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Old 04-04-2013, 08:26 PM   #1
maverickhornet
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Question Transitioning from Games to VFX: Bournemouth NCCA Masters?

Hello everyone,

Not the best at explaining myself so I'll try hard to make it clear and snappy. Reading other posts I figured this was the best place to come for advice!

A year ago I graduated with a 1st Class degree in Game Art (Animation and Modelling). Half way through, I realised I wanted to do VFX/film rather than games. I talked to family and friends admitting the course wasn't for me but they recommended sticking with it as its a waste to drop out so late into the course. A year and a half later I graduated (with a 1st) with a portfolio of environmental game art (I had wanted to do characters). A year passed before landing my first job in games. It's been roughly a year of being in the Games industry and has made me realise it's not for me, leaving me with regret of not chasing my passion three years ago in Film VFX.

I've realised I should have chased my dream instead of 'sticking with it'. Over the past several months I have been trying extremely hard to get into the VFX industry but it's been an almost impossible task. I've been applying for Modeller/3D generalist roles but have been getting no where (even runner roles too!). As I work 9am-5pm 5 days a week I hardly have time to learn new things and develop new work to land me a job in VFX. The lack of time just makes progress PAINFULLY slow. I feel I've hit a wall and stuck in a rut... So, I thought what about:

A Masters?

Having no/little time to learn new things in my spare time and no idea where to start anyway, I looked towards Bournemouth's NCCA and its Masters in Digital Effects. I visited the Open Day and was really impressed by student work as well as the impressive number of students get employed after the course! The course lecturer I talked to was a incredibly nice and knew his stuff.

Luckily enough I have been offered a place on the course! There are a few things holding me back, mostly the fear of the unknown. With all the negativity happening in VFX (Oscar protest and so on) I'm nervous taking a year out if I'm going to be entering an unsteady job marketplace. I mean, I know there's a lot of job competition like Games though I don't want shoot myself in the foot! I'm well prepared to work and fight for my dream job though... I managed to get the 1st Class I wanted! I'm not as clued up on the VFX industry as much as Games... I've no idea what starting salaries are like, the lifestyle of a VFX artist, job security and so on.

The best way to describe how I'm feeling is I don't want to 'jump out of the frying pan and into the fire'. The Games Industry isn't the right direction I want to go in and see no future for me there, though I don't want to transition to VFX and realise its long hours, low pay and short term contracts. I'm so sorry if I am sounding so naive, it's just this is the trouble.

My true passion lies in film and VFX. To work with such talented people in such an amazingly creative industry would be a dream come. In the future, I would love to work for Double Negative, MPC, Framestore and hopefully Weta, ILM and so on (lost count how many times I applied to some of them!). I'd like to end up in a role with creatures and characters though I know that's a very high level place to be! Just working in film would be amazing for now.

So I'm asking for advice on whether taking this MA in Digital Effects is the right thing to do? To risk more student debt, leaving a career, entering a very saturated job market to achieve my dream? Or am I barking up the wrong tree? If there are any NCCA students on the course here, you're encouragement would be much appreciated!

Many thanks in advance, I really appreciate anyone trying to help me and I hope that I have explained this as clearly as I can... If you have any questions then please don't hesitate to ask!

Thank you!
 
Old 04-07-2013, 03:00 PM   #2
mr Bob
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Quote:
My true passion lies in film and VFX. To work with such talented people in such an amazingly creative industry would be a dream come. In the future, I would love to work for Double Negative, MPC, Framestore and hopefully Weta, ILM and so on (lost count how many times I applied to some of them!). I'd like to end up in a role with creatures and characters though I know that's a very high level place to be! Just working in film would be amazing for now.


In not sure doing another course will help, if you have already applied countless times you can already see what a mountain you have to climb. Maybe take a part time job and work on your portfolio.

Last edited by mr Bob : 04-07-2013 at 03:05 PM.
 
