Everyone wants to know the right path to take, so let’s give you some insight into this fine question, Specialist or Generalist? First off if you’re asking yourself what the heck am I talking about!!! Then let me clear that up. A specialist is really really good at one thing in particular, whether it be modelling, animating or a concept artist. Generalist tends to know their way around a few jobs down the vfx pipeline.
Now that we have that all cleared up let’s delve into the question.
Our head of animation Mark Pullyblank holds a plethora of information and advice from his years of experience, touching on the subject of what are studios looking for, he explained that it all depends where in the industry you are looking.
Smaller studios generally have more demand for people with general knowledge, larger studios are typically where you’ll want to go if you want to concentrate on a specific area. But if you are a generalist you typically still have one skill you like to do the most.
If you do find that you want to concentrate your work on a specific area then you probably want to look into a larger studio where they have room for people with specific skills.
"The important thing is if you are more a generalist don't spread yourself too thin."
Greg Hurd-Rutter feels that if you are applying at a smaller studio as a generalist, its good to show you have a broad understanding of multiple skills, but you should still have a strong focus. If you're going to try for a triple-A studio you should be focusing on a specific discipline, and when applying for a job show them that's what you can do and you are good at.
Mentor of 3D modelling, Francisco Alvarez says that if you are working as a modeller doesn’t hurt to know texturing and shading as well, it allows you to move down the pipeline as work progresses, studios for both film and game greatly appreciate people like this.
Even if you start out as a generalist and decide you want to become specialized in a skill that option will always be there.
Here are some jobs in demand that you can specialize in or study as a secondary skill:
Simon Warwick mentor of 3D Modelling had this to say if you are thinking of specializing in a specific area, be sure that it's not a job that will most likely be outsourced:
“You have to think, the content you are creating is it something that can be done external from a studio, and if it can, then it very well might be."
Any job that needs direct help from directors, people within the studio, designers, these are the types of jobs you want to specialize in.
Also, you should remember when creating your demo reel definitely don’t forget to specialize it for the type of job you are applying for whether that be specialist or generalist.
Here's some quick advice on what should be on your demo reel by Katerina Dzolganovski mentor of modelling.
If you're interested in starting a career in the Animation, VFX and Game Design industry check out our full offering of courses in the link below.