View Full Version : Where to start

05 May 2013, 12:01 PM
I don't think i'll be able to go to a university because my parents financial condition isn't that good and i don't want to put them under another burden.
I heard you can study online and if you work hard you can get a job through that.
What i want is to composite and do visual effects for movies and commercials. What do i study first and where do i start. There is digital tutors and fxphd but what do i learn from there and what do i study first?

06 June 2013, 10:34 AM
Hey man this is true to an extent and I shall explain and if someone else disagrees then please share so we can all help.

Yes, there is a way to learn all of this stuff at home not at a University. I myself go to a University for a field that touches various fields of creative technology (web, audio, programming, digital media art (like digital sculpture basically) but they do not touch on modeling, vfx, game design, or animation intensively as a main focus like some schools. Because of this I started teaching myself Blender, 3DS Max and Maya (which you can get really cheap or get a free download for if you're a student of any kind) and a good array of other tools used most commonly in the industry. Don't fret about being expert in all of them but basically be a T employee (link: search for T employee).

Some people will argue and they are right too that a relevant degree in digital media/art/production/whatever is a good thing to have too. Most people without degrees working in the industry have really good portfolios or they start up their own thing.

Hope this helps somehow, If I'm wrong someone correct me hahaha

06 June 2013, 09:45 AM
A friend of mine is doing some designing courses online from uk open college. Check their website if you could find the course of your interest there.

I would also wish at the same time that I could have your services.

Best of Luck for your trainings plus stay connected here!

06 June 2013, 05:13 AM
For the record, some companies will not hire someone without a degree of some kind, regardless of how incredibly awesome their demo reel is. In fact, someone impressed with your handiwork, contacting you because they want you, even offering you a paid move to their area, and naming a specific project they think you'd be great for, will still drop you immediately if you don't have a degree in "at least basket weaving."

That's what happened to me in the game development field, after months of stringing me along, and paid preparation for my demo reel. I was offered a killer job at LucasArts, to work on "Jedi Knight". As a lifelong Star Wars fan, it was a dream job and I threw everything away to get it. I had been doing things in Canada, and was actually starting a new life up there, applying for Canadian citizenship, working, and living with my girlfriend. I gave up on all that, and returned home to my parents in Florida, in preparation for my official interview being done at Siggraph (in Florida). My entire life shoved in the trunk of my rental car. They had a couple more questions for me, to "arm the interviewers" and said they'd noticed that I'd neglected to indicate on my resume what my degree was in. I told them I didn't have one, and they're like... "oh, we can't hire you then... Maybe go back to school?"

Bang!.. done.. It was very disheartening,

That doesn't mean all hope is lost, it just means that certain companies DO require it. My piece of advice to you is what I've wished, countless times, that I'd done. Find something local and relatively inexpensive, and get a bachelors degree while you're still young. There are grants and suchlike that you can check your eligibility for. You can also spread out the hours so that you can get a job at least part time while doing coursework (check the school's policy on completion time frames). Your parents then wouldn't need to shoulder the load alone, and you'll be much better prepared for your future.

The thing is, employers want to know that you are capable of doing well in a school setting after high school. It shows self-discipline as well as potentially ensuring you get up-to-date knowledge on at least related fields. It means you're focusing, taking your career seriously, and want to work. Never underestimate the power of a degree. Even if the company doesn't require a degree, when there is one slot to be filled, 6 guys going for it, and all else is equal, the one with any kind of degree is going to get the slot.

Even if you miss-out on your dream job, you'll be in a position to see how strong your aptitude and interest is in other careers of that field. It also gives you exposure, training, and access to "educational discounts" on the latest and greatest software.

I'm a CAD draftsman now.. using an antique version of AutoCAD. I was self-taught. Newer versions of AutoCAD aren't real compatible, and AutoCAD isn't the big name it used to be anyways. It's clear to me that I need to find a way to learn a different platform in-order to even replace this job with anything comparable.

Although I make ok money, it's really not where I wanna be, it's the job I took in desperation 17 years ago, because I knew they'd accept me without a degree because they get to pay me less than the next guy, and if they sat me down in-front of AutoCAD I could demostrate my ability easily. BUT.. there's no paperwork to show I have skills in this, or other areas, so if I started "following my dream" I'd have to do so from rock bottom, as an older guy, with no degree, and the high cost of living requiring me to ask for better than entry-level pay in-order to make ends meet.

It's not a healthy situation, especially since I was the young "miracle worker" at my job, seventeen years ago, and at 41 years old, I'm now still 20-30 years younger than anyone else there. They're going to close this business one day, to retire, no doubt, and I'm going to have to be ready for it. If I had a degree under my belt, I'd be in much better shape. Hell, I'd have been working at my dream job, at least for a little while, before moving on, with more experience in my dream career, and much better outlook on getting in somewhere else.

