FORUM PRIMER: The Unofficial Truth about The Industry


These are the best advices I read in a long time. Thank you so much for this!


Do you think is it better to work in a big studio doing blendshmaapes or in a small studio as 3d generalist? (Same salary) I particullary prefer the small studio, you can do what you want, it is more personal work. Anyway for the CV it is always more impressive to see the name of the big studio. Which is your opinion?


thanks for giving us such a great information :smiley:

peace ^^


Thank you, i gotta show this to ALL my friends :slight_smile:

i go to an art high school in Florida and so many people are looking for guidance on where to go after high school, i’m pretty much the most knowledgeable on the matter, but some reassurance from a professional would defiantly help them…


i have just graduate from the university.honesty speaking, i did not think m uch about the question.while when i entered society, i found that i am wrong.some of the question i have met, but i canot change the redult. it is a pity.

all in all ,this article is constrctive.


Very helpful compilation indeed!
Thanks for taking out time for writing this.


Thank you so much for putting this up. It helped me define my priorities.


Oh absolutely. There is so much more 3D than film and games. Look beyond Max and Maya…


This was a brilliant post and well worth sharing with the community. Thank you.


Thanks for the info. I was fortunate when I graduated college to get into the field a week later. I’ve been at my place of employment for over three years now and it’s been great and I’ve worked my way up. Now I find myself wanting more in the way of learning and growing as an artist and designer. I absolutely love articles like this because it really helps to hear the opinion of professionals that have been around.


I read some pages of this thread as it was somewhat informative. I’ve already got a BA in another field, and have been in school all my life to the point where I’m just completely exhausted. I’ve had give or take 2-3 years of traditional art with 2 years of software training at the college (and personal), is an mfa really necessary to break into the business???
The college I’m now going to, I’m literally wasting my time and money slaving over the classes and it is really burdening me when I could be doing so much more with my time and working on my portfolio. Practically all I’m doing in college can’t even go into the portfolio. I understand the importance of A college degree at least at the undergrad level for any career, but I thought the most important thing was the portfolio reel? So in a sense if you got a real strong mentor or if you are really disciplined yourself in teaching yourself skills and such, what is really the point of a degree if the employers just glance at it if at all and really like your work?

Just want some clarification on the importance of college vs. porfolio because frankly I’m going to a lowsy school and am about this close to dropping out.


Anyone agree with this? Because seriously I do. I’ve already wasted 50 grand on an education that I find lacking when I see I can do better without it. Was is the value in the degree when your portfolio lacks because of the school? Please I am open to opinions!!


Drop out! You are throwing away your money and, more importantly, you are wasting your valuable time. You can get the money back one day. The time you can never get back! That degree will not help you in the slightest if you don’t have the reel.

There is, however, a qualification to that statement. Considering the current state of the economy and the direction of the industry, you may find yourself seriously contemplating work overseas in markets like SE Asia or Eastern Europe. In many countries, a college degree is a requirement to get a visa which will allow you to work there. That, however, is any college degree, and it doesn’t have to be in your chosen field. Moreover, if you have special skills, the company that wants you badly enough will find ways to work around this limitation.


I respect what has been said in this thread - a lot! And a lot of that I would sign, too. Insofar I want to thank -dc- and vfxdude2 and all the others for their contributions.

And I don’t want to affront -dc- by what I’m going to say, I just want to challenge his perspective a little bit. Even more I think it’s important that it is challenged.

I’m just a student that’s running his little projects and a small company with his friend, earning pocket-money by the way (which inspite of the term “pocket-money” is enough for a bit of a living). But still I feel that I’ve come past enough to have an opinion about this.

“Truth” is a really meaningful term and seeing Truth combined with statements like:

Forget the music [in a demo reel]; it’s on mute and being watched in fast forward, sorry.

To be completely honest, this industry is not skilled enough to concern itself with education as much as doctors or lawyers, or even business people

It’s all about your demo reel, your attitude, and of course your talent.

(although not all doctors and lawyers are exceptionally educated either IMHO, which is a pitty)

It makes me kind of sad. Yes of course, the industry is a big cold money making machine you sometimes have to adhere to, but only because that’s our convention. It never has been truth, it’s just become a self-fulfilling prophecy - which could be different.

And one possible consequence is, as someone’s stated in this thread, there are a lot of media “products”, movies, games etc. that just look good. But essentially they just do that: Look good. They’re often not really inspiring, they have no magic, no soul. Almost never they can get rid of the artificial atmosphere of what they’ve gone throught: A production pipeline. Essentially they’re prone to be forgotten in a few years.
I don’t know how much of that we all perceive but I think everybody has had the intuition that there’s something lifeless about a majority of today’s media.

Thus, I think, education of any kind is the most important aspect and attainable gift everyone should bring along in this particulary field. No matter what has educated you: If it’s college, or being lazy and day-dreaming, or life itself. You should have some kind of premonition of what you do besides knowing that two specific colors match together quite nicely or how to swing a brush. Please, besides compositing and training all day, don’t forget that there must be something, some kind of story or message you want to express with your work. And that story won’t evolve if you just sit in your studio practicing brush strokes like there’s no tommorow.

Great gaming mile stones like Half Life were not created by people specifically taught in game design for that matter. They were created by all sorts of people coming from different fields, enriching the team, not cleaving the team. The levels and story they created didn’t come from an artbook about machines or factory buildings, it came from their jobs, their involvement and their lives.

As vfxdude rightfully claimed, it’s certainy difficult to get a foot in the door - because there are a lot of guys and gals attracted by the industry’s sexiness. But there are a lot of front- and backdoors and many kind of feet.
And although humbleness is a gift which one will also learn in life’s education, that doesn’t mean bowing before the industry economizing its employees.

