Improve your chances of scoring a visual effects job and staying in demand as a VFX artist once you're in!
Visual effects jobs are popping up everywhere. Many movies, TV shows, ads and video games depend on VFX to tell their story. These days, almost every major show out there has some level of VFX.
If you're serious about getting into the industry, there are great career opportunities out there with hundreds of companies supplying CG effects for Hollywood and beyond. Glassdoor reports that a Visual Effects Artist's salary is on average USD$81,936 per year with the annual income range going from $47K to $119K depending on experience and location.
However, it is an extremely competitive market, so here are some tips to help you get ahead.
Wouldn't it be cool to become a VFX artist on a future Marvel movie? (Image: Avengers Endgame, Marvel Studios)
5 Tips To Help You Break Into The Industry AND Keep You There:
1. Go to a school that specializes in animation and visual effects
This is one of the best ways to gain a foothold in this type of career. Make sure the school you choose has instructors that are actively working in the film and broadcast industry. Your instructors will be much more likely to know the latest CG software and digital production art techniques. There's also the added benefit of your mentors being able to connect you with key people in the industry. A dedicated VFX school will invest more time in your success and help you to gain an upper hand over the competition when going for VFX jobs.
- Evaluate the curriculum and instructors
- Research reviews from former students
2. Strive to be the best at your craft
Always strive to be on top! Dennis Muren, a VFX specialist who worked the computer-generated dinosaur effects in Jurassic Park, offers this advice:
"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 film making process from the point of view of the director -- even if you just want to do special effects."
- Develop your own short movies
- Get familiar with the VFX pipeline
- Recognize where VFX fits into a story
3. Create an amazing showreel of your best work
When applying for visual effects jobs, your showreel will often be the first thing a recruiter sees. Be unique with your showreel, grab the recruiter's attention and keep it. Head to the careers page of a VFX studio you want to work for and see what roles/skills they are looking for. This will help you build a showreel that showcases the exact skills employers are looking for.
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 under 3 minutes
4. Never stop looking for inspiration
Continue to grow by feeding off your ideas. Don't be afraid to try new things, they may not always work, but you'll never know until you investigate them. When things start to get dull, you need to look for things you may have overlooked before. While getting inspiration is encouraged, be careful not to mimic another person's work. Be original and incorporate your own style when creating something new.
- Dare to be original
- Put passion into what you create, ALWAYS
- Continue to adapt
5. Be a great team player
This last tip is primarily focused on keeping your job once you are hired.
One person can make or break a team. Be conscious of your attitude towards the people around you and what you're working on. Don't be afraid to have someone critique your work and vice versa. Constructive criticism delivered with respect helps build experience and authentic relationships. The people you work with are the key to branching out in the industry, possibly introducing you to future employers. It's a small industry, so play nice.
- Communicate respectfully
- Be positive and a reliable team member
- Offer your constructive feedback and support
So there you have it, 5 tips to help you get a VFX job. Be sure to share this post with friends or family looking to get into the exciting Visual Effects industry.
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