07 July 2013, 09:48 PM
In fact, someone impressed with your handiwork, contacting you because they want you, even offering you a paid move to their area, and naming a specific project they think you'd be great for, will still drop you immediately if you don't have a degree in "at least basket weaving."

I'm sorry but this is simply not true. I've been working in the VFX industry for 13 years now, have worked in studios on three different continents and have never, ever, ever been asked by a studio what my education is. For the record, I don't have any degrees.

I'm not saying that degrees are useless, as they aren't. In fact, if someone can afford to a degree, I'd say go for it, as I think education is always a good thing to have. But to suggest that someone without a degree doesn't stand a chance in this industry is misleading at best and outright BS at worst. To be honest, I find your story rather strange as I've been contacted on numerous occasions by Lucasfilm/ILM, who have never cared about my lack of a degree; I can't understand why their game division would have been any different. There must have been some other reason why they ultimately rejected you; please note that I'm not suggesting you're lying, as it's entirely possible (probable even) that there was some other factors counting against you. Obviously Lucasarts no longer exists, but looking through Lucasfilm's current job openings, a job role for a senior character TD, for example, currently states "Bachelor's degree or equivalent degree in Computer Science, Computer Visualization, or Computer Animation is a plus.", so while a degree isn't even necessary, they're just as happy with equivalent experience; a similar wording is used on most of their job vacancies.

While many of my friends in this industry do have degrees, just as many of us don't, and generally speaking, the only occasions when it may become an issue are in the case of moving to a different country, where a degree is often helpful for a visa (however, in many cases this requirement can be fulfilled by relevant professional experience), and in the case of very technical roles, where degrees are almost always a requirement due to the inability to demonstrate skill through an artistic demo reel.

At the end of the day, studios that insist upon degrees are so rare that they're not worth getting into student debt over, if indeed that's your only option for getting a tertiary education. The fact that I've never encountered a single studio that wanted a degree in my entire career thus far is testament to how rare these studios actually are. Once again, I am not saying "don't bother getting a degree" - it's more about the whole financial aspect of it, which the OP has already said is an issue. Getting into debt unnecessarily is not the best way to start off your career.

07 July 2013, 07:05 AM
This goes off topic here somewhat, but your accusation is somewhat unsettling, if only for the fact that it was such a life-altering experience for me when it happened.

That was my actual case scenario with LucasArts and the game industry. I didn't intend to suggest it's true of everywhere, or indeed, I'm not aware if it was still their practice when they closed shop, but it's what happened to me, your results may vary. To be fair, that was almost 20 years ago, as an aspiring level editor. I'm not aware of how that situation may have changed since then as I found it disheartening enough to stop trying... at least until recently.

The first line of that paragraph, which you excluded in your quote says "For the record, some companies will not hire someone without a degree of some kind, regardless of how incredibly awesome their demo reel is." Some, meaning not across the board.. for example, I know I.D. software used to hire without a college degree. The field was a little different then, and you could substitute a couple of years of work experience in an architectural engineering environment. Now, the ID software position title is "Level Architect" and requires past work on at least one AAA game, but no degree requirement is noted.

Truth be told, the line "even basket weaving" was actually directly from a discussion of the topic with their Human Resources department. They didn't care what the degree was in, only that I needed to have one, I suggested basket weaving as kind of a test of their statement, and they agreed that it would meet the requirement.. They were encouraging me to re-enter school, to get a degree of any sort, and that would permit them to hire me. I wanted it bad, and they knew that I could do what they wanted done. The stuff I'd been doing, which had caught the attention of their Jedi Knight Project Lead in the first place, was Star Wars mods to Quake and Doom and a Quake "total Conversion" star wars project I was involved with that LLL eventually stepped-in and shutdown due to projects in the works by LucasArts, despite previously friendly attention from them. Basically, It took Quake down to it's fundamental C-code, rewrote the code and replaced all graphics, and gameplay to Star Wars elements. In any event, I'd been approached by the lead, and then they left the company, (or was fired) taking his contacts (me included) and presumably trashed them. On my end, all I knew was that I was left high and dry, awaiting orders that never came. It was about a year before I reconnected with someone in LucasArts that was able (or willing) to explain what had happened. That's when I was going through the process of re-applying for the position and hit that wall.

So yes, it simply IS true, or rather, I'll concede and suggest that it WAS definitely true, and may even still be a part of the requirements in at least part of the world of Game Development.. but of course that's not the area the OP is looking to get into anyway.

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