Today, movies like Iron Man, Baahubali, X Men, etc. which utilize an extensive amount of special effects in the form of CGI, animation and the like are all the hype. CGI has enabled artists to visually recreate objects that are practically impossible to do so by humans and even if some are, they would require an immense load of resources and time.
Before the rise of CGI, hallmark movies often had to create everything by hand. From humongous sets to epic costumes, everything needed to be created from scratch. Now, the workload has shifted to possibly a small team of people using only their computers. This change has lead to a rise of VFX artists and to supplement it, numerous institutions have started providing this as a career option! Let’s start with the most important question first
So what is Visual Effects or VFX
What is Animation?
Animation is the art of movement. The dictionary describes the word Animation as “to give life to” so in a way, when you animate a character, you give life to the character. A lot of us quickly back of when they find out that animators need to have good drawing skills.
I can’t draw
Neither can I, not as good as some really great artists
it is not compulsory. Animation is not an art of drawing, but an art of movement that has to be drawn. Having drawing skills or an artistic background is extremely helpful but not absolutely required. 2d animation, concept design & story boarding artists have to absolutely know how to draw very well. But if you are interested in Computer graphics driven specializations like Modelling artist, Lighting & Rendering, Texturing the demand for having 2d drawing skill is limited & can be learn. To sum it up in VFX & Animation three type of skills are needed-
People with drawing skills who work in jobs like Concept, Story Boarding, Matte Painting. People with Computer Graphic skills who use software’s like Maya & After Effects to work on the concepts created by the 2d artists. Third type of skill is where one works as a Rigging artist or a rendering artist, where you have to know both the art & the Technical side of things.
All this is for kids
No it isn’t! After reading the above do you really think this is for kids only
Today VFX/Animation is a major industry and a serious career choice for thousands of artists. The global animation industry, which covers TV, Games, Mobile, Films, etc. is worth billions in dollars! Furthermore, this industry is making rapid strides in India that’s why superstars like Rajnikant, Shahrukh Khan & others have made films like Ra-One, Robot, Bahubali etc. These movies are watched by the entire family and not just by kids.
You would find it surprising that ‘Toolbox” a sister concern of Seamedu has worked on ‘300-Rise of the Empire & Maleficent’ both Hollywood blockbusters, another studio in Pune worked on the “Avengers” Franchisee movies. So you see India & Indians are already doing world class VFX & Animation for movies & films from Pune, Bangalore Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, all you have to do is search on the internet & you will find out for yourselves if this is true, also you will increase find the various careers available in this field.
There are several functional ares of specialization, which follow the general flow of film making. Regardless of the medium or dimension (2D/3D) or VFX the following specializations can be pursued:
Pre-production: refers to the design and preparation aspects of a project where character and art design, script planning, and story boarding are carried out.
Modeling: creation of the actual assets to be used in the project, including characters, sets, and props.
Texturing: refers to the process by which professional animators are able to add details to their 3D models to produce astonishing details. Detailing includes clothing, hair, eye colour, skin etc.
Technical Animation: creating the technical aspects of the assets to be used for animation, such as motion rigs and motion libraries.
Effects: creation of complex visual phenomena like explosions, smoke, water, fire, rain, etc. through simulations or advanced tools.
Lighting and Rendering: creation of the ‘set lighting’ look in a manner similar to films, and generating the final images through complex software calculations.
Compositing: creation of the final composite image by assembling all the components such as animated character layers, effects layers, background layers, and adjustments layers. Color correction and tonal balancing of the entire sequence.
Editing: Aesthetically cutting together desirable bits of footage to create a cohesive flow for the final narrative.
Art direction / Production design: Designing the environment, the mood, and the color palettes of a film.
Production Control: A relatively new and emerging area of specialization. Production managers plan, schedule and monitor an entire production. They are the eyes and ears that enable scheduled deliveries to clients and are a very important part of any animation team.
In western countries, education institutes have recognized the need for specialized training in VFX and animation, thus they offer courses from a very basic to PHD levels. In India, most training institutes offer only Diploma courses. Only very recently, Degree courses are being offered due to the demand for graduate courses from parents and students.
Courses to get into the VFX Industry
The professional education in ‘animation’ has three levels of study after 12th as the following. There are Certification, Diploma and Degree courses.
Certification courses are short duration courses , but they really cant address the needs of the industry as such a short duration is not enough to learn the subject well
Diploma courses are taken for the duration of 1-1.5 year and are available after completing 12th grade from any stream. Diploma courses available with Seamedu is Diploma in Visual Effects & Animation.
Degree courses have duration of three years after completing 12th in any stream- B.F.A. Visual Effects & Animation for Film & TV course covers both live action & animation with a focus on Specialization. Seamedu is starting VFX courses in Bangalore along with CMR University.
The VFX industry is somewhat unique since the work is extremely visual in nature. The majority of entry-level hiring is done on a basis of your ‘demo reel’ which is a 3-5 minute film of your best work edited together. If you have drawing or fine-art skills then a traditional art portfolio also goes a very long way in getting the attention of studios.
As with most industries, you have to start at the entry level with a basic skill set and then the salary rises rapidly as does your experience. International studios on an average pay more than domestic ones and the salaries vary by location. Mumbai is currently at the top end of the table. A skilled animation director with 6-10 years of experience can earn between INR 100,000 – INR 300,000 p.m. An entry level artist can draw between INR 10000 – INR 15,000 p.m. depending on the city and of course the quality of the demo reel. Senior artists and team leads can command between INR 30,000 – INR 75,000 p.m.
Every industry is defined by the people in it. The case in VFX/Animation is similar as well. If you want to have a good stand, you must strive for it and prove yourself in this field while at the same time keep on learning about newer technologies for improvement. Also, have fun!