The Career Coach: Jobs In A Visual Effects House -- Defined
Pamela Kleibrink Thompson
The next three articles in Career Coach will describe the specific sequence of steps in any visual effects shot using computer graphics--modeling, skeleton/bones/set-up, texturing, animation, lighting, and compositing/rendering. If you are skilled or talented in three or more of these areas you may want to consider a job with a smaller company that uses generalists. You'll have an opportunity to do many different jobs. If you are a specialist, you'll probably be happier at a larger company where you will do one specific job and develop a specific skill set that you do well.
These articles will show you what is involved in each of these steps, along with the corresponding skills required. You will also find out what the studio wants to see in a portfolio and demo reel from CG applicants for each specialty.
If you are planning to attend either WAC or SIGGRAPH or both, check out the Websites to find out which companies will be recruiting at the conferences. It's a good idea to send your materials to these companies as soon as possible, before the shows, as companies get swamped with applicants during the conferences. They will have more time to review your work before the show. If they like what they see, you may be given an opportunity to interview with company representatives at the show.
Many American studios have the same basic requirements for submissions: a reel in VHS NTSC format, a resume, a cover letter specifying your area of interest, samples of traditional work and a demo reel breakdown. A demo reel breakdown identifying your responsibility on each sequence and shot, along with the software used (if applicable), must be included.
Demo Reel Breakdown Example: Shot 1: Witch Melting -- animated the witch melting using Softimage; modeled the witch and the scarecrow using Maya; created the textures on the scarecrow using Photoshop.
This month you will learn about modeling and skeleton/bones/set-up.
In 2D animation, the first step in the process is prop, character and background design. In 3D computer animation this is called modeling. A model is a virtual object that is created, colored, textured and animated using computer graphics Modelers are responsible for creating complex, organic models needed for character animation, prop elements for effects, and virtual sets for layout. Modelers must build models that are high quality, efficient to render, and easy to animate.
The model begins as a series of lines called a wireframe that outlines the shape of the object. These wireframes communicate just the basics about the 3D object to come. While incomplete, these transitional illustrations have the benefits of being easy and quick for the computer to calculate and manipulate. The elementary shapes of 3D objects can be quickly rotated in space and viewed from different angles.