It’s one of the biggest shows in the world right now. So as a 3D artist, what are the chances you could get to work on a futureseries yourself? We spoke to Joe Bauer and Steve Kullback, the VFX supervisor and producer of Game of Thrones, to find out…
First they explain the set-up. “We have two person in-house concept team,” begins VFX producer Steve Kullback. “We have five people who are working on pre-vis and they’re all in house with us, generating pre-vis all under Joe’s guidance.”
When Joe and Steve are on set, they then employ a team of a visual effects key grip and data wranglers, who are responsible for making sure that all the on set requirements are in place and that all the data is gathered.
“Once we go into shot production, once the episodes are edited, Joe will sit down with our visual effects editor and work through temps of how the scenes should be and then those temps in consort with the pre-visualisations and the concepts will be turned over to our vendors and they will constitute the work at various stages with constant check ins from us.”
“We introduce new folks as we have new and exotic needs”
And so this is where you guys have an ‘in’.
With no visual effects facilities in-house (only two compositors who do some light composites, green/blue screen composites and paint fixes), Joe and Steve have a significant team of vendors all over the world who they turn in shots to, and then are in constant touch with from their headquarters from LA when in post production and shot production.
“We’re always on the look out for talent and it tends to be an as-needed requirement,” says Steve. “We have a team of very hardworking folks that we have a shorthand with, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t on the look out. We introduce new folks as we have new and exotic needs.”
But how do you stand out from the crowd, and get the work? Here Steve and Joe offer seven top tips…
Focusing your talent on a specific area, and becoming expert at one specific thing may help your prospects of getting on Steve and Joe’s radar – appealing to their “exotic needs”.
“Certain vendors like certain artists have certain areas of talent and expertise,” explains Steve.
“So we do our best to refine a list of vendors that have the best collection of skills and abilities and then we look very closely at our work load and divvy up the assignment as it seems appropriate based on skill set, ability, volume of work and so forth.”
Steve says: “There are a number of vendors out there that we have worked with in the past (either Joe of my self) and so we were aware of them and their abilities.
“There are others we hear about, there are others who are working on films and television and commercial projects that we’ll see their work and go ‘Wow they look great who did that?’ and then they will get on our radar.
“Sometimes the studio will have suggestions like ‘Hey do you know these guys? Let me introduce you,’ because they have worked with them on another show or project. Like any business there is a lot of networking going on!”
“One of the interesting qualities about VFX these days is there are a lot of younger people who have come up with the advent of computer generated everything,” says Steve. “They rely on it and some of the folks who are producing films look at that as being the cooler, hipper, more technological way to approach things.
“But if there’s a challenge and an opportunity to do something that could be shot versus generating something in CG, our tendency is to do that. Part of that is because we think it’s smarter because you end up having something that is more organic. But it’s really also more practical, it looks better, as an example – the dragons which appear in the 9th episode of season 5.”
Joe got into the business the early 90’s and there was still a lot of ‘stage work’ involved in the visual effects, “What I find, just because of our post production time constraints, we put a lot more onus on the production to shoot more than a lot more bigger budget films who have a lot more post production time.
“We shy away from things like CG fire which can take a while and be expensive to really dial in properly,” Joe admits.
“We reach back into existing technologies which have, to some extent, gone out of favour. Like motion control, because it works for us in real time and we go into post production with a lot more work done because of it.”
“We are moving at a faster pace that we would be in a feature environment,” says Steve.
Joe adds, “We are generating as much VFX work as a major feature film and there’s ten hours of film that we are delivering annually, most features are delivering two, two and a half hours in a year and a half so yeah, we’re busy!”
That means there are very speedy turnovers, and getting the best result in the shortest amount of time is essential. “Managing your time and managing your resources is critical,” adds Steve.
“Our show is a bit of a hybrid between feature film making and TV because on the one hand there are ten episodes and they are typically one hour in length,” Steve explains.
“We look at it globally as you would a feature, a lot of us have worked in features in the past and have a sensibility about what we have seen and participated in and would like to deliver. In each department it’s an exceptional amount of talent, each bringing a lot to the table.”
Joe says don’t worry about the software you use, as long as you came to it through trial and error and can produce the best work. “The software usage these days is interactive and almost intuitive: how do you go into this software programme and get what you need out of it and then take the results into another programme and refine them?
“I used to always ask various facilities what they were using but ultimately they’ve all come to their ‘tool kit’ by various means and it ultimately doesn’t matter. The important thing for me is just to give them as much as I can out of our production process and then guide them toward what we want to see at the end.”
Game of Thrones has undoubtedly inspired a whole generation of cinematic television – raising the bar so high, even Joe and Steve are finding it hard to keep up with themselves.
This means you need to be the best – have the drive, determination and passion in what you do to push your work to the extreme.
“Everybody wants to do their best work and people like to have bars to meet and cross so hopefully there will be a feeding frenzy of really cool work now, you know?” says Joe.
