Making the shift from post production to software development

Working on a Computer All Day

This one might seem a little obvious but you might not realize that working on a computer all day during your career in post makes you well suited for software development. After years of working in post you learn what works for you in terms of when to take breaks, organizing your workstation for comfort and efficiency, and figuring out how to continue concentrating after staring at a screen all day. This all takes practice and will certainly pay off when learning to code.

Working with a Team and Having a Specialty

Most jobs in post production involve working on a team. There are editors, colorists, sound mixers, conform artists, vfx artists etc. who all are involved in the production of one final project. This is true for software engineering as well. There are front end developers and backend developers, project leads, database administrators, managers etc. who all play an important role in getting an app to market.

The “One Man Band”

In my career I’ve typically worked with a team but have also done many freelance projects where I planned, shot, and edited the final project working completely by myself for a client. This is also a typical path that can be followed in software development and these types of people are usually called “full stack developers” meaning they work on the back-end and front-end of a piece of software.

Project Planning

A great plan is key to the success of any project, and there are definitely some overlaps in how software developers and video professionals plan their work. One of the first concepts you will encounter when learning to code is called “pseudocoding.” Pseudocoding is the process of writing down the steps you want your code to take in a way that’s easy to understand, and isn’t necessarily written with a programming language. This pseudocode is then used as a starting point for writing the actual code and creating a minimum viable product, or MVP.

Staying Organized

Organization is key to the success of any video or software project. In post production you need to make sure to keep your footage properly organized at the filesystem level as well as organized within your bins and timelines. You label your shots according to scene and take numbers, add comments for each shot, and make sure there is a logical structure to your timelines.

Start With What You Know

If you’re a post production professional who would like to start learning how to code I recommend working on practical projects that are related to post. For example next time you need to encode a video to H.264 try to use an FFmpeg script instead of a GUI based tool, try your hand at some After Effects expressions like Wiggle() to simulate a shaking camera, or rename files using Python instead of using Automator.

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Arthur Wilton

Arthur Wilton

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Software Developer and Video/Post Production Professional. Recent graduate of Flatiron School.