My friend needs advice about technical prospects of cg career

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  02 February 2018
My friend needs advice about technical prospects of cg career

Hello! My friend has a strong math background and basic programming, and wants to know what areas of cg-graphics she could start to learn or consider.
As I'm more to an artistic side, I could only say there are areas of rigging, shader writing, and software developing, as well as effects simulation.
Could you suggest resources for those, who want to start approaching cg career from a technical side?
Thank you!

Last edited by mister3d : 02 February 2018 at 04:15 PM.
 
  02 February 2018
Computer Science seems an obvious choice. And by that I mean aComputer Science with Graphics degree does make a lot of sense Vs try the 'self-teach' approach IMHO.
More so than an artist.

Also FX its quite technical thats true. But you still need artistic smarts for context, fx-look dev, modeling, animation, lighting and compositing to be any good at the job.
If she doesn't see that in herself than maybe more developing and tool building is a better choice.

Last edited by circusboy : 02 February 2018 at 04:33 PM.
 
  02 February 2018
I went to school for CompSci and, tbh, it's a waste. Don't get me wrong. If you need that sort of structure then it's fine. However, as with most undergraduate programs, it'll only take you so far. Undergrad is still mostly about laying the groundwork. Real world application is far and away a different sort of beast than what they'll teach you in a classroom.

I went in college already knowing the course work. Bored to tears the entire time. By the time I entered school, I had already been programming for well over a decade. Graphics demos. 3D engines. Small games. ETC. IMO, this friend needs to as be self-motivated and willing to go that extra mile on her own. Even with specialized programs, most liberal arts colleges probably won't cover the material in as much depth as a real world job would require. The more she can learn on her own the better.

Having said that, there's literally nothing that would prevent this friend from also doing art, provided that's actually a point of interest for her. She can learn both ends, technical and creative. It only makes her more valuable, especially if she can prove real world application of those two skill sets. Like I said, I went to school for Comp Sci, but also taught myself stuff like sculpting, poly modeling, texturing, animation, and so on. It can be done if there's enough interest on her part.

As for what road she pursues, that all depends on her. If she leans toward the technical, she could go full on and learn what it takes to write engine code, simulations, plugins, and so on. There's always a need for that sort of thing whether you're talking about games or film. If she wants to indulge in the more creative end, but also keep it technical, there's the need for scripting, shader development, rapid prototyping, and other similar paths. If she wants to lean more creative, there are the usual paths for that too. She wouldn't have to abandon her math or programming skills since those can come in handy in smaller ways ranging from rigging to rendering to look development, but it just wouldn't be the focus of her work.

I would say, "Find out where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Ask yourself, 'What can I see myself still doing 20 or 30 years from now?'" Don't do something that you'll probably end up hating for the rest of your life. Once you're on a path and have invested years of effort, making that switch isn't easy. When you're a plumber and hate it, but that's what you've been doing for 30 years, the prospect of going back to school for your medical degree can seem intimidating and impossible.

CG seems fun from the outside. It's still work though. Your friend needs to know what's involved, what it takes to get there, and what the typical day of a person in that field is like. If she's still excited by the prospect and not intimidated or repulsed by the reality... let `er rip. Go for it.

Were I you, I might want to expose her to as many bts docs, articles, interviews, and peeks under the hood as possible. If the enormity of that doesn't scare her then nothing will.
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DISCLAIMER: The views presented herein do not necessarily represent those of my brain.
 
  02 February 2018
If she's good at math and doesn't mind programming, I highly recommend a degree in Computer Graphics - image processing, video processing, 3D rendering techniques, shader writing.

CG is 100% math/computer graphics/programming under the hood, so any deep knowledge in those areas would open up a lot of different types of technical work to your friend.

A pre-requisite is that she gets as good as possible in languages like C and C++ though. All important stuff in Computer Graphics is coded in that.

Here are some book recommendations for people starting in Computer Graphics:

https://www.amazon.com/Primer-Graph...TRJD2A5GPPZY975
https://www.quora.com/What-are-some...-graphics-books

This is a very talented 3D CG researcher - Paul Debevec:

http://www.pauldebevec.com/

I would also advise your friend to start looking at computer graphics patents and academic papers to get a sense of where the "cutting edge" in CG is right now:

https://patents.google.com/?q=image...mage+processing
https://patents.google.com/?q=compu...mputer+graphics


If you are good at Math and programming and know computer graphics, you can do pretty much anything you can imagine.