Steve adds, “It’s also vitally important to manage people’s expectations of what can and will be achieved, under promise and over deliver. That’s what I’ve learned!”
Game of Thrones Season 5 is available now to digitally download via Amazon Instant Video, Blinkbox, Google Play, iTunes, , Xbox Video and BT TV.
Words: Alice Pattillo
Welcome back to part two of the Marketing Yourself Series. Hopefully by now you have a plan to start getting yourself out there and start making a name for yourself. In my first post, Building Your Network, I mentioned that there where two key things that will help you land a job. One being who you know and the other being your portfolio.
Everyone in the animation/vsfx world knows that your demo reel/website is the main thing that everyone wants to see. Well, that is all fine and good but, how do you get your work in front of those people? Most of you probably have a website already, sitting in your own little corner of the inter webs just waiting for people to magically find it and call you for a job, right…. WRONG! I hate to tell some of you this….but no one is looking for you if you do not REALLY want to be found. You have to put your work in front of people, you CAN NOT just relay on the fact that you have a website to get you work in the future.
If you don’t have a website by now, then once you are finished reading this GET ONE! There doesn’t need to be anything fancy about it, as long as it is easy to navigate and all your best work is on it. There are so many free hosting sites that will give free templates to use such as Wix.com or even WordPress.
If you were anything like me when I was a student I was torn between being a generalist or being a specialist. You might not have a clue which path to take, but what you don’t realize is that’s perfectly OK! Some of you might have an idea and that is great, but patience in yourself and your ever growing skills will eventually direct you to the correct path.
I have been in many conversations with people about this topic and, most of them say the same thing: “But I can’t make up my mind“ or “I just don’t know what I should do.” The best thing to do is to simply ask yourself…“What do you like/love to do? What do you find yourself doing most often?” Sometimes I get a straight answer when I ask that question, other times I get “Well…… I like this and…. I like that… and uhhhh….” This is not an ANSWER! That is the answer you get from a 9 year child who is just listing things off because their parents wanted to see how cute they are! So do yourself a favor, STOP, take a minute and actually THINK about what you like to do. Do you find yourself animating a lot? Are you doing it to get a job or do you truly enjoy it? What about modeling? Do you like trying to create things and making them look as amazing as possible? What about VSFX? Who doesn’t like blowing stuff up!? (no…seriously…who doesn’t?) If you said yes to any of this….YOU HAVE YOUR ANSWER! What makes you a specialist or a generalist is the NEED not the WANT. If you are in a smaller market and you have to do a little bit of everything then you NEED to be a generalist, but in larger markets like Pixar or Digital Domain you NEED to be more specialized. That being said, that does NOT mean you cannot go home and do what you WANT and take your career in the direction that you choose.
If you are doing professional or personal work, you should be putting it out there for people to see. Doing this puts your work in front of numerous people and creates a name for yourself. Starting a blog that is linked to you website is a great way to get started. Then you can take that blog post and add it to Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google or any other networking site. Why you ask? Because every link leads back to you, that’s why! Remember all that really great concept art and 3d characters you see plastered all over the internet? That is because those artists know how to get their work out there for people like you to drool over and have something to strive for.
If having a blog is not your thing then try putting your work on places like Behance, 3DTotal, CGSociety or ArtStation. These places are a little more challenging to get into because they screen the work prior to putting it their site. However, once you get that one piece on there, you are GOLDEN!
OH! And as a side note…and I know this might come as a shock for some of you but…..Posting your work only on Facebook is NOT GOING TO GET YOU ANYWHERE!!!!!!!! Sure if you want to share your hard work with your friends and family that is great! Just keep in mind (and sorry for being blunt here) but no one gives a shit that your sister, ex-boyfriend/girlfriend and grandmother gave you 1000 likes! Employers want to see your work, not how popular you are!
If you don’t have any work to share…..create it! DO NOT use your lack of professional work as an excuse to not get your work out there. Instead use that down time to learn new techniques, push yourself and your skills. All your hard work will show through and you will be more prepared when opportunity knocks!
Stay up to date with this series by following my blog! I will be posting the next section in this series soon and as always if you have any questions please leave me a comment!
Thanks for Reading!
Other Related Articles:
This is such awesome commercial! And the making of it is just as good. I think that getting our children outside to play instead of being in front of the television helps to grow the imagination of any child. If it wasn’t for my parents encouraging me to go outside and use my imagination to it fullest I would not be doing what I love today! To me, ones imagination allows you to view this beautiful world through child like eyes and behold its wonder no matter hold you become. Never stop stunt your imagination and never stop playing! It keeps you young!
Making of Disney Playmation
Over the past few months I have been working at Awesome Inc with a group of amazing artist on Adult Swim’s Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell season 2. I am excited to announce that episode 1 will be airing this Sunday at 12 AM!!! SO TUNE IN!!!! Season one was such a great experience but this season we have taken it up a few notches!
In honor of the show, one our artist who works on Squidbillies, Sketch MacQuinor, likes to add all of his coworkers into the backgrounds of his scenes. So he created a avatar of me along with the YPF crew and made this kick ass group shot for everyone who worked on the show!
