FORUM PRIMER: The Unofficial Truth about The Industry


I like art, and I already have some experience in CG even though I’m only 19. Still, reading things such as this make me really want to rely on something else… I mean, my dream is to work at Blizzard, but being successful working in an art-related job seems to be very difficult. I’d rather study physics (which I’m also very interested in) and then maybe try to get into the field of CG as a side-job and maybe later on as a full-time job.

Anyways thank you for the article, its great being able to read about people’s experiences in the industry.


Very Good post! Really enjoyed reading it!


dx thank you for this thread…It really had me thinking positive after I read it all. Thanks to you I have a new sig. now…i hope you don’t mind me using your words :slight_smile: ty once again


thanks for the post, lots of useful information that would help steer anyone starting out in the right direction.


I’ve been told that I shouldn’t just be specific in “only try to be a modeller” or “only try to be an animator” but to actually be specific within those.

As in, don’t put together a demo reel of lots of turntables as a modeller, but actually put together a demo reel of just one TYPE of model. Go for the one you do best or like best, but pick something specific like “Organics” or better “Critters”, “Architectural” or better “Virtual Sets”, “Natural Scenery” or better “Shrubberies”

I even heard about something at Pixar where an art director based his entire set of decisions on hiring someone specifically on how well they could model cabbages

I don’t know how true any of this is, of course, so I wanted to ask.

Additionally, when doing something like modelling turntables, should we show wireframes? Should we fade to wireframe across the model and do something fancy? How important is our lighting?

I’m figuring the lighting on the turntables is probably very important despite not being really relevant to modelling skills, since it’s all about showmanship. But if we aren’t that great at lighting, will it shoot us down? (I’m pretty good but no expert, but I can at least use some advanced lighting effects).

Here’s another question that at first glance may seem stupid, but…
You say Maya is the leading piece of software to know, but that that’s not the most important part.

Now, I know perfectly well that I could take on an individual client who said they wanted, I dunno, a giant chicken modeled for them, and their ad could insist that I have to be good with Maya but they’re not looking for rigging or anything just the model…

And there’s absolutely no reason I couldn’t deliver them an OBJ file that’s exactly what they want, with it never having TOUCHED Maya, nor me having to, you know, be out the 7 grand for a copy of maya when I have perfectly functional copies of Max and ZBrush that I can play like Satriani and a guitar…

Even in a full-time position, what’s it matter for a modeller? Isn’t the task simply making the bloody models? So, like, couldn’t I just say “sure, I’ll put a dinosaur in this Maya scene for ya, hang on and let me fire up my, err, peripheral software”

I mean, hell, with some software the modeller is a separate program ANYWAY.

Will they know? Will they care? Is it okay to work at a job that demands you know Maya as long as you can find your way around Maya, know the locations of the Import and Export buttons, and have your own copy of Max on a laptop?


This is a very fascinating thread! Thanks to everyone who’s posted. Some very useful information here.

I have an additional question… Basically I hunt around for jobs to apply for, online or otherwise, and I just ain’t seeing anything to apply for. CGSociety job section is pretty thin as are any other sites. So do I just approach companies even if they aren’t recruiting in the hope they’ll give me a job?


Thank you so much for this post. I had very few options in choosing a course, and ended up in a government university doing a design/illustration course.
Odd thing is, I end up doing more work by myself and reading up on all the knowledge I can find. I wasn’t sure if I was wasting my time or not, but I know I don’t want to end up doing corporate logos for the rest of my life.

This has definitely been a very insightful and inspiring read.


Great post -DC-, comprehensive enough to give me a little bit of the direction I’ve been looking for without being overwhelming or unclear.

Thanks again.


If more people read this, certain schools might go out of business. I’ve seen absolutely hideous work on online portfolios but these people are somehow still getting clients.

People need to understand that 3d/vfx isn’t like a business major. The degree is cool to brag about to underlings if you got it from a known school, but people forget that a lot of the graduates graduated with the lowest possible GPA required to get out of there.

