Easiest way to learn these programs?
June 5, 2014 4:37 PM   Subscribe

I would love to learn Autodesk 3ds Max (my goal is to use it for 3d architectural and product visualization) and Adobe Premiere Pro (I need to study the technical aspects of editing and hopefully move on to other offline and online NLEs). I fear at this point in my life, it might be too late to embark on such career-changing endeavors, especially that the learning curves for both these programs are reputably steep. What is the easiest and best way to learn these programs, and can I do it on my own?

I am a late-twenties, early thirties designer who specializes in print design. I would love to add more software to my skill set, but I wonder if it is too late in the game to branch out into uncharted territory and invest time in something that potential employers would rather hire a young buck for. It is worth noting that in my own time, I have studied film theory, worked (and still working) on a personal (sociopolitical, controversial) documentary film, and would love to hone my editing skills because it remains a dream of mine to apply for a news/media production job (I think editing is a good entry point). That is where Premiere Pro comes into the picture: I have used it, but there are a lot of technical aspects that I have yet to study and understand. On the other hand, a close friend of mine is a 3d-visualization professional and has urged me time and again to learn 3ds Max because he believes I have the chops to hit the ground running, as do I. In both cases, my fear is that it is perhaps too late for me to embark on something so big and complex. My problem is that I have a lot of things I am passionate about and would work hard to excel at, but I think that at this point I should be already set for my chosen career path and it really scares me that I am so undecided. If you have any advice for me, I'd appreciate it.
posted by omar.a to Education (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I taught myself Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects by watching YouTube and Video CoPilot.

The best was actually copying designs I found in tutorials ON MY OWN first, then watching the tutorials back and doing them step by step.

I did about 5-8 hour stretches when I was first learning so I could get as far up on the learning curve as possible. I also have a high pain tolerance. YMMV.
posted by guster4lovers at 5:07 PM on June 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

3D modelers and video editors are complicated but the mechanics are not incredibly hard to learn. The specific work done on them is very nichy and specialized. Look at the credits to a blockbuster animation or effects heavy film, huge blocks of differing skill sets. A modeler may never skin an armature or work on clouds or water. All of which is likely learn-able.

There are huge numbers of free and paid tutorials on the web that seem generally quite good. With a little persistence you'll probably get beyond them quickly.

Much harder is the part you may have covered, an eye for design, a color sense, and understanding of shape.

One good 3d artist told me to make a tea cup on a window sill. Then make it better. Or start making your own short animations and put them up on youtube.
posted by sammyo at 5:13 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

All Autodesk software is available for free to students here. I would suggest Lynda.com, Autodesk tutorials and maybe a class at a junior/technical college. You want to start with basic moves then go to projects so you see those basic moves in context.
posted by jadepearl at 8:49 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I second the people suggesting internet tutorials and copying stuff you like til you get a knack for doing it yourself. I learned Illustrator this way, and I'm in the middle of learning After Effects.

I found that having a narrative in mind before I started learning the software (for Illustrator, a comic strip about a dog; for After Effects, a short explainer video about national flags) really helped. Defining narrowly what I wanted to achieve with the software kept me from getting intimidated by all the features or falling down a rabbit-hole of trying to learn *everything*. Once I was done with my little initial projects, I already had ideas for more. Good luck!
posted by rottenindenmark at 9:23 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Lynda.com suggestion. I actually edit a lot of their videos, and there's a ton of good and up-to-date 3ds Max stuff. I just finished editing another 3ds course for them last week in fact.
posted by TheNegativeInfluence at 12:25 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

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