3 Things Studios Want in a VFX Artist

Whether you’re looking into visuals effects as a career path or you’ve already established yourself as a VFX artist, this is our answer to the question we hear quite often: what are studios looking for in a VFX candidate? Without further ado, let’s go over the top 3 things that studios are looking for in a star VFX artist.

Your portfolio – as told by constructive criticism.

Academy of Interactive Entertainment - VFX Artist“Everyone needs a mentor. Someone they can connect with on a deeper level than just pro work. Someone who can continue to teach things you didn’t learn in school. Someone who can connect with you as a person. Maybe even become the wiser friend.” – Vic Bonilla (AIE’s 3D Animation & VFX for Film Instructor)

Your portfolio is your showcase to establish yourself as a VFX artist. It doesn’t matter if your portfolio is hosted on a website, your Artstation, or even your Instagram, it should always be a reflection of your best work. How do you determine if a piece is portfolio-worthy? It all depends on the feedback you receive from industry mentors, instructors, and friends that you trust will give their honest opinion. By not receiving constructive feedback, you’re missing out on potential ways to make your portfolio better. By listening to honest constructive criticism, you are actively preventing yourself from becoming your worst critic. Positive feedback should instill confidence to keep you going, not to inflate ego. Negative feedback with good intention should be used as a guide, not reason for you to give up.

Eat, sleep and breathe film.

Academy of Interactive Entertainment - VFX Artist“My idea of professionalism is probably a lot of people’s idea of obsessive.” – BAFTA Award Winning Director, David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network)

It’s one thing to have passion, and another to own up to your passion, otherwise known as: work ethic. When you aren’t busy animating, or studying particle effects, you’re working on a film with a colleague. When it’s time for lunch, you’re listening to a podcast about Zbrush techniques. After that, you’re connecting with people in the VFX community via Instagram or Youtube. When it’s time for a break, which you should always make time for – it’s time to catch up one of those films that’s been sitting in your queue on Netflix.

We can’t emphasize this enough: always make time for a break and really enjoy that break. Almost all VFX artists working in a studio will experience burn-out at some point. This is why it’s so important to take the time to savor your time during your break. Even for senior artists, trying to enjoy even the most mundane parts of your job can be stressful. Some of the best VFX artists in the industry feel overwhelmed when experiencing burn-out. This is about how well you manage yourself as a professional, knowing and setting your boundaries to persevere when under pressure, at your best.

Learning doesn’t stop after you graduate.

“Hustle until you no longer need to introduce yourself.” – Anonymous

Think about the things you don’t show on your portfolio. Those things that you put just as much effort in, but don’t really think about showing the world. These things may not be entirely related to your VFX work, but you’ll thank yourself later when one of these things comes in handy for a position that has a need for it.

3D Animation & VFX for Film graduate, Nathan Camp, learned Python the first year while working with Industry Light and Magic:

…coding and technical development are new skills for me. It took me a while to get myself caught up here and I really would have benefited from a better understanding of code and computer sciences. I think students coming out of school will have a leg up on others if they have a good technical skill set, as well as their artistic abilities.” – Nathan Camp, Avengers: Infinity Wars, Ready Player One, 12 Strong, Alumni Spotlight Interview

The demands for VFX roles are becoming more granular and specific in each industry, but this should never dishearten you from your creative pursuits. Being open-minded and dedicating some time toward learning new skills will not only open those doors that used to be closed off to you, but new opportunities will present themselves to you.