I would like to pursue.
    As the internship was coming to an end the company I worked for had a Halloween party. As the intern I was invited, but knew no one attending except the few people I communicated with day to day. Since the job was ending soon anyway I thought, why not go all out. I went to the party dressed as ‘Borat’. (yes… that Borat. This was right before his movie came out) I was dressed in a grey suit and had a clipboard and glued-on mustache. I never broke character once in the entire party and when I would introduce myself I wouldn’t say ‘I am Eric Woods Motion Graphics Designer’, I would say ‘My name-a Borat’. Well making an ass out of myself paid off because I caught the eye of a few designers that were in need of help with designing a Parade broadcast graphics package. I got my first real paycheck for that freelance work and then ended up getting a job with them a year later when one of the designers left.
    Moral of this story… don’t hesitate to be yourself. Personality wins over bullet points on a resume any day. Don’t be shy. As Ronnie Barnhardt put it… ‘The world has no use for another scared man’

  12. Hi Aharon,
    Nice … sad/funny/brave… story to tell.

    My first experience with Motion Graphics came from a question of a former client of mine, who had move to another job.
    >> the question was: can you make a visual for our DJ who has a opener for the TV program Idols in the new year in the Netherlands (5 jan 2007). Can you do Motion Graphics/Visuals.
    >> I answered yes I can 😉 knowing I had 2 weeks to do the Visual. Jumped into After Effects for the very 1st time and was ale to make something nice with CE extruder and the DJ logo.
    >> from then on I could make his visuals… great ! And have been able to do them till today.

    Another funny story is that I was contacted for a Motion tracking job, through Linkedin, the client just typed in After Effects with 10km radius and I was shown first. So even Linkedin has helped me get jobs! (type: After Effects in Linkedin and that’s me still first 😉 Networking is a big deal these days online.

  13. Okay man, here’s my story –
    It’s kind of lengthy. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it posted. I just set up the camera after watching Aharons. First take – extemporaneous. I wanted to share but I didn’t want to spend too much time on it. Watch it, don’t watch it. Whatever. I think there is a couple of good life lessons in it. Thank you all for sharing your stories. Hope there are more on the way.

  14. A huge learning experience was the first time i eve agreed to take a job for, “A one time project fee.”

    Against my best judgment I waived my hourly rate and agreed to one lump sum, in exchange for doing the project…


    It turned out to be 2 months worth of 8 hour days…For what ended up being…roughly 3 dollars an hour…

    Never wave your fee guys…

    i learned that sometimes …We have to say no to certain jobs…

  15. First of all Aharon, thanks for all you do ALL OVER the web, your tutorials have really helped me get back up to speed after being out of the industry for awhile.

    Best piece of advice I ever got was from the artist who mentored me at the start of my career. I was living in Los Angeles at the time trying to get into film, animation whatever. My mentor had just landed a gig as the lead illustrator on this big Science Fiction series. He was giddy about the gig and I, being a young dork, was both happy for him and excited that this might be an opportunity for him to help me get into the industry. BAck then though he was working for a union shop and I was caught in the old union “Catch 22”.

    Anyway, so we were standing on a street corner in Culver City and I blurted out, just as we started to cross the street that i would WORK FOR FREE if I had to.

    I swear he stopped in the middle of traffic and rounded on me with a terrifying expression on his face and said:

    “NEVER work for free in this town, if you do that is all you will ever be worth from then on!”

    It took me awhile to understand how important that advice was. Like you said, it is about learning to appreciate your own skill and have confidence in you abilities, tempered with a good dose of persistence.

    I never did get into the union in LA, finally got in through the back door of a Digital shop in Northern California and never looked back.

    My Mentor also told me that to pay him back I had to “pay it foreword”, first time I had ever heard that expression.

  16. Hello Aharon,
    Thanks a lot for sharing this experience with us! While I was still in college, I found a small job as a junior editor in a small production house that was undergoing some serious changes in staff. I didn’t know at the time, but half the staff quit and left a bunch of unfinished projects. As it turns out, one of the clients that was assigned to me, had requested a fair amount of animation for a commercial. Keep in mind, I was a junior editor at the time, I had never done any animation whatsoever. So I spent about two days and two nights fiddling around with After Effects and watching a bunch of tutorials online. It was during that time that I found your website and it was definitely a good help. After these events, that if I wanted to continue learning, they would give me the work hours to do so. 6 months later, I wasn’t editing anymore, only doing animation, motion graphics and other After Effects stuff. I thought I shoud thank you for that.

