I have been looking at various job listings to see if I can pinpoint particular areas of practical work to focus on this year. I’ve compiled a list of the most common skills needed. There is a large range of both artistic and technical skills needed.
Ability to create realtime fx.
Fx I create should work well in realtime, so I should create these in a variety of engines to see what different systems are like.
Cascade and Unreal.
Most jobs require cascade, as most propriety engines are based off of this system. All the listings I’ve looked at require knowlege of the system and unreal in general. Therefore, the majority of work I’ll be doing will be in cascade, though I should explore different engines.
Wide varitey of fx creation.
I’ll need to make sure that throughout the year I make a wide variety of fx so that my folio appeals to many different studios and styles.
Engine Material/Shader set up.
This is something I really enjoyed doing in unreal for Seek and would like to learn more about it. Materials really change the look of fx and can be substiuted for particles on low end devices. I used scrolling textures and vertex animation to fake particle fx in Seek. I’ll need to learn a bit about maths and logic for this, and get better at texture creation.
General Maya and dynamics skills.
My general maya skills are fine but I would really like to continue learning more about what goes on under the hood and the technical parts of maya. This is important for creating fx.
General Modelling skills.
Comfertable witth my current modelling skills. Hard surface could be improved so if I need to work on this that’s what I will do.
Photoshop and texture creation.
The ability to create good textures is paramount to fx creation. I’m very comfertable in ps and have been making these types of textures for Seek, so I just need to keep going with this.
This is interesting considering at the start of 3rd year I was really interested in becoming a lighting artist. I later abanonded this idea becuase there didn’t appear to be many jobs for it, so its nice to see that I could do this. I could study this by looking at traditional lighting techniques and practice applying this to game engines.
Optimisation and knowlege of systems.
This is really important for vfx artists, especially if doing lighting too, as these things are very intensive. The knowlege of how many particles and lights can run at once and what shaders can be used come down to the artist. It would be great if I could get my work running on different platforns, but there is the issue of getting access to consoles, unreal building to them, and having a liscence to build to them.
Scripting – MaxScript, MEL, Python, Lua
A lot of job postings asked for a scripting language, but didn’t specify. The ones that did mentioned MaxScript, MEL, Python and Lua. I think it would be best to learn one properly, as trying to do all of them would spead me to thin. Python is probably the best choice, as it offeres flexibility, having uses in many programs.
Principals of Animation
This is an area I need to do a lot of work on, as I guess I’m coming from a technical standpoint, having never really done traditional effects animation. I’ve done character animation in class before and I did ok, but it has never been a strong point for me.
This is often used as an alterniative to photoshop for creating animiating textures. These are 2D particle sims that are rendered out and applied to materials in game. I’ve never used after effects so I should look into learning it.
General Art – Composition, Colour, Style
General art skills are important for any visual arts discipline, but for fx work, composition, colour and matching the style of of the studio are most important. These can be explored in my sketchbook though tradirional studies.