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Getting Started in VFX

Study and Training

There are many different ways to get into VFX. Within Australia, vocational education and university are both provide excellent training solutions. By doing some research, you will easily be able to find courses which cover screen, media, animation and VFX.

At Rising Sun Pictures, we often get approached about how to get into the industry. Generally, enquiries come from secondary and tertiary students, but we also get asked by people that are changing careers, have an interest in learning new software or those that just want to have some fun learning something different!
As a result, we have created the table below to guide you with some training options.

The table provides vocational training options so too reference to what is provided under the banner of the UniSA and Rising Sun Pictures relationship.

Vocational training options include national codes so that you can do your own research due to the number of training providers offering these courses in Australia.


SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS

Can commence CII and CIII courses while at school. There are several options available and enquiries should be made via your schools careers counsellor on what options maybe available under the following categories:
TGSS: Training Guarantee for School students
VETis: VET in Schools

TERTIARY (VOCATIONAL) STUDENTS
Should also enquire at their college about university pathways.  University pathways allow, for example TAFE students to get credit towards their university studies, which reduces their time to complete a degree:

RSP has partnered with the University of South Australia to deliver its accredited training.  For more information about our relationship, look at our UniSA page to view the courses available.

The UniSA Media Arts degree provides graduates from the Advanced Diploma in Screen and Media (Visual Effects) a direct pathway in so that they receive 1.5 years of credit towards the degree.  This reduces the time taken to complete the degree to 1.5 years – not 3 years:


WHAT’S THE BEST TRAINING OPTION FOR ME?

As a potential student, it’s important to do your research.  Ask the training provider / university questions to ascertain if the training matches your career aspiration in visual effects.  Also enquire about the cost of training and how the government funds this.  In Australia, deferral of fees, upfront costs and student loans are something to gain clarity on.  Some vocational course fees are “capped” whereby the student may need to pay the difference between the course cost and the amount the government is willing to pay.

DO YOUR RESEARCH.  ASK QUESTIONS.  GET HONEST ANSWERS.

It is also important to know what area you are interested in within visual effects as this will help define you education pathway into the industry.

Increasing your education does not guarantee you a job in the industry. It will however, significantly increase your chances. It will also be of assistance if applying for jobs overseas.  Just like Australia, other countries prefer tertiary educated applicants for their work visas.

There are film schools and global and local screen based bodies, which offer relevant resources and/or advice on training:
Ausfilm
SA Film Corporation
Digital Media World
Inside Film
The Visual Effects Society
Media Arts Production Skills Film School [MAPS]
Media Resource Centre (MRC)
South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC):

Online educational providers:
CG Spectrum
FXPHD
CG Society Workshops
The Gnomon Workshop
CMIVFX
Pluralsight

Online animation training:
Animation mentor
Anim Squad (Disney Animators)
Anim School
Ianimate

SOFTWARE
Software is not the be all and end all. It’s a tool. First and foremost, you need to be an artist. Submerge yourself in what you love – drawing, painting, photography, sculpting etc. However, it’s practical to expose yourself to industry standard software packages used by VFX facilities around the world.

To be considered for an entry-level position, it will give you an edge if you have used RSP’s core tools such as Nuke, Maya, Houdini and 3d Equalizer. Software companies often make available free personal learning editions (PLE’s). We recommend taking advantage of such PLE’s in order to familiarise yourself with key aspects of the software. You will need to register your details with the Software developer. Check the system requirements to ensure your system is compatible.

Nuke – by The Foundry
Node based compositing system used extensively to integrate 2d and 3d elements.
Nuke is typically used by compositors, digital painters, rotoscopers & matte painters. Nuke personal learning is also available on their website. Try The Foundry’s NUKE, compositing walkthrough.

Maya – by Autodesk
Maya is an extensive software package used worldwide by RSP & other leading VFX houses. It is predominantly used for modeling, animation, simulation, visual effects, lighting & rendering and matchmoving. Maya personal learning is also available on their website.

3d Equalizer (3de) – by Science D Visions
Professional 3d tracking and matchmoving software. Used by industry juggernauts such as us RSP to seamlessly integrate cg into live-action sequences. Typical positions which use this software include camera tracker, matchmover and compositors. 3de Personal Learning Edition is available on their website under the ‘Download’ tab.

Houdini – by SideFX
Used increasingly in RSP’s production pipeline, Houdini is a powerful node based 3d software package responsible for creating some of today’s award-winning digital effects. Houdini is renowned for creating real world phenomena such as smoke, fire, particle, dynamics and other simulated effects. Houdini Free Learning Edition is available on their website.

