View Full Version : Help an engineer!

10 October 2011, 09:09 PM

I'm an undergraduate of computer engineering and and hoping to start a career in computer graphics when I graduate. The CG area is vast and from all I've seen I would like to work with the VFX field. I think that VFX is closer to my field of studies since it does include math and programming which I'm more familiar with, than let's say animation. After I graduate I'm thinking of pursuing a master deggree in VFX in bournemouth or other universities, or maybe get into VFS or Gnomon if I earn the money required. However until then I would like to work on my own to gain some experience. Do you have any suggestions? I'm thinking of a subscription in Digital Tutors. Will that help? Is there anything else online other than DT that will help me get in VFX?

Thanks and take care

10 October 2011, 02:45 AM
Hi Elendorial,

You should try Gnomon DVD's. Use DT for basics, but leave the advanced stuff to Gnomon material.
Sounds like what you want to do is "technical" fields.

If you enjoy math/scripting you can join R&D teams, Tools programming, technical rigging, shader programming etc.

A VFX artist is more of less a generalist that can put many things together.

Think of a VFX Artist as an architect, but a Technical Artist is like an Engineer.
VFX artists have a bias towards aesthetics, Technical Artists have a bias towards problem solving.

10 October 2011, 07:49 AM
Thanks Syndicate! Do you think schools like VFS, Lost Boys are suitable for me? I will definitely start with DT and Gnomon, I'm just searching for the next step.

10 October 2011, 08:06 PM
I know Gnomon is getting quite difficult to get into. My friend applied a few times before she was accepted and she's worked as a professional 3D artist for nearly 5 years. And the tuition just spiked. Syndicate has the best idea, try out a bunch of dvd's and see what you like and if this is something you are very serious about before signing up for a school.

10 October 2011, 03:58 AM
Gnomon are highly respected because they are so strict with entry. They need to maintain a high standard of student work. After all, if people start posting graduation work that looks like crap, no one would consider going + paying for the courses.

I think of Gnomon this way... you know when you see those kick ass animations with amazing rigs/renders and there doesnt seem to be any book/tutorial/dvd etc that covers how its done? Gnomon is where you learn how to do it.

We push our management to buy the Gnomon DVD's whenever we need them because we dont have the time to study outside of work :)

A month worth of watching dvd's during lunch and you are already up to speed with industry techniques.

Seriously, get to an advanced level before considering gnomon, not because you will waste your time, but because you will waste their time :P

Good luck and hope this helps :)

10 October 2011, 01:28 PM
One last thing. Are those schools like Gnomon aim towards people with technical background like me or are they more suitable for artists? I mean, will I gain something if I attend a school like that? Will there be things like scripting,shader programming, things that I'm familiar with because of my technical background?


10 October 2011, 12:24 AM
Computer graphics is a very broad term that can cover more than just visual effects and animation. It is also used in regards to image processing, computer vision, and human computer interaction (to name a few other related applications). You may want to look into some of these areas too if you like graphics software development.

Also, if you are interested in the more technical aspect of computer graphics then you should look at computer science graduate schools with a focus on computer graphics. Below is a brief list of programs you may want to consider:

Texas A&M - Visualization Science, Viz (even mix of art and technical focus, lots of TDs come from here and major studios provide a lot of input to the program)

Texas A&M - Computer Science with computer graphics electives (technical focus)
Many courses are cross-listed with Viz so you can use their courses for electives if you want.

UPenn - Computer Graphics and Game Technology CGGT (technical focus)

UUtah - Computing with Graphics Track (technical focus)

Georgia Tech - Computer Science with specialization in Computer Graphics (technical focus)

Carnegie Mellon - Robotics with focus in Computer Graphics (technical focus)

Cornell University, Stanford, Princeton, Brown, University of California (almost any location), etc. There are many more graphics programs at many universities usually offered through the computer science, computing, architecture, or robotics departments.

Also, you should know that there is nothing stopping you from learning about computer graphics within your undergraduate program. Your school may or may not offer courses, but there are lots of technical books you can buy and free classes on iTunes. Also, some schools offer free course materials that you can download. MIT and CMU, for example, have open courseware that you may want to look into. If you have some time left before you graduate, you may want to look into internship programs at studios for technical directing or software development / R&D.

10 October 2011, 01:28 PM
Thank you very much for your reply and the information you provided. The thing is what you're describing, that is exactly my dilemma.There is the route you posted about, doing research work in computer graphics in a university, develop software tools, and there is the route of going to a school of type like Gnomon, Lost boys etc. This is the dilemma I have for a very long time and I can't figure out an answer.:sad:

10 October 2011, 06:57 PM
The Viz program at A&M is pretty much a middle ground between the technical and artistic perspectives. You could choose electives that lean one way or another, or you could take an even split. They prepare students for a range of computer graphics careers from artist to software developer.

Your choices are not just black and white, there is some gray area. There are 3 general categories:

Artists - such as painters, sculptors, animators, video editors, modelers, etc. People who do not write code and are assigned to a specific production. They do artistic shot work.

Software developers - such as R&D, pipeline, tools, etc. People who only write code and are not assigned to a production. They create technology that is used globally.

Technical director / artist - such as rigging, lighting, shading, rendering, effects, pipeline, tools, etc. People who do a mix of artistic work and programming. They are assigned to a specific production and do shot work. This role is the gray area between the other two areas, but it also varies from studio to studio.

My guess is that with Gnomon you would be prepared to become an artist or technical director / artist. With a computer science program you would be more prepared for software development, but could also become a technical director / artist.

A lot of people have given you good advice so far. In summary, I think your next steps should be as follows:

1) Start learning something from the more artistic side using a Gnomon DVD or a series from Digital Tutors, maybe even take some art classes. Create a character, build a few models, create texture maps, use a 3D app to create a special effect, start drawing or painting, etc.
2) Start learning something technical by following a course on iTunes, a university website, or a book. You could learn how to use the Maya API and create a plugin, create an OpenGL application, create a GPU shader, or try to build your own ray-tracer, etc.
3) Evaluate 1 and 2 to see how you liked what you were doing.
4) Research post-undergraduate programs that match which you liked better, or if you liked both, then which offers a mix.

If this information does not help you, then my suggestion would be to apply to all the programs that interest you when you are ready to continue your studies. Research each program and make sure it is something you would be able to commit to. See if you even qualify and can get accepted, then make a decision from there. With your background in CE a technical path is more achievable, an artistic path may require significant additional work before you are accepted into a program.

10 October 2011, 07:12 PM
Thank you theyoda3! Your reply was very helpful! Some things I didn't know were clarified. Of course I'm grateful to the rest of the people who have contributed to this topic.

Take Care Everyone!

10 October 2011, 08:12 PM
If you're wanting to head into the technical side of VFX, then choose Bournemouth. Most of the British TDs that I work with are Bournemouth graduates, and the university has an excellent reputation in the industry; every year, the big studios here in Soho hire from their graduates.

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