FORUM PRIMER: The Unofficial Truth about The Industry


Hi I am new to this field so bear my ignorance.

I have noticed that most big budget animation movies in hollywood are presented as if the real world actors are the main drivers behind the movie. They tend to get all the credit and appreciation and most importantly MONEY and CREDIT.

I am sure we hear that studio A was behind the visuals and animation. But we don’t have interviews with the main animators and people actually bringing to life those characters etc…

If it was not for the animators and the rest of the guys doing the bulk work their would be no animation. Instead we have VOICE ACTORS getting all the money and publicity.

Why ?

TO be blunt: Actors are like monkeys mimicking reality ( we get reality already and drama everyday on our lives already ) BUT animators/riggers/etc… bring creativity and mental euphoria and life onto the screen.

Why don’t we see RICH animators living it large etc…


I’m afraid you’re aiming your frustrations at the wrong thing :slight_smile:
I had the pleasure of interviewing a couple of voice actors on the popular Naruto series who also double in games and film. That field itself is plagued with people being at the bottom of the food chain even at the prominence of their characters. One story they shared with me Debi Derryberry who wasn’t even invited to the Jimmy Neutron film premiere. And she’s the main character’s voice!

Anyways my point is that entertain is not as simple as “one person takes all and leaves the rest fighting for scraps.” And PS, a little rude on your insult of actors, that’s a fine art of many levels my friend.


Mountainman, I’m afraid the people who are ACTUAL voice actors, the guys like Billy West, Tress MacNeille, Dan Castellanetta etc. very rarely get the recognition they deserve. Now Castellanetta might be an exception, but only because of his roles in the Simpsons. All of his other work, like Grandpa in Hey Arnold, the Robot Devil in Futurama etc. are roles most people don’t know were voiced by the guy who does Homer Simpson. Same goes for Billy West, he’s done a ton of roles, even in major motion pictures, but you’ve never seen him in the spotlight. Sadly, not even the voice actors get the recognition they deserve. The only people who get it are the Hollywood starlets who do voices on animated movies, like Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz in Shrek, and they get the spotlight because Hollywood thinks that famous stars are more likely to draw a crowd to an animated movie, even if they are horrible voice actors (I’m looking at you, Cameron Diaz).


I’ve never understood the incessant, unfounded, bashing going to school to receive a degree receives on this site.

 It depends on the degree, but if it isn't science-based, then there probably isn't actually much point from an academic perspective. For instance, there are people with degrees in English and History, both of which seem like a massive waste of time to me. What use are those degrees? (and don't start being anal about my spelling :p  )
 History can be very interesting but why pay to go to an institution to be told what to learn?  Such institutions put the onus on the student to teach themselves anyway, so ultimately what are you paying for? You might as well Spend £300 on some good books and read them when you get home from work. This way you don't end up in debt and you learn at a pace that suits you. In addition, subjects such as History rely on memory only, there is no complexity to them.
 So now to degrees that are relevant to CGI/VFX. Due to the fact that "CGI-degrees" rely on visual appearances, I argue that such degrees may also be a waste of time; just teach yourself from books/dvds. There is even plenty of learning-material available on the internet for free! 
                In fact a science-based degree is probably of more use in the CGI industry than a "CGI degree". Such a degree will be MUCH harder, but you will be far more flexible with your career-opportunities. The Maths, Physics and Programming being important tools in acheiving realistic-results. There are a lot of films where the CGI screams out as being fake because no one consulted a physicist/engineer. (In some cases it might be a Director override as there are several childish Directors in hollywood that butcher films).
 You can be told how to hold a pencil, you can be told on what to use that pencil, but you can't be taught to draw great pictures, you need to learn that for yourself.
 Also the other important thing is to take EVERYTHING said in this channel with a "pinch of salt". Whilst there may be good advice, a lot of it won't be. The reason for this is that a lot of people will have left school and gone to get a "CGI degree", because, thats what you do isn't it? its the accepted normal in order to get a job in the industry. They then will have got a job in the industry and moved up the ranks within the company, BUT THEY KNOW NO DIFFERENT! They CANNOT tell people how to succeed in the industry as if it is the only way, for they have walked only one path! The only advice they can give is for admission into the company for which they work/own.
 You only need to see some of the work on CG-talk to know that the self-taught artists are some of, if not the best. Many of which are from poorer countries where the pretentiousness of degrees isn't really an option. Do people ask the Beatles if they have any music qualifications? Is whether they do or not important?
 Dude you can't write stuff like this and be taken seriously.

