Is there anything better than a perfectly executed and seamless VFX scene like the colourful set pieces in Thor: Ragnarok? Or anything worse than an obvious, unconvincing CG? (We refuse to name names here). We all want to be working on the next Deadpool, Legend of Zelda installment, or anything that comes out of Pixar, but how do you stand out from the crowd?
1. GO TO A SCHOOL THAT SPECIALISES IN ANIMATION AND VISUAL EFFECTS
Find yourself a school that works. We don’t mean one where the doorknobs all turn and the air conditioning is crisp, we mean one where the lectures are working professionals in the 3D animation industry.
This provides teachers that are up to the minute in the latest software, working at current industry standards, and have contacts that can help you begin building your all-important professional network.
Schools that engage and employ teachers working for Pixar or Ubisoft are going the extra mile to provide the most competitive training available, which in turn helps you be the best 3D artist you can be.
- Research and compare curriculums and instructors.
- Inquire about Job placement and internship potential.
- Check out reflections from former students.
2. STRIVE TO BE THE BEST AT YOUR PROFESSION
In creative industries, only the very best find employment. Any good animation school will push you and compare each student against themselves. Don’t allow your best to be set by your classmates, push to be the best at what you are passionate about. Dennis Muren, a VFX specialist whose work involved the CGI dinosaur effects on Jurassic Park, had this advice to give:
"Study art, photography, nature, because you want to have ideas for full shots in your head. Not parts of shots but the whole finished thing, even though you may not be [responsible] for all of that. You want to understand the filmmaking process from the point of view of the director -- even if you want to do special effects."
- Always be creating new work.
- Don't take on too much. Try and finish what you start.
- Focus on one thing. Once you've mastered that you can learn more!
3. A PROFESSIONAL SHOWREEL IS A MUST
When you get an opportunity or an employer stumbles across your work on the internet, your showreel often forms strong first impressions. Do you think the VFX Supervisors of the next Star Wars wants to hire someone with a mediocre showreel?
Check out other peoples, find out where the standard is, and try to be better. If you are looking to apply to a particular company, why not scope out their style and show that you can work it?
Showreels are about your abilities, how you present them is a big part of the impression. Don’t be too long, two minutes maximum, less if possible. Only show your best work, sometimes less really is more.
Check out our How to Make Your Portfolio or Demo Reel Stand Out article for some tips from our mentors.
- Only show your best work.
- Keep your reel up to date.
- Make sure your content is relevant.
- Keep your reel to 2 minutes or less.
4. NEVER STOP LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION
Inspiration comes from continuing to observe your surroundings. You never know what you'll be asked to create in your profession, so you need to be able to produce a variety of work.
Look at menial things, things only artists really see. Deconstructing how people view the real world is part of the secret to convincing the audience that Harry Potter is truly fighting the Basilisk, or Tyrion Lannister really unchained a dragon.
The ability to make reality feel real with CGI techniques is the key to allowing people to believe in magic or aliens or fantasy. The best way to find out how is to observe.
- Attempt to create what you perceive might be too hard. Mistakes are to be learned from. Keep your reel up to date.
- Put your passion into what you create, ALWAYS.
- Never turn off your observation skills, be surprised by what you see every day.
- Watch tons of films and play lots of games!
5. GET STARTED ON NETWORKING
No one works in a vacuum.
Many roles are not offered by a website, or a recruiting firm, or even by your design school. The biggest hurdle when sitting in an interview is convincing your prospective employer to take a chance with you, a stranger they only just met.
What if you already knew them going in?
The power of a good network to land you your breakout role, and continue to supply you with engaging work cannot be understated. Go to events, meet people, get onto social media networks. Be a presence and maybe someone will be looking for an artist just like you.
- Be respectful and friendly to everyone, you never know who they chat to.
- Get to networking events. They exist, find them and attend.
- Never burn a bridge. This industry is too small for bad manners.
So there you have it, 5 tips to help you get a job in the VFX industry. Be sure to share this post with your friends or family who are looking to get into this amazing field of work.
Learn more about how CG Spectrum can get you started in this career path by looking at our online diploma course options.