Computer graphics, visual effects & Film Businesses

CH Pupils:- Want some advice on a career you're interested in? Want some job contacts for work experience, qualifications required?
Old Blues:- Want to support pupils and other old blues with careers advice in your area of expertise?

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paddy
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careers advice

Post by paddy » Mon Jan 10, 2005 3:52 pm

Hi

And I'd be happy to pontificate and waffle on about the computer graphics, visual effects and film businesses.

Here's a case in point:
http://www.netribution.co.uk/features/i ... son/1.html

I've offered to provide careers advice at CH before (this side of the film industry is booming right now, and there is a huge skills shortage in the UK) ...but they've never got back to me. Sniff.

paddy eason

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jtaylor
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Post by jtaylor » Mon Jan 10, 2005 6:21 pm

Your last comments sounds familiar - an Old Blue contact of mine offered his input to careers lectures (or whatever the equivalent is now) and has never heard anything back - other than a direct debit mandate and a request for charitable donation!

J
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http://www.grovegeeks.co.uk - IT Support and website design for home, small businesses and charities.

waltergilbert
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Post by waltergilbert » Fri Jan 28, 2005 8:12 pm

One thing I noticed at CH was that they mostly pumped out students doing English, Geography and Art etc. so its a rarity to find someone out there from CH who is doing something that is my dream career!

I would be very interested in getting some advice on the film / visual effects industry as that is exactly what im studying for at the university of Teesside. The film industry is notoriously hard to break into so any advice is always much appreciated!

At the moment my skills software wise is Softimage XSI, Discreet Combustion and Adobe Photoshop....so a mix of 2D / 3D work in Compositing / Modelling / Character Animation etc. although Ive heard that the industry is short of compositors so gonna try in that area first, and see how it goes.

Im in my final year now, so I will probably be sending out showreels around April / May time to try and get that illusive first job.

One of my friends from CH and from Teesside also posted this:

viewtopic.php?t=165
Walter Gilbert

Lamb B - Maine A - Grecians East (1994 - 2001)

paddy
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Post by paddy » Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:35 am

waltergilbert wrote:One thing I noticed at CH was that they mostly pumped out students doing English, Geography and Art etc.
... well, that'll include me, then, as I left with History, English and Art... don't underestimate the value of the generic, universal ones! :)

Sounds from your message that your are definitely on the right track. Have you considered doing an MA/MSc at somewhere like Bournemouth? They have a superb record of getting people into the industry.

Be aware that the film industry is notorious for its ups and downs - right now is boom time, but all it takes is for a few major studios to take their work out of London (because of bad exchange rates, or loss of tax incentives, or because a big franchise ends etc) and you may end up competing for a job with a few hundred newly out-of-work people. The way to insure yourself against that is to make sure you are not too specialised too early. If the film industry is low in the UK, the games industry might be up. and don't forget special effects for commercials too.

And another thing to consider is that the film visual effects market is very international. People frequently shuttle between 6 or 12 month contracts in London, L.A, San Francisco, New Zealand....

Please feel free to ask any specific questions - I'd be delighted to try to help.

P.S. the software you mention is widely used, of course, but I'd recommend getting a demo version of Maya and Shake to play with.

waltergilbert
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Post by waltergilbert » Sun Feb 06, 2005 12:52 am

Very useful advice...Ive looked into doing a masters course but decided I want to just bite the bullet and look for a job.

I dont know if you know much about Teesside, but Im pretty sure they are right up there with the likes of Bournemouth, only last week we had a huge animation festival (http://www.animex.net) which attracted speakers from ILM, Dreamworks, Rhythm & Hues, Pixar, Sony Imageworks to name a few! Im sure if you wanted to give a talk to a group of people they would be more than happy to accomodate you in next years festival.
Its a great experience to see what other people are up to, especially the awards which shows work from all around the world.

I have plans to make a short animated feature in spare time with some friends over the next year with a view to entering it into next years festival, which I suppose would be a way of keeping up my other skills.

Im definitely going to try and learn maya and shake, its just a shame my uni chose to use XSI and combustion, as they arent quite as widely used. I think softimage is at the stage now where its probably the most advanced piece of software and will become very popular amongst freelancers mainly because of its new pricing structure. Ive been told that because of the price drop companies are just adding it to their toolset, to accomodate for every type of animator.

If im going to be sending out showreels in April / May with a view to working in London, which companies would you suggest I try?

Obviously I'd love to work somewhere like Cinesite or Framestore, but they almost seem untouchable, the advice ive been given so far is to try the smaller studios as they give you more creative freedom, but are going to want someone who is exceptional in their field as they have a tighter budget.

paddy
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Post by paddy » Mon Feb 07, 2005 10:01 am

waltergilbert wrote:
I have plans to make a short animated feature in spare time with some friends over the next year with a view to entering it into next years festival, which I suppose would be a way of keeping up my other skills.
Great idea, but the key with these things is, of course, to actually finish the thing! So make sure you don't bite off more than you can chew. But having said that, the guy who is sitting next to me I tracked down and hired exactly because of the fantastic short film he made, so it definitely can work!
If im going to be sending out showreels in April / May with a view to working in London, which companies would you suggest I try?

Obviously I'd love to work somewhere like Cinesite or Framestore, but they almost seem untouchable, the advice ive been given so far is to try the smaller studios as they give you more creative freedom, but are going to want someone who is exceptional in their field as they have a tighter budget.
I would suggets trying them all, absolutely. And if it doesn't work out (because you have been unlucky, and no-one is hiring), then try again in 3 months, And again, etc. I would certainly not see Cinesite or Framestore as "untouchable", but I would go for the Moving Picture Company first, because not only are we the best, we are also the busiest! (ha, bit of flag waving there!). If you want to get lots of experience on a broad range of things quickly, do consider commercials/pop videos as well as film.

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Post by waltergilbert » Wed Feb 09, 2005 10:04 am

Great idea, but the key with these things is, of course, to actually finish the thing! So make sure you don't bite off more than you can chew.
This is something I definitely want to avoid, we had a lecture in the animex festival by the guy who made JoJo in the stars (Bafta winning animation) in which he was saying that he spent months and months doing it in spare time and was fast becoming something he would never finish, eventually his studio (Studio AKA) gave him a team of 3 people to work on it and they finished it in 8 months. After watching a number of short animations I think I realised that its the quality of the work that counts...that same old phrase comes back 'quality rather than quantity'. I saw some really bad animation that was around 14 mins long, and then some really good animation that was 4 mins long. I want to try and be as profesional as possible with this animation so going through the whole process is important to me, as it must be done for a reason...right?!
I would go for the Moving Picture Company first, because not only are we the best, we are also the busiest! (ha, bit of flag waving there!).
Im a big fan of the Moving Picture Company's work, I think im right in saying they did that scene in Alexander (which you may have had a hand in?) where the Elephant and Horse rear up against each other. That for me was easily the best part of the whole film, and is something that I don't think anyone has seen before. Overall I would say the film was visually stunning, just a little long winded!

Whats the best way to send a showreel, is DVD now the standard format? I take it that its best to send a CV, Cover Letter and Shot List as well? Ive done a lot of research on showreels as I want to get it right but you must be in a perfect position to describe what your idea of a good showreel would be. To my knowledge its best to keep it short (around 2 mins) and put all your best work in first, also show what you did to each shot and say what parts you did if it was a group project.

I just had a quick glance at MPC's recruitment section and all the positions available seem to be for experienced people, for someone in my situation whose just sending a showreel in how would I go about it as I wouldnt have enough experience to directly apply for those positions.
If you want to get lots of experience on a broad range of things quickly, do consider commercials/pop videos as well as film
This is something that Im very interested in...(my final year project is actually a music video...influenced by Michel Gondry's work) how would I start off on this...by applying to studios that specialise in this area?

Your advice is top notch, Im sure your a busy man....thanks for taking some time out to answer my queries!

paddy
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Post by paddy » Wed Feb 09, 2005 11:11 am

You seem to be on the right track re the showreel. DVD is good, as long as it actually works! (check it a few diferent players/computers). Printed backup info is good too - small frame grab of each shot and one sentence blurb about what you did on it.

Re companies wanting experienced people, well yes, it's the old Catch-22. But if you go for one of the junior roles (roto, plate prep, match-moving etc) then you get a toe in the door. Many of these roles may not even be advertised - we might recruit from peoples' names on file, direct from college etc.

As with anything like this, if you get in, and then use the chance to be really excellent at this junior role, then you shouldn't be junior for too long!

waltergilbert
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Post by waltergilbert » Thu Feb 10, 2005 4:51 pm

Thats sounds good to me...I would take any job as long as it means I have something.

The only other thing I'm not too sure about is the covering letter, in my case should I say that Im willing to do anything but these are my main skills, so a junior role in one of those areas?

Do they teach you anything as a Junior, that would probably be an ideal position for me to begin with as Im still learning everything!

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covering letter

Post by David Vickery » Wed Feb 16, 2005 3:57 pm

When i was trying to get in to the industry i shamelessly emailed every head of department i could get an email address for, attatched a couple of stills of my best work to get their attention and asked if i could come and show them my reel.

Everyone i spoke to was really helpful and more often than not would take some time to meet with me. The trick is to persevere because work loads can change rapidly and its all down to when you happen to call.

There is also the option of going in to a company as a runner. This gives you the chance to learn and use the company facilities outside work hours, and the theory is that when you have done your time you get promoted to a junior 2d/3d operator. the downside is that the pay is pretty rubbish.

try Double Negative as well. they are a great company, do good work and are much better than mpc!.... (of course i would say that!) i have been at Dneg for 3 years as a 3D operator, so if you decide to go 3d rather than 2d i will be glad to help out any way i can.


David

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Post by waltergilbert » Wed Feb 16, 2005 5:17 pm

Thats also some great advice there...much appreciated! I shall definitely be sending a showreel your way too as dneg looks like another great company to work for.

Im just at that phase with my uni work where everything is about half done, so once that all gets done I can put the showreel together and sort out my website!

It looks like were getting a number of people in visual effects who have been to CH which is pretty good, I wonder how many are from CH.

Just out of interest how much can a Junior or a Runner expect to get paid as I have absolutely no idea.

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Post by David Vickery » Wed Feb 16, 2005 5:46 pm

i havent got a clue as to runners but i know its low...
as for a junior 2d or 3d op. it depends on the company and the project you get employed to work on, as well a how good you are. but i suppose 16-20 thousand a year. it could be more. you usually get paid a dailly salary and this can change depending on how long you contract is.
very short contracts will usually pay higher daily rates.

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Post by waltergilbert » Thu Jun 09, 2005 1:35 am

well ive finished my degree and now the real fun begins...getting a job!

my portfolio is uploaded (along with my showreel) at:
http://www.waltergilbert.co.uk
where you can get a good idea of some of the work ive been doing at uni over the last year. I think i might take a couple of weeks break before I realistically start looking as I think this is the first time in my life where I actually have no commitments!

anyway...be interesting to hear what you think (feedback / comments on website and showreel)

paddy
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Post by paddy » Sun Jan 14, 2007 11:57 am

I now work for (as VFX supervisor) a new company in Soho/Chinatown called Rainmaker. We're the new UK wing of a large, well established company in Vancouver BC.

Website here:

http://www.rainmaker.com

paddy[NOSPAM]eason@yahoo.co.uk

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