I do freelance work full time, primarily making 60-90 second videos for start-up company websites explaining who they are and what they do. If they have a product, animated beauty renders make up most of the video. It’s given me a ton of great work experience in general production as well as writing scripts, finding & directing voice talent, and just negotiating the over-all production process from A to Z with a myriad of different client personality types.
I guess I’m a generalist, but avoid character work like the plague. I focus on making visuals that are on the realistic end of the spectrum, though rarely get to do anything super-real as I have to stretch my small budget out for 90 seconds of this stuff. I use Vray 85% of the time because of the additional features it presents (DR, Render Masks, and fast blurry reflections being big ones), plus I feel slightly more confident for the future knowing the parent company is focused solely on developing the render engine rather than an entire 3D program.
I do use area shadows , though often avoid GI simply because of render time.
I use a combination of Rhino & the rhino.io plugin to bring in large CAD assemblies from clients (40,000 pieces). I’ve also used Houdini off and on for niche things over the past few years. The addition of Vray for H as well as improvements to Mantra’s material setup has me investigating the program a bit further for additional work, but there are some things that are simply much easier to do in C4D - so it’ll never be a full switch.
Other than that, pretty generic: comp in AE, basic sound mixing in Premiere, occasional work in PS & AI.