Tech Skills You Need to Start a Career in the VFX Industry in 2020
September 13, 2020 – From Star Wars to Peppa Pig, visual effects (VFX) artists work behind the scenes to build backgrounds, add layers, and blend effects to create the immersive worlds we see on the big screen. Almost every Hollywood production, save for some super indie films, uses VFX artists to create fleshed out and believable visuals for the viewer’s pleasure. On blockbuster films like The Avengers: Endgame, hundreds of VFX artists added elements to the film to add the countless layers of special effects and the final renderings we saw in the theater.
VFX artists are responsible for hundreds of different jobs in pre-production, on set, and post production. Each specific job requires knowledge of certain skills and creative processes. Some skills are technical, while others favor creativity. There are hundreds of software VFX artists use to add elements to sci-fi or horror films. Technology is allowing directors and actors to immerse themselves in fictional surroundings fully. Star Wars: The Mandalorian uses a new technology they developed, called “The Volume” to display the worlds of a galaxy far, far away instead of the typical green screen.
Now is an exciting time for filmmakers to bring stories to life, and they will need plenty of VFX artists to bring their visions to the screen. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the outlook for multimedia artists and animators is growing as fast as other industries. Many VFX designers have a bachelor’s degree, but you don’t need a college degree to become a VFX artist. Becoming familiar with specific programs and coding languages can help you land a career in VFX.
Python is a coding language used by software engineers worldwide because of its easy to learn and apply, but what is Python used for in VFX? The language helps artists streamline programs and make their work easier. Industrial Light & Magic, founded by George Lucas to create special effects for Star Wars, uses the coding language Python regularly to increase its 3D animation process.
Layout TDs (technical directors) use Python when creating basic layouts for previsualization. The process of building a scene from conception to final production is called the 3D pipeline. There are many steps involving multiple VFX artists, software programs, and different hardware. Knowledge of Python can help you smooth out any disagreements between the other programs.
Another role a VFX artist might take is a rigging TD. Rigging typically involves creating a skeleton of a character to be manipulated further down the pipeline. These artists work on character movement and take input from directors to develop believable and character-specific movements. There are a lot of math and technical components to this role. It is beneficial to learn C++, another coding language, to help resolve VFX issues with characters in other programs down the pipeline.
Many people are needed to take a concept to a viewer-ready scene. Pipeline TDs work with people and programs at all ends of the pipeline. In addition to technical skills, pipeline TDs need people skills to resolve the problems and conflicts that arise during large productions. Developing proper interpersonal skills is vital to work in the VFX industry due to its reliance on teamwork. It is unheard – besides personal projects – for VFX to be the work of a single person. It’s time consuming work that would take production years if they had only a few VFX artists.
Not all VFX work is done on computers. The production process includes VFX producers on set to implement practices that make work easier for the VFX artists after film shooting wraps. It’s a common misconception that you can add anything to a screen. There is a lot of prep work to add to make sure visual effects look seamless with their on-screen environment.
Get Familiar with VFX Software
Of course, being able to use the right software is key. There are tons of VFX software programs used for different reasons by production companies. It’s worthwhile to become an expert in a widely used program, but don’t neglect to be familiar with other programs as well. A useful quote from Bruce Lee to consider is “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Become an expert in a program to put your best foot forward.
Source: Career Karma