7 August 2014

GAMES to VFX

Here, in the first of an ongoing series of features on switching careers, we look at the options/opportunities if you’re a games graduate or professionall thinking of making a switch into VFX.

Here at Dneg we have a significant number of people who have joined us from the games industry and we often talk to students who have studied a games design course but really want to break into VFX for film so it seemed like the obvious place to start when talking about Changing Careers.

So what are the key considerations when thinking of moving into VFX from a games background?

Well to get you some good advice, we asked the great and the good amongst our ex-Gamers within Dneg and here’s what they had to say.

Which courses are relevant to study?

On the whole people who started in Games studied everything from pure computer science to fine art degrees but a great deal of emphasis was placed on what people did in their spare time eg. Writing new code, developing and modifying existing games with friends, covering a cinematography course etc. For the programmers studying maths, algorithms, object-oriented programming, physics and computer graphics programming were key.

VFX don’t have Level Designers, Gameplay Designers or Testers, those roles are just too niche and games specific.

What should people know about the differences between a career in Games and VFX?

Games and movies are exciting products to help create. In Games the product goes straight to the public and therefore has to undergo rigorous levels of testing to ensure the product works time and time again and never causes issues. The results to screen have to be delivered in real-time and so great emphasis is placed on maximizing speed.

VFX for film produces a product for a client eg. A Director or VFX Supervisor and has to be fit for purpose for that film, therefore the workflow and milestones are different.

For many of our ex-gamers their perception was that VFX would not be a stable career choice and would only offer short, project-based contract work. The reality is that many films can last for over a year and the larger VFX houses will offer you employment beyond just a single project.

Many of the programmers who started in Games thought that VFX didn’t require the same level of coding input as games. Their perception being that the VFX industry relied on commercial software packages and there was little room for development. Therefore the size and scale of what VFX R+D teams actually do was an exciting eye-opener for many. VFX teams continuously push the boundaries of what is possible on screen and can only do that by heavy investment in R+D and tools development.

What are the transferable skills and roles from Games to VFX?

On the Tech side programming skills are fairly transferable whether that is into roles within our R+D team, Shader Writing roles or joining our Pipeline TDs. Anyone who has dealt with rendering fur, GPU programming, AI and high performance hardware architecture is going to be of value to a VFX house like Dneg. In particular Tools Programmers from games usually make excellent Pipeline TDs.

Many Games Artists, or Tech Artists as they may be called, transfer over to the world of VFX as Generalist TDs covering modeling, lighting, texturing, layout and rigging.

Mockup/Previz and Concept Artists in Games join our Concept and Matte Painting teams.

Give it a go…

So whether you are currently studying a Games related course or are thinking of moving out of the Games Industry you should make friends with VFX and see what roles and career opportunities may lie ahead.

For further careers info please look at our Careers Info and Jobs sections on our website or email your queries direct to jobs@dneg.com