Expert Advice: How to Become a Successful Visual Effects Artist

Visual Effects or VFX are pretty much the mainstay of the film making industry today. Visual Effects are used to create magical universes, conjure up fantastical creatures, make stationary objects fly, animals talk and even bring people to life on the big screen! VFX is also being used to create Virtual Reality (VR). Although VR currently dominates the gaming industry, it is becoming a trendy, interactive way for film making.

Major movie studios from the US and the UK often outsource VFX work to India (and other countries like New Zealand and Canada) to save on labour costs. A big reason for the outflow of work to India is that language barriers are non-existent as English is the primary language of higher education and professional communication here. Earlier, Indian studios would only be entrusted to create visual effects for secondary shots but now it has now become fairly common for them to receive the entire visual effects work for a film.

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Instead of getting only the mundane donkey work needed to create VFX, Indian studios are also now getting to really get their hands dirty and create some spectacular imagery that has wowed audiences across the globe.

The VFX industry in India is big and is growing exponentially every day. In fact, Indian studios are now acquiring studios in Hollywood and setting up facilities across the world. As with any growing industry, there are new jobs to be had in the VFX field in India, careers to be made and some serious competition! So how does one become a successful Visual Effects artist?  We’ve put together a few tips to help you get ahead of the others and fulfil your dreams.

Watch Movies

Yes, you’re reading this right! Watch plenty of movies with visual effects. Learn about the history of how visual effects came into being. You’ll actually discover a whole bunch of really cool movies you probably didn’t know even existed. Watch the newer ones, too. Read up about how different effects were created. This will give you a perspective on how far the visual effects industry has come. Learn about art and art history – many visual effects are stylised forms of what’s already out there. Draw, sketch and create as much artwork as you can.

Know Your Basics

It is vital that you learn your fundamentals before trying anything fancy. Learn your software well and play around with it. Use online tutorials when you get stuck. Not every studio you will work at will use the same software. So the more you experiment, the easier it will be to adapt your skills. Start off by being a generalist. Nathaniel Hubbell, Video Game Special Effects Artist, recommends having a solid grasp of several related fields like basic colour theory, composition, modelling, texturing and so on. He also states that there are six basic effects every VFX artist should learn to create, namely fire, water, clouds/smoke, explosions, lightning/electricity, and motion trails, in both 2D and 3D as they are especially common tasks for VFX artists.

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Find Your Interests

VFX shots require teams of people working on them, each completing a different aspect of the effect. Once you have mastered your fundamentals, try and figure out what you are best at and enjoy the most. Pick one or two fields to specialise in if you want to. The generalist skills you will have developed by then will hold you in good stead through it all.

Enroll in a Good Visual Effects Course

Although you can learn a lot off the internet, a good VFX course will allow you to learn directly from experienced professionals. Choose a Visual Effects program from a school that will teach you a broad array of VFX skills. A good VFX school will also give you the opportunity to network with professionals from various studios in the field. This is vital as networking can help you build your contacts and learn about job opportunities in the field.

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Create a Show Reel

Show reels allow you to demonstrate your best work. Start putting together your show reel as soon as you have some work to display. It is vital that you keep your show reel up to date as studios will often scrutinise it before offering to work with you. Remember to keep your show reel short and simple as well. Big studio executives do not have the time for anything that’s too lengthy.

So, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Get to know people currently working the field through social media, VFX events and conventions and the like and stay updated on what is currently happening in the industry. Keep your eyes wide open. After all, the inspiration for your next big piece of work could be just around the corner!

Contact Seamedu to know how our VFX courses can equip you with the right skills to make it big in this flourishing industry in India.

You can also check out our detailed career guide, in case you need more information about pursuing a successful career in VFX and Animation.

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Written by: Ved Verma

Last updated: 26-02-2024

Ved Verma is having the experience of more than 8 years in Visual effects training and production. He completed advanced diploma in animation with specialization in VFX from MAAC, Raipur.

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