Old 04-07-2013, 03:36 PM   #3
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Noel:

I'm not familiar with the UK's economy (but we all see the threads here and elsewhere). If you were in the U.S. I'd recommend sticking with your current job rather than return to school. You have enough knowledge to learn on your own. Consider CGS workshops, DVDs, even Escape Studios online, and other online training while working. It would be difficult to learn while working fulltime, but jumping back into school without a guaranteed job will probably be more difficult. Most of us have worked in jobs that are not our "first choice" and then work our way into a position that is more aligned with what we "want" to do. I think that the "unknown" is your subconscious mind trying to tell you something. When you have a job--do the best that you can at it and grow. [On a personal note--I was in the same position as you some years ago. I attended some courses at night, weekends, and correspondence (that was before online education took off). Having an income and a job is good in these times. If you were good enough to get a job in games--you have what it takes to self-study and eventually work into a VFX position]. Good luck.
 
Old 04-21-2013, 01:47 PM   #4
tomash2013
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re: Bournemouth Masters

If you have been accepted to BU for Masters program, you'd have to be insane to give it up. On the top of up to date curriculum and best tutors I ever came across, they have insane industry contacts, so if you work after finishing the course would be up to date, you will be scooped instantaneously.
Also the very important point of doing master studies are points on the visas - you will be able to work all around the world with this diploma.
As to comparing master studies at one of the world most renown VFX schools (i would recommend you to check who Phil Spicer is and how many SideFx certified schools are in the world) to online training at CG Society - I will not even comment on that.
 
Old 04-22-2013, 12:46 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomash2013
so if you work after finishing the course would be up to date, you will be scooped instantaneously.


That's really not true at all.
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:00 AM   #6
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To the OP, I really don't know what advantage you think the masters course is going to give you. Yes, Bournemouth's course is a good one, but is a year spent in uni really going to give you some edge that you don't have? You've already applied to numerous studios to no avail; this means your work needs to improve, or that the studios aren't looking to hire juniors. Another year in uni isn't necessarily going to end up improving your work or odds of finding work - sure, it'll broaden your knowledge, but it's not necessarily going to improve your reel significantly within that timeframe or magically open doors. Despite what the poster above claimed, students graduating with decent reels from Bournemouth don't simply walk into jobs. This is because studios don't simply hire someone because they happened to come along with a good reel, they only hire when they specifically need artists. And when that happens, you're competing with lots of people for those roles. This idea that studios headhunt graduates is not true.

The fact is that the VFX industry in London right now is slow. There are already loads of highly experienced artists out of work, so the chances of someone with absolutely no experience trying to break in are that much slimmer. It's hard to say if and when things are going to improve, but honestly I'd say that your best bet in the meantime would be to take some focused courses to build on the skills you specifically want to do, the character stuff. I'm not sure from your posts whether you want to be a creature modeller or a rigger, but you're more likely to develop in these specialised areas by doing specialised, focused courses as opposed to Bournemouth's course.

Having said that, having a degree will definitely help you with getting work permits for other countries if that's your goal (you mentioned ILM and Weta). However, I'm assuming you have a bachelor's degree already? In which case I'm not sure that a master's really makes a difference when it comes to visa applications.
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Old 04-22-2013, 05:15 PM   #7
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Dude, to be honest, I don't recommend Bournemouth or any other masters degree program. It's such a waste of time and waste of money from what I've experienced. Because in the end, you are going to find yourself watching a lot of tutorials which you can do by yourself at home or anywhere. 1 year is not going to give you the crashing skills to get into the industry.

Besides, since it's a masters, you are going to be dealing with unnecessary stuff which those might not be in your interests. It's true that the UK industry is at a crisis at the moment. I hear a lot of bad news from my friends who are trying to get into the London studios. Some of them are really good artists, yet they are getting kicked out because of the economy and all that s..t. So you kinda already answered your question, the fact is, it's very hard to get into the industry.

So instead of wasting your time and money for a piece of paper which is totally doubtful for helping you to find a job, get experienced with small workshop, tutorials, work for yourself, do some freelancing, or try finding jobs in small companies. Basically, climb up the steps...

Yes, Bournemouth has reputation and industry links in VFX. But in the end, the industry will pick the guy who has good experience and nice piece of artwork. If money is not an issue, then go and take all the degrees you want if you like. But if your time and money are really valuable, then train yourself to a certain level and find your way through it.

