Technical Artist info

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Old 07 July 2013   #1
Technical Artist info

Hey guys, how you doing?

If I may I have a few questions to any technical artists out there. Recently I've applied for a school here as a technical artist and got in. This school has several disciplines, the one I want a bit more is called Game Art but there were many people who applied for that and I didn't get in.

I have a very general understand as to what a technical artist do, this school describes it as between game art and a programmer. Like developing tools, find new ways to do stuff etc. But I would like to know a little more in depth of what it entails to be a technical artist.
How much technical stuff do they do (and what kind of technical stuff it is) and how much art, as in modeling/animation/lighting/vfx etc?

Some people even said if they didn't get in to the game art discipline but if they got in to the technical artist instead they'd at least have a foot in the door to perhaps later have the chance to do game art, I know to some extent it may hold true. But is it worth potentially loaning large sums money for studies on that hope alone?

Any help would be much appreciated to cast some light on this and what it really means to be a technical artist, thank you!
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Old 07 July 2013   #2
The term technical artist is itself very broad and nebulous. You get character TDs, FX TDs, lighting TDs, etc. What exactly does the curriculum entail?

However, if what you actually want to do is work in a purely artistic role, then it might be better to seek an alternative school or educational path instead of going down a route you're not necessarily that into in the hope that you'll eventually be able to use it as a stepping stone for what you actually want to do. Getting a more technical education is certainly not a bad thing, but if your heart isn't 100% in it, then are you really doing yourself a favour?
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Old 07 July 2013   #3
What leigh said. The work you'll do depends heavily on the studio you end up in. As for curriculum, it could be a solid 50% art/tech balance, though i doubt it. If you want to be an artist, be one. If you apply for roles just to get a foot in the door, you'll end up wasting time and pissing people off.

If you got in under tech art, you may actually like it
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Old 07 July 2013   #4
Thanks guys.
Yeah I don't mind choosing either one, I think I would be satisfied working with either or. If I do choose to go the tech artist route I will no doubt give it my all. I am quite readily malleable and could easily learn to love it as it no doubt would give me some valuable experience and knowledge as how things work. It seems it would be a little bit more help for you if you'd perhaps want to go freelance in the future, one-man generalist so to speak.
Always been a bit curious on the technical side of things.

As what kind of direction as a tech artist (lighting, character etc.) would come later I guess.
I'll be looking into it a bit more and decide later this week. I am leaning towards accepting the position at school.
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Old 07 July 2013   #5
Learn some programming skills! Also have a very strong background the your 3D programs which can take year to fully grasp.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #6
Originally Posted by leigh: The term technical artist is itself very broad and nebulous. You get character TDs, FX TDs, lighting TDs, etc. What exactly does the curriculum entail?

Actually I've come across this term often for game companies and unlike the open ended term 'TD' it tends to involve a lot of similar tasks.
Problem solving and Tool Building for the game pipeline is the jist of it.
You need the 'go-between-chops' that allows you to interface between pure artists and programmers. So you'll need to know the software tools well enough to trouble shoot issues and to script tool sets together via artist requests. And you'll need to understand the programmers POV well enough to explain and design feature requests or bugs (that you can't fix/work around yourself).
I would only say there is 'art creation' if you happen to be good at other things and you have some time (aka probably not much).

I don't know if that is still what you want to do-but I would say its a very in demand job with game companies these days. But I am wondering how 'good' a course on the subject really can be?! A big part of the job is knowing the pipeline tools technically better than anyone else...thats hard to 'teach'. Its basically *experience*.

EDIT: Actually the only way a course for a TA makes any sense is if there is a prerequisite:
a) you have 3d production work experience.
b) you've previously attended a general 3d/animation program. Or a computer science degree (in graphics) should fly too.

But learning 3d for the first time *and* learning to be a TA makes no sense.
If that what the course says it can do for you than I would be VERY skeptical.

BTW-To get a job-you still need a reel that shows some of the tools you developed 'in action'. In this regard its kinds similar to a VFX TD's reel.

Last edited by circusboy : 07 July 2013 at 03:55 PM.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #7
I agree with circusboy. "Technical Artist" and "TD" responsibilities in the film/animation industry tend to be very broad and is completely different between studios. But in the gaming industry, Technical Artist seems to have a more fixed definition.

Originally Posted by circusboy: Actually I've come across this term often for game companies and unlike the open ended term 'TD' it tends to involve a lot of similar tasks.
Problem solving and Tool Building for the game pipeline is the jist of it.
You need the 'go-between-chops' that allows you to interface between pure artists and programmers. So you'll need to know the software tools well enough to trouble shoot issues and to script tool sets together via artist requests. And you'll need to understand the programmers POV well enough to explain and design feature requests or bugs (that you can't fix/work around yourself).
I would only say there is 'art creation' if you happen to be good at other things and you have some time (aka probably not much).

I don't know if that is still what you want to do-but I would say its a very in demand job with game companies these days. But I am wondering how 'good' a course on the subject really can be?! A big part of the job is knowing the pipeline tools technically better than anyone else...thats hard to 'teach'. Its basically *experience*.

EDIT: Actually the only way a course for a TA makes any sense is if there is a prerequisite:
a) you have 3d production work experience.
b) you've previously attended a general 3d/animation program. Or a computer science degree (in graphics) should fly too.

But learning 3d for the first time *and* learning to be a TA makes no sense.
If that what the course says it can do for you than I would be VERY skeptical.

BTW-To get a job-you still need a reel that shows some of the tools you developed 'in action'. In this regard its kinds similar to a VFX TD's reel.
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Old 07 July 2013   #8
Originally Posted by leigh: The term technical artist is itself very broad and nebulous.


Yeah, for me, back in the day a technical artist, aka technical illustrator was typically an artist that create graphics for scientific, engineering and other technical purposes. The school studies specialized as well, you got the base, then specialized in commercial, technical or medical (the most difficult).

Sounds like nowadays, a "technical artist" has to balance between getting to "create" and handling the technical issues of production. Again, from the traditional days, most of these positions were known as "production artists". It was usually how you worked up through getting the more lead creative and conceptual roles.

Last edited by XLNT-3d : 07 July 2013 at 09:18 PM.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #9
Originally Posted by circusboy: EDIT: Actually the only way a course for a TA makes any sense is if there is a prerequisite:
a) you have 3d production work experience.
b) you've previously attended a general 3d/animation program. Or a computer science degree (in graphics) should fly too.


Actually this school have pre-requisites. Anyone that wants to get in needs to have done something in the past and already have an acceptable portfolio to submit. This is no "slack" school so to speak. In fact, it's probably the best in the country. It was established by game companies so they could have a place to look for any potential new workforce to join the industry. The school and the game industry are very tight and it's always up to speed with whatever is needed.

Thanks a lot Circusboy for your input. It has made things harder to decide but I guess in the end it's a good thing. I really want to be sure if this is something I want to do (potentially for a very long time). It does sound like it could be a lot fun though, just wondering how much I would be missing out on the other art-side of things. In the end only time can tell I presume.
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Old 07 July 2013   #10
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