Your friend could write anything from a new way to model 3D objects to a video upconversion algorithm to a new type of 3D rendering engine that is much faster, for example, than today's pathtracers, which are based on 1990s rendering techniques.

If she doesn't want to play "3D graphics inventor" on her own - that takes some experience to get good at - there are plenty of math/programming/computer graphics positions in 3D software companies, 3D game companies, 3D CAD companies, Animation Studios and so on. Even government organizations like NASA/ESA do huge amounts of computer graphics work.

A lot of high paid technical CG work is also in areas like scientific imaging, industrial imaging, medical imaging.

There are also tons of universities around the world that have serious computer graphics research departments - if she wants to be in academia and research CG, there are a lot of places where that can happen.

Just search for "Computer Graphics Department":

https://www.google.com/search?q=com...hics+department

Last edited by skeebertus : 02 February 2018 at 10:57 PM.
 
  02 February 2018
Thank you all for your time and reponses! I will direct her to this thread to read.Cookepuss, what is BTS?
Yep, being in my mid 30"s I still can't easily suggest devoting life to this area, as it easily consumes life. The amount of study is enormous, even on artistic side. There are so many ways to live a life, and cg isn't probably the funniest one. And she is 32 now, how much time it will take.

Last edited by mister3d : 02 February 2018 at 01:02 AM.
 
  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by mister3d: Thank you all for your time and reponses! I will direct her to this thread to read.Cookepuss, what is BTS?
Yep, being in my mid 30"s I still can't easily suggest devoting life to this area, as it easily consumes life. The amount of study is enormous, even on artistic side. There are so many ways to live a life, and cg isn't probably the funniest one. And she is 32 now, how much time it will take.


90% of the mathematics that makes 2D and 3D Computer Graphics work is not terribly difficult at all. It is basic geometry, trigonometry, matrices, angles, rotations, distances, translations. A lot can be done in Computer Graphics even with High School mathematics. There are only some very specific areas in CG where you may need very complex mathematical equations and such, and those are all well documented in academic papers, books and patents. They are not "mystery techniques that only 5 people know about" either - documentation that explains the techniques exists everywhere online and can be looked up just by searching for it.

So if your friend has a good math background, and likes mathematics generally, she is not walking into a "complex jungle of techniques" at all. It may take her about 1 year of studying the right books and websites to understand how the fundamentals of everything in 2D and 3D CG works.

Computer graphics is not what you see in the graphical user interface of software like Maya. Under the hood of the 3D software, it is often small, fast, and relatively simple math techniques that can be learned one at a time. Professional 3D software tends to put 100s of these small "techniques" into one big, complex user interface at the same time, so you may think "God, there must be something really complex going on under the hood of the software".

Don't confuse the marketing materials that sells all 3D software features as being "highly technically advanced", "highly innovative", "cutting edge research" and so on with the technical reality of how the software works.

Most of the mathematical techniques used in 3D software today were first developed in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. They were mostly not hugely complex, because the computers at that time could not handle very complex mathematics at usable speeds. Computer graphics researchers have always looked for relatively short, fast and elegant math techniques that don't bring computer CPUs to their knees.

So while your friend is not going to become a "master of all Computer Graphics techniques that exist" in 1 year, there is a lot she can learn during such a period, even on her own.

My advice is to find 1 or 2 really good intro books that explain the basics of 2D and 3D graphics math step-by-step. Once you know those basics, understanding things like how 3D meshes are built or how textures are mapped onto a 3D mesh or how light rays are bounced around a 3D interior become much easier.

One thing I would NOT do - many people make this mistake - is to try and learn something like OpenGL programming or DirectX programming at the beginning.

There you are really thrown head-first into a jungle of OpenGL and DirectX specific programming techniques. You need to learn the basics of Computer Graphics before you do that, otherwise you will find what you see "crazily complicated".