I'm currently a student in BU. But not VFX. Most of the time, I regret the day I came here.

All the best dude!
 
Old 05-02-2013, 07:53 PM   #8
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Thank you all for replying :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr Bob
In not sure doing another course will help, if you have already applied countless times you can already see what a mountain you have to climb. Maybe take a part time job and work on your portfolio.


I understand that my work needs to improve though I just don't have the time to make any significant progress. Like I said I'm trying progress is painfully slow... Though I am going to take up a Digital Tutors subscription this week and try doing something. I would take a part time job but unfortunately I am not in the position to be able to due to current financial ties (for the next couple of months). Thank you so much for your advice though and I greatly appreciate it. If I could do those things then I really would...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franklowa
Noel:

I'm not familiar with the UK's economy (but we all see the threads here and elsewhere). If you were in the U.S. I'd recommend sticking with your current job rather than return to school. You have enough knowledge to learn on your own. Consider CGS workshops, DVDs, even Escape Studios online, and other online training while working. It would be difficult to learn while working fulltime, but jumping back into school without a guaranteed job will probably be more difficult. Most of us have worked in jobs that are not our "first choice" and then work our way into a position that is more aligned with what we "want" to do. I think that the "unknown" is your subconscious mind trying to tell you something. When you have a job--do the best that you can at it and grow. [On a personal note--I was in the same position as you some years ago. I attended some courses at night, weekends, and correspondence (that was before online education took off). Having an income and a job is good in these times. If you were good enough to get a job in games--you have what it takes to self-study and eventually work into a VFX position]. Good luck.


I really want to try learning everything myself and have been trying in the past couple of months but I just struggle to find the time. Do you have any advice on allocating time or is it simply work as much and as hard as you can? After a long day at work it can be hard to get into anything and I'm worried the tiredness and everything will reflect in the quality of my work. After seeing all these posts I am really going to try and step-up self study and see what I can achieve. Like I said to mr Bob I'll pick up a digital tutors subscription seeing as that has been recommended to me countless times! I've been interested in the CG workshops for a while and will definitely get into one of those. I think another worry is going in completely the wrong direction whilst self-studying/ wasting my time doing something I don't really need to learn. Though I guess that comes down to just doing your homework before jumping into anything? Thank you every so much for your reply too. I really appreciate the time you have given to reply to my post and help me out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomash2013
If you have been accepted to BU for Masters program, you'd have to be insane to give it up. On the top of up to date curriculum and best tutors I ever came across, they have insane industry contacts, so if you work after finishing the course would be up to date, you will be scooped instantaneously.

Also the very important point of doing master studies are points on the visas - you will be able to work all around the world with this diploma.

As to comparing master studies at one of the world most renown VFX schools (i would recommend you to check who Phil Spicer is and how many SideFx certified schools are in the world) to online training at CG Society - I will not even comment on that.

Thanks for your comments tomash2012. I do know the reputation both what Phil and the school has which was a massive reason for why I chose to take up the course. In a way, I keep thinking I would be a fool to give it up but at the same time, with the state the industry is in, Iím not sure if itís the best way? Did you study on the course too?

Quote:
Originally Posted by leigh
To the OP, I really don't know what advantage you think the masters course is going to give you. Yes, Bournemouth's course is a good one, but is a year spent in uni really going to give you some edge that you don't have? You've already applied to numerous studios to no avail; this means your work needs to improve, or that the studios aren't looking to hire juniors. Another year in uni isn't necessarily going to end up improving your work or odds of finding work - sure, it'll broaden your knowledge, but it's not necessarily going to improve your reel significantly within that timeframe or magically open doors. Despite what the poster above claimed, students graduating with decent reels from Bournemouth don't simply walk into jobs. This is because studios don't simply hire someone because they happened to come along with a good reel, they only hire when they specifically need artists. And when that happens, you're competing with lots of people for those roles. This idea that studios headhunt graduates is not true.

The fact is that the VFX industry in London right now is slow. There are already loads of highly experienced artists out of work, so the chances of someone with absolutely no experience trying to break in are that much slimmer. It's hard to say if and when things are going to improve, but honestly I'd say that your best bet in the meantime would be to take some focused courses to build on the skills you specifically want to do, the character stuff. I'm not sure from your posts whether you want to be a creature modeller or a rigger, but you're more likely to develop in these specialised areas by doing specialised, focused courses as opposed to Bournemouth's course.