Whoever is reading this post, read then re-read the quote and save yourself $50,000 or more…50 grand you have to pay back and can’t write off in chapter 11; you’re stuck with it even if you never get a job doing anything with it. A very scary thought to say the least.


Thank you very much!


I loved every word u have written in this thread. Though its basic and common sense as u said, it was really helpful to get a start and to plan a work. I just finished my one year diploma in interior design. I am very new to this CG Industry.

JUST A QUESTION THOUGH! SORRY IF I SOUND DUMB BUT WHAT IS " DEMO REEL" AND HOW DO U MAKE IT? Is it some kind of small slideshow movie of my work or this is something more technical? Please advise as i am in need of guidance at this stage.


Great stuff, thanks for all the tips, it helps a lot. And I was thinking about internships and you just validated my thought about it. Thanks Just have to wait 2 more years…


A demo reel is a video that displays your talents. If your specialty is animation then create a reel showing your character animation, if your specialty is modeling animate a camera moving around your different models showing all the detail. Look on youtube for some reels it’ll give you a good idea. So since your in interior design a possible reel would have some different interior desings you’ve made, with an animated camera moving around the interior.


Although it’s been said a hundred time on this thread … Well said Mr.dc.
I can understand the doubt artists feel.
It’s a tough business with many challenges along the way.
Many of the points you address in your post … have been said before … but can’t be said enough. :slight_smile:
I feel one of the best ways of perfecting your portfolio is being open to the constructive criticisms from other artists as well as people from other walks of life.
One of my favorite parts of your post is …

Do I need to be artistic? [/b]Yes. Hands down it all comes down to your natural, raw, artistic talent, your eye for detail, your ability to take criticism for your own work, and your ability to critique others.

If you’re an artist, you’re an artist. Feel proud and go-for-it. Many don’t have a creative bone in their bodies and ‘Yes’, they have definite envy.


Great post Thanks for sharing!


Thanks for this! I have read those things many times, but after watching Gnomon Master Classes and reading this it really makes more sense! Thanks again!


great read, i’ve just started the CA program at Full Sail, and this information will be sure to help me later down the line.


Hi! Thanks alot for this FAQ. :thumbsup:


After reading the FAQ, I realize that the digital/entertainment/etc. art industry is not plum pretty as an average person would think. But I want to be in it. I think ever since I started to play N64 I decided to become a game designer, but as I have found out, it is really hard to effectively participate in a lot of extracirricular educational classes revolving around it. I regret now in the second to last year before high school graduation that I haven’t done much to be prepared.

I’m just really worried about college apps. Carnegie Mellon, since I heard about it from Randy Pausch, looks like a great school I want to be in. Carnegie Mellon has this Bachelors of Computer Science and Arts, but I have no participatory experience in computer programming languages (which they highly reccomend for me to befamiliar with. My school doesn’t have a Computer Science calss.) nor have i kept or even pursued professional fine arts for college. (Sculptures, painting, etc.) I’ve just been, as a life interest and hobby, drawn to Blizzard like art, or the fantasy sci-fi materials. (Which I am afraid any fine arts college wouldn’t take seriously, unless I am mistaken.) I have no definitive portfolio since I just got my hands on any of the software and training since last summer.

I know what I want to do, but I don’t know how to exactly get there. I am afraid that its too late to do anything about and art portfolio and Carnegie Mellon looks so pretty (might be considered a dream school.)

I’ve talked to my counselor, and I realize that there are other schools I would like to go to (such as USC) but unlike, I think, say wanting to be a lawyer, there doesn’t seem to be a obvious way to do any of this. (I might be blinded by that fact I’m only looking at major colleges.) I think I’m also used to the whole idea of a general education, just a keep a level base like school.

It all sounds so intimidating. Is there anything I can do now to push my foot not through the job door but at least onto the front lawn?

I want to become part of that creative energy that I see a lot of artists are a part of, like Samwise.


the original post was really, really inspring, and it’s good to know that so far I’ve been doing things right :slight_smile: