FORUM PRIMER: The Unofficial Truth about The Industry


WoW…Amazing article and powerful discussion:thumbsup:…And I have learnt fabulous things from here…Yeah these questions are really important for all of us…And we want there answers…Thank u so much for sharing these kinda stuff wid us:applause:…Am really glad to read it…God bless u for sharing nicest things here and God bless all artists here as well…Thank u so much once again…So nice of u…Take carez all…Keep smiling all…

Best Regards,


Wow…Thank for the lesson…this is very important to us all.
I personally have some questions answer by this thread…it clean my thoughts and i´m thankful for this great help.:smiley:
All the subjects showing here are extremely necessary to all digital art students.:thumbsup:

Cheers & best regards


Along with everyone, I say thank you. I’m in the industry and am at that point where I was considering what the ‘next step’ might be to move forward in my career. I’ve looked into schools and now I’m getting six or seven calls a day from them and am reminded of how eager they are to get your money, but yet the true responsibility of education really falls onto me, the artist.

I think you’ve given me plenty to think about and consider, and I appreciate your input. This is another post that makes me truly appreciate what this website does for those of us trying our best to do what we love.

Thanks again.



Great information . … many thanks. :slight_smile:


I really do need some advice here. I’m 18 years old, and I just finished high school at the German School in Madrid, Spain (I know, it sounds strange, I’m half German, half Spanish). Since I was 8 years old I knew that I wanted to be part of the movie business. I started using a computer at a really young age and ended up doing a CG Master in 2003 at age 14. Now that I have the Abitur (German high school diploma), I’m not sure what my next step should be. There is no way I’m going to stay here, as the CG industry in Spain is almost none existent and besides I have always dreamt of moving to the US and working at ILM or another big company. So, I checked ILM’s website, and they do ask 3D Modellers for a degree! Now I’m reading this thread and apparently I don’t need any, just a good demo reel. So I am kind of confused. What should I do when I move to the US this summer? (hopefully). Should I go to college? (BTW, money is an issue as college is not free in the US, so I guess college is a “no, no.”) If I go to college, what career is more appropriate? And where should I move to? San Francisco, Los Angeles? Where are all the companies located? Would I have any problems finding a job? (being from Spain and having an Abitur?). I also would like to point out, that I don’t expect in any way to start right away at ILM, lol! I would like to start from the bottom and climb up to the very top. I don’t see myself doing anything else in my life and I’ll do whatever I can to get there. Hope you guys can help me out. And thanks BTW for those Q&A, they are really helpfull.

Note: I speak Spanish, German and English. Don’t know if it could have any influence at all, just thought I should let you know, just in case.


Thanks a lot for this value information -dc-! :applause: Got a lot questions answered :smiley:


Just wanted to say thanks also…this was a much needed post for myself and others, thanks again for taking to time to do this.


I want to get into the industry soooo bad. I’ve gotta learn as fast as I can. The job will be mine. Employer’s phone handsets will roll if I don’t hear what I want! Gimme the damn jobz!


Great post, very informative. I have a few questions though. My 2D illustration and drawing skills are average at best. The Art Institute of California at San Diego offers beginning drawing courses as part of their core curriculum. Are excellent drawing skills required to succeed in the animation industry? I am interested in special effects in films. The Art Institute costs a fortune!! I want this more than anything but I want to be realistic.

Also, how reputable is the Art Institute chain? I’ve been searching the internet on reviews from alumni but I haven’t been able to find any information.

I would be grateful for any direction you could provide. Thank you.


wow, thanks joe for taking the time to write this FAQ.


I have been searching the forums for advice and it appears that the thread on the topic I want to discuss is inactive. If there is an active one, forgive me (and I would be grateful to be directed there).

It seems that there is no definitive answer to my question nor do I expect one. Just maybe some advice or guidance on the reality of my situation. I’ll try to make a long story short.

I love to draw; however my skill as an illustrator is average/mediocre at best. I am fascinated by the visual effects industry. I am not interested in cartoon animation. I love the effects in films that are realistic (Matrix, Spiderman, you get the idea). I have read threads where people claim that drawing skills aren’t necessary but advantageous. Others say it is absolutely the foundation.

I am considering attending the Art Institute of California, San Diego (I haven’t been able to find reviews/opinions of the Art Institute “chain” - if there are some, please let me know). The Art Institute does teach fundamental classes (2-D illustration, color theory, perspective, etc.)

Is it possible to succeed in this industry with a basic art skillset or am I making a $90,000 mistake (the tuition for the BS animation degree)?

I want it so badly and am willing to dedicate everything I have - but is that enough?

Your two cents is worth a million to me (or at least $90,000…lol).


How do you feel about compositing? color correction? rotoscoping?


Hi mummey,

I am completely new to this whole thing. I have postponed my attendance at the Art Institute because I want to investigate the industry more thoroughly.

I realize that there are different specializations of 3D, but I am not familiar with any of the terms you mentioned. I have heard of compositing but not exactly sure what that is. Leigh responded to one of my posts with some helpful info but I think I should be a little more aware of what is out there. Is there a site(s) that can shed more light?