ENTRY LEVEL ROLES
No one starts out as a VFX Supervisor. They work their way up. A typical entry role into 2D is as a Paint & Roto artist. Paint & Roto artists work closely with compositors to create mattes for them to use. They also to plate prep ie plate preparation, or ‘clean-up’. This can vary from simple tracking marker removals, through to complex work such as recreating part of the original plate.

Paint & Roto artists use Nuke and Silhouette, so they quickly gain an understanding of the comp skillset. The next step would be to transition to junior comp work. But that’s not to say Paint & Roto is not an excellent career choice. We are always grateful for experienced Paint & Roto artists who just get on with the work and deliver.

A typical entry role into 3D is as a Matchmover / Tracking artist. Matchmovers / Trackers are responsible for camera, object and body tracking. A very good understanding of Maya is helpful as well as knowing tracking software such as 3D Equaliser. Another 3D entry-level role is as an environment, creating buildings, or a props modeler. Modellers use Maya.

Other entry areas are as a Render Wrangler. We’ve had very successful 3D artists come in this way. They watch the render farm and see what crashes and fails and fix it. It tends to make them faster and more economical with their renders when they move into modeling or lighting. It’s rare we take on Runner’s here at RSP, although we have in the past. But we’re only interested in people who are keen to remain in production and progress along to Coordinator, Production Manager and eventually Producer.

Most people spend a year or two in these entry-level roles before they have the opportunity to move into another area. They start by getting an opportunity to do one shot – one comp, model one prop. If successful the production team might give you an opportunity on the next project. It all depends. But its more attractive if you do good work first, then ask for the opportunity. Just because you’ve been doing an entry-level role for two years doesn’t mean you automatically get to step up.

We’d much rather have a happy talented Paint & Roto artist or Matchmover / Tracker who delivers than a junior Comp who doesn’t and complains about not getting good shots.

SHOULD I SPECIALISE OR GENERALISE?
There is no right answer for this. Larger facilities tend to need specialists. Smaller facilities tend to need generalists. Even if you’re a specialist it’s handy to have a secondary skill. In lean times it can be handy if you can duck into a different role and help out – it can help make you more employable. If you’re a generalist it helps to be better at a couple of things. You want to avoid being someone who can do a bit of everything but nothing well.

If you have not found the information you are after, try our Frequently Asked Questions, or email us.

Study and Training

There are many different ways to get into VFX. Within Australia, vocational education and university are both provide excellent training solutions. By doing some research, you will easily be able to find courses which cover screen, media, animation and VFX.

At Rising Sun Pictures, we often get approached about how to get into the industry. Generally, enquiries come from secondary and tertiary students, but we also get asked by people that are changing careers, have an interest in learning new software or those that just want to have some fun learning something different!
As a result, we have created the table below to guide you with some training options.

The table provides vocational training options so too reference to what is provided under the banner of the UniSA and Rising Sun Pictures relationship.

Vocational training options include national codes so that you can do your own research due to the number of training providers offering these courses in Australia.


SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS

Can commence CII and CIII courses while at school. There are several options available and enquiries should be made via your schools careers counsellor on what options maybe available under the following categories:
TGSS: Training Guarantee for School students
VETis: VET in Schools

TERTIARY (VOCATIONAL) STUDENTS
Should also enquire at their college about university pathways.  University pathways allow, for example TAFE students to get credit towards their university studies, which reduces their time to complete a degree:

RSP has partnered with the University of South Australia to deliver its accredited training.  For more information about our relationship, look at our UniSA page to view the courses available.

The UniSA Media Arts degree provides graduates from the Advanced Diploma in Screen and Media (Visual Effects) a direct pathway in so that they receive 1.5 years of credit towards the degree.  This reduces the time taken to complete the degree to 1.5 years – not 3 years:


WHAT’S THE BEST TRAINING OPTION FOR ME?

As a potential student, it’s important to do your research.  Ask the training provider / university questions to ascertain if the training matches your career aspiration in visual effects.  Also enquire about the cost of training and how the government funds this.  In Australia, deferral of fees, upfront costs and student loans are something to gain clarity on.  Some vocational course fees are “capped” whereby the student may need to pay the difference between the course cost and the amount the government is willing to pay.

DO YOUR RESEARCH.  ASK QUESTIONS.  GET HONEST ANSWERS.

It is also important to know what area you are interested in within visual effects as this will help define you education pathway into the industry.

Increasing your education does not guarantee you a job in the industry. It will however, significantly increase your chances. It will also be of assistance if applying for jobs overseas.  Just like Australia, other countries prefer tertiary educated applicants for their work visas.

