Josh Parks

Ac­tion points for ev­ery VFX artist

3D Artist - - COMTENTS - Josh Parks Com­pos­i­tor, Blue­bolt compositingpro.com

Visual ef­fects artists are of­ten so fo­cussed on the tech­ni­cal as­pects of their role, they for­get about the other as­pects of be­ing a suc­cess­ful VFX artist. Due to this, it can be very easy to get ahead by fo­cussing on what oth­ers are miss­ing, al­low­ing you to stand out with the same amount of work.

Through­out my com­posit­ing ca­reer i’ve made notes on what i believe to be the con­tribut­ing fac­tors for suc­cess­ful peo­ple within the in­dus­try.

This has lead to me spot­ting pat­terns across the most suc­cess­ful artists within the VFX in­dus­try. What makes a suc­cess­ful VFX artist will be dif­fer­ent for ev­ery­one so i would en­cour­age you to do this same ex­er­cise.

in this ar­ti­cle i will go over what some of these fac­tors are and how you can use them to start get­ting ahead.

in the world of VFX we think of mod­el­ling as mak­ing an ob­ject. How­ever it has a dif­fer­ent mean­ing, we can model some­one’s life by copy­ing their ac­tions, to go about get­ting the same re­sult.

Al­low­ing you to learn from some­one else’s mis­takes and en­sur­ing you don’t make the same ones.

Firstly i’ve found that artists are con­stantly ask­ing for feed­back and look­ing at how to im­prove. At the end of each show they’ll sit down with their 2D su­per­vi­sor and ask what they could have done bet­ter on the project, this then gives them ac­tion­able points to go for­ward with.

They make sure other peo­ple know what they wanted. By mak­ing sure peo­ple know what you want, you give oth­ers the chance to ei­ther help you get there or give you that op­por­tu­nity.

They spoke to artists al­ready in the role they wanted. By do­ing this, they could learn what ar­eas they should fo­cus on im­prov­ing most to give them the best chance of get­ting the role – mak­ing sure that they don’t waste time and count on luck to get them to where they want to be.

The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. When i used to coach ten­nis we’d fo­cus on a par­tic­u­lar area and do drills in or­der to im­prove quickly, rather than just play­ing games and hop­ing we im­prove.

This seems like com­mon sense, but most VFX artists learn by do­ing a project.

This seems crazy to me and slows down your learn­ing speed. The worst time to learn any­thing is when you’re un­der pres­sure on a project. it’s like driv­ing in a race and not study­ing the track or do­ing prac­tice laps be­fore you turn up for race day. So steal the best train­ing tech­niques in the world from other in­dus­tries.

A task i set my stu­dents is for them to do 20-minute green­screen key­ing prac­tice, you can swap this out for wher­ever you need to im­prove. it’s a lot eas­ier to learn when you know that if it all goes wrong ev­ery­thing is fine, learn from it and try again in an hour’s time.

Don’t pas­sively watch a tutorial ex­pect­ing it to soak in such that you can use it con­fi­dently in your next project. if you wanted to be a pro­fes­sional cy­clist/swim­mer you wouldn’t just pas­sively watch videos of peo­ple teach­ing this then get in the pool and ex­pect to be amaz­ing. So ac­tively en­gage with any tutorial you’re watch­ing, try it out on a piece of footage dif­fer­ent to the one pro­vided, push it and pull it around to test what it can do. The fi­nal thing i’ve no­ticed is that the peo­ple who do the best get what they need be­fore they need it so when the op­por­tu­nity does arise they are ready.

For in­stance i see count­less uni­ver­sity stu­dents start email­ing out to make in­dus­try con­tacts a week be­fore their course ends. This means that they are now com­pet­ing against a vast ma­jor­ity of VFX stu­dents do­ing the same. Get ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion by email­ing in­dus­try VFX artists a year be­fore you fin­ish your course, drop them an email ev­ery two or three months with work up­dates.

This means by the time you fin­ish your course you have al­ready built good re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple who can help you.

This is the same for those who are al­ready in the in­dus­try, get to know artists at other com­pa­nies, keep an eye out for who is hir­ing be­fore your con­tract runs out, al­low­ing you to make your plan­ning eas­ier.

Hav­ing all of these in your mind while you’re at uni­ver­sity or work­ing will com­pound over time and im­prove your chances of suc­cess.

By mak­ing sure peo­ple know what you want, you give oth­ers the chance to help you get there

Build up new con­tacts while you’re work­ing

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