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bcurko

Getting Into CGI Animation and Special Effects

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Hey guys and girls @ atomic,

 

I'm just wondering what a Year 10 student should be focusing at in terms of Computing at getting a career in Animation work. I am talking about the Movies Industry which i know would be bloody hard to get in but i believe if you're good enough they won't hesitate to let you in. I also heard it pays better then the average graphics designer.

 

So what should i be looking at doing?

 

Cheers Brenton

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Start to specialize on a focused topic, it's generally great to be an all rounder for portfolios with regards to animation and 3d work, but usually in large movie studios if you excel in one particular area they are going to want you doing exclusively that task.

 

Learn all the fundamentals of traditional animation, sure it’s incredibly hard to get pacing and timing right, but it will give you a much stronger understanding for when you translate your skills using the computer as an animation tool.

Edited by ghost in the shell

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Hello Brenton,

 

I'm studying Multimedia at Swinburne, and was faced with the same decision you're facing a couple of years ago. I decided that a general multimedia degree would be better than focusing on one area, and I'm glad I did. I started off wanting to do web development, then I wanted to do system administration. But now I think I've (finally!) settled on Flash development.

 

For you, there are so many different types of animation techniques and software packages out there, it's impossible to learn them all. But if you can, try to find a degree that will teach you a few of them. Although right now you probably think that you want to do Lord of the Rings type special effects, you might find that you prefer 3D animation ala Toy Story, or even Claymation. You might even prefer video or audio editing!

At the moment, in your free time, learn about Adobe After Effects. It's not quite what you want to do, but it's generic enough that you will be able to apply that knowledge to wherever you end up. So yeah, I think you should do the opposite to what Ghost in the Shell is suggesting :P Maybe he didn't read the year 10 part. Something you might like to do is find a friend or peer who wants to make a movie, get them to film something, and then edit it. Do a title sequence, add some effects to it. Go nuts and learn! But don't settle on one thing now.

 

As for graphics designers, you might be surprised at what they earn. Obviously a small studio will be fairly poor, but then again, if you want big money, you have to find work at a big film studio anyway, which could be just as hard. If you don't mind freelancing, it can be lucrative. I know that most of the biiiiig brands, Nike, Ford, Coke etc have their new Flash websites and graphics done by design firms that have four people or less! In fact, the branding for Adobe Acrobat 9 was done by just one freelancer, and not even an employee at Adobe.

 

But regardless of what you want to do, subscribe to industry magazines, I cannot stress this enough!!!! It will give you valuable insight into the industry, keep you informed of the latest trends and technology, and hopefully give you a boatload of inspiration. For general multimedia, the UK publication Computer Arts is absolutely fantastic. It costs about $160AU to subscribe, that's 13 issues.

Edited by wilsontc

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Hello Brenton,

 

I'm studying Multimedia at Swinburne, and was faced with the same decision you're facing a couple of years ago. I decided that a general multimedia degree would be better than focusing on one area, and I'm glad I did. I started off wanting to do web development, then I wanted to do system administration. But now I think I've (finally!) settled on Flash development.

 

For you, there are so many different types of animation techniques and software packages out there, it's impossible to learn them all. But if you can, try to find a degree that will teach you a few of them. Although right now you probably think that you want to do Lord of the Rings type special effects, you might find that you prefer 3D animation ala Toy Story, or even Claymation. You might even prefer video or audio editing!

At the moment, in your free time, learn about Adobe After Effects. It's not quite what you want to do, but it's generic enough that you will be able to apply that knowledge to wherever you end up. So yeah, I think you should do the opposite to what Ghost in the Shell is suggesting :P Maybe he didn't read the year 10 part. Something you might like to do is find a friend or peer who wants to make a movie, get them to film something, and then edit it. Do a title sequence, add some effects to it. Go nuts and learn! But don't settle on one thing now.

 

As for graphics designers, you might be surprised at what they earn. Obviously a small studio will be fairly poor, but then again, if you want big money, you have to find work at a big film studio anyway, which could be just as hard. If you don't mind freelancing, it can be lucrative. I know that most of the biiiiig brands, Nike, Ford, Coke etc have their new Flash websites and graphics done by design firms that have four people or less! In fact, the branding for Adobe Acrobat 9 was done by just one freelancer, and not even an employee at Adobe.

 

But regardless of what you want to do, subscribe to industry magazines, I cannot stress this enough!!!! It will give you valuable insight into the industry, keep you informed of the latest trends and technology, and hopefully give you a boatload of inspiration. For general multimedia, the UK publication Computer Arts is absolutely fantastic. It costs about $160AU to subscribe, that's 13 issues.