So, if you find out some company plays your reel fast forward: They’re not interested in the real stuff. But they train you living with blows - therefore be thankful. Don’t ask them questions - do your own thing and before you know it they come to you asking questions themselves.

And if I may also suggest although it certainly is a bit naive: Don’t network, become accustomed, become buddies when you feel it.

Last remark: One more seemingly self-fulfilled prophecy is: We’re living in a “performance society” (inspite of the fact that our brain performs all the time, even if we don’t want)… Don’t take that too seriously. Even without an inhuman network of business contacts and even without training like a machine you are certainly evenly able to produce enough income to survive with a bit of intelligent behavior.
That’s not a cocksure way, it never is, it’s just another perspective. And the sooner you learn that there aren’t any cocksure ways, the sooner you’ll progress, in my humbled opinion.



Very Informative article, thank you very much for this!

In regards to the feeling like you’ve wasted your money on college and not having a portfolio that is up to ‘industry standards’, I feel like my time in college taught me the basics I needed to get my feet wet and now it’s up to ME to develop and hone my abilities to the next level and beyond. Of course I went to a college in a cornfield in Northwest Ohio instead of LA but regardless of where you come from, it’s still up to you to keep going. I’ve thought about going back to school or moving on to a Masters program but I feel I’d be paying more money (that I don’t have) for more of the same.
If you are still in school and are reading this, my advice to you would be to push the limits of the assignments you’re given. Take the basic idea of the project you’re working on and see how you can add new elements to make it stand out, to help you get more from your school than the bare minimum. The best animators from my classes were the ones off in the corner keeping to themeselves and not going out to the bar during the weekends. They had original ideas or visions that they put into their one-minute animations. They didn’t settle for the bare minimum. And if the teacher tells you to slow down, or pokes a hole in one of your story ideas, don’t get discouraged! You’re not trying to make oscar worthy shorts in college, you’re learning and trying new things. It’s okay to make mistakes so long as you learn from them and continue to grow.


I have given a long, long difficult decision and thought about college for me at this point.
I’m dropping out.
I do what I can and will keep at it, but if it was never meant to be that I got one job in this difficult industry, then I have to move on and live with it. I realize all these years of researching the industry, people do get to where they go by the hard work that paid off, it’s true, but it is not just that and it’s not enough. It’s really by the luck they have at the draw. You can call it right time and right place - something that they have to advantage over that other competing person that made it happen for them. It’s not just talent, and skill, and degree that is enough, there’s more to it that I’m finding out and a lot of those who just dream like me about getting into the industry just don’t have it and will never reach it, and it’s not because we have no skill or talent. We just keep dreaming because there is no luck. So why waste anymore time and money and heartache? This is of course my take and opinion probably tailored just to me. Probably millions of people out there are doing just fine and going about the day finding plenty of work and working hard on building their skills and think it was easy but I tell you a lot of them will tell you, they were lucky.


College never equals entitlement, just tools.

In my experience some of the most dedicated and technically inclined individuals (and creative) have been with little to no educational background- but they too have to find a way in- it’s this way with everything in LIFE> Don’t hold it over any particular industry alone… and sometimes you’ll even find completely oblivious morons working along side you or “above” you, and you’ll often question WHY/HOW. But in the long run it’s mostly irrelevant because thinking about it or grieving over it doesn’t put gas in your tank and food in your belly.

Sometimes we have to sacrafice our dreams to settle for something reliable, but continue to reach for those dreams in our spare time. Afterall, though having something regular may not leave you as HUNGRY it will put you in a STRONGER situation regardless of what this “regular” thing is that you are doing (because most likely there’s some other SCHMO wishing he had that “regular” job you now have!)

“Survival of the fittest” is more true now than ever considering most individuals REEK of GREED and NARCISSISM> It’s a GLOBAL Psychological Trend (MORE ME LESS WE)!


It’s probably been said a million times in this thread already, but what an inspiring FAQ. thank you for taking the time to provide us with so much help.

Now, i have a special type of concern regarding this matter. i haven’t read all the replies to the thread so I’m not sure if it’s already been covered somewhere. therefore, please bare with me:
what about expats? what if you’re applying for a job in the US, or Canada, or Europe, and you don’t live in the country in question? what are your chances of landing a position in, say, a video game company? i live in Lebanon, in the Middle East, which is a pretty dry area for the industry. i’m currently studying animation at Animation Mentor, and i intend to start applying once i graduate, end of 2010. naturally, the biggest disadvantage that expats have are visas. so does a company provide assistance in this area if i get a job there? does it provide any sponsorship, of sorts?
i hope this question is not too off topic. it is a very important issue for me, so if there is anyone who can help, i would really appreciate it.




Sometimes we do hold these truths as self-evident and not delve too deeply into the down and dirty aspects of what sort of jobs one can get depending upon the education level of the person.

A well written article with a lot of truth that is not discussed.


I would just like to say that this is very practical advice aimed at young (and not so young) people who do not have any idea how to get a foothold in the industry. The advice so often is ‘get a degree’ or ‘get qualifications’ when the reality is raw talent. I got my first job in the graphic arts industry on the strength of a letter. I was too old and had no qualifications for the job that I was applying for, but I thought ‘what the hell? If I can’t sell myself, then what business do I have trying to sell somebody else’s product?’ I wrote a letter telling my prospective employer why I was the best person for the job. I got the job! Some time later my boss told me that he knew he was going to employ me the minute he read my letter, and that the interview was just a formality. What you need is confidence! If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anybody else? If you have a good showreel, the evidence speaks for itself.