Having said that, having a degree will definitely help you with getting work permits for other countries if that's your goal (you mentioned ILM and Weta). However, I'm assuming you have a bachelor's degree already? In which case I'm not sure that a master's really makes a difference when it comes to visa applications.


Hey Leigh. Thank you very much for taking the time reply. I really appreciate it!

Okay, the reason Iíve chosen a Masters is I feel lost and in serious need of direction. My University degree taught how the games industry works but hardly anything of film. So every free moment Iím researching how VFX works, starting roles, career paths ect so I get a firm understanding of where to start. I canít emphasize how passionate I am to get a toe in the door let alone a foot. The thing is Iím worried if I study on my own Iíll go in the wrong direction/ spend too much time on something I will never need to learn. I hear most people get started in the 3D departments doing Matchmoving? Iím not sure if I should start learning this and doing 3D to the side? Iíve already started having a go anyway! What about sticking out developing high detail game art seeing as itís what I am good at. Would a studio higher me on game art? (realistic)

Iíve followed all the latest problems facing the industry (regularly listening to online VFX town hall meetings) which is leaving me a little worried (like you say about London). In a way Iím thinking maybe I should wait until things pick up in the industry before switching? I donít want to shaft myself and leave a semi-stable industry and enter another which might give me grief. Forgive me if I am sounding very naÔve or getting things twisted, Iím trying to understand if making the jump from Games to Film is really worth it at present. Iím no way doing it for money or any other reason but my love of filmÖ at the same time I donít want to move into something that at the start could make my life a misery (from what Iíve heard from other VFX artists).

One strategy of mine was to develop my game art portfolio a little more. Doing that will give me something to fall back on if things donít go to plan (demonstrating: modelling, texturing, lighting skills). Like you say there are many talented artists out there already looking for work so if I start learning 3D for film now it feels as if Iíve an Everest to climb. What do you think?
All I want is a foot in the door (a toe is still fine as well) so I can progress up from the inside, but so does everyone else right?

Thanks again everyone for taking the time to reply to meÖ I deeply appreciate it and any help in any form is like golden. Sorry it took me a while to reply, things have been heavy at work so itís been hard to sit down and write out a detailed reply to you all.
 
Old 05-02-2013, 07:55 PM   #9
maverickhornet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr Bob
In not sure doing another course will help, if you have already applied countless times you can already see what a mountain you have to climb. Maybe take a part time job and work on your portfolio.


I understand that my work needs to improve though I just don't have the time to make any significant progress. Like I said I'm trying progress is painfully slow... Though I am going to take up a Digital Tutors subscription this week and try doing something. I would take a part time job but unfortunately I am not in the position to be able to due to current financial ties (for the next couple of months). Thank you so much for your advice though and I greatly appreciate it. If I could do those things then I really would...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franklowa
Noel:

I'm not familiar with the UK's economy (but we all see the threads here and elsewhere). If you were in the U.S. I'd recommend sticking with your current job rather than return to school. You have enough knowledge to learn on your own. Consider CGS workshops, DVDs, even Escape Studios online, and other online training while working. It would be difficult to learn while working fulltime, but jumping back into school without a guaranteed job will probably be more difficult. Most of us have worked in jobs that are not our "first choice" and then work our way into a position that is more aligned with what we "want" to do. I think that the "unknown" is your subconscious mind trying to tell you something. When you have a job--do the best that you can at it and grow. [On a personal note--I was in the same position as you some years ago. I attended some courses at night, weekends, and correspondence (that was before online education took off). Having an income and a job is good in these times. If you were good enough to get a job in games--you have what it takes to self-study and eventually work into a VFX position]. Good luck.