Will thanks for such an informative post it means a lot for a fellow member to help out. Just a question what's the UAI requirement at Swinburne and is it better then saying UNSW or Sydney UNI ? Cheers Brenton

 

PS I'm gonna try and buy an issue of that mag and read it :P then maybe subscribe

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Will thanks for such an informative post it means a lot for a fellow member to help out. Just a question what's the UAI requirement at Swinburne and is it better then saying UNSW or Sydney UNI ? Cheers Brenton

I'm happy to help :) If you're currently based in NSW, I don't think it's worth moving just to go to Swinburne. It's a great uni, but it's not as prestigious as Melbourne or Monash, though one of Swinburne's strengths is design. Of course, it depends; if the course you really want to do is only at Swinburne, don't settle for anything else! But I think you'll find that a generic multimedia course is pretty much the same everywhere. Just make sure you go somewhere that is Mac orientated, rather than PC. Swinburne is PC, which lead me to buy my own MacBook to do the work on.

 

If you want to study in Victoria, I've heard good things about RMIT. But there will be institutions that are just as good in NSW.

 

PS I'm gonna try and buy an issue of that mag and read it :P then maybe subscribe

Just remember it's a general multimedia publication. If you definitely have zero interest in areas other than film, maybe a different publication is better. Go to a large news agent or Magnation, and have a look around. While Computer Arts might work for me, it might not be for you! I am a little biased because I think it's so great :P

Either way, make sure you find a publication that suits you, and subscribe to that. It might cost a bit upfront, especially if it's overseas, but it will definitely be worth it.

Edited by wilsontc

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Well tbh The main things im looking towards in computing or IT is Audio video Editing if i can get good enough at it and movies which i've been dying to get into. The only drawback is my maths may not be to the standard necessary to be good at any of those things. My mate suggested that we do a Bachelor of Computing Science at Sydney UNI but I am no programmer :( So i am stuck in this hole. I asked my cousin about multimedia like graphics photoshop and illustrator he said yeh it's great not really worth going to uni for and the pay is crap unless your in the top 5 percent in terms of quality and contacts. But i Really do love Animation Audio and Graphics work i am pretty sure i don't have the passion to start programming anytime soon. And yes i do live in NSW :)

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Sounds to me like you still need to figure out exactly what kind of professional tasks would interest you the most in a day to day working sense before you commit to several years in a specialized course. I would say +1 to the broad-study idea unless you become really certain about one specific area.

 

A general Digital Media course would allow you to branch out into several directions that seem like things you'd get into. I did a Masters of Digital Media at Sydney Uni (I think they run this as undergrad now as well), and the breakdown is something like this:

 

- Core set of units that are mandatory from a base selection of courses. These were things like interface design, photoshop/video basics, intro to 3D, and a few airy academic theory based bits and pieces.

 

- Secondary set of units which can be drawn from any related stream such as Film, Sound, and Design Computing.

 

So basically you can take Digital Media which is in itself a broad range of skills by definition, but skew it towards film classes like editing, cinematography, etc. Or you could skew it towards Sound with things like Sound Design (which is an awesome and highly enjoyable set of skills and theories that I would highly recommend), Music Tech, Acoustics, etc.

 

Anyway...that's just one idea.

 

To get into the industry there are two basic choices:

1. Get into an expensive industry standard course like anything at AFTRS - where they usually offer job placement as part of the program.

2. Go FUCKING NUTS on your projects - live and breath your own work. Do projects just for fun, work with people, excel, absorb and learn, be patient and take the time to better your craft. You can combine this with any kind of study, and you should.

 

Both roads lead to industry placement.

 

The usual constant and the most important factor is that if you're passionate, savvy, and driven, you'll get into what you want to do.

 

The hard part is finding exactly which area makes the passion tick, and knowing that you won't lose interest in it.

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He said he wanted a career in animation, I suggested he learned the fundamentals to ANIMATION and not just some random software packages first up. He’s got roughly 2 years to do that before he decides what to do at UNI.

 

As interesting as broad multimedia degrees are, I’ve seen so many people leave the degrees mediocre at everything rather than great at one thing, which is a shame because I’ve seen some really talented traditional animators that don't cut it in the digital domain and vice versa. Not to mention students who think they can get freelance animation work only to have lecturers sigh behind their backs. I happened to be pretty decent at after effects, my work was showcased by the UNI but I'm still not sure if I want to continue working in the field, but you've got to be realistic with what's going to most likely get you a job.

 

Sound Design is great (one of my main passions), but be prepared to invest in gear, microphones, essentially the cost of a basic home studio, not to mention a tonne of sound libraries. It's a largley outsourced industry so chances are you would be working freelance as opposed to in a studio.. unless you’re lucky. Most of these people are expected to be musicians and producers. People in the industry I’ve spoken to say that the majority of the time is spent looking for the clients, so yeah work is rare, and as a result the expectation of quality goes up. It's a lot easier to do work in this area for movies and shorts than it is for games (assets integration and programming knowledge comes in handy here).