Can you make it in the industry without a degree? First tell me this? Did you have to come to this site to ask that question? If so, then no you will never make it on a scale factor of 99.875% to 1.

 99.875%? where the hell did you get the .875% from? Also you can't  express odds like that. It is either "99.875%  that you won't  succeed" or the odds are 99.875 to 1. Although normally integers are used. 
 I find the following hard to believe.

…every semester I get a few students who come by the department for a tour. They immediately say, “I’m not sure I even need a degree, I’ve been working in Max or Photoshop for 5 years”. Every single time I look at their work, it’s horrific, and they always proclaim after a few lectures that they didn’t know anything.

 Why do I find it hard to believe? You say every semester, not every year. So assuming you give two tours a year you would have to remember and over-hear the people say 
 "i'm not sure I even need a degree" EVERY semester. Moreover, the students shown round would have to give words to that effect EVERY semester. Then those students would have to make it through the admission process. Then you would have to overhear them say how little they knew. If their work was horrific how did they get accepted on the course? I'm sorry but I cannot believe anything that you are saying because you make stuff up to put your point across. You are trying to make what is just your opinion seem like fact.
  There is a self-fulfilling prophecy with educational-institutions. It goes something like this;
 If an educational institution happens to have an amazing student (such as a student that is self-taught but needs a bit of paper, ie. a degree-certificate in order to get a job with a company that has some ignoramus on admissions) and they advertise the students work, then demand for that institution grows. Now the institution can be choosey about who it accepts on its course because demand is so high. The institution only accepts students with amazing work, it advertises this amazing work. Now every student in the land wants to study there, but only the best are selected. Is the educational-institution good at teaching, or is it just the quality of the students? The self-fulfiling bit being that a "Good" school receives more applicants than the crap schools do. More applicants means that there is either a greater probabilty of talented-students, or that a greater number of talented-students apply. The "good"-school attracting the best students.


I’m afraid the people who are ACTUAL voice actors, the guys like Billy West, Tress MacNeille, Dan Castellanetta etc. very rarely get the recognition they deserve.

Yeah, I think that was true too on the Simpsons until they got together and said “Phuck this shit” and threatened to walk. Then they got paid bucket-loads as they were/are the show.


The Maths and Physics question is a thing that scares me a bit. I´ve never been that good in both this classes so i think i will have an hard time getting to a great level of 3D animation.

Calculating shadows, distances, explosions or other types of effects needs alot of Maths and Physics operations.

Anyway, if someone would be kind to explain the work a studio puts when animating a scene that needs calculations would be pretty good to have some insight about that.


The Maths and Physics question is a thing that scares me a bit. I´ve never been that good in both this classes so i think i will have an hard time getting to a great level of 3D animation.

Ah, its not always necessary to know maths/physics etc and lots of software packages do this for you. However, if you need to be good at scripting, or programming in general then yes, maths and physics are important. The other thing is that you don’t need to be great at maths and physics to be a great character animator. There are many great artists that instinctively know what looks right etc. In any case it is not for me to say that physics and maths are a requisite.

My gripe is with a lot of VFX scenes where the motion of everyday objects looks wrong. Such as the acceleration and deceleration of falling people/cars.

Also, I was merely saying that if you are going to get a degree, then perhaps it should be science-based. Due to the fact that a true artist can see what looks right/wrong and I don’t think that this talent can be taught to a person. I believe that such a person has to learn this for themselves, which makes an “artistic-degree” unecessary.

The other thing about degrees is that you will probably learn more, or things of greater importance, from your fellow students than you will from the lecturers.


I´ve learned more doing tutorials that i´ve found in the net to do the class projects than with the classes themselves.

The thing you described about acceleration/deseleration is like i said, one of the things that people need to do correctly. I can´t remember but when i used 3ds max for an animation project i didn´t need to calculate anything, just animate the caracter/object.

