As with any industry, there are various techniques/skills/tools that are capable of delivering exceptional final results; often times, no “one” technique, skill, and/or tool can accomplish all tasks required.
However, some techniques/skills/tools are more widely accepted than others are, and I’m trying determine what those techniques/skills/tools are so as to build a sufficient level of competency.
Understanding that technical, scientific, and artistic aptitudes are a necessity, some questions that often come to mind are:
Q - What technologies (tools) are currently used when producing animation and visual effects features, are tools from vendors such as The Foundry, Autodesk, and Adobe the most commonly used? I’ve put a considerable amount of time specifically focusing on tools provided by these vendors, should I be focusing that energy elsewhere?
Q - When it comes to rendering technologies, is Renderman the defacto standard or are other rendering technologies such as V-Ray, Mental Ray, Maya Software, etc. used as well? Some of these renderers often require that their proprietary shaders and lights be used to achieve quality results that are often incompatible with other components of a production workflow.
*EDIT * - Link to article from response below: http://www.fxguide.com/featured/the-state-of-rendering/
Q - When it comes to lighting, how prevalent is the use of Global Illumination, Final Gather, etc. Many opinions seem to imply that these technologies (techniques) are frowned upon, as they are too expensive resource-wise and are not as flexible as traditional lighting techniques.
I’m certainly open to further reading and learning if someone knows of a definitive guide (book or website) that discusses what CG technologies are generally acceptable to use when it comes to the film industry.