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Old 11-03-2013, 03:40 PM   #1
OmarJason
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Omar Jason
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Becoming a Runner(Beware noob questions!)

Hi guys!
In about 6 months I'll have the opportunity to move to England(currently living in Nigeria), and I'm hoping to eventually work there in vfx as a modeler and I am currently training myself in Maya, Zbrush, Mudbox, Anatomy etc. and making my first portfolio piece(a dragon ).
My plan is to start off as a runner as I have no industry experience.

My questions
How hard is it to get a runner position?
I've seen some who seem to have relatively little skill.
Is it all about who know?
Is "running" viable way to become a modeler?
Or should I just make an awesome reel and apply as a junior modeler?

Any advice about this is truly appreciated.
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Old 11-03-2013, 04:46 PM   #2
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Hello,

I recently posted a similar question which got some responses, here's the link: http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthr...p?f=2&t=1128582

Hopefully it will answer some of your questions.

-Harry
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Old 11-03-2013, 04:52 PM   #3
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Do you actually qualify for a working permit for the UK in the first place? Requirements have become pretty strict over the last few years.
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Old 11-03-2013, 05:07 PM   #4
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Hi Omar.

Regarding 'awesome show reel' etc etc - yes do that for sure anyway.

More importantly however, what exactly is the situation of you coming here to work? What advice have you been getting? Have you already got a British Passport?

I ask because it aint as easy as a lot of folk think it is once they arrive at the borders.
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Old 11-03-2013, 05:46 PM   #5
OmarJason
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Hey guys, thanks so much for your responses.

@Harry Checking it out now, it's certainly helpful. Thanks a lot!

@ Leigh @ grrinc. While I haven't lived in England before, I do have a Right of abode as I have a British parent, I'm eligible for a passport but haven't applied for one because of the bureaucratic stonewalling we get on this end. I plan to get my passport once I've lived there a while.

About the reel, I will do my best on it!
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Old 11-03-2013, 05:58 PM   #6
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Hey Omar, as others have said earlier - do make sure that your work status is sorted out as getting it wrong may prejudice your efforts to get a UK passport later on, or at least make it a lot more difficult and complicated.

As for the job search: do some research before arriving. All the London VFX companies have web pages with HR links or at least a contact address. Don't be disappointed if you don't get into the company that you have your set on - the main thing is to get in somewhere as once you've established yourself then it's easier to move. All the companies have runners - the smaller ones might have one or two, the bigger ones a dozen or more. There's a high turnover of staff in this area so don't give up at the first refusal.

Good luck!
 
Old 11-03-2013, 06:47 PM   #7
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Runners for the most part work at reception, order lunch, and clean up the studios. I think i've met runners that got the job through temp work agencies.

Of the runners i've met, I know one that moved on to production coordinator and another that went on to be a roto artist. So i suppose there is a chance to move up, but i'm not sure how working reception translates into modeling stuff for films.

making an awesome reel is always a good option imo!
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Old 11-03-2013, 06:57 PM   #8
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First of all, my suggestion is to not have a dragon in your portfolio or reel(that your apply for jobs with). A general rule for applying for your first job in the industry, is to not have fantasy creatures like dragons, orcs, elves and etc. This is because most studios want to see models of real world subjects that they can compare your model to. I would keep the dragon as a side project that you can work on.

Like others have said, it's important to have a reel because to get promoted from runner, they need to be able to see your work and if you can do the work of a junior artist. Some studios require a reel just to apply for a runner position.

I would also suggest learning some match move or camera tracking. This is because modellers can start as Camera Trackers or Match Movers before being promoted to the modelling department.

goodluck.

Last edited by Darkherow : 11-03-2013 at 07:08 PM.
 
Old 11-03-2013, 10:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by razorbjc
Runners for the most part work at reception, order lunch, and clean up the studios. I think i've met runners that got the job through temp work agencies.

Of the runners i've met, I know one that moved on to production coordinator and another that went on to be a roto artist. So i suppose there is a chance to move up, but i'm not sure how working reception translates into modeling stuff for films.



I could be wrong (just going off of things I've seen in message boards), but I've gotten the impression that starting as a runner before moving into an art position is much more common in the UK than the US.
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Old 11-04-2013, 01:22 AM   #10
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There no such position as a "runner" in U.S. studios. There are Production assistants that do the same job. But oddly enough production assistants don't lead to artist type jobs. They usually end up becoming producers.

I'd double check on the passport thing. They probably won't even let you in the country without one. Not to mention London is fairly expensive to hang around in without a job.
 
Old 11-04-2013, 02:58 AM   #11
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London is expensive, so make sure you've got plenty of money saved up in your bank account. Even if you get a job really soon after arriving, you'll be needing money for accommodation, sim card (or phone if you don't have one), public transport and food straight away.

