A special panel session was organized to give insight on the CG entertainment industry, specifically in film and gaming. The panel consisted of industry professionals from a selection of some of the top studios through both industries including PDI/Dreamworks, Animal Logic, Electronic Arts, The Orphanage, The Edge, and Industrial Light and Magic. Since the panel was geared towards answering audience questions about the field, they passed out notecards for the audience to write questions that were picked up throughout the session while the panelists responded on subjects like recommended skills, the job market, and levels of experience needed for breaking into the industry.
Depending on your specific goals, the types and level of skills varies. For more technical areas of CG it’s suggested to have a moderate level of production experience, with a broad educational background. Since many of the bigger studios use proprietary tools for producing material, they suggest you just learn with whatever is available and most important how the programs work fundamentally. The Catch-22 in getting production experience, when you need some to get a job that will give it to you, is internships. Most companies offer some sort of internship or mentoring program that can give individuals the type of experience they need to start out, albeit on the lower rung of the wages ladder. Nevertheless, these are great opportunities to gain important skills and experience while surrounding yourself with a crucial network of individuals with the connections that with help you in the long run.
For artists trying to get into the film, education or experience is not as crucial as purely creative abilities. The focus is on your demo reel, portfolio, and most importantly the person. Whether its an artistic or technical job employers mostly look for whether that person will fit well into the team environment of the company. Key skills include strong sense of responsibility, problem solving, and ability to collaborate.
The panel also offered tips for what they look for in a demo reel. As one can imagine, they companies have to sift through scores of material throughout there candidate search, so keeping the demo reel short and sweet is the best approach. It’s a good idea to keep your best material within the first 2-3 minutes and only include completed work. Also remember to include contact info on all material submitted.
If you’re trying to break into CG entertainment from another industry, you can try the internship approach or weave your way in through your current area of expertise. For instance if your background is in computer science, you might look into getting into the IT department and work your way into the production area. The line is also beginning to blur between the gaming and film industry in cross over careers. As the CG gaming pipeline improves with each consumer hardware upgrade, them more levels of filmic quality have entered the field and more often film industry professionals are making the transition towards gaming.
The final advice given to potential CG entertainment career seekers was to be passionate about your work and love what you do. CG careers are no cake walk, and they often result in long hours, and intensive weeks of break neck work. But if it’s an area of work that you enjoy, you will have the greatest ability to succeed in the industry.