These Are 5 Essential Skills Needed To Be A Successful VFX Artist & Here's How You Can Be One!

By Aditya Savnal. Posted on May 13, 2016

Traditionally, VFX was developed with an intent to save production costs and resources by shooting scenes that could not be shot in real locations due to several constraints or executing stunts that could endanger lives of the artists. With time, VFX has transformed into a mammoth monster that drives many of our movies and has re-defined the quintessential movie watching experience.

So have you decided to be a VFX artist and help films be the visual spectacles they intend to be? If yes, then we wish you all the best for the road ahead.

But do you know what does the job of a VFX artist actually entail? And did you know that it is not only used in those extravagant visuals, but also for the seemingly ordinary moments which may never catch our attention. It is often employed to scenes as ordinary as people having a conversation while travelling or at work or while taking a stroll in the park. These are scenes that are too small and mundane to be noticed by us, but often involve a great deal of VFX in its execution.

We came across a video in which noted VFX artist Glenn Campbell lists down 5 primary job responsibilities of a VFX artist and how you can master them and make a mark in the industry. Campbell has worked on films such as Tron, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Children Of Dune (which won him a Primetime Emmy).

Summarized below are some of the key insights and the five responsibilities of a VFX artist as stated by Campbell in the course of the video.

So if you want to be a VFX artist, here's what you need to know.

1) Modelling

Modelling is defined as the designing of three dimensional models or miniatures of objects used for scenes involving the use of VFX. A good knowledge of rendering helps to create a good wireframe that in turn aids your modelling process. While creating models, artists also need to ensure that the models are built to scale and look accurate. For an accurate model helps to blend in well with the scenario and make your VFX look convincing.

2) Texturing

Texturing is an art that requires immense skill and precision. A great texture is what separates a good model from a bad one. And one must learn how to apply texturing to different objects and surfaces like glass and skin.

3) Animate

Animation is not restricted to making 3D objects move from one scene and surface to another. A great deal of skill and expertise is required to make the 3D objects look alive and lifelike on screen which will keep audiences amazed when they watch it on the screen.

4) Lighting

When it comes to lighting, one must analyze the background and the direction of the light, before deciding on the lighting pattern of a scene.  Any background or object can be fitted effortlessly into a well lit scene. But a badly lit scene will be seemingly visible and apparent to audiences. Campbell illustrates further on lighting by quoting some examples in the video.

5) Compositing

Composting involves combining and shaping all of your VFX output once it has passed through the earlier stages . It also involves giving fine edges and making the final output look as flawless as possible.

The most important insight shared by Campbell is that as a VFX artist, one may get to work on all these areas or only one of them. This depends on the kind of setup you are working in and how kind lady luck is to you. When it comes to major studios, a VFX artist will often get to work only in one of the above mentioned areas. But smaller setups will give you the flexibility of working and applying your expertise in all the five areas.

So the choice of becoming a specialist or an all-rounder depends on you. We can only hope for you to take the right decision and have a glorious career in the field of VFX.


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