My degree is in film and video with a multimedia part of the course that i choosed instead of the film one but i did get notions about cinema,shots, storyboard etc.


Although, I suppose to know essential math is quite enough to make basic scripts, I mean it is trigonometry and linear algebra may be something else. Strong knowledge of math and physics required if you going to create your own real-world simulators for CG, in another case software would simulate world for you.



Tailor your reel to the job that you would like. If you’re a modeler, show models. If you want to animate, show animations. Don’t try to show more than one or two skills, even if you want to do everything. You cannot possibly be good at everything, and your weakest areas are going to shine through, not your strongest. Be aware that all of your work shown is being judged, not just what you say you want to do. Not fair? Then don’t put it on your reel!

I’m just starting, and i want to become an animator, and just that, but maybe i need to move to other country.
because i live in a country where we have to be modelers, texture developers, animators, etc… basically we need to do everything if we want to work in the industry. How would be my demo reel?



This is so true, I’m going through the same problem as you (it’s normal since we are from the same country). By the way the industry works here, we probably need to make a portfolio or reel for each part of our skills. I’m considering at least the portfolio part, making one for Game-Art and other for “Other Stuff” I usually like to do (additional skills), in the end I might need to do the reel for both aswell.

Your question is very hard to answer, but this is what I advise to you, do a reel of animation if that’s what you want to pursue as a career. I say this because you probably have a lot of motivation to animate a character, but to create it and put textures in it you probably don’t have motivation at all and in the end that may cause some quality lacking reel (that’s what I think). Get free models you can use to animate or create simples ones, like stickmans and such and animate them (if you get free models, don’t forget to credit the creator). That’s what I would do, although you must be aware of how to model and texture, you don’t need to master it, if you want to be a animator, but understand it, in order to make it a addtional skill.


Firstly, hello all first post here, been lurking for a little while though.

Been reading through the pages of this thread and just want to ask if anyone has been through this hiring situation. Have you been hired but just tried out? And what would you do about that in terms of moving and living. I guess this is more about accomodation than anything else, but what can you do if you get a job somewhere else only to find out you could be out of it in the next few weeks?


You mentioned very little about graduate schools. If you are an artist who has recently discovered animation as an undergraduate do you recommend graduate school? Is it common for people in the industry to have a graduate degree?


Just entering this late:

Most of the people I work with don’t have graduate degrees
A fair number have regular degrees and did a lot of outside learning

A few have masters and they’re more in production/producing

Our lead designer has a PhD in marine biology :smiley: What I am working on has nothing todo with Biology…


Ive been going to school for almost 3 years now, along with with my excitment and passion for the arts. With the awards I won for my work, I knew where I wanted to go. But now it seems as thought my creativity as run dry and could no longer see where I was going which to be honest kinda scares me.

After reading this I feel ok being in this rut, knowing that this is another learning experience. It’s ok to slow down once in awhile, and seeing that I am still moving only at slower pace my passion is still there.

So again thanks.


Good morning every one i am a lighting artist from india.i ve some of my works to be uploaded in my demo reel.could anyone suggest me how many passes should be there?


Good morning every one i am a lighting artist from india.i ve some of my works to be uploaded in my demo reel.could anyone suggest me how many passes should be there?

Welcome to the forums!

This might not be the be the best place to discuss about demo reels. This thread is more about basic info how things go at the industry. There are some discussions about demo reels at the general discussion side - you can find them by using the search. Or you might post your reel to WIP or focused critiques -sections of this forum to get feedback (demo reels usually at animation part of the forum here: Or if asking something related to some software, then you should use software specific forums here.


It’s all very well for you people with all that you need, maybe you even deserve to have more, but what about those who are just looking for enough to get by? Such things apply, not just to matters of wealth, but also to information. All I want to do is learn to use Blender as an artist, one who has outgrown truespace, I can’t afford to go to college or spend large amounts of money on training materials! So how about someone pointing me in the direction of a forum which is actually focused on community issues rather than money grubbing? If such a thing exists…


What the hell are you talking about?


If you learn to read you can easily decipher the my meaning, but, to put it simply I am interested in art for art’s sake! What the hell is so confusing about that?