I really want to try learning everything myself and have been trying in the past couple of months but I just struggle to find the time. Do you have any advice on allocating time or is it simply work as much and as hard as you can? After a long day at work it can be hard to get into anything and I'm worried the tiredness and everything will reflect in the quality of my work. After seeing all these posts I am really going to try and step-up self study and see what I can achieve. Like I said to mr Bob I'll pick up a digital tutors subscription seeing as that has been recommended to me countless times! I've been interested in the CG workshops for a while and will definitely get into one of those. I think another worry is going in completely the wrong direction whilst self-studying/ wasting my time doing something I don't really need to learn. Though I guess that comes down to just doing your homework before jumping into anything? Thank you every so much for your reply too. I really appreciate the time you have given to reply to my post and help me out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomash2013
If you have been accepted to BU for Masters program, you'd have to be insane to give it up. On the top of up to date curriculum and best tutors I ever came across, they have insane industry contacts, so if you work after finishing the course would be up to date, you will be scooped instantaneously.

Also the very important point of doing master studies are points on the visas - you will be able to work all around the world with this diploma.

As to comparing master studies at one of the world most renown VFX schools (i would recommend you to check who Phil Spicer is and how many SideFx certified schools are in the world) to online training at CG Society - I will not even comment on that.

Thanks for your comments tomash2012. I do know the reputation both what Phil and the school has which was a massive reason for why I chose to take up the course. In a way, I keep thinking I would be a fool to give it up but at the same time, with the state the industry is in, Iím not sure if itís the best way? Did you study on the course too?

Quote:
Originally Posted by leigh
To the OP, I really don't know what advantage you think the masters course is going to give you. Yes, Bournemouth's course is a good one, but is a year spent in uni really going to give you some edge that you don't have? You've already applied to numerous studios to no avail; this means your work needs to improve, or that the studios aren't looking to hire juniors. Another year in uni isn't necessarily going to end up improving your work or odds of finding work - sure, it'll broaden your knowledge, but it's not necessarily going to improve your reel significantly within that timeframe or magically open doors. Despite what the poster above claimed, students graduating with decent reels from Bournemouth don't simply walk into jobs. This is because studios don't simply hire someone because they happened to come along with a good reel, they only hire when they specifically need artists. And when that happens, you're competing with lots of people for those roles. This idea that studios headhunt graduates is not true.

The fact is that the VFX industry in London right now is slow. There are already loads of highly experienced artists out of work, so the chances of someone with absolutely no experience trying to break in are that much slimmer. It's hard to say if and when things are going to improve, but honestly I'd say that your best bet in the meantime would be to take some focused courses to build on the skills you specifically want to do, the character stuff. I'm not sure from your posts whether you want to be a creature modeller or a rigger, but you're more likely to develop in these specialised areas by doing specialised, focused courses as opposed to Bournemouth's course.

Having said that, having a degree will definitely help you with getting work permits for other countries if that's your goal (you mentioned ILM and Weta). However, I'm assuming you have a bachelor's degree already? In which case I'm not sure that a master's really makes a difference when it comes to visa applications.


Hey Leigh. Thank you very much for taking the time reply. I really appreciate it!

Okay, the reason Iíve chosen a Masters is I feel lost and in serious need of direction. My University degree taught how the games industry works but hardly anything of film. So every free moment Iím researching how VFX works, starting roles, career paths ect so I get a firm understanding of where to start. I canít emphasize how passionate I am to get a toe in the door let alone a foot. The thing is Iím worried if I study on my own Iíll go in the wrong direction/ spend too much time on something I will never need to learn. I hear most people get started in the 3D departments doing Matchmoving? Iím not sure if I should start learning this and doing 3D to the side? Iíve already started having a go anyway! What about sticking out developing high detail game art seeing as itís what I am good at. Would a studio higher me on game art? (realistic)

Iíve followed all the latest problems facing the industry (regularly listening to online VFX town hall meetings) which is leaving me a little worried (like you say about London). In a way Iím thinking maybe I should wait until things pick up in the industry before switching? I donít want to shaft myself and leave a semi-stable industry and enter another which might give me grief. Forgive me if I am sounding very naÔve or getting things twisted, Iím trying to understand if making the jump from Games to Film is really worth it at present. Iím no way doing it for money or any other reason but my love of filmÖ at the same time I donít want to move into something that at the start could make my life a misery (from what Iíve heard from other VFX artists).

