1. Specialist skills – be a generalist with specialist skills
Too often on show reels they see people with really generalist skills, they’d like to see someone who can do everything and be really good at one thing in particular. So you’d be a person who can model, animate, draw, and then specialize in texturing.
2. Team work
Your work affects other people too. if you’re a 3D artist, you have to make sure what you do is up to standard and is good enough to pass on to the next person so they can work efficiently. This is so people don’t have to stop and fix what you’ve done wrong. I also helps to understand what the people around you do and don’t be scared to ask for help if you need it.
3. Creativity and Efficiency
Don’t be a perfectionist. You just need to create what was asked of you, not what you think looks good. It’s best to get the overall outline of the work finished and go back and get feedback on the work you have done. One of the most important things is to just complete enough work that can successfully fool the eye and look realistic, and not just use technology for the sake of it. To save time you don’t have to model the back of an object if the camera isn’t going to see it, only work on what you have to.
4. The ability to think about the big picture
You will need to build your own work solutions to allow for last minute changes that you most likely will be asked to perform. Everything you do can affect other people down the pipe line so be careful not to mess up.
5. Meet deadlines!
Keep things simple. You can’t always work on projects to the level of perfection you would like them at. Completing a deadline is more important than how good it looks. Not finishing to the deadline can prove unreliable and that’s not how you want to be viewed.
6. Working to a brief
Even if you don’t like the work you’re doing, you have to do it how the client wanted it. All the work you do is about someone else and what they think of it. In a lot of companies there is a skill in guessing what the client will want in the future and you have to help them realise that.
7. Respond well to criticism
It’s better to accept criticism as a chance for change in your skills rather than them just telling you what you’re bad at. Respond to criticism positively, disregard what pride you have. Don’t get aught up in shots that you like and do silly things to them that you don’t need, it could still be cut from the film.
8. Presentation skills
Don’t be afraid to speak up. There will be trouble further down the pipeline if you don’t communicate any worries or concerns. Talk about what you have done recently and what changes you’ve made in your work during the dailies. Share progress.
9. Knowledge of cultural references
Believability is the key. No matter how bizarre the physics may be, you have to do it. You need to understand the visual motion cues that make something the way it is, like when a ball hits a wall it squishes but it’s width is expanding to compensate for that. You also need to draw on a vast array of culture to try and complete what’s being asked of you, such as fairy-tale castles and dragons.
10. Observation skills
You should by analysing things that are natural to us, e.g. light, colour, perspective, physics. The easy thing about this is that you can look anywhere for these things, look in certain areas for lighting, record yourself dropping a ball and see how that works, see how far distance really goes. Being a good artist means improving the shot rather than wait for someone else to tell you what’s wrong.
Being able to deconstruct everything you need to do and work at them insteps is a valuable skill that still needs to be worked on. If you went through the shot and broke it down frame-by-frame and broke it down in more a of series of shapes rather that individual frame manipulation.
12. Be able to draw
The low-tech medium of life drawing is good point to start when figuring out what to do and valuable skill to have in VFX. Learning how people work, how muscles move, how weight affects materials, anatomy are all very important skills to progress into VFX.
13. Be proactive and self-motivated – always
Keep in touch with things that are happening in your chosen field. Look through magazines, online articles ect. Look at what other companies are doing and keep up to date with new technologys that are coming around. The VFX world tends to be freelance so it wouldn’t hurt to be up-to-date.
14. applied mechanics, algebra, scripting learning (and physics).
It’s often useful to get to know other people in other departments, talk to people to either side of the job to make sure you know what they need. Always read the manual or online problems first before asking people for help, think of it as a more last resort although don;t be scared to ask them for help when you need it.
15. Know the language
Know all the technical terms for anything, learn acronyms or any set of words that are often used in the industry. This all ties in with keeping up-to-date with the industry, even learning IT slang and knowing the difference between zooming and tracking will help great deal.
16. Awareness of cinematography
You need basic awareness of cinematography and maths. Having an appreciation for photography in terms of composition, balance ect. This can help you frame the difference between what real and painting can help you with.
17. Maths – trigonometry, matrices, vectors,
Knowing about maths, vectors, and physics can help ride the art-tech gap. Knowing basic useful things can help other people a lot and even knowing basic scripting skills.
18. Computer literacy
In some roles it’s important to know some form of language but not all. At least know what your computer is talking about when something comes up and you’ll know how to fix that problem. Rather than calling in the IT team for something that could use a simple scan. Know how to name all your files and how to safely stare them is crucial.
19. Film theory
Awareness on narrative structures and how different things work. How does colour help convey the story, what is the lighting going to do to the scene. Say if it’s a dark scene could help promote a more horror feeling, important to know what these differences can do.
20. Knowledge of VFX history
VFX isn’t new. It has a history going back years that used all types of different techniques that are irrelevant now due to technology, although people can still use them. VFX has a history and it wouldn’t hurt knowing it if any culture references came up. Old practices can help towards new ones if you ever get stuck on something.
21. Knowledge of Editing
Knowing how the construction of different shots and ho they engage the audience can be a valuable skill. It will help you appreciate the edit staff more and how shots that you were working on can suddenly change or be dropped.
22. Style and vision
For adverts and promos, clients often have vision towards what they want, what style they want and how you can advise them otherwise. Some styles can become dated and outmoded.
23. Understand optics
Understanding how the eye works and how it can be fooled is a very helpful tool. When making something knowing how to direct they eyes to certain areas of the screen is incredibly useful. A little research into how eyes see won’t be the most useless thing you do, it’s not like anyone else has something better than the human eye.
24. Be innovative
The history of VFX is still being written and creating something new can surprise people and even set the bar higher. Such as Avatar which was this huge thing when it first came out, now it’s just a normal thing to see that level of VFX. There are also low budget surprises like Ex Machina with a budget of 11m. Create something new in the world of VFX.