I´ve read this thread carefully and it enlightened me about how this industry works but let me explain to you my situation.

This past year of 2006/2007 i studied in the 1st year of the course Cinema,Video and Multimédia in a Lisbon university. We had some classes of 2D and 3D animation but i felt i learned more doing things at home than in classes.

I gave up studying because university was at night and i worked during the day, so everyday of the week i would be going up to the work, then down to classes and back at home to sleep.

I didn´t had time to do the work for my classes let alone have time to dedicate myself to CG.
So i had 5 classes which i didn´t pass and one of them was 2D and 3D.
It´s a private university so i was spending alot of money every month that i felt worn out because i didn´t had time and money to do what i liked…no hobbies, no dedication to 3D et.

So i just started dedicating myself to 3D at home and i now know more than what i learned in classes and everyday i keep studying CG because i hope someday i can have a great demo reel to show up and skills
to enter a big studio or a CG company in Portugal.

So when could i dedicate myself to Cg if i will only finish my course in maybe 4 years? (the course is 3)
I would be 27 years old when that happened and then that was when i would have time to dedicate myself to 3D.

I took the option to give up school and learn by myself…would that be a good option?

Lie dc said if your comfortable with your decision then go ahead…that´s what i did.
The only problem i say of not having a course is getting a visa to work abroad…i´ve read somewhere that governments don´t give visas away if the worker doesn´t have qualifications.


Yeah my friend keeps telling me that the Game Industry is going to working and possibly owning the CG industry. Appearently their going to be having us use their technology and we are going to be using theirs, I think thats bull crap, (sorry for the language) I think the CG industry should keep to it’self. It’s like a group, you got your game makers and your movie makers, I personally support my movie making group and think the stupid game industry should butt out. I’m ticked cause he’s telling me that their going to be as good and better than the CG movies come out with. I mean is anyone one on my side, I feel so alone and being attacked, Visual Effects and CG films are my life, I don’t want the game industry butting in and interferring on our style of art… I mean come on.


doodlerboy: You sound like you don’t know how it really works.

Not only do Games, VFX, and Animation help each other, they NEED each other. Each is pushing technology and techniques forward and all three benefit from the results.

People have been moving back and forth between the three for years now; this isn’t new. There are times where one might have a setback (ESC closing would be a nice example). When this happens, those in the one, go and find jobs in the other two.

In terms of narrative, games and movies are like apples and oranges. You just can’t convey a story like Ratatouille as well in an interactive environment. It doesn’t matter how close they might be able to make it appear (hint: they’re still a long ways off), its the narrative that makes the movie attractive, and the game merely a bad copy.

Games have made strides in terms of technology, but don’t kid youself, they are only up to what movies were at about 2000.


Eventually games will look as good, but it really depends on what style you’re talking about. Will they look like Transformers(the recent movie) within 10years - I’m talking complete photoreal from human to machine to bg to explosion, etc? Perhaps not, but something more along the lines of Madagascar or Final Fantasy, why not?

Take TeamFortress2, the stylized upcoming game. I know a lot of great cg film animators have gone to Valve in the past few years and the animation from some of those “shorts” like the Heavy Weapons Guy is probably their work. So the talent is already there.

Are you talking purely visuals though? The only barrier film has not acheived is the complete cg human as a main actor standing next to real people throughout an entire film with no one being able to tell. I’m not talking something non-human like Golem or Davy Jones, and no game has even come close to those two. So Mummey is right, they are years away from that. All games can really do is catch up and get on the same visual level some day.

If you want to go the full cg route, Hollywood could easily make a full cg film that looks like Gears of War with stylized humans and Unreal proportions, they just don’t want to or haven’t.

In terms of narrative, games can have wonderful stories and experiences, but they are more like reading a book. Even a 10hour game is different then a 90 minute film and the way you experience that story is completely different. StarWar Knights of the Old Repbulic may have a more engaging story then Ep1,2, and 3 combined, but does it look anywhere near as good?

The argument seems a bit pointless except for maybe the visual standpoint. Games are always getting better, but so what? Only people who are already behind or have something to prove say things like “games will own movies.” So a game can look good and run in real-time? Film will always be canned, no one cares whether a film was made in realtime or each frame took 20+hours to render.

Personally, I love games and know they will just keep looking better, the argument just seems to stem from insecurity. When PIXAR starts using Unreal Engine X to render its films, then they can say games are owning films.


I understand now, and yeah I really didn’t understand how it worked till now. Ahh I’ve been such an idiot. But I’m glad I brought it to your attentions cause it really helps me to grow even more in the industry. I’ll admit I was being 100% childish on the topic. I appreciate you guys giving me Lee-way on things and really explaining this to me, thanks alot I appreciate it.


Just wanted to be yet another person to say thank you for this! It’s a wonderful FAQ, and sums up just about everything that people are generally worried/confused about. Thanks again!!