Things to look into before you leave are Bank account and National Insurance number - you won't be able to apply for either of these things until you enter the country, but I'd recommend looking into whats involved before you leave so your prepared. If you get employed they'll help you out with these, but you might not find employment straight away.

Most London studios tend to use the runners program to bring in junior artists. At Dneg the runners typically moved up into either production, roto or matchmove depending on whether they were interested in moving on to production (coordinator, producer), 2d (comp, matte painting) or 3d (model, creatures, lighting, etc). Most runners moved up after 2-6 months of running - seemed to vary a lot.
 
Old 11-04-2013, 03:55 AM   #12
dneg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by razorbjc
Runners for the most part work at reception, order lunch, and clean up the studios. I think i've met runners that got the job through temp work agencies.

Of the runners i've met, I know one that moved on to production coordinator and another that went on to be a roto artist. So i suppose there is a chance to move up, but i'm not sure how working reception translates into modeling stuff for films.

making an awesome reel is always a good option imo!


In the UK it's a bit different and people with aptitude can go as far as is possible. Peter Bebb, my co-VFX sup on INCEPTION, started as Dneg's first runner in 1998 and also worked reception. One of his jobs in between that and VFX supervision was heading up our modelling team. All six of Dneg's directors started out as runners - we're a mixture of VFX supervisors and producers. And last, but certainly not least, the first time I met a well-known film director that I have since worked with he was a young runner on the set of a movie called THE BORROWERS.

And a good reel is always the best introduction :-)
 
Old 11-04-2013, 10:04 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OmarJason
@ Leigh @ grrinc. While I haven't lived in England before, I do have a Right of abode as I have a British parent, I'm eligible for a passport but haven't applied for one because of the bureaucratic stonewalling we get on this end. I plan to get my passport once I've lived there a while.


Considering your British citizenship, I'd recommend organising your British passport before you arrive in the UK. Unfortunately bureaucratic stonewalling kinda exists everywhere, so it's something you're going to have to deal with sooner or later! I'm assuming you've already got your British citizenship through the British Embassy in Nigeria, in which case you may also end up with issues when you arrive at Heathrow, because you'd be a British citizen, but trying to enter the UK on a different nationality's passport (this happened to a friend of mine recently). I hate paperwork and bureaucracy as much as the next person (I've been through the whole British citizenship and passport process myself, so I know how much of a pain it is), so I understand your feelings, but it's better to sort this stuff out now.

There's lots of good advice posted already in this thread, so I can't really add much more to it, other than to reiterate the fact that London is super expensive so come prepared! You may well end up having to take up a job in another field while job hunting on the CG front, as junior roles are pretty hard to come by these days in Soho. I'd also reiterate what someone mentioned earlier about reel material - at the end of the day, most of the work done in VFX studios is not really dragons and whatnot, but things like set extensions, digi doubles, vehicles, and that sort of stuff. So as a modeller, it'd be a good idea to demonstrate your skill in these areas.
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:33 AM   #14
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What actually is a 'runner' anyway? I am assume it is a skivvy right? What does one have to do to break away from runner status and move on up? What qualities are looked for and how common or rare is it for a runner to break through?
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:03 PM   #15
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The role of a runner is basically that of a studio assistant. I guess the name runner is used since they spend a lot of time running errands (although it could have a more literal root too, since I believe the name originates from on-set work), but the scope of their tasks is pretty broad, ranging from handling mail, to stocking and cleaning kitchens, to organising food deliveries, and pretty much everything inbetween. The big Soho studios tend to have quite large teams of runners at any time, usually somewhere around 10-15. It's a paid role, so it's not quite the same as an intern. The runner team is a pretty critical element of the day-to-day running of the studio; I don't think a studio or production could actually function without them.

From my own experience working in environments where there are runners, most of them do move into artist or production roles. I think they wouldn't be hired in the first place if they didn't show potential for this. However, I have seen a few cases over the years of runners who seemed to get stuck in the role for a really long time (longer than six months) trying to move up into available vacancies and not getting the opportunity despite showing decent work. Cases like that have made me have quite mixed feelings about the entire system as a whole, to be totally honest, because what with personal politics and all I think it's a system that's wide open to potential exploitation. Although I should stress that here in the UK, I've only seen this kind of thing on a few rare occasions, and it was only at one particular studio.

A lot of my colleagues that I've worked with over the years here in Soho started out as runners. It seems to me that these artists often tend to stay at studios the longest, possibly because the studio feels they've invested in the person's development and therefore hang onto them, so that's a definite plus side to it.
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