Help me weigh the pros and cons [Serious]

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  10 October 2013
Help me weigh the pros and cons [Serious]

First off, sorry if this isn't the proper channel for this thread. I'm currently going to school right now at UT Dallas for their Arts and Technology program. I'm not here to bash this program because there are a lot of great things going for it. My problem is...I'm a single dad first and foremost. I was working as an engineer for 5 years and realized that I absolutely hated that line of work. I've always wanted to do CG. Hell, I went to ITT when I was younger for CG (I was duped from the start). That's when I had my daughter and had to get a job to support us. After a while I saved enough money to afford quitting my job and going back to school full time. As of now, I'm going broke. This leads me to a decision. Keep going to school and take more loans or quit and teach myself while working again. Here's the points and where I need some help weighing pros and cons.

First, again, money. It's costing me a lot to go here due to having bills. I'm basically living off my savings, but that will be almost gone at the end of this semester. The problem is, I want to do VFX work. Currently, they have NO VFX classes at all. We have modeling, rigging, animation, moCap, texturing, etc. but no VFX classes. This isn't to say that they aren't trying to get one started, but the people they want to teach it just don't have the time. The school really wants to teach Houdini. So, now I'm taking four classes that I don't want to take, but they're required and raising my daughter while also driving an hour each way (gas). I'm at a fork where I could quit school, go back to working, and teach myself Houdini or keep going to school, forking out money, taking loans, and hoping that something comes together. My teacher would like me to start a FX club to generate interest in hopes of starting a class sooner, but I only have 3 semesters left. I would probably graduate before seeing that come to fruition and then my demo reel would be lacking due to having to focus on other classes rather than the one area I want to focus on. Suggestions?
  10 October 2013
I'm not sure I follow you - modelling, rigging, animation, etc are all parts of VFX. VFX is a very broad term, encompassing all the disciplines involved in creating digital imagery that is to be added to live footage. If I was to take a guess from your mention of Houdini, I'd say that what you're actually after is what we call FX, in other words, particles, simulations, etc. Is that right?

To be honest, I'd suggest sticking with the course. With the way the VFX industry is headed, I think that it'd be in people's best interests to have a good, broad skill base to work with, as it opens up more opportunities for work in an increasingly tight job market.
  11 November 2013
That is tricky situation you are in. I have different experience - as my education had less to do with my career path, and everything I learned came from self learning, online training and courses and of course working with other people.

In your case it would be waste to drop what you have started, but if you have to - just know - this is not the end. When you apply for job the most important is your portfolio and experience - and that you can achieve in many ways.
And Houdini is way to go.

Good luck
  11 November 2013
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