About to start continuing my education, but wondering where to focus

A little bit about me…
I have been in the live entertainment industry for almost two decades. The first seven years of this career was in lighting. I was mainly a moving lights tech. Those are the lights at concerts that you see moving and changing colors, etc. A HUGE part of that segment of the industry is in programming the desks that control the lights. They’re basically purpose-built computers with proprietary software that works the “magic”. I have learned some basic programming on a couple of these desks.

The second portion of my career has been in the world of video, which I have been a part of since 2010. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in video, and have found it to be much more fulfilling than my life in lighting.

Unsurprisingly, the main catalyst that has pushed me to jump into the world of code is the COV-19 situation. However, I don’t necessarily want to leave the world of video. Currently, there are some amazing innovations that have come around. One of the elements of these is the Unreal Engine. I don’t want to get into too much detail about it, but it’s basically integrating live video with AR & VR. What we want to use Unreal for is the environment.

I’m telling you all of this so you can perhaps help me decide a path, while trying to… expedite the learning process. I want to “weed out” information that I might not need immediately, and just cut to practical application for my needs.

To be clear, I’m not trying to say that I want to ignore the basics, or the core concepts of a language or method. But, I do want to focus more on MY needs rather than the… normal? needs.

My lack of knowledge in this realm may be incredibly apparent to those “in the know” right now, and I’m sorry if I’m really off base here. I’m not trying to be. I’m just trying to be as efficient as I can be, and asking how to manage that while also driving more directly toward specific goals instead of spending time learning things that I might not need.

It is my understanding that Unreal is coded in C++. I have seen that there are courses in other places that advertise training in C++ specifically for use in the Unreal Engine.

Am I wasting my time HERE focusing on C++ rather than taking a course that is specifically focused on coding for that ONE program use? Would all of the information/knowledge tie together in a useful way, no matter the topic (staying in C++)?

Cheers, and thank you for being patient while reading my ramble! :grin:

Hello @designrockstar42768. Oftentimes, courses that teach a language for a specific thing (possibly like the courses you’ve seen that teach C++ for the Unreal Engine) either gloss over some of the basics, in order to efficiently get to the information regarding the topic, or they require some previous knowledge. (That might not be the case, though.) If it is, I would recommend doing some basic C++, as I believe (I do not know it; I am just thinking of snippets of info I’ve read about it), the language has more concepts that must be grappled with early on, which means missing the basics could make you not very knowledgeable of the language, just the few things required to use the Unreal Engine, say. That being said, if your interest is solely in using that application, and not the whole spiel of the rest of C++, then maybe learning it from scratch isn’t the best.

I would say, if you started learning a C++ course on CC or any other site that teaches it for the sake of the language (not, for instance, learning how to use the Unreal Engine), then yes. The knowledge you gain learning the fundamentals will make it easier to pick up other things in the language, including use on/in (I’m not quite sure of the word-are you building/creating or are you just using it with some code;) the Unreal Engine.
Sorry for the non-answer (I don’t want to be saying what to do; just providing information).
I hope this helps!

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Sounds like you really enjoyed working with video (was it video editing?). Do you want to learn programming with the Unreal Engine to work in the video game industry? If you are thinking about video and programming in creative ways, a really cool tool is A-Frame that would allow you to deploy VR web apps. I suppose you could learn to be a front-end web developer (the usual HTML, CSS, JS, React/Angular) with a focus on a creative portfolio with lots of video stuff.

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This is exactly the kind of answer I’m looking for! Straightforward and no holding back!

It’s important to me to get honest, no-holds-barred answers. This is new territory for me, and I don’t want to move too far forward without advice on how to do so effectively.

Thank you!


I truly do enjoy working in the world of video! It’s an exciting and interesting field. I’m not an editor, but I can do some editing if needed. My main area of expertise is in the design & implementation of full video systems to support live events. My secondary area of expertise is programming media servers, also in support of live events.

Just so you can see the kinds of Media servers I’m talking about:

Disguise is the one that I’ve been using the most lately. This is what I would consider the “Top Dog” in the industry right now.

Hippotizer has been around longer, and I really like the workflow and features of this one. I’ve got the most experience with this one, but it hasn’t been deployed as much in the last couple of years.

I don’t necessarily want to work in the video game industry. The main idea behind learning to program in Unreal is to manipulate virtual environments for use in a “mixed reality” workflow. There is a LOT to explain for the specifics.

I took a look at A-Frame! Very cool! I might play with that, regardless!