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Fantastic Plastic Machine
09-14-2005, 09:49 PM
I'm currently a 3rd term (almost half way) student at Vancouver Film School and I plan on entering the VFX stream. The work that interests me most is mostly done for commercials and music videos. I notice that their artists almost always have titles like "inferno artist, flame artist" etc. My school teaches us after effects and maybe a little combustion. I know that feature film VFX companies have use for all kinds of 3d artists, but companies like the mill, cafe fx's the syndicate and a52 seem to focus a lot on these software packages.

I can't learn them.

If this is the sort of work I hope to be doing eventually, what can I do to prepare myself? Should I apply immediattely to high end studios like this or not even bother until I've worked with their software? What can I do in AFX, combustion or in general that will demonstrate that I have the fundamental basis to work with higher end packages?

If I haven't a hope of being hired by a higher end company, could anyone suggest a more modest place that still does good work?

If I seem to have made a false assumption about the industry or something, please forgive me and, more importantly, correct me, as it is totally new to me. Any and all answers are greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Ben Miller

leigh
09-14-2005, 09:56 PM
Companies that do VFX for commercials and music videos also use 3D artists :shrug:

At any rate, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a school that actually does teach Flame or Inferno. Perhaps you should consider finding an internship.

DorkmanScott
09-14-2005, 10:02 PM
If you learn combustion, you've learned inferno and flame. There's plenty of differences of course, plenty of little tools and streamlines, along with hardware optimizations, that make inferno and flame the "bigger brothers," but if you know combustion, any FX house that uses inferno or flame systems will have the confidence in hiring you that you would be able to move up to the advanced systems.

I don't know of ANY place that "teaches" inferno or flame, all those artists I know learned it on the job.

apoc519
09-14-2005, 10:08 PM
seneca college in toronto has an 8 month fx program that teaches flame. theres a combustion and maya dynamics component as well. 8 grand CDN when i attended.

Seems to me you'd have to be pretty lucky to learn flame in the workplace with no prior experience. The only similarities ive found with combustion is the keyer and color corrector. The interface is only vaguely similar

Fantastic Plastic Machine
09-23-2005, 12:27 AM
Thank you everyone.

Leigh, you're exactly the person I needed to talk to. I've been looking at the Syndicate for quite some time now. How often do you hire recent graduates?

When did you attend seneca, apoc? I paid 27k for my year at VFS and I got in before the price hike. 8k seems pretty cheap.

paperclip
09-23-2005, 12:32 AM
Wow, 27k. So expensive....

....*basks in warmth of having all college tuition paid by the government*....uhm...I mean..

Most unusual, out of the way software is learnt on the job, as far as I can tell. Good luck. :thumbsup:

leigh
09-23-2005, 01:21 AM
Thank you everyone.

Leigh, you're exactly the person I needed to talk to. I've been looking at the Syndicate for quite some time now. How often do you hire recent graduates?


Unfortunately I really have no idea! The best thing to do would be to call them up and speak to the HR manager :) The Syndicate office is down in Santa Monica and to be honest I don't really know the folks down there very well at all because we never see them.

apoc519
09-23-2005, 02:26 AM
I was at seneca just last year. Its government funded now though, it used to be 8k for only 4 months which might have something to do with the price difference

Fantastic Plastic Machine
09-24-2005, 11:00 PM
Unfortunately I really have no idea! The best thing to do would be to call them up and speak to the HR manager :) The Syndicate office is down in Santa Monica and to be honest I don't really know the folks down there very well at all because we never see them.


Of course, my mistake. I thought Santa Maria sounded unfamiliar. I'll try that. So far, I've just been emailing them with no reply. Thanks again, everyone.


Yes, 27k is A LOT, but if you're a modeler, VFS is totally worth it. The VFX program seems to be turning around now, too. For modeling though, I'm pretty sure it's the best school in the industry (see Adam Scott's model on CGTALK front page).

leigh
09-24-2005, 11:20 PM
Of course, my mistake. I thought Santa Maria sounded unfamiliar. I'll try that. So far, I've just been emailing them with no reply. Thanks again, everyone.

Yeah heh the only time we really see them is at the annual company party :D Who have you been emailing? Jonathan, the HR manager, has been in New York for the last two weeks.

jeremybirn
09-25-2005, 12:26 AM
There's a program called "Effect" that runs on any SGI and really is the same software as Flint/Flame/Inferno but without the hardware accelleration. I see students at schools that have SGI's running it as a way to get started learning to do Flame work.

-jeremy

Fantastic Plastic Machine
09-26-2005, 03:17 AM
RE: Leigh

I can't remember. Various people. I think phoning is probably the best idea, though. It's more personal. Is Santa Monica nice?

RE: Jeremy Birn

That is ridiculously helpful advice. I'll look into it here. Thanks.

cholbrow
09-26-2005, 04:26 AM
I have a couple thoughts...

What you could also do is contact the local Autodesk Reseller. (which in your case would be Ordigraphe)

http://www.ordigraphe.com

I think that one of my friends had some Inferno training from them. (although he might have been working for Discreet at the time) At any rate they might know where to get taining, and it wont hurt to ask.

