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Thread: Special Effects Animation

  1. #1

    Default Special Effects Animation

    Hi all,
    I just joined the forums and was hoping I could get some advice from some people that are into the subcategory of special effects animation.

    I am just wondering what the best way to go about getting starting in this field would be.

    I have found that many people say "you should just start doing it" however I don't really want to get into acting/directing/filming so much as working on special effects on computers. If I were to "just go out and do it" then I would be forced to do all of these different elements.

    Could anyone give me any advice in getting started in special effects as a career goal? Is it recommended you get an undergraduate degree in a certain field of study? Should I just try to get a job working at a studio that does special effects and try to work my way into it?

    Any advice would be much appreciated... I hope this is the correct forum to post in, i didn't see anything about special effects (seems most people are interested in the filming and editing aspect).

    Thanks in advance,
    AcrylicAce

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Bracknell, Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    5,191

    Default

    For a complete 'apprenticeship' then I would argue that the people who say "go out and do it" are correct. the trick with most special effects - even the stuff you do at home for home movies - needs to be designed and shot with the special effect in mind. In this way the final shot you have in mind is designed properly. Anything else fits into the category of "Oh, I'll fix that in post production".

    Certainly, if you can find a class or course on the subject then enroll in that. To get a flavour of the subject you cna do a lot worse than (and as I only know this particular tool I make no apologies for making this recommendation for th eumpteenth time) grab a copy of the 'Meyer' Motion Graphics in Afetr Affects books (Vols 1 and 2), download a 30 day trial of AE and work through it. Source footage for the exmaples is provided on disk along with step by step recipes for achieving the effects.

    Having said that for large hollywood production I'm not sure that Afetr Effects is the compositor of choice so you might be better off finding the equivalent volumes for other tools. However, the techniques are the same if not the interface.

    But open thing I have gleamed from "my sources" is that working in special effects in large hollywood productions is not nearly as glamourous as you might think. You could quite literally spend months at a time just drawing lines around actors just to frame-by-frame mask them from the background which need replacing.

    Anyway, that's my 2p on the subject.

    Alan

    One of those things that for me is great fun as a hobby but if it became a full time job would surely lose its flavour quite quickly on that sort of scale.

  3. #3

    Default

    I have a friend who works on the special effects of big 'holywood' films. He got himself a degree, (as I did) then he started as a runner for a post house. After less than 3 years at the place he found himself working of the special effects unit of 'casino royal'. Which was nice...

  4. #4

    Default

    Thanks alot for the advice, very helpful. I may go out and do the whole 'Meyer' Motion Graphics in After Affects thing.... or I will find the equivalent.

    But open thing I have gleamed from "my sources" is that working in special effects in large hollywood productions is not nearly as glamourous as you might think. You could quite literally spend months at a time just drawing lines around actors just to frame-by-frame mask them from the background which need replacing.
    Yeah, that sure doesn't sound like much fun... this probable depends on what section you are working in though right? I mean isn't there a whole bunch of different categories that you can work in and masking is just one of those? I am not really sure I am still trying to learn about all this stuff.

    MOSH, what did you and your friend get a degree in? I am looking into Special Effects Animation but it seems they only have masters programs in this. The bachelors programs are mostly Computer Animation.... would that be a good program to get into if I wanted to go into special effects?

    At this point in time I am leaning towards going to some undergraduate program... I just hope it isn't as useless as this psychology degree I am getting. In psychology you have to go on to further your education or your options are very limited (at least in the field of psychology). Do you guys think that you have more options with an undergrad degree in special effects animation or computer animation in terms of being able to get a job without going to graduate school? I would assume yes because it seems you can get into this field without going to any school.

    Thanks again for the help, I hope to hear more from you guys,
    AcrylicAce

  5. #5

    Default

    My degree was in 'Video Media Arts', and my friends was a similar course, although the title evades me at the moment. To be honest the main thing will be having a good showreel, and being able to 'sell' yourself, pieces of paper only get you so far (hence my friend starting at the bottom, and showing the company what he could do).

    'After Effects' is definatley a good program to learn, as would be 'combustion', 'flame', 'shake', and
    'Maya' (of course).
    The new (came out this week) version of Motion (3) could also be a good one, as it has had some of the main elements of shake built into it (matchmoving, tracking, and 3d planes/compositing).

    Some Photoshop skills may also come into it too.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MOSH View Post
    Some Photoshop skills may also come into it too.
    being the industry standard for pretty much all things for static images, I would argue that Photoshop skills are a prerequisite for almost everything in the special FX industry.

  7. #7

    Default

    Great, thanks for the info. Yeah I am fairly adept with photoshop and have failry good understanding of adobe premiere pro as well. I will look into that list of programs that you gave me.

    I think I am going to try and find an undergraduate program where I develop a showreel throughout the education. Does anyone think that this is just a waste of time and money or do you think this is a good way to go about getting into the field?

    Thanks!
    AcrylicAce

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