How to be a 3d generalist..

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  12 December 2012
My way to being a 3d generalist is to create 3d films. It's time consuming but it's the most rewarding. fierce86 mentioned about using different softwares instead of just the main one, it works too.

Another way is to use different ways and solutions to do your work. Through tutorials or experimenting by yourself. Some of the fields require more artistic talent, drawing, painting.
  12 December 2012
I have to remember my real purpose in getting into cg was to tell stories and create beautiful artwork. So even as a game designer I think I should also study directing/storytelling/plot/etc so I can tell great stories and move in that direction. Even modeling a great ship and having wear and tear on it tells a story about the ship and the adventure that you can let the player have gives them that experience/story. It would also be nice to be directing animators what to do because I enjoy the story telling process more than doing the technical work of animating the characters myself I think. However I will have to really know the basics of animation and story telling If I'm going to do this. I guess I havent quite nailed exactly how I'm going to merge my interests in the best way but I'm getting there. It's nice to just post my thoughts and reflect on what exactly I want regularly I think its easy to forget.
  12 December 2012
iiki -- do you animate and model and do everything for the films yourself? If so how did you manage to have enough time to learn animation and everything else I keep hearing that to learn animation you have to dedicate all your time to it so I figured Id focus on everything else and just learn animation to a minimal extent but still learn storytelling/directing.
  12 December 2012
Originally Posted by fierce86: iiki -- do you animate and model and do everything for the films yourself? If so how did you manage to have enough time to learn animation and everything else I keep hearing that to learn animation you have to dedicate all your time to it so I figured Id focus on everything else and just learn animation to a minimal extent but still learn storytelling/directing.

yea, i do everything on my own. For me, i only learn the things that i need for my film, focus on the right things so you don't waste time on the unnecessary. For storytelling/directing, it's learning on the spot while you write screenplay and directing animation. There are a lot of 'tricks' that can speed up the process, just got to keep searching.

Btw I am freelancing, i don't earn a lot but i got the time for my own.
  12 December 2012
Originally Posted by iikii: My way to being a 3d generalist is to create 3d films. It's time consuming but it's the most rewarding. fierce86 mentioned about using different softwares instead of just the main one, it works too.


If your goal is to do storytelling , then learn storytelling.
I would suggest at least a course in film directing, editing, photography at your local community college.
Or better yet, take a class in creative writing.
Also I would just pickup a film camera and just film.
Do documentaries, do mini movies.

There are a ton of principles of film you can learn that way.

Also I would suggest joining the 48 hour film challenge.

You will gain a ton of experience in the art of filmaking quite fast.

BTW I am not saying you should not learn your favorite piece of software.
That is of of course kosher.
What I am saying is that there is a lot of art concepts out there that you can learn to make your work look great.

3D animation is not a shortcut, even it it makes certain things easier, it is just a medium.
:Daily Sketch Forum:HCR Modeling
This message does not reflect the opinions of the US Government

Last edited by RobertoOrtiz : 12 December 2012 at 01:38 PM.
  12 December 2012
Sine no one has mentioned it yet I'll throw in a few tips from spending awhile as a generalist.
First pick just one piece of 3D software you want to be good at.
Don't try to be good at a bunch of packages,Trust me that way just leads to insanity.
Have a passing knowledge of one 2D compositing package, like Nuke.
Learn photoshop. You'll end up using it a lot.
Within your 3d package try to know the following things:

Modeling, both hard surface, environments and organic. ie characters
Learn the basic Anatomy of a human figure and it's proportions.
Know how to model a face.
Be able to build a model with Quads using given photo references.
Be able to build a set extension or build models that add on to a given image.
Know how to create clean UV maps.
Have at least a passing knowledge of how to make a low poly model, take it into Zbrush or mud box, create details and textures and export the maps. Then apply them in your main 3d package.
Know how to bake from a high detail to a low detail model.
Know how to create textures in photo shop and apply the textures in layers.
Know how to use Sub surfacing scattering.
How to create replicate various types of metals, Highly reflective, dirty, rusty etc.
How to create Skin shaders.
Car paint shaders.
How to light your scene using standard lights, HDRI domes etc.
Be able to create a photo real lighting for morning, midday, evening, night and cloudy day and underwater.
Know whats is going on with light during those times of day and conditions.
Be able to match lighting to a given photographic plate.
Know how to work with Linear plates and how to match to them.
Know how to render out passes and isolate elements within a scene and render out passes and alphas for just those elements.
Know how to comp those elements together in a compositing package.
Know how to pull a green screen key.
Know how to do 3d camera tracking, importing and using Camera tracking data.
Know how to set up Camera Projections.
Animate cameras and know Various lens sizes and what effect they have.
Have a passing knowledge of particle effects and how to render them.
Know at least how to make, fire, explosions. Smoke, dust, rain, water splashes and water interacting with a surface.
Know how to rig, weight and animate a walk cycle on a character.
Know how to use Inverse Kinematics and set driven keys.
Have a passing knowledge of how to write and execute a script with in your 3d package.

Learn how to interpret stupid producer speak
“Can you make it 20% more 'Cooler'?
“You mean more blue?”
“no like 20% more …....mysterious”
“Uh, yeah give me a few minutes.....”

There's probably something else I'm forgetting but that's it in a nutshell.
  12 December 2012
Lot's of great advice thus far!