On a diffent note, Combustion is really just a watered down "software only" version of the Flint, flame, and inferno machines. I would highly advise learning it first. The main difference is speed (A lot of functions run real time on inferno and other).

Apples Shake is super awsome. http://www.apple.com/shake/
Its a more popular solution due to its price. (and far more powerfull then combustion)

In sort my suggeston would be to learn combuston or shake and let the company that hires you to tain you. Learning UI's is easy, its the theroy and technique that you should concentrate on. Also, stay away from After effects, "its powerfull weak:P"

hopefull this is helpfull.

beaker
09-26-2005, 06:08 AM
Also, stay away from After effects, "its powerfull weak:P"The rest of your advise is fine, but this part I quoted is really bad advice. I mainly use shake (also C*, DF, etc...) and hate to work on AE if I don't have to, but the thing is there are a lot of jobs using AE. Telling someone not to learn it is suicide for his chances of getting a job goes down by atleast 75%. There are a crapload of AE jobs out there, especially in commercials.

cholbrow
09-26-2005, 06:39 AM
RE:beaker

your right, learning should never be discouraged. Better advice might be that After effects has no directed acyclic graph and so is not simaler to inferno, ect... I would say that knowing all three would greatly increas the ease of leaning a forth. I would really stress leaning shake and some basic linux

Normaly i deal with students intested in becoming modelers or animators, and as they will most likely learn only one package i encourage them to learn combustion or shake.

Thats my excuse anyway for the poor suggestion.

leigh
09-26-2005, 10:29 AM
RE: Leigh

I can't remember. Various people. I think phoning is probably the best idea, though. It's more personal. Is Santa Monica nice?


Yeah Santa Monica is awesome :) It's definitely my favourite part of LA.

Fantastic Plastic Machine
09-27-2005, 06:57 PM
The rest of your advise is fine, but this part I quoted is really bad advice. I mainly use shake (also C*, DF, etc...) and hate to work on AE if I don't have to, but the thing is there are a lot of jobs using AE. Telling someone not to learn it is suicide for his chances of getting a job goes down by atleast 75%. There are a crapload of AE jobs out there, especially in commercials.

There is no risk of me not learning AFX, since I have a mandatory class in it, so no worries there. Unfortunately, I am so superficial that I usually repeat all of the assignments in combustion just to marvel at its erotic interface... so erotic. Probably I will end up rotoscoping anyway, so it won't matter too much. I notice that the keying that I have tried in combustion is very easy, though. Perhaps that's b/c I have only used the basic keyer (I forget the name) in AFX.

Santa Monica is in LA? I doubt it's as crazy as people make it out to be, but I am still a little nervous at the prospect of moving to L.A.

beaker
09-27-2005, 07:59 PM
Don't want to get too much off topic, but when people say LA, they usually mean LA country, not LA the city. So yea, Santa Monica is in LA.

DorkmanScott
09-27-2005, 08:21 PM
There is no risk of me not learning AFX, since I have a mandatory class in it, so no worries there. Unfortunately, I am so superficial that I usually repeat all of the assignments in combustion just to marvel at its erotic interface... so erotic.

O_0

Santa Monica is in LA? I doubt it's as crazy as people make it out to be, but I am still a little nervous at the prospect of moving to L.A.

I've lived in L.A. all my life. First the South Bay, then Santa Monica, and now in North Hollywood about a block from Pixel Magic. Santa Monica is a little bit hoity-toity but overall a clean, safe city.

Avoid Malibu though. Those people are bastards.

beaker
09-27-2005, 09:19 PM
Avoid Malibu though. Those people are bastards.I doubt most people here could actually afford to live there :)

Fantastic Plastic Machine
09-27-2005, 11:26 PM
Don't want to get too much off topic, but when people say LA, they usually mean LA country, not LA the city. So yea, Santa Monica is in LA.

Fascinating. Hoity Toity is much prefferable to Millions-of-Porn-Shopsy (the current situation in Vancouver). I'm probably gettting a bit ahead of myself, though. I won't need to live in LA if no one wants me there. This thread has been so incredibly enlightening. Again, thanks to everyone.

JackGeckler
09-28-2005, 12:32 AM
Just for heads up, I know autodesk had a training facility here in LA, that for a price have Flame and Inferno classes. Though like some have said here, most my friends who work on a flame or inferno system learned it from someone else they shadowed. The flame and inferno community is much much smaller then the 3d community and alot of those guys hop around from studio to studio on a per project basis. The last studio I was at had around 10 flame/inferno bay's so I got to work with quite a few of those artists...My recommendation would be to try to get in useing combustion or another comp app like shake and get in good with some of the flame/inferno artist in hopes they teach you some stuff. Also don't be suprised if alot of them aren't willing to teach you alot. Those guys are all about job security and do there best to hold onto it, mostly for the fact that have a ridiculus hourly rate...so try to be patient :)


