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Reflection: One Year Later

June 6th, 2020


Wow. It's been a busy few years. 

I'd thought I'd start this blog with a thank you to everyone who has been using the site over the past year and a half. It's been an amazing journey to see how this site is affecting other artist's work and creations. I started this VFX help site in my final year of college as a way to teach myself VFX, keep track of my notes, and send notes to other people in the program. From there, the site went viral after I created some notes on clouds and nebulae. Now, I am doing my best to research things about Houdini and VFX that might be harder to discover.

A lot of you may not know this, but as of June 14th, this will have been my first full year in the VFX industry. I think I'm proud to say I've achieved a lot. So celebrating this, as well as reaching 1,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel, here is some advice that looking back I'd try to give my younger self. As well as others just starting out, and others that are nervous to transition into VFX.

You are going to have some great interviews, and some bad ones.

My first ever interview in the industry was with someone who told me: "You will never go into VFX". When I asked why, it was clear he was trying to intimidate me. His answer was; "I was in VFX, and I hated it. You will absolutely not fit into that industry." Long story short, I did get the job, but I didn't really enjoy working for him. 

This one bad interview experience did scary me from wanting to be interviewed by others. When I got a second interview for my first Houdini gig, I was expecting it to be the same thing. Walk in, say hi, get asked about myself, and then get dragged for it. However, that didn't happen, and I ended up really enjoying the process. Moral is, don't let one bad person ruin what you love.

The VFX industry is lonely, but you need to accept what you have.

It's true if you've heard that VFX is lonely. Or it's hard to find a significant other after you've joined the VFX industry. Visual effects has long hours, and has a hell of a lot of overtime. Which doesn't leave a lot of time for socializing with other people outside of a studio. This can rightfully bother some people.

One thing I've learned from hearing stressful stories from others is this. Don't think you've missed the boat for a relationship. Things will happen when they need to happen. If you are new to the VFX world and are worried about finding someone when you're 22 to get it over and done with; calm down. Your first few years in the industry need to be focused on you to grow as an artist and a person. There will be tons of people you will meet during your first few years, and they will help you to shape your personality away from your old college life. Which you will need to do.

If you are finding that VFX is taking time away from a relationship you are already in, then you will have to find time for that other person. Movies and games in development won't end in a week. But your relationship might if you don't see your partner during the day. Make sure you prioritize them over your work. 

You can get "typecast" in the VFX industry.

Yeah, this one sucks. Basically, from what I've experienced as a junior artist and heard from others, is that that a studio might give you the same effect to create again and again. I had a friend who was known as the "debris guy", and another as the crowds and fur person. For me; it's been particles and abstract particle effects. This might sound really boring. But studios will remember what your strengths are, and they will ask you to play to your strengths. This might require you to create the same thing over and over again.

VFX life is dramatically different from College.

There are no finals, grades, or re-tests. If you miss a deadline, you miss a deadline. Sometimes if you can explain to your supervisor the problem and ask for help, you can avoid this issue. Whining about a shot or work won't make people sympathize with you. You are all in the same boat at a studio. 

If you want to go party every night you can. Just make sure you can turn up the next morning, be in any operating state, and get your work done. 

You will meet people of all ages, backgrounds, and personalities in the industry. Some of your co-workers will be more mature than you, and lived through different experiences. Be respectful and considerate of their backgrounds. Your co-workers might go on to work at other companies, and my not be your friend when they leave. Make sure they don't leave with an impression of you as an egotistical college kid.

Keep Growing.

Just because you've left college doesn't mean you have to stop leaning. The moment where you decide that you can just run from experience from your job, is the moment were you'll realize there are more people who are smarter than you. This might make you a bit resentful. Learn from tutorials, non-VFX related things, read a book, do anything. Continue to make yourself a better person. The more you know, the more confident you'll be as a person.

So that's all for now. I hope you all learned something, and were scared off from doing fx work. See you all later. Once again, thank you all. It's been a wild ride.

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