What are some of the other career choices for CG artists other than VFX/Games?


I was wondering this lately. I know there are opportunities in medical visualization, product design, industrial previz, etc but I have no idea where to start looking for those kind of jobs. I would like to expand my skill set and not be holed into just animation for games/film.

So do we have any cgtalkers here working in those industries and can you give some pointers on how to break into that industry?


Although I am not a CG artist, I am musician looking to expand my work within new media and I would say there is a lot of overlap in both fields; because where there is movement, there is sound! here are some possibilities:

  • Advertising, marketing and brand agencies. The amount of media they create and oversee is vast. Advertising, Campaign Videos, real and virtual Brand Experiences etc.

  • Web/Interactive

  • Any company attending a trade show could need animation for their exhibits

  • and what about exhibits at a Museum?

  • eCommerce entities within retail for product demonstrations

  • enhanced eBooks with video and interactive elements

What do you all think?


I have wondered that as well. I would be just as happy rendering cars, cell phones or cells, i like rendering, its fun.


I had a couple of friends who left the film and games world to work in defense. Apparently defense companies like to have Hollywood quality demo videos to show what their next high tech weapon is capable of! I hear they pay better too.


I think 3D training videos will be an area of growth. I know lots of large companies have small in house 3D teams that make videos to train new employees on how their products work.

Not sure how far it will go, but the webGL and HTML5 stuff seems to be getting more popular. I’ve seen some pretty nifty experimental websites that use interactive 3D graphics.



I am guessing advertising is the big one. Almost every TV advert here has at least some CG. It just seems to be the norm now.


I am currently teaching myself solid works for use in my new company that’s work in progress. I have noticed there is quite a demand for skilled solid works drafters



NYC is pretty much all advertising. It’s a lot of fun, quick jobs, drastically different art styles and types of work, and a great community.

It can also be stressful, but I’ll keep things positive here.


Forensic animation has gotten pretty big. If you don’t have a weak stomach then basically what it is is that a lawyer has an animator create a recreation of some kind of accident or crime where someone got injured or killed. I’m lead to understand it’s good money, but one more time, you need a strong stomach.

And a very very good attention to detail, a lawyer can’t risk using an animation to depict something and be construed as misrepresenting something.


TV commercial work is very, very stressful. I did about four years in television VFX work, mostly in commercials, at the start of my career and I almost quit the industry because I burned out so badly. You never have enough time to get anything done to the standard you want, and you tend to work long hours.

It’s a viable option yes, but only if you’re really, really good at handling stress and overtime.


To add to this, simulation is another field to look into. It typically utilizes all the same skills that a game artist would use. I worked for five years at a military sim company basically working on military video games and training software (oops, forgot they HATE to be called “games”).

After that, I got into subsea ROV simulation, which is what I do now. Basically, our simulator trains potential ROV pilots without the risk of smashing a multi million dollar ROV into the seabed or something.

At both companies, I wore many hats, as from what I’ve learned, the software department at sim places isn’t as big as other game companies. For example, I could be working on real-time models one week, and the next week be putting together a photo real render for a promo video. A lot of work, but it certainly isn’t boring.

Pays good too. :slight_smile:


That’s very interesting… What do they look for in that fields? Realistic rockets, lots of explosion sims?


There’s an awful lot of corporate work out there and not just adverts and medical either, they need information delivered in a presentable format for trade shows, internal meetings and presentations, awards ceremonies, brand management etc. Then there’s crime scene recreations for courts which I know a few people love to be into. Any amount of motion graphics work. Product design and visualization, architectural visualization, scientific visualization, academic training materials, print work, advertising, exhibition design, illustration, online video channels, stings, idents and bumsettlers, simulations, kiosk design, sculpture (3d printing and other processes), fine arts, artist in residence, stage and light shows/backdrops for bands and musical arrangements, public art displays, teaching… pretty much if you can think of any way to make use of CG and animation skills then someone somewhere is making money doing it.

Just pick a field and start asking people what their workflows are for that field (or check the job postings to see what’s required). I think just knowing how to use Photoshop and After Effects well, Mograph etc will stand you in good stead if you’re just looking to spread your wings perhaps into the freelance trade.


Lots of those F500 companies do have small in house teams that do 3D art stuff. I know a lot of the HR departments at larger companies are keen an a BS or MS degree, and they wont even send your resume and reel onwards unless you’ve got a degree.

I don't have a degree, and I've never been able to get past the first HR filter after applying. All of my paid work has come from personal connections. If you want to do that type of work, its probably easier to go work for a small studio that does contract or agency work with defence companies. 

There are lots of defence companies here in the Midwest, and small studios in Chicago, Indy, Cincy get lots of that type of work. Its everything from gun renders for Bushmaster and Colt, engine animations for Rolls Royce, US Army and Navy commercials, to those interactive training simulations the military uses.



I often wonder how is it that software development is so often overlooked as a career option. After having done that for 7 years, I can ell you it’s a viable field for 3d artists (or developers, depending on your background). It is certainly nothing like the production world, and the work environment will vary from company to company, but it’s another option nonetheless. Worth considering!


Software development is one of the obvious fields, especially new platforms like the ipad are interesting. I recently downloaded an app called Touchanimator and while it’s sucks in many ways, you can see the potential of touch based platforms for animation if it was done right.

There are many fields 3D artist can take on these days, most of them mentioned here. I guess jewelery design is another one. Also with the adoption of 3D printers, you one day might end up working in an industry you never thought you would.

       Well, this is a gross generalization.
       I work on commercials and sure, there are times it get a bit crazy but I think the last time I had to do overtime was on the BBC Olympics trailer, about 8 or 9 months ago. It's been a nice solid constant 40 hrs a week since then whilst friends in film are doing 6 day weeks on crunch time. It just depends on the jobs and directors you get. Heh, I actually wouldn't mind a bit of overtime to fatten the pay packet! (...and it's not through a lack of work here at Passion, we're stacked at the minute :) )
       In answer to the original question there's an increased interest in realtime animation for advertising for [stuff like this,](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D83n2CPSIWs) getting characters out there so people can interact with them.


For the defense industry related work, if you don’t already have a security clearance then it’s difficult to get very far in the hiring process. On the bright side, if you have ever served in the military you get to go to the front of the line for those positions.


Well you seem to be the only person I’ve ever met who works reasonable hours in commercials. Like I said, I did four years in that field and working until 2am was the norm, most days during a job. That’s why I got out of it and went into film instead (where I’ve never, ever worked that late, and in fact could probably count on my two hands the number of times I’ve put in a few extra hours in the entire 8-9 years I’ve been working in film). I have a lot of friends working in commercial studios around London and they also seem to spend their lives at work.

So I don’t really think it’s a generalisation. I think you’re just the odd one out :smiley:


Really depends on where you are, and what you do. Those further in the pipeline tend to get stuck with the worst hours. (Sorry lighters and compers…) I’ve only ever worked till 2 AM once actually.

But the hours are longer than film, no argument there. I just think it’s possible to balance life and work in ads, you just have to know how to say no, and leave on time. A lot of freelancers feel like they need to work long hours to stay competitive, but you really don’t.

You do need to get used to not having time to polish your work, and sure you should be able to handle stress. But it’s not horrible, I actually enjoy the work. Like I said, it differs drastically depending on where you are, who the client is, and who is running the job. (Honestly I hear the worst stories from folks in games)