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what kind of job opportunities are there in compositing / VFX as an assistant?

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Skyler Medina
what kind of job opportunities are there in compositing / VFX as an assistant?
on Oct 30, 2014 at 2:12:33 pm

Hi all,

My background is in professional post production as a tape operator / assistant editor. I'm used to working in FCP/AVID environments. But during my break and over the last year or so I've been getting into 3D animation and compositing, on my own personal time but now I'm starting to narrow down my interests in that field to mostly VFX and compositing with Nuke 6.3 / After Effects CS5(video, 3d renders and more). And now I'm starting to learn Smoke(2013), not that I'm too interested in finishing work, but more for the composting aspect of it. I understand that Nuke studio will be a similar beast.
Anyway, I'm wondering:
1.) what kinds of positions are there for someone who wants to get into it as an assistant? What are the job titles called for that type of work?
2.) Already having a lot of working experience with NLE's and some working(personal projects mostly) knowledge of programs like Nuke, AE, Blender and now learning Smoke, what other programs should I learn to become more well-rounded?

Thanks for any info and advice you can provide


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Danny Thompson
Re: what kind of job opportunities are there in compositing / VFX as an assistant?
on Nov 6, 2014 at 9:48:10 am

Well, you had better be a beast at AfterEffects because that's 90% of assisting in anything other than high end VFX houses. And as an assistant it will be 95% setup for the VFX dude 5% composite. Most likely you'll just fix other people's f ups after picture lock the night it has to go out etc.

You may also want to consider a move to either NYC/BK or LA, if you are not already there.

Studio - eMac G4, 256mb ram, Final Cut DV
Mobile - IBM R50, 1024mb ram, 80gb Hitachi Travelstar ATA133 7200rpm hard drive


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Skyler Medina
Re: what kind of job opportunities are there in compositing / VFX as an assistant?
on Nov 16, 2014 at 6:25:50 am

Thanks Danny. I'm trying to learn as much about After Effects as I can now, far from 'beast mode' as it were. I admit, I made the mistake of not learning it when I should have but at the time I didn't need to as we either had an in-house AE guy or a dedicated department for that stuff. Just recently over the last year I've been thinking about making the move to compositing and VFX.
My career up to this point has all been in Hollywood so I'm plenty used to workflows in post and prepping / fixing for senior editors.


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David Jahns
Re: what kind of job opportunities are there in compositing / VFX as an assistant?
on Nov 14, 2014 at 5:59:00 am

MOCHA!!! Seriously - everyone I know in the VFX industry uses mocha. As far as "assistant" jobs - I know Flame operators at the highest end of the commercial industry will have full time assistants. If you're interested in that, learn as much Smoke as you can, and of course Photoshop, etc..

Most of the high-end and mid-tier feature work is done in Nuke, which is a very deep program - you can spend years on it and still not know everything. Flame/Smoke are the same way, but it seems that the market is much smaller and more focused on commercials with client-facing sessions.

And of course, After Effects is ubiquitous is all areas of video production, except for high-end VFX. There's plenty of people out there that can do amazing work with AE, but I've not seen many VFX or commercial finish shops using AE as their primary comp tool. But if you want to work on low budget features, for example, you can do some great work with it. - but I've never heard of anyone being and After Effects assistant.

If you're ready to call yourself a Junior Artist, you can probably use any of the above tools and find a niche somewhere - but be prepared for lots of tedious roto work. Which is fine - you'll learn a lot!

Here's my main piece of advice. When looking for position - BE HONEST about what you know and what you don't know. I can't tell you how bad it is to hear a 24 year old right of college say that they are fluent in AE, Nuke, Resolve, Smoke and Avid. Unless you were compositing at age 5, I don't believe you. And now I can't trust you, and I have to double check all of your work. Where if yyou had said, I know AE very well for compositing, but not as strong in MoGraph, and I know the basics of Nuke, but not advanced 3D comps..." - if I hear that, I know what I can expect from you, and how to best utilize you in our workflow. Nobody knows everything - just be honest about what you know, and show a willingness to learn, and that will be a great starting point.

Good luck!

David Jahns
---
Joint Editorial
Portland, OR


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Skyler Medina
Re: what kind of job opportunities are there in compositing / VFX as an assistant?
on Nov 16, 2014 at 6:52:10 am

Thanks a bunch David. I've been learning Mocha for AE, I'd like to learn Mocha pro too but don't have access to it at the moment.
Regarding Flame, how would I go about learning it? If I didn't know Flame but knew enough of Smoke to do assist work, do you think I'd still have a chance at getting Flame assist jobs?
I'm also learning a little bit of Maya(mostly Mental ray rendering and some lighting stuff, not modeling or materials and textures) and want to get into C4D rendering as well. How much realistically should I know of Maya / C4D if I'm working as an assist on Nuke / Smoke with in-house Maya / C4D guys? Would knowing how to get render passes out suffice? I ask because at some places I've worked, a FCP or Avid job, we were expected to know how to work tape decks or go into a protools or AE session once in a while. So i'd like to know if it would be the same having to get our hands dirty in a Maya/C4D(or other app) project if need be.
Thanks again for your advice!


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David Jahns
Re: what kind of job opportunities are there in compositing / VFX as an assistant?
on Nov 30, 2014 at 11:00:58 pm

Hi Skyler.

If you know Smoke well, you know about 80% of Flame. Actually, the new application "Flame Assist for Mac" is exactly the same as Smoke (in the current versions - probably will follow different paths in the future.)

Flame does have more compositing tools and different way of organizing your work - but here's a brand new development that is pretty exciting - ADSK is now offering learning editions of Flame Assist and Flare on Mac as well. (And even Flame if you happen to have the right hardware and Linux OS, which is pretty doubtful.)

Anyway - Flare has all of the advanced compositing tools of Flame, but lacks the timeline and output tools, so it's just the compositing portion. It's like Nuke - great for shot work, but not for conforming and finalizing a final project - but Flame Assist and Smoke can do that, so you can pretty learn all of Flame with trials and learning editions. (And Nuke & Nuke Studio will soon have learning editions as well - never been a better time to get into high-end vfx!)

Mocha Pro has a 15 day trial, I believe. It's got a few more tools than the AE version, but most importantly it can output files for use in Smoke/Flame.

As far as Maya/Mental/C4D - sure, any knowledge of 3D will be helpful, but for how much and what do you need to know - probably depends on where you're going and how those departments overlap. I'm at a shop that does not have a 3D department, so I can't really speak to that much...

Good luck! Keep us informed of your progress here on the C-cow!

Dave

David Jahns
---
Joint Editorial
Portland, OR


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Suhas Pangam
Re: what kind of job opportunities are there in compositing / VFX as an assistant?
on May 12, 2015 at 6:35:29 am

You can try here. 3D Motion Media is company who provide best platform for New artist and the people who interested doing part time work.


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