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Getting Started in VFX

Study

There are many different ways to get into VFX. Below are some training resources with an Australian and online focus. Please note this is not an endorsement nor guarantee of work.

As a potential student, do some research, ask the training provider / university questions to ascertain if the training matches your career aspiration in visual effects.

It is more important to know what area you are interested in within the field and that will help define you education pathway into the industry.

Increasing your education does not guarantee you will secure 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, many other countries prefer tertiary educated applicants for their work visas.

Within Australia, vocational education and university are obviously excellent education providers. You will easily be able to find the courses they offer which cover screen, media, animation and VFX.

There are also film schools and state based screen bodies, which offer courses such as:

UNI SA: Bachelor of Media Arts http://study.unisa.edu.au/degrees/bachelor-of-media-arts

TAFE SA: Adelaide College of the Arts, Light Square Adelaide www.tafesa.edu.au/creative-industries-centre

Academy of Interactive Entertainment [AIE] http://www.aie.edu.au/Adelaide/CampusOverview

UNI SA: Bachelor of Design (Illustration and Animation) http://study.unisa.edu.au/degrees/bachelor-of-design-illustration-and-animation#whythisdegree

Media Arts Production Skills Film School [MAPS] www.maps.sa.edu.au

Concept Design Workshop [CDW] https://cdwstudios.com

Media Resource Centre www.mrc.org.au

 

Online educational providers:

CG Spectrum https://www.cgspectrum.edu.au/

FXPHD www.fxphd.com

CG Society Workshops training.cgsociety.org

Gnomon School of VFX www.gnomonschool.com

The Gnomon Workshop thegnomonworkshop.com

CMIVFX www.cmivfx.com

Pluralsight  https://www.pluralsight.com/


Online animation training:

Animation mentor
 http://www.animationmentor.com/

Anim Squad (Disney Animators) https://www.animsquad.com/

Anim School
 https://www.animschool.com/

Ianimate http://www.ianimate.net/

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 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 familiarize your self with key aspects of the software. You will need to register your details with the Software developer. Be sure to check the system requirements to ensure your system is compatible.

Nuke – by The Foundry
www.thefoundry.co.uk/products/nuke
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 Edition is available here.

Maya – by Autodesk
usa.autodesk.com/maya
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 Edition is available here.

3d Equalizer (3de) – by Science D Visions
www.3dequalizer.com
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 here under the ‘Download’ tab.

Houdini – by SideFX
www.sidefx.com
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 here.

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.

Other Links

Ausfilm www.ausfilm.com.au
SA Film Corporation www.safilm.com.au

Digital Media World www.digitalmedia-world.com
Inside Film www.if.com.au

The Visual Effects Society www.visualeffectssociety.com

Study

There are many different ways to get into VFX. Below are some training resources with an Australian and online focus. Please note this is not an endorsement nor guarantee of work.

As a potential student, do some research, ask the training provider / university questions to ascertain if the training matches your career aspiration in visual effects.

It is more important to know what area you are interested in within the field and that will help define you education pathway into the industry.

Increasing your education does not guarantee you will secure 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, many other countries prefer tertiary educated applicants for their work visas.

Within Australia, vocational education and university are obviously excellent education providers. You will easily be able to find the courses they offer which cover screen, media, animation and VFX.

There are also film schools and state based screen bodies, which offer courses such as:

UNI SA: Bachelor of Media Arts http://study.unisa.edu.au/degrees/bachelor-of-media-arts

TAFE SA: Adelaide College of the Arts, Light Square Adelaide www.tafesa.edu.au/creative-industries-centre

Academy of Interactive Entertainment [AIE] http://www.aie.edu.au/Adelaide/CampusOverview

UNI SA: Bachelor of Design (Illustration and Animation) http://study.unisa.edu.au/degrees/bachelor-of-design-illustration-and-animation#whythisdegree

Media Arts Production Skills Film School [MAPS] www.maps.sa.edu.au

Concept Design Workshop [CDW] https://cdwstudios.com

Media Resource Centre www.mrc.org.au

 

Online educational providers:

CG Spectrum https://www.cgspectrum.edu.au/

FXPHD www.fxphd.com

CG Society Workshops training.cgsociety.org

Gnomon School of VFX www.gnomonschool.com

The Gnomon Workshop thegnomonworkshop.com

CMIVFX www.cmivfx.com

Pluralsight  https://www.pluralsight.com/


Online animation training:

Animation mentor
 http://www.animationmentor.com/

Anim Squad (Disney Animators) https://www.animsquad.com/

Anim School
 https://www.animschool.com/

Ianimate http://www.ianimate.net/

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 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 familiarize your self with key aspects of the software. You will need to register your details with the Software developer. Be sure to check the system requirements to ensure your system is compatible.

Nuke – by The Foundry
www.thefoundry.co.uk/products/nuke
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 Edition is available here.

Maya – by Autodesk
usa.autodesk.com/maya
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 Edition is available here.

3d Equalizer (3de) – by Science D Visions
www.3dequalizer.com
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 here under the ‘Download’ tab.

Houdini – by SideFX
www.sidefx.com
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 here.

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.

Other Links

Ausfilm www.ausfilm.com.au
SA Film Corporation www.safilm.com.au

Digital Media World www.digitalmedia-world.com
Inside Film www.if.com.au

The Visual Effects Society www.visualeffectssociety.com

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: