Double Dilemma

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  05 May 2009
Double Dilemma

Well, my problem right now is probably going to be a messy one, but here it goes.

I am a recent graduate who graduated last Dec. with a MFA in animation already. Prior to graduating, I was working full time at a local VFX studio as a 3D modeler on contract. I worked about a total of 1.5 years at this studio before my contract expired, and went back to school full time to finish my degree first. While I was still working at the studio, I started to become interested in lighting and shading, and wanted to try out becoming a lighter/compositer for my next job, and got a lighter friend to teach me what I needed to know before leaving the studio. I was able to land a short gig in Asia as a lighter for a bit, but the contract was short and now I am back in the states looking for a job again.

With the current economy in the dumps, lots of experienced 3D artists out of their jobs, and the fact that 1.5 years of experience is really not experienced enough, I found it incredibly hard to find anything. Not to mention my professional experience was all in modeling instead of lighting, I am not sure if I will be able to make it. I am working on new personal projects one after another to improve my reel, but I am not sure if I can really land anything in the current state.

Should I consider going to a more famous 3D school and pursue a degree I already have just for the sake of the connections the school might have with big companies and a more focused environment for my reel? Should I give up trying to be a lighter temporarily and go back being a modeler just to get a job first? Or should I just continue what I am doing right now and wait it out?
  05 May 2009
I'd go with the modeling for now, any job is better than no job and if you do land a job as a modeller, there may be a time when you have an chance at that studio to switch to a lighting artist, if not, you can always wait it out until the economy picks up, or you see a vacancy going.
I dabble...
  05 May 2009
I have to agree with Daniel here. The best bet is to just get in the door full time. Companies will be more prone to try you out elsewhere once they know you and can trust your quality of work. Nevertheless, we tell our students, that they should have a new demo, or at least some new material in the demo, every 6 months. So keep plugging and find work in what you do best.
  05 May 2009
Thank you both for your recommendations.

I personally wouldn't mind going back to work as a modeler, the dilemma in that is I am not at all familiar with ZBrush and it seems like in order to get in the modeling field, it's a must know now. Personally I am not very fund of the idea of sculpting out a 3D mesh, altho I know there are great reasons behind it.

I figure the time I can spend on learning how to use ZBrush can be better utilized if I try to practice better lighting. Since I am not at all familiar with ZBrush, having to learn it from the ground up would be about the same as if I am trying to get my lighting skills better. On top of, I can only be a "recent graduate" for so long, and I figure I should use that status to obtain something like a lighting internship while I still can.

I am not sure if that's really the right way of thinking. I agree strongly with the idea that knowing more programs can never hurt you, and I know learning ZBrush can only benefit me. I am just not sure if that would be the right investment when I have such limited time.
  05 May 2009
I've just secured a modeling job and i don't have experience with Zbrush, i don't even have experience with the software the studio is currently using, but they looked past that.

I think if your applying to major studios, be it film or game studios who's modellers push out hi-poly models for every project then i think that may be a slight disadvantage in not knowing Zbrush, although if i were you, i would look into sculpting and work out the basics, once you've done that it's just a case of getting the best suited software, that you can easily get to grips with, there isn't just Zbrush, there is also mudbox and 3Dcoat (and possibly some more). Also if you want a quick, cheap way of learning the basics of 3D sculpting just grab the latest version of blender, you don't need to become an expert, just work out the tools and how they work, it's an extra skill at the end of the day.

However if you are really againt the idea, then you could spend that time learning lighting, but you'd need to really get your game together and have a demo reel showing off your abilities, which could take upto 6 months (Perhaps even more depending on your free time).

Either way it's really up to you how you get into the industry, you can't be sure of which route will turn out best, it's a risk your going to have to wiegh up and decide upon, but which ever route you do take, i wish you good luck with it, it's not an easy industry, but it's totally worth it
I dabble...
  05 May 2009
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