One strategy of mine was to develop my game art portfolio a little more. Doing that will give me something to fall back on if things donít go to plan (demonstrating: modelling, texturing, lighting skills). Like you say there are many talented artists out there already looking for work so if I start learning 3D for film now it feels as if Iíve an Everest to climb. What do you think?
All I want is a foot in the door (a toe is still fine as well) so I can progress up from the inside, but so does everyone else right?

Thanks again everyone for taking the time to reply to meÖ I deeply appreciate it and any help in any form is like golden. Sorry it took me a while to reply, things have been heavy at work so itís been hard to sit down and write out a detailed reply to you all.
 
Old 05-04-2013, 06:06 PM   #10
mr Bob
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Mars
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,336
Quote:
Okay, the reason Iíve chosen a Masters is I feel lost and in serious need of direction. My University degree taught how the games industry works but hardly anything of film. So every free moment Iím researching how VFX works, starting roles, career paths ect so I get a firm understanding of where to start. I canít emphasize how passionate I am to get a toe in the door let alone a foot. The thing is Iím worried if I study on my own Iíll go in the wrong direction/ spend too much time on something I will never need to learn. I hear most people get started in the 3D departments doing Matchmoving? Iím not sure if I should start learning this and doing 3D to the side? Iíve already started having a go anyway! What about sticking out developing high detail game art seeing as itís what I am good at. Would a studio higher me on game art? (realistic)


What role are you looking at ?
 
Old 05-08-2013, 08:21 AM   #11
maverickhornet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr Bob
What role are you looking at ?


Hi mr Bob,

I want to become a modeller/3D generalist and eventually work my way up the ranks. Do you have any tips?

Thanks!
 
Old 05-09-2013, 04:49 PM   #12
mr Bob
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Join Date: Dec 2003
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Hi,
Sorry but in film vfx we dont have generalists so I cannot offer advice, as to modelling , I think you need to aim a bit higher if you want to work up the ranks as you put it. In the sphere I work in its the smart technical guys who climb up the ranks !

b
 
Old 05-13-2013, 08:09 AM   #13
maverickhornet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr Bob
Hi,
Sorry but in film vfx we dont have generalists so I cannot offer advice, as to modelling , I think you need to aim a bit higher if you want to work up the ranks as you put it. In the sphere I work in its the smart technical guys who climb up the ranks !

b


I'm going off certain roles that I've seen advertised in London VFX Studios that's all. Generalist came up a few times at certain places. With my current job title (environment artist) I thought it might be the best fit. I'd dream to become a VFX supervisor, though getting in at any level at the minute would be a dream come true.

I'll still persevere though!

If anyone can look at my current portfolio and rip it to shreds with constructive crit I would be deeply grateful!
 
Old 05-13-2013, 06:54 PM   #14
mr Bob
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Hi,
Just looking at that first part of your reel, I would re model with lots of detail > re texture > and re light it.
If you check out the Enders Game trailer you will see the battle room. Use that as a bench mark and see how close you can get. Showing something of that quality could get you considered for a junior , texture artist, lighter , Comper etc.

b
 
Old 05-18-2013, 10:45 AM   #15
maverickhornet
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Thank you for the advice mr bob. I understand that my reel isn't really that high in detail. It's aimed at environment art for games and to be efficient in a real-time game engine, rather than a photo-real render for a film.

What I'm trying to do is make the transition from doing low-poly game art to high detail assets that are fit for film. I understand nothing on my website represents that and I don't expect it to.

I personally struggle to find direction on my own. This is why I am looking towards Bournemouth... not really for the fact it'll guarantee improvement in my work but rapidly point me in the direction needed to get the right skills needed in VFX as I seriously lack them. The attraction to Bournemouth comes from being able to make contacts with industry (Industry come down from VFX studios in London every Friday apparently) and gain first hand knowledge... I think the trouble with my work is not that it needs to improve, it's just geared towards the wrong industry. I've been talking with friends and they personally think my work is fine (who are in VFX) but say I just need help in focusing it more towards film rather than Game Environments. The 3D skills are there... I just need that bump in the right direction.

That's my latest personal view on it anyway.
 
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CGSociety
Society of Digital Artists
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