I was the distracted student who doodled starships in the margins of his homework assignments. I spent half of high school sniffing fixer in the darkroom. My ambition was to work for ILM or be a Disney Imagineer. But my plan to go to film school fizzled out. Instead I studied software engineering for a couple of years. I moved back home when the isolation of college in a small mountain town got the better of me.
Young and aimless and eager to move out of my parents’ house, I took a job taking tech support phone calls.
“Hi, my name is Tim, how can I help you? Your printer isn’t working? Is it plugged in?”
“There are ants in your scanner? No, ma’am, I’m not laughing at you. No, insect infestations are not covered under warranty.”
This work paid the bills but provided little personal or career satisfaction.
Then, eleven years ago, I met After Effects and everything changed.
Adobe brought their tech support services to the facility I was working at in Oregon. I jumped/leapt/beat down the crowd in front of me for the opportunity. It seemed like destiny, a well-timed fusing of my bottled-up creative desires and my skills with the personal computer. Adobe gave me an intensive course in how to use and troubleshoot Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere and After Effects. While they all dug easily into my grey matter like a mole in soft soil, it was AE that wrapped its claws around my brainroot and wouldn’t let go.
I learned some of AE by noodling around on my own, doing tutorials on short breaks at work or shooting broomstick lightsaber fights on the weekends and adding the effects in AE. But my best source of AE knowledge was the people who called my phone for tech support. I heeded advice that our customers have more experience using Adobe software than I do. So my gratitude to you if you called tech support about AE ten years ago. Whether it was untangling a pre-comping problem or just chatting all things AE while your computer rebooted, I learned about AE’s awesomeness directly from the people who earn their living by using Adobe’s tools.
My affinity for AE made me pretty good at my job, and that didn’t go unappreciated by Adobe. I applied for a senior tech support position at Adobe’s office in Seattle and was hired. It was a scary jump to move to a new city, and it took a while longer for my wife and house to follow, but it was the best decision I ever made.
What I’ve enjoyed most about working at Adobe is the people. I’m surrounded by intelligent friends and co-workers who are passionate about the products we make and the people who use them. In fact, it was my colleagues who encouraged me to make the sideways step onto the AE team itself. Tech support could only offer me a future in management, and although I was a little intimidated by the giant pulsing brains who construct the magic that is After Effects, I took the plunge and joined the AE Quality Engineering team in 2008.
Now I get to help build AE’s future. Every day I have the privilege of playing with the cool new toys before any of you do. And hopefully I find the bugs before you do.
Over the past eleven years, as AE has grown my career has grown with it. I’m lucky. I work on killer software with fantastic people at a company that treats me well. I hope my future, and your future, and the future of AE is just as lucky.