There are film schools and global and local screen based bodies, which offer relevant resources and/or advice on training:
Ausfilm
SA Film Corporation
Digital Media World
Inside Film
The Visual Effects Society
Media Arts Production Skills Film School [MAPS]
Media Resource Centre (MRC)
South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC):

Online educational providers:
CG Spectrum
FXPHD
CG Society Workshops
The Gnomon Workshop
CMIVFX
Pluralsight

Online animation training:
Animation mentor
Anim Squad (Disney Animators)
Anim School
Ianimate

SOFTWARE
Software is not the be all and end all. It’s a tool. First and foremost, you need to be an artist. Submerge yourself in what you love – drawing, painting, photography, sculpting etc. However, it’s practical to expose yourself to industry standard software packages used by VFX facilities around the world.

To be considered for an entry-level position, it will give you an edge if you have used RSP’s core tools such as Nuke, Maya, Houdini and 3d Equalizer. Software companies often make available free personal learning editions (PLE’s). We recommend taking advantage of such PLE’s in order to familiarise yourself with key aspects of the software. You will need to register your details with the Software developer. Check the system requirements to ensure your system is compatible.

Nuke – by The Foundry
Node based compositing system used extensively to integrate 2d and 3d elements.
Nuke is typically used by compositors, digital painters, rotoscopers & matte painters. Nuke personal learning is also available on their website. Try The Foundry’s NUKE, compositing walkthrough.

Maya – by Autodesk
Maya is an extensive software package used worldwide by RSP & other leading VFX houses. It is predominantly used for modeling, animation, simulation, visual effects, lighting & rendering and matchmoving. Maya personal learning is also available on their website.

3d Equalizer (3de) – by Science D Visions
Professional 3d tracking and matchmoving software. Used by industry juggernauts such as us RSP to seamlessly integrate cg into live-action sequences. Typical positions which use this software include camera tracker, matchmover and compositors. 3de Personal Learning Edition is available on their website under the ‘Download’ tab.

Houdini – by SideFX
Used increasingly in RSP’s production pipeline, Houdini is a powerful node based 3d software package responsible for creating some of today’s award-winning digital effects. Houdini is renowned for creating real world phenomena such as smoke, fire, particle, dynamics and other simulated effects. Houdini Free Learning Edition is available on their website.

ENTRY LEVEL ROLES
No one starts out as a VFX Supervisor. They work their way up. A typical entry role into 2D is as a Paint & Roto artist. Paint & Roto artists work closely with compositors to create mattes for them to use. They also to plate prep ie plate preparation, or ‘clean-up’. This can vary from simple tracking marker removals, through to complex work such as recreating part of the original plate.

Paint & Roto artists use Nuke and Silhouette, so they quickly gain an understanding of the comp skillset. The next step would be to transition to junior comp work. But that’s not to say Paint & Roto is not an excellent career choice. We are always grateful for experienced Paint & Roto artists who just get on with the work and deliver.

A typical entry role into 3D is as a Matchmover / Tracking artist. Matchmovers / Trackers are responsible for camera, object and body tracking. A very good understanding of Maya is helpful as well as knowing tracking software such as 3D Equaliser. Another 3D entry-level role is as an environment, creating buildings, or a props modeler. Modellers use Maya.

Other entry areas are as a Render Wrangler. We’ve had very successful 3D artists come in this way. They watch the render farm and see what crashes and fails and fix it. It tends to make them faster and more economical with their renders when they move into modeling or lighting. It’s rare we take on Runner’s here at RSP, although we have in the past. But we’re only interested in people who are keen to remain in production and progress along to Coordinator, Production Manager and eventually Producer.

Most people spend a year or two in these entry-level roles before they have the opportunity to move into another area. They start by getting an opportunity to do one shot – one comp, model one prop. If successful the production team might give you an opportunity on the next project. It all depends. But its more attractive if you do good work first, then ask for the opportunity. Just because you’ve been doing an entry-level role for two years doesn’t mean you automatically get to step up.

We’d much rather have a happy talented Paint & Roto artist or Matchmover / Tracker who delivers than a junior Comp who doesn’t and complains about not getting good shots.

SHOULD I SPECIALISE OR GENERALISE?
There is no right answer for this. Larger facilities tend to need specialists. Smaller facilities tend to need generalists. Even if you’re a specialist it’s handy to have a secondary skill. In lean times it can be handy if you can duck into a different role and help out – it can help make you more employable. If you’re a generalist it helps to be better at a couple of things. You want to avoid being someone who can do a bit of everything but nothing well.

If you have not found the information you are after, try our Frequently Asked Questions, or email us.

Contact us:

Level 1, 180 Pulteney Street Adelaide, South Australia 5000 Australia

+61 8 8400 6400 learn@rsp.com.au

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Contact us:

Level 1, 180 Pulteney Street Adelaide, South Australia 5000 Australia

+61 8 8400 6400 learn@rsp.com.au

Sign up to our e-Newsletter
Follow Us On: