How To Survive The Visual Effects Industry

How To Survive The Visual Effects Industry

The visual effects field of filmmaking (referred to as VFX) has evolved from only a handful of improvising technicians in Hollywood’s early days to an essential, specialized field no film can be without. Thanks to cutting-edge motion graphics software and animatronics, filmmakers can achieve anything in their motion pictures from destroying cities to recreating history.

As vast as VFX industry is, it can be a tricky career path to follow if you’re not prepared. But, there are important choices you can make and paths to follow in order to turn your love of visual design into a lifelong career.

Alternate Views

You may not have any interest in being a producer, director, writer, editor or sound designer. But, to really make a name for yourself in the VFX world, you have to consider their viewpoints on the story you’re all trying to tell. Study up, through schooling or independently, the film production process and its history and various styles. Obviously, mastering motion graphics software should be your focus, but understanding the beginning, middle and end of a story and everyone else’s role in telling it will make your contributions that much stronger and integrated.

Passing the Torch

It’s true that competition for VFX and motion graphics jobs is stiff, but not any more so than others in the film industry. Ignore any scare tactics or horror stories you might hear to the contrary. Like any other group of specialized, passionate artists, there are plenty of seasoned VFX pros out there who have a natural desire to mentor the next generation. Networking with people like these will not only help your career and teach you new techniques, but give you much needed morale when first starting out.

Pinch Me

Like nearly any other career you fantasize about, VFX isn’t as glamorous in real life as you may think. It’s best to come to understand that before looking for jobs. You’ll often be handed a day’s footage from a film shoot, told what changes need to be made and be expected to have it done by the next day. It can make for a rigorous, lengthy and exhausting work environment.

Making Changes

Motion graphics software is evolving constantly. This can be viewed as a very good thing if you evolve with it. Staying up to date with new features, options and variations of VFX technology can help you tackle the enormous time demands of the industry by knowing better or more efficient techniques for your assigned task.

Forget Me Not

Never lose sight of your love of the job. You got into this part of the industry because the satisfaction you get from it far outweighs the negatives. It may sound cliche, but always keep the joy for your work at the core of what you do. Countless people in the film world forget to do this, and they burn out quickly because of it.


Breaking the Box

It’s critical that you assert yourself and your unique approach to VFX. Don’t flat out ignore what the people in charge want from you, but never be afraid to assert yourself creatively either. It’s easy to be intimidated by directors and producers because their names come first in the credits(which gives them a certain air of prestige), so a lot of VFX designers play it safe by imitating what others before them have successfully done. But, always remember that even though others call the shots, hardly any of them are experts on special effects, and they are, in fact, relying on you to make what they want happen. The only way to do this, and make sure you keep finding work, is to be as bold and creatively original as possible.

Don’t struggle alone with projects

Join the creative community of UX, graphic, web designers and developers to get help with any design or dev project.

Jared Jaureguy is a technology enthusiast and independent technology consultant. Follow him on Twitter @JaredJaureguy.


photo credit: splurj via photopin cc
gordontarpley via photopin cc

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