I’ve been reading a lot of “how to get into the industry” threads on here recently, and I thought it might be helpful for people who work in the industry to share their stories.
Lots of people have questions about education, how to make a reel, how to get a job, etc. I think maybe the best way to answer these questions is for people to give a little bio about how they got in and what they’re currently doing.
Good idea? Ya with me?
Ok, I’ll start. Hopefully, you’ll all join in!
My story… by Vfxdude…
I’ve always had an interest in filmmaking – ever since I was a little kid. I was very inspired by Star Wars, of course, as were many people my age.
But… when it came time to go to college, I didn’t end up going to film school. Instead, I toyed around with being a music major for a while, then a sociology major, and finally ended up in Computer Engineering. (I was also a computer geek as a kid
I eventually ended up getting a MS in electrical engineering and spending about six years designing circuits for computer chips. This turned out to be a painfully boring and uncreative profession… so, I quit.
After that, I spent a couple years trying to get into the film industry. I got a lucky break. A friend-of-friend was co-founder of a small VFX firm, and he offered me a job setting up a render pipeline for his company. Though I didn’t know anything about VFX, I knew a lot about designing and implementing a pipeline; I knew how to program, how to design such a system, etc.
So, that’s how I got in. From there, I worked my way into production, taught myself all the tools (Maya, Shake, Digital Fusion, RealFlow, a few others), and starting working on shots. This is somewhat typical in small companies – sometimes, everybody in the company is working on shots regardless of their background; deadlines have to be met!
After working there for two years, I ended up getting laid off during a slump (which, by the way, happens all the time in VFX no matter how good you are – economics, not talent) Fortunately, I had done enough work during that time to put together a decent reel heavy on effects shots.
Now, I’m at ILM working in the fluid sim production group. It fits nicely with my background because it requires both a visual sense – an “eye” for how things should look – and a science background. Much of the training I received in physics, image processing, and computer science in general comes in very handy for the job I do. We use some very complex fluid and rendering systems, and the science background really helps.
Anyway… that’s my story. I don’t think this is really an atypical story – many people at ILM come from a computer science background. Knowledge of science, art, and computers really carry an equal weight around here for TD positions.
So what’s your story?