 

There is no magic industry standard program for this industry either unlike the graphics route which is predominantly based in adobe and autodesk products, some will say pro-tools others will say logic, I know two people right now using FL Studio as their main DAW who have credits from companies like Sony, THQ etc. It's very individual with the sheer amount of software and hardware you can use which is one aspect you may enjoy.

 

I'd recommended joining http://www.audiogang.org/ , contacts and realistic feedback go along way.

 

Again with any of these fields, portfolio work is going to be important when it comes to landing a job so make sure you producing work that you're proud of.

Edited by ghost in the shell

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You don't have to be mediocre just because you did a broad-fielded course.

 

Digital Media is a great way to get a grounding in a lot of disciplines that are intertwined with and support whatever you want to specialize in.

 

Mediocrity comes from lack of effort or passion. Specialization is equally held back by those same factors anyway.

 

I only mentioned sound and Sound Design because he used the term A/V, and a course in Sound Design is an excellent way to Bolster the skills of some one regularly doing A/V editing. I never suggested he looks for work as a Sound Designer - there's no way in hell you'd do that unless you realized it was your main passion.

 

^ Which is the whole point. If you don't know your focus, doing a generalized course is better than doing nothing. It gives you perspective and a taste for what's around. No course inherently breeds mediocrity. If anything it's only that generalized courses tend to attract more people that aren't highly motivated and aren't passionate about any one particular thing, but that's not the course's fault.

 

I wouldn't ever suggest aiming to be a Jack of All Trades on purpose. For me a course like that is where you start and what leads to specialization during and after - but it's all in how you push yourself.

 

I work as a 3D artist/animator, and a Flash games developer. I learnt all my 3D (Maya) skills at Uni where I did Digital Media. When I got a taste of the 3D they had on offer, I decided to focus on it. I did Photorealism, then intro to Animation, then two consecutive units of progressively more advanced animation. I also took Sound Design, Photography, Compositing (Shake and Aftereffects), and a heap of other shit. As a result I left that place with great 3D skills (granted they're infinitely better now after several years in the industry), but also a lot of supporting skills, all of which I use in my current job and all of which make me a more valuable resource.

 

As for Flash, that was all self taught. It's proof that motivation and drive can count for everything, no matter what course you do or what you get into.

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^ Which is the whole point. If you don't know your focus, doing a generalized course is better than doing nothing. It gives you perspective and a taste for what's around. No course inherently breeds mediocrity. If anything it's only that generalized courses tend to attract more people that aren't highly motivated and aren't passionate about any one particular thing, but that's not the course's fault.

+1. If it really is animation that he wants to do, he'll learn the basics and principles at uni. I just think now he should be trying to find out what his real passion is in.

 

ghost in the shell: After Affects is not just "some random software package". It will be useful to him regardless of whether he is in 2D animation, 3D animation, motion graphics etc etc. The best thing is that it will allow him to have a play, muck around, but most importantly of all, find out whether he enjoys it or not. It might not be animation, but it's necessary for most projects and if bcurko has an interest in general AV, I'm sure he'll love using it.

It seems like you feel that if he doesn't pick a discipline now, he'll be mediocre, and for a 16 or 17 year old, that's just not fair (or even remotely true). Your post would be more valuable if he was older, and had a passion for Animation. But which year 10 kid knows for sure? Hell, most of us older people are still trying to find out :)

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You don't have to be mediocre just because you did a broad-fielded course.

 

Digital Media is a great way to get a grounding in a lot of disciplines that are intertwined with and support whatever you want to specialize in.

 

Mediocrity comes from lack of effort or passion. Specialization is equally held back by those same factors anyway.

 

I only mentioned sound and Sound Design because he used the term A/V, and a course in Sound Design is an excellent way to Bolster the skills of some one regularly doing A/V editing. I never suggested he looks for work as a Sound Designer - there's no way in hell you'd do that unless you realized it was your main passion.

 

^ Which is the whole point. If you don't know your focus, doing a generalized course is better than doing nothing. It gives you perspective and a taste for what's around. No course inherently breeds mediocrity. If anything it's only that generalized courses tend to attract more people that aren't highly motivated and aren't passionate about any one particular thing, but that's not the course's fault.

 

I wouldn't ever suggest aiming to be a Jack of All Trades on purpose. For me a course like that is where you start and what leads to specialization during and after - but it's all in how you push yourself.

I never said it was the courses fault, I'm just pointing out my observations with other students in animation and design degrees, it's obviously not true for everyone, but there are some degree frameworks which just don't provide the depth students need for real world.

