Career Spotlight: Multimedia Specialist

Career Spotlight: Multimedia Specialist

Organizations are scrambling to create a variety of multimedia packages that combine sound clips, photography, video montages and animation. Enter the multimedia specialist who directs this technologically demanding convergence of media forms. Education and real estate are just two fields capitalizing on multimedia expertise to create online courses, Internet ads and presentations.

Participants say the field is exciting, demanding and well-suited to technically adept creative types interested in an emerging realm that encourages experimentation and risk taking.

Consider Josh Koppel. Kopple owns Josh Koppel Productions, a producer of commercials and promos, and cofounded TuneBooks, a startup seeking to redefine the idea of album art and liner notes for the digital age. Koppel's work varies from offbeat pieces for the likes of the Cartoon Network to interactive booklets that are available at the iTunes Music Store for bands such as The Click Five and The Darkness.

Natural Creativity Is Key

Both a lack of well-established multimedia educational programs and clear job descriptions means you may be able to land a job on the basis of projects created with Photoshop, Flash and other technologies. A willingness to engage your creative impulses is essential to success in multimedia.

"I only want to hire people who make things," Koppel says. And he doesn't just mean work samples from a previous job: "I want to hire people who make things on their own.

A multimedia job search includes the initial challenge of determining whether a position is, in fact, devoted to projects integrating various media. Those working in the field sometimes hold positions with the word multimedia in the title. Examples include multimedia specialist, multimedia producer or multimedia programmer. Just as often, they may have titles associated with a specialty, such as animator, designer, or audio or video technician. Whatever the case, the field requires both a creative impulse and technology know-how.

Tech Skills Also Count

Designers don't need high-level programming skills, Koppel says, but they need to understand the integration of technologies: "There definitely has to be a convergence," he says.

Multimedia professionals use a variety of tools, depending on the project, their background and industry. Among the most important:

  • Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop.
  • Apple Final Cut Pro.
  • Avid audio production software.
  • Macromedia Director and Flash.
  • Media management tools.

Find a Multimedia Job that Fits

Educational institutions and entertainment companies top a growing list of organizations hiring multimedia producers and specialists.

Herschell Taghap, a multimedia specialist who creates Flash-based interactive learning environments, says both employer and potential employee should assess whether an individual's capabilities fit the job. That is especially important given the variety of skills multimedia workers require.

"Knowing the basics of many different aspects of computer design -- coding, design, databases and networking, to name a few -- will make meetings easier and allow you to provide well-informed decisions," Taghap says.

As multimedia appears on a wider variety of devices, multimedia professionals need to demonstrate know-how not just in software but also in the variety of platforms on which multimedia projects will appear -- PCs, gaming devices, iPods, televisions and cell phones. "We are operating in a multiplatform world," Koppel says. "It's your job to understand how these things work. That is where the opportunity is."

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