Wondering how to get hired at a visual effects studio? Keep reading for five tips on how to break into the special effects industry.
By: Kennedy Randall
Visual effects are everywhere in the entertainment industry. From movies, television, video games, ads and even social media, visual effects artists are in high demand to create engaging visuals. Obviously, productions like blockbuster superhero movies have VFX but more and more smaller productions are incorporating special effects into their storytelling as well.
Beyond VFX’s ever-growing presence in entertainment, it is an industry that offers a creative outlet. If you are artist with a love for technology and an unstoppable imagination, it is the industry for you. If you want to work with like-minded individuals and pursue your creative dreams, keep reading for our steps on how to get hired at a visual effects studio
1.Enrol in a Visual Effects Course
VFX is an intricate skill that is always adapting and changing to the latest technology. The simplest way to get a handle on the latest CG software and digital art is by enrolling in a visual effects school or online tutorial. When looking for a VFX program, take some time to look at the instructors. If they are currently working in the industry, this means they will know the latest software like the back of their hand and set you up for success. As well, think about where your program will be located. Vancouver, for example, is a hot spot for VFX because of its large film production industry. Therefore, there are many studios that would be willing to take you on! Click here for the top 10 animation and VFX studios in Vancouver in 2021. From Imagine Engine to Zoic, there are so many opportunities in “Hollywood North!”
As well, having instructors that are involved in the industry will bode well for networking. If you work hard and impress your teachers in school, they might recommend you to their colleagues in the industry. These connections may ease your transition from school to working VFX artist.
2. Get Professional Experience
Once you’ve finished your program, the next step is to gain professional experience in the industry. Finding work in the VFX world can be hard right after school, but a willingness to work hard and move up in the ranks will always help you out!
Junior positions are typical entry-level VFX roles. These are likely going to be your best bet. You will be attached to a particular team or department, like modelling or compositing. On this path, you will specialize quickly and work on projects right away. However, if applying for VFX roles is not panning out for you, apply for jobs at studios unrelated to VFX. Whether you become a runner, getting coffee and doing errands, or a production assistant, this is still a way of getting yourself into the industry and meeting people. Experience in the industry is what will lead you to your dream job. Take any opportunity to work hard, network, and keep learning in order to get there!
3. Perfect Your Demo Reel
Your demo reel is really how to get hired at a visual effects studio. If you are sending out your demo reel and nobody is getting back to you, it might be time to try and tune it up a bit. Only include your best work, it is a highlight reel, not an overview. Don’t add anything that doesn’t speak to your current level as an artist. Think about what your skills are and highlight them. What you are best at is likely what you would like to pursue at a visual effects studio, therefore put those front and centre.
On a more boring note, always include your name and contact information. Make it as easy as possible for the studio to contact you if they are interested. Double-check for errors, then check again! You could even reach out to instructors or peers to watch your demo reel for feedback and advice on how to improve it.
4. Keep Learning
Because VFX is a popular industry, you should always try to keep a leg up on the competition. Taking an art class, whether it’s painting, sculpture, or illustration, may help you understand visual effects from a different perspective. Studying film or photography can help your creative mind flourish.
While you are in this transition stage from school to professional VFX artist, continue learning. Learn more about the industry, try new techniques, and diversify. It is important to specialize in one sort of VFX, however, mastering multiple can make you far more attractive to a VFX studio than a one-trick pony.
5. How To Get Hired at a Visual Effects Studio? Be a Team Player
The last answer on how to get hired at a visual effects studio? A simple answer it to well with your team! Your job will primarily be to work with other artists on projects with a single vision. This means you will have to be ready to collaborate for long hours working with other creative minds. Therefore, be open to learning from others and growing together as artists in this field.
VFX programs are a great way to learn from your peers. By working with a small group of visual effects artists under the leadership of an instructor, it is very similar to the experience you will have at the studio. While in school, you will meet students that can be your partners one day professionally. Our film instructor David Michán has noted that the people he met while in school are the people he reaches out to if he needs a partner on a project. As well, if he is not available for a project, he will pass his peers’ names along instead! Being a team player will get you so far in any industry, especially VFX.