Career in Particle Effects?


Hi guys/Gilrs. If I was to pursue this as a potential career, what would be the best way in going about it? I’ve seen people say there’s no point in studying various aspects of visual effects and that it’s best to focus on one aspect.

I have a few resources in starting off and learning the basics but I really want to be taught as well, would it be worth taking the Dynamic Effect 1, 2 and 3 courses as well as the visual effects animation course at Gnomon? That way I wouldn’t be learning anything I wouldn’t really need to be learning?

Also, just in terms of oponions or maybe from what you’ve heard, is this a good field to go into? I don’t want to to be mega rich or anything I mainly just want to be doing something I have an interest in and be financially healthy. I’d be in the UK and I don’t have a degree to my name so probably wouldn’t be able to work in the US unfortunately, would this have a big effect on me finding work in this area?

Thanks for any info


i’m really on the same track, i don’t know what to do or if it’s the right thing or not, besides i live way far in beirut!


Yea its hard, have you had any ideas?

Its really something I want to persue but I’m really starting to think about my career at this stage of my life and indont want to put time and effort into this area of work for at the end if it I find myself jobless or unhappy for whatever reason.

Would just love some advice on what I should do, should I persue it as a career? Am just looking for opinions on that really. If so what would be the best way of attempting to achieve it and such.


Only you can decide what you should or shouldn’t do with your life. Is a career in this possible? Yes. If you want a job doing particles (well, basically this falls under the jurisdiction of the “FX” department that you’ll find in any game or film studio), then just make a reel of cool looking stuff and send it to studios.


If you can get far enough to call yourself FX TD (have a look at the requirements studios have in their jobs section), you can make a fair amount of cash. That would involve a bit of programming/scripting, and a fairly solid understanding of 3D math.

Good FX artists are also sought after, but the market is slowly starting to saturate with the advent of artist-friendly tools, so you sort of have to specialize.

The Gnomon courses would definitely be a good place to start, but you definitely want to go way deeper than that. My personal recommendation would be to learn Houdini (the Apprentice version is free) on the side in addition to your Maya education, since it really helps in gaining an understanding of the internal workings of everyday FX tools, and regardless of the software package you’re shooting for it’s a great help for prototyping effects.


If you want to work in FX learn Houdini number 1 and number 2 aim for becoming an FX TD. Fx artists are rapidly becoming button pushers on large pipelines and their pay reflects that. The guys who command the big dollars are the guys who build the tools to do the effects.



Houdini would be good to know, if you’re interested in getting into film work. But, you should also be familiar with particle tools in other apps like Softimage, Max, RealFlow etc. There are lots of of smaller studios where there is quite a demand for FX people, but where Houdini is rarely part of the pipeline. You’re in the UK, right? Houdini is used quite a bit in the bigger film shops from what I gather, but the 3D ecosystem is very varied in the rest of Soho and there can be good work out there.

There’s also no harm in starting out as a generalist or lighter and later specialising towards FX. I think this will help you have a more complete understanding of CG production and will make you a more valuable TD in the end. There is a danger in specialising too early in your career. What good are your nifty particle sims if you don’t know how to light and render them?

I agree with the others - don’t be a particle button pusher. Learn to write your own tools from day one. That means getting familiar with some scripting languages and application APIs as well as a healthy dose of linear algebra.


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