I'll just add that as a generalist, you never know what you're next assignment might be. Especially if you are on your own or running a small shop as I am. You can't pre-learn all the skills you'll need for any given project. Instead the trick to being a good generalist is being fearlessly confident in your ability to pick up new skills or expand on existing ones quickly while producing decent output. That, coupled with a broad understanding of all the areas of production from which you may need to draw skills. If there is an area you really feel completely shaky in bring on another contractor to help out. After all, what matters is the end result, how ever you get there. Good luck!
  12 December 2012
RobertoOrtiz -- I started out taking a film class at a community college but I stopped a few weeks in because learning cg was so overwhelming as it was I didn't think I should spread myself too thin but i see your point. It's definitely improtatnt to do it even on my own. I downloaded tutorials on how to direct/camera angles/ things like that.
I don't know if I should get stuck on thinking that one things is "THE PASSION"like I have to do this or else I can't be happy because i really like lots of things. But it's definitely important to explore everything to at least find out. I was directing some blocks moving around in 3d space last night just to get started. Even for this video game we are making I can still ask to be a bigger part of the actual filming/directing process ( basically the camera movement and story). I'm just afraid to do too many things and getting good at none of them so I have to focus on finishing things I started right now ( like that other guy said on the last page)

Michael32766 -- A big thank you! I will copy paste all of the things you put up and go through and make sure i can do them. I feel like I might do a passable job at 60 percent of those things right now but I don't know comp or particles. however I've at least touched almost all of those things at one point or another. ( same to everyone else who put up a list on previous pages thats invaluable its like a checklist/syllabus)
I feel like I should at least put together some kind of demo reel though wiht the things I am proficient in instead of waiting till Im the perfect generalist then apply for jobs. I have been I'm working on models for my video game that I'll put on there.

About understanding producer talk, well I'm actually a line producer right now on a project for someone ( for free/experience) and its great it's allowed me to see all aspects of the 3d process from start to finish, get used to a managerial role, and gain invaluable contacts. In fact as a result i got to go hangout at the old ILM building in Marin with the old ILM staff and volunteer and stuff there sometimes.

Sconlogue -- So then it's a good idea to be a generalist if you want to have a small shop ( thats my ultimate goal). Because I also hear that you can just specialize in one area and have a shop if you can manage people. But obviously if you know most everything it makes it that much easier to manage and help your employees and colleagues.

Last edited by fierce86 : 12 December 2012 at 07:17 PM.
  12 December 2012

Good tips Michael32766.
I have been at it 10 years and still havent got to everything on your list. And I also want to get better at cloth simulations and deal with hair and fur rendering which I have done little with.

What I have found is you have to climb a hill in learning where you arent finding it such a boring chore and arent wasting much time problem solving or doing things the hard way which does tend to trip me up--but I am getting better at dealing with that. I think I reached the peak and have more fun as I do it now than I did a few years ago.
  12 December 2012
Sometimes I think people don't realize how much it takes and I'm not sure it's always a good idea suggesting becoming a generalist. It's a strange passion, and the pay is not necessarily bigger. And in that time you could get several professions you know... years and years.
  01 January 2013
so I've been working on some video games with my group for the past few weeks and I realized that I have to pick up and remember a lot of skills on the fly. For instance I didn't know how to use mechanim in unity to use motion capture for our character but I learned. And I had to brush up on painting weights for the rig I put into it. Then I had to figure out how to use unity tree , wind, various shaders, and work flows. So I guess in large part you become somewhat of a generalist just by working on various projects and learning out of necessity.

As a generalists do you guys typically chose projects based on which ones might give you the most money, what you believe in or want, or anything else? For instance my friend wants to make a an educational video game but Im like wait..i got into this field to make movies or games that are just fun not some educational type stuff. ..but he pointed out huge potential to make money and hes experienced so i could learn from him and investors are really intereseted in these type of things as well as government grants.....but im also trying to finish up some other games we are working on and I really want to get better animation skills as well so I'm drawn in so many different directions.

For instance I've heard that some cg artist go into commerical cg and people call them sell would I be selling out if I went with the better opportunities sometimes if It wasn't what I initially had in mind? I guess Im worried I might be more successful but unfulfilled (I'm not worried what people would think about me as a sell out thats not my point) I think if you take the easier opportunities initially to get ur foot in the door or do something you don''t like initially then it could open other doors later right? For instance some animators start out as lighters because there is more demand for lighters or riggers.

I also keep hearing that you have to be doing what you are completely passionate about in this field or you'll never make it because it's a hard field to make money in as it is and I feel like thats If I take a project that I don't like that much and I'm not passionate about it I might not do a good job.

My goal is to create really cool art and designs and inspire people and allow them to have a fun i dont know if Im being too rigid and saying I have to only do it in this way or that way or if I should be more flexible in my approach. I have lots of modeling and texturing experience so I think it wouldn't make sense to be animating at this point I should make my reel more focused on modeling and finish the games I'm working on instead of spreading myself too thin...

Last edited by fierce86 : 01 January 2013 at 03:18 AM.
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by fierce86: I also like the idea of being able to have a small studio someday for the greater creative control ( of being in charge and doing projects I like) as well as the bigger and more steady paycheck ( please tell my if I'm wrong about any of the assumptions I have just made I don't mean to sound cocky or naive).

There's excellent advice so far, but this is something that must be addressed.
Owning your own small studio in no way gives you greater creative control. You will still just be executing what your client wants.

You also may get a bigger paycheck, but it certainly wont be steady. YOU are the first one to feel it when work slows down, and (if you are a good boss), you get paid last, IF AT ALL.
You take the reward, but you take all the risk.

My advice to you would be to find a partner with similar interests to you, someone that you trust, but importantly, someone with an excellent understanding of how a business is run.
  01 January 2013
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