 

Regardless of if you were suggesting that he looks for work as a Sound Designer or not, I'm merely giving him advice on the subject.

 

wilsontc: Maybe reread my first post... it was based on the topic of animation in the context of a major company like pixar, and that advice still stands. There is a difference between animation and motion graphics which I'm quite aware of, and again I'll stress that fundamental knowledge about animation itself is more important than having knowledge in one particular program, if that’s where his interests were set (they may not be in this area at all).

 

I'm not saying anyone's going to be mediocre having not chosen a discipline straight away, what I am saying is it's going to be a tremendous help finding that passion earlier than later hence my post that he has two years to figure out where his talents may be strongest. Yes I know he’s not going to have access to some of the tools or work environments a uni has to offer, but it is enough time to get a head start in creating some stuff to get a good understanding of where your skills may be best developed.

Edited by ghost in the shell

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For 3D, Cinema 4D is an easy learning platform to get started on if Maya seems a bit daunting to learn at first.

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Thanks to everyone who has added there input towards my thread it is nice when useful replies are given rather then junk. I just started fiddling with after effects now and i'll let you know how i go with that after i use it a couple of times and fiddle with it. Not that i want to sound like a hothead but generally do you have to be in a rather large business to get a annual salary over 90K ? My cousin who's at Syd Uni is pretty certain that i am not the programming person so he suggested multimedia considering i liked it as it was challenging and fun to do. But he said unless your're extremely good you will find the pay salary to be rather what's the word (normal). Also what topics are suggested towards a Computing science degree because that's what my mate suggested i aim for at Sydney UNI or UNSW. Cheers Brenton

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Thanks to everyone who has added there input towards my thread it is nice when useful replies are given rather then junk. I just started fiddling with after effects now and i'll let you know how i go with that after i use it a couple of times and fiddle with it. Not that i want to sound like a hothead but generally do you have to be in a rather large business to get a annual salary over 90K ? My cousin who's at Syd Uni is pretty certain that i am not the programming person so he suggested multimedia considering i liked it as it was challenging and fun to do. But he said unless your're extremely good you will find the pay salary to be rather what's the word (normal). Also what topics are suggested towards a Computing science degree because that's what my mate suggested i aim for at Sydney UNI or UNSW. Cheers Brenton

For the most part in Australia at least, that 90k + salary is really isn't going to happen over here unless you're an art director or going for a very senior level at a design company. So generally a good amount of experience is needed.

 

As for computer science, best to ask in the tech forum or something, chances are you're going to start of with object-oriented programming in an environment like java or scheme- the latter of which is probably phased out by now. But really, unless you enjoy problem solving of that nature I wouldn't' recommended it just for the money alone.

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If you can find something you love doing, you'll get decent money, most of the time.

 

The people who study to be lawyers or doctors because of the money are the ones who either drop out, or run mediocre practices. Just do what you love, and the money will follow.

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If you can find something you love doing, you'll get decent money, most of the time.

 

Just do what you love, and the money will follow.

This ^

 

Very good statement ;)

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Just do what you love, and the money will follow.

i love sleeping in.

so far, i'm barely more than broke...

Edited by GTAV6

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Will thanks for such an informative post it means a lot for a fellow member to help out. Just a question what's the UAI requirement at Swinburne and is it better then saying UNSW or Sydney UNI ? Cheers Brenton

I'm happy to help :) If you're currently based in NSW, I don't think it's worth moving just to go to Swinburne. It's a great uni, but it's not as prestigious as Melbourne or Monash, though one of Swinburne's strengths is design. Of course, it depends; if the course you really want to do is only at Swinburne, don't settle for anything else! But I think you'll find that a generic multimedia course is pretty much the same everywhere. Just make sure you go somewhere that is Mac orientated, rather than PC. Swinburne is PC, which lead me to buy my own MacBook to do the work on.

 

If you want to study in Victoria, I've heard good things about RMIT. But there will be institutions that are just as good in NSW.

 

PS I'm gonna try and buy an issue of that mag and read it :P then maybe subscribe

Just remember it's a general multimedia publication. If you definitely have zero interest in areas other than film, maybe a different publication is better, make sure you read lots becuase there is lots to learn when doing things within the filming industry.

 

 

Agreed and slightly fixed.

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Agreed and slightly fixed.

What did you fix? "Fixing" such a large post is a stupid thing to do. If you want to bring up points, or correct someone on other points, then make a new post.

 

No one is going to read the original post, and then yours, and then figure out what you fixed.

 

Rob.

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Agreed and slightly fixed.

Sorry, I'm going to make a lame joke about this at some point . ..

 

Rob.

 

Fixed.

 

Lol xD.

 

But thanks rob, not that we needed any more material to show index' lack of writing or comprehension skills.

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