  17. Wow! WOW! Some great stuff here. Jim – when you told the story about Frank Langella, I cringed as you made your joke, knowing he wouldn’t take it well. I felt for you, man. Ouch.

    Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories. I read every single word, at least twice. Thanks you! Some very inspiring stuff in there, and also some sad and painful stuff too. Great and interesting advice (although I don’t agree with all of it – but we each have our own paths to take), and some great words of wisdom to live by.

    I’m glad I shared my story with you (and I have more). It gives us a chance to get to know each other better and to know we’re not alone in our experiences.

    And thank you for the kind words. I’m glad I have been able to help many of you in your career and life. Like Martin said: Pay it forward.

  18. Funny thing, that’s what happened to someone in my college, they had an internship set up by the teacher, and he goes and emails the contact, asking when and where to show up, and bang, didn’t get the placement because of a spelling mistake.

    I learned not to spell, but to spell check.
    So happy gmail has it built in now.

    But how about a post on the opposite, on not being a doormat. there are a lot of good people, but also a lot of people who just want your work for free. And when you are starting out, you think oh great, I can add this to my reel, this is just an investment, I’ll get money soon.

  19. I’m glad you all have shared your experiences, for a while I thought it was a requirement to be an A-hole in this industry. I wonder if this industry attracts grizzled bitter people, or that it turns them into it over time…

  20. Thank you mr. Rabinowitz,

    As a late-comer to motion design, your example and humility are a great inspiration. All I need is brilliant talent and tremendous perseverence, just like you. Thanks, Robert Mondoux

  21. Hi there! I’m Rafael from Brazil and I’m an amateur video producer who has no industrial experience… I work as a product designer but I love to shoot some zombie’s movie! If you want to, check out my website – that’s “recipe of chaos” in portuguese… it’ almost done and I’ll post some test films I’ve shot with my friends. I guess you’ve said enough in your video… We’re on our own, there isn’t people who wants to help us, and that’s sad! But I’ll keep on trying! I haven’t lost my hope completely because of some guys like you, who share’s your knowledgement! I’ve learned After Effects all by myself and I know I’m not a professional, but someday I’ll be able to create some great stuff! Thanks for your tutorials and for this great website!

    PS, I guess I don’t “know how to spell” correctly some words in english… I’m sorry! Wish you the best,


  22. Hi Aharon,
    believe it or not, but your tutorials at the Cow brought me to this industry. I was for 3 years in and Ad-Agency and right now I freelance as Compositor/Motiondesigner. From basic to advanced I would say the most I learned from you. I remember when you last year announced to “quit” at the cow – for one moment I thougt I start to cry (I know american man don´t do that, but in Europe thats quite normal 🙂 ). But then it all went good. Thanks man!

  23. Aharon,
    You’re vidblog was quite impressive simply because it stated how wonderful of a person you are to do what you do for us. You have been my #1 go to guy for AE stuff and I go all the way back when I first heard about you when you were on your tutorial number 6 with AE 4.3 or something like that. One thing in my mind, when I heard you talk about “you’re on your own” I felt like that about 8 years ago and I decided to construct my life in a way to only count on myself, so I learned many aspects of filmmaking for over 13 years now. Having a theatre background of 10 years only helped so much more. My next step is to overcome 3D (Maya), because knowing where I live, Maya is like a rare delicacy and the lack of funds I have for a short, I AM on my own. Your words rang in my ear the way my idol of almost 30 years, when he said “I don’t believe in luck, you have to create your own luck.” The person I quoted was none other than the Immortal Dragon, Bruce Lee, so to hear your words only fuels me to strive harder and better myself as an all around filmmaker. Thank you and if I believed in Heaven, you would definitely get a huge palace there for your kind words and dedication to humanity. In good health… Cheers and happy holidays.

    p.s. whoever that person was, I assume things were not going well in his life to make it miserable for yours.

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