Your friend should try to find 1 - 2 good intro books to Computer Graphics techniques, and begin to read them. Books that start at the very beginning theory and explain the techniques step by step.

Your friend can also, over time, specialize in what she likes best or can do best in Computer Graphics.

I'm specialized in researching realtime image and video processing on GPU right now. Basically what I do every day is to develop 2D image and video filters that run in realtime on GPUs. I don't program anything that has to do with 3D meshes or 3D rendering at this point.

So your friend can also try areas in CG that she personally likes best - image processing, video processing, computer vision, 3D meshes, 3D shaders, 3D light calculation, 3D physics simulation - and then choose 1 or 2 areas where she will put most of her effort.

The important thing is to find some kind of course or book that starts right at the beginning - what is computer graphics, what are pixels, what are vertices and geometry, how do you rotate a vertex on X/Y/Z - and so on.

It is doable. If your friend is already strong in math, that will be a major advantage for her.
 
  02 February 2018
Hey skeeb - care to make some recommendations about those "1 or 2 really good intro books"? I'm kind of into such things myself.....
 
  02 February 2018
Correct me if it is really no longer true but wouldn't getting a degree in CS be more valuable on a CV than it is for artists today?
And I don't think Universities are so expensive in the Ukraine either.
Visa benefits yada-yada...
 
  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by circusboy: Correct me if it is really no longer true but wouldn't getting a degree in CS be more valuable on a CV than it is for artists today?
And I don't think Universities are so expensive in the Ukraine either.
Visa benefits yada-yada...


Computing Science won't teach you specific 2D/3D graphics stuff like image processing, video processing, filter writing, 3D math, polygons, NURBS, voxels, UVs, 3D light calculation, 3D shading and so on, unless you do a CS degree at a university that lets you specialize in Computer Graphics techniques during your degree.

Also, there are many Computing Science and Software Engineering graduates in the global job market, but AFAIK far fewer Computer Graphics specialized people.

The ideal combo would be a Computing Science degree followed by a Computer Graphics degree. But the person in question is 32 years old - she'd probably be 38 by the time she did that.

If she's good at math and knows some programming, diving into Computer Graphics right away would probably be the most feasible option.

Last edited by skeebertus : 02 February 2018 at 08:34 PM.
 
  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by iamhereintheworld: Hey skeeb - care to make some recommendations about those "1 or 2 really good intro books"? I'm kind of into such things myself.....


This is new site called SCRATCHAPIXEL that tries to teach 3D rendering programming techniques to beginners:

http://www.scratchapixel.com/

You could start with the book links I already provided:

https://www.amazon.com/Primer-Graph...TRJD2A5GPPZY975
https://www.quora.com/What-are-some...-graphics-books

There is a huge number of computer graphics books - everything from basic 3D math, to 2D image processing, to writing realtime HLSL shaders for DirectX games.

I'm specialized in realtime image and video processing techniques on GPU, so I don't know which current 3D graphics books would "get you there quickest".

One thing I CAN tell you is that 2D graphics is also a lot of fun - writing image and video filters (usually called "image processing") and such.

The math and programming in 2D is far easier than 3D math. So if you want to "play around with computer graphics", take a crack at doing some 2D image or video processing first.
 
  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by skeebertus: Computing Science won't teach you specific 2D/3D graphics stuff like image processing, video processing, filter writing, 3D math, polygons, NURBS, voxels, UVs, 3D light calculation, 3D shading and so on, unless you do a CS degree at a university that lets you specialize in Computer Graphics techniques during your degree.
Thats exactly the type of school I meant.Not just 'any' old program.And not just 'lets you' specialize. But that specializes in graphics themselves is the ultimate.
https://graphics.cs.utah.edu/program/
-and the like.
Admittedly there are parts of the world where more of these kind of CS (w/G) programs can be found.
Not surprising that these universities are in the same cities where many of the 3d software we use today are located. So lots in the US and Canada.

This one in the Ukraine at least says they touch on game graphics. (o;
https://www.bachelorstudies.com/Bac...kraine/Poltava/

This program seems well regarded in Europe:
http://www.gtc.inf.ethz.ch/research...d-research.html
 
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