What 20 Years of Failing in VFX Has Taught Me

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Throughout my career I’ve had a lot of successes. But what most people don’t realize, and what most of us in general try not to dwell on — is that we have a lot of failures too. A lot of mistakes, a lot of life lessons that were learned through making the wrong decisions, falling flat on our face, burning bridges and having doors slammed shut in our face.

What a lot of us don’t care to realize, is failure is part of the process. We need to fail, we need to make mistakes, all of this is data we use and apply to better our successes down the line. And, those really painful mistakes, the ones we will never forget — are the ones that ensure that we don’t make the same mistakes again, and again and again.

Embrace your failures, learn from them and better yourself! Use them to make better decisions down the line and avoid repeating them in the future! It’s natural to shy away from the events that we didn’t have wins, but these are just as critical to lean into as they’re the pains that will guide our successes in the future.

I hope you find this talk valuable. It’s one I was excited to do, as well as insecure about ever posting.



P.S.: This applies to everyone in the creative field such as 3D (Zbrush, Vray, 3DS Max, Maya, Houdini, Cinema 4D, C4S, Blender, Modo,) Design (Photoshop, After Effects, Nuke, Digital Fusion, Blackmagic, daVinci, Resolve, Flame, Inferno). Students from Gnomon, Creative Live, Video Copilot, Film Riot, TheFutur or any other online education, nofilmschool or any other film school.

Youtube comments:

Fatutta Gabriele
Thanks Allan, I like the honesty with which you talk about these topic like failures, money etc.. I'm really inspired by your words and by the way you have dealt the obstacles you have found in your life. Thanks again, Gabriele
Victor Noeisa
Alan has also a hidden talent of motivational speaker xd
상화 이
awesome bro!
Corinne Breuer
The abstracted design hopefully thaw because stock rapidly long inside a plastic cancer. weak, luxuriant odometer
D Max
Allan, Yeah nice talk my friend.. I remember hitting render.. and then coming back and it failed.. One time, somehow the hard drive failed and that totally sucked. I def appreciate you talking about the failures etc. New sub, I know the video is old but nice one .. DMAX
Ty so much Allan! I don't know how to thank you for this talk and share your career with us. You have inspired me to do something that REALLY scared me: a full cg of a city. I'm already reading many of your books that you have on your website and they have helped me a lot. THANK YOU
Bydream Inc.
Hey Allan, I hope you see this. But thank you for your contributions and your work. Even though this talk is a couple years old now. As an early starter in the industry, I experience these fears, and problems too while trying my best attempts at innovation and forward thinking. You have deeply inspired me. Thank you very much sir.
Sachin Fernando
39:00 is golden advice. Sell the result, not the product.
Doctor Who Pandora
Yours sincerely share
Akhil Shekar
Great inspiration sir I'm your fan from India
WIlis matrix
I spent my fucking life wasting time in studies which didn't teach me anything and have nothing to do with what I want to do just to be able to exist in a good country because where I come from (Algeria) I have no value. and thanks to people like you, I keep fighting and pushing forward even I don't find a work in this field and I don't even have the authorization to work where I am now in France. There is 4 people I admire and give me example, Andrew Kramer God of After effects , Jean yves arboit God of 3ds max , Allan Mckay God of VFX, Denis keman and Arimus god of 3d modeling! Love and love and respect to you my heroes , I hope I will be like you some da, be capable of doing creative work and be successful and teach other people 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡
Igor Severic
Hi Allan, is it ok if I share some of your videos on C4D Cafe? I would definitely highlight them as I see gold in them! :) Thanks for the great content!
Visionary Fire
Watched this video from start to finish, tremendous value.
Drunken Pirate
will i have a hard time at rockstar studios or ubisoft because i modded in online games years ago and got banned? XD
Mourad Fx
You are an inspiration, mate. Thanx. I need this now.
S Earle
Also- I love the idea of saying yes to everything. I never say no to anything (unless it's something weird like burning crosses).
S Earle
I feel like a crazy person for ever thinking that a degree would open doors in this industry. Man, I've spent so much money moving around to London, NYC, and now LA just studying and networking. I just spent 7 months freelancing and working on my skills, which has helped. I'm always looking for that junior role where I can grow and add to my skill set. It's just like, man, no one ever tells you how many years and money it costs to get to that first break. It definitely has that starving artist aspect to it.
Shiny Heart
What TED talk about procrastination you were talking about? Could you provide a link? Thanks!
Absolutely phenomenal talk! You're a fountain of information and knowledge. Thank you for sharing your insights!
Thanks for this. I spent my life trying to do VFX and I'm close to 60 now, and whilst I like to think I've done some great work both commercially and personally, I think ultimately I failed. I started when it was so hard to get into the game (I blagged a job on "Empire Strikes Back"), but could never get the leg-up to continue in motion pictures. Then all the new kids came up behind me with their CG chops, and I struggled. Since then most of what I do is motion graphics, and it's paid the bills, but I never got to do the real stuff I wanted, particles, destruction, pyro etc. You are the "master of disaster" I always wanted to be, so kudos to you sir. I would love to Skype some time if you have a moment.