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VFX courses dont seem right for me, what do I do?

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VFX courses dont seem right for me, what do I do?

Hey everyone!

VFX from computer animation to make up effects has been an interest of mine since I was young. Iv been dabbling with filmmaking for the past few years but more recently I have been thinking longer term and looking at full time VFX courses. I am mainly interesting in compositing, which is good beucase there seems to be alot of space in the market for this.

My question is is that pretty much all programs I have seen encompass compositing with 3d animation, which just won't work for me. I feel as though I am artistic enough for compositing but I CANNOT draw. It just isnt in me. The thought of having to take courses on 3D animation basically makes me not want to even think about the courses anymore.

Am I missing the boat here? Do I HAVE to be skilled in drawing and such to do 3d animation. Do I NEED 3d animation to become a skilled compositor? Do I have any options? Do I need to completely rethink my career path? Are there jobs for compositors who don't do 3d animation?




Some of the most important things to understand in compositing are the characteristics of images like tone, texture and color. An understanding of these topics would provide a much deeper wealth of knowledge applicable to compositing that just have familiarity with a software package. Here we have programs in Imaging and Photographic Technology and Imaging Science that deal with many of these issues. I know that many of the experts at Kodak, here in Rochester have come from these programs. You don't have to draw or do 3D CG in either program. I am, unfortunately, unfamiliar with other similar programs.

- Marla

I would try contacting other people who make a living compositing and find out where they went to school and what their career paths were. I'm sure you will hear a variety of stories and one or two will probably will probably suit you better than the 3D route.

Also there must be compositing forums and websites you might want to find them and start asking around there too.


Department of Computer Animation
Ringling College of Art and Design
Sarasota Florida

The way that things work at this time, you don't need any 3D animation or drawing skills to be a digital compositor. I know many great compositors who can't draw their way out of a paper bag. Of course any animation knowledge or drawing skills are a plus especially if you would like to eventually be a Flame opperator collecting the highest salery. What I do think is important would be a basic knowledge of a compositing program like Adobe's AfterEffects or Autodesk's Combustion. However if Flame is the direction you would like to go in, Combustion's tools are much more similar to Flame. Ideally, if you could take a course in Shake (that's a compositing program), that would be best because, Shake is widely used by vfx shops, and it's interface is made up of joining nodes as opposed to a timeline as used by AfterEffects. The reason that I bring this up is because some places like Digital Domain and Sony's Imageworks have developed their own in-house compositing software and both are node based. Also, the same guys who wrote Imageworks program wrote Shake.
Having a basic knowledge of a compositing program is important so you can apply for a job. Sony or Digital Domain will train you on their software and a lot of companys don't expect a beginner to know everything and believe me there is a lot to know that you will never learn in school.
Two more things. Where you live is important. If you really want to be a compositor you have to go where the work is, and that's Los Angles. I don't care what anyone says, if you want to learn from the best you have to go to the best. There is also a professional training center on 3rd St. in Santa Monica, I can't remember the name of the place, but you can take a course there in just about any program in your spare time. I recall that it was costly but worth it for professionals.
Finally it would help to find a mentor, someone to help you get started. The first job is the hardest to get, once you get it you fall into the loop. That is, you learn from your work mates which studios need compositors and you will find that most of your jobs will come from contacts especially people you worked with before. That's how my career went.
If you need any more help, I'm here.
Robert Mrozowski