As far as the LA stuff goes, I've lived out here for about 2yrs now, living everywhere from Santa Monica, to Downtown, to Hollywood. You can find nice places in all three and other areas, so I wouldnt worry about that. I would however get out of the mind set that these company's you possibly want to work for our going to move you out here to work for them. I definatly think there was a hayday for that, when some freshly graduated students would get hooked up like that, but I think thats gone the way of the doodo. These company still will do that on occasion but its usually now the bigger corp companys and people with alot of experience. Don't let this discurage you, you just need to know your the only one who can make it happen and if moving to LA is going to make it happen...then you should jump on it. You are much more likely to get hired on by one of the studios living local then thinking there going to move you out. Especially if you have little to no experience. I moved out here from FL with experience and it still took me a month living on someones couch before I finally got my first job. This industry is all about having the drive to get that first job and doing what ever it takes, trust me, once you start getting that experience you wont have to worry as much about finding work.

Best of luck...

Jack Geckler
Technical Animator
Sony Pictures Imagworks

Fantastic Plastic Machine
09-28-2005, 03:18 AM
To Jack:

Thanks for your reply. I'm glad you commented on that, because I may have inadvertantly come off seeming a bit arrogant. I phrased some things incorrectly probably. In no way do I expect any company to ship me in. However, I am willing to move anywhere to work, so if there's an oppurtunity for me in LA, then I'd certainly consider moving there (likewise if there's an oppurtunity in oslo or something). What's most important to me is to work on quality material, no matter what level I'm at. I don't like to produce second rate things (although I do quite frequently now for my assignments. I'm working on that though). The states are a little bit more accesible than other countries for me, as my dad and his entire side of the family are still citizens (I should probably be filling something out right now). Plus the U.S. is closer. Anyway, anywhere I move would be of my own accord. I was specifically curious about Santa Monica because I noticed that the Syndicate is (constantly?) hiring Roto Artists, Lightwave generalists and some other fairly accessible positions. I am no longer really concerned about learning inferno, etc before graduating since I've learned here that no one really does and that these places actually do hire people who work on lower-end software.

Cheerio,

Ben

leigh
09-28-2005, 03:25 AM
I'm not sure if they're still using LW down at the Syndicate actually...

beaker
09-28-2005, 04:01 AM
What's most important to me is to work on quality material, no matter what level I'm at. I don't like to produce second rate things (although I do quite frequently now for my assignments.Good luck on that.

Unless your really lucky, you will probably be producing quite a big of second rate stuff for your first couple years in the biz. When you have no experience, you can't exactly be picky on what you work on unless you want to work as a pizza delivery boy for the rest of your life.

You will work for many companies paying you little money and will work you way too many hours producing the best work you can with the limited time and experience you have on hand. You will screw up a lot, bite off more than you can chew, promise way more than you can deliver, overshoot deadlines, and again make lots and lots of mistakes.

But hey, your inexperienced and it is expected. Atleast you will be learning and gaining experience. 3-5 years later, you will probably turn into a pretty good artist because of it making decent money. Don't worry, not many people start out producing ILM quality work right out of school.

Fantastic Plastic Machine
09-28-2005, 05:53 PM
Good luck on that.

Unless your really lucky, you will probably be producing quite a big of second rate stuff for your first couple years in the biz. When you have no experience, you can't exactly be picky on what you work on unless you want to work as a pizza delivery boy for the rest of your life.

You will work for many companies paying you little money and will work you way too many hours producing the best work you can with the limited time and experience you have on hand. You will screw up a lot, bite off more than you can chew, promise way more than you can deliver, overshoot deadlines, and again make lots and lots of mistakes.

But hey, your inexperienced and it is expected. Atleast you will be learning and gaining experience. 3-5 years later, you will probably turn into a pretty good artist because of it making decent money. Don't worry, not many people start out producing ILM quality work right out of school.

ARG! It is impossible to sound humble here. I will no longer say anything positive. I appreciate everyone's efforts to disillusion me, but I'm afraid it's impossible. I am chronically optimistic about everything. Also, I am idealistic and realize that my plans also are, so I won't be disappointed with anything. I would actually be quite happy as latte boy. Sorry, I actually appreciate your comments a lot. I am not being sarcastic about the latte position either. All of the teachers here love to remind us of the harsh realities of the industry. Especially us VFX hopefuls -- I guess we tend to be more starry-eyed than the rest (plus I suppose they hate rotoscoping and assume we will -- it's preferable to weighting, though!). Anyway, I am even willing to enter the live rotoscoping field, (which should exist soon), wherein 30 artists sitting in a van outside the news studio rotoscope 1 frame per second.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Miller

beaker
09-28-2005, 05:56 PM
YAY! Actually, waiter is my plan if I don't get work in VFX right away. I love food and pretensiousness and my uncle's friend owns a fancy restaurant which apparently has horrible espresso (my closest thing to an expertise).You will be right at home in LA then. Join all the bitter "actors" working as servers around here :)

Fantastic Plastic Machine
09-28-2005, 06:14 PM
Oh! You're here! Yes, I would be right at home, except I won't be bitter. I'll be nice!

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