Make sure to watch Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell on Adult Swim this SUNDAY AT 12 AM!!!!!!
Over the past few years I have been asked numerous times the same question that has one of the simplest of answers….
“What is the best way to network”
As simple as that question is, the answer is kind of a loaded one. Most of us come from families in which our loved ones have No Clue how VSFX or animation works. You probably have had those moments when you try to explain your current job to your aunt or grandparents and end up saying “I make cartoons for a living” just so they will stop looking at you funny. If I was to guess most of you come from families that, upon graduating they shoot out hundreds of resumes to Monster.com and Indeed.com, land a job, stay there for a decade or so and expect you to be able to do the same….. well, as an artist…. not some much.
As an artist your job comes from two things; who you know and how good your portfolio is. I can’t tell you how many of my jobs have come from people I knew and it’s all thanks to having the ability to network. Now we all know that artist can be the shy, introverted type and that is perfectly fine, but putting yourself out there will get you further than you could ever imagine.
Find Local Hangouts
The best place to start meeting people in your area is to find a local hangout that a majority of the artist go to after work. I know this can be kind of daunting once you first think about it, but grab a friend and go have a fun time. Look on Facebook or Meetup.com there are always events going on in town that industry professionals will more than likely be at.
Walking up to complete stranger can be a bit strange to most people, especially if you are not accustomed to doing so on a regular basis. However, if you are at an industry event or a meet up….guess what!? You are all there for basically the same thing so you have something in common already! Just go for it! Nothing is easier than saying “Hi! My name is Chris, so what is it that you do?”
When you do approach someone keep in mind that you want to win them over as a friend not a Golden Ticket to get you into PIXAR. The best way to get someone to talk to you and not walk off is to get THEM to talk about THEMSELVES! No matter what anyone says, people love to talk about themselves to people who GENUINELY SOUND INTRESTED in what is it they have to say. Ask questions about what it is they do on a daily basis, (work related! …don’t be creepy) what programs do they used, where do they currently work? HELL! Ask them if they have seen the latest Disney movie and geek out for a bit! When people start to talk about their life you get a sense of who they are, where they are going and most importantly…..HOW THEY CAN GET YOU A JOB!
Stay In Touch
After a few weeks, more than likely you have started to make a few friends that already have jobs at studios. Touching base with them once a month or every couple of weeks will keep you in the fore front of their mind when their companies start hiring. This is where all of your hard work starts to pay off because the first thing hiring mangers do is to ask the artist if they know anyone who can come on board to help out. Even if their studio doesn’t think that you are a good fit for the project, you just got your foot in the door and you are just one step closer to getting a job.
Another benefit of networking with other artist is that you will get the ability to learn from those artist. Do personal projects and post them to a blog and ask for feedback, or send it to a buddy and get their opinion on it. This gives you something to show on your portfolio and them something to tell their boss about in the future when they ask about you. plus it is a great way to improve your skill sets from someone who has working experience.
Networking takes time so don’t be in a rush to meet everyone all at once. Take your time, make friends, business connections and most importantly have fun with it! The animation/vsfx career field is a small one so you will see these people all the time once you start bouncing around studios and events. Lastly, return the favor when you see someone new or someone reaches out to you, because you were in their shoes at one point. Who knows that person could get you hired at your dream job just because you treated them like a friend and helped them out!
How to calculate your freelance rate
Don’t sell yourself short! Cole Henley explains how freelancers can accurately gauge what they should be charging clients.
When I started working freelance I had no idea what was an acceptable rate to charge.
I knew what I used to earn as an employee and how much I needed to survive, but not what I wanted – or even could – charge.
What we sell
To better gauge what to charge we first need to have a clear understanding of what it is that we sell. Although most of us think we are selling skills or services, in all probability you’re actually selling two things: your time and your expertise.
Knowing we are selling time helps us take control of what we are charging. It helps us realise that time is a finite commodity. Then, once we know how much time we need, we can figure out how that can be broken down into billable chunks.
Valuing your time
When we are in the business of selling time, the only way to know how much to charge is to monitor how long things take.
Rachel Andrew at Perch has written about the problems in accurately estimating time. “It comes down to discipline. Being disciplined in approach doesn’t seem to be very popular!
“There is no magic behind learning how long things take. You have to start to log the time you spend, including the time you spend not getting down to work, to be able to make those projections,” she explains.
“That process can be quite uncomfortable. If you log the way you spend your time for a few weeks you see in black and white how much time is spent messing about before actually doing any productive work.”
Accurately knowing how much to charge means having a clear understanding of how much time is spent on what you do, as well as how efficiently you use that time.
The Pomodoro Technique
Breaking your work down into bite-sized pieces can help make you more productive with your time.
“The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to get down to work,” says Andrew. “But also to log whether your time estimates at the beginning of the day were accurate.”
At the beginning of the day, break your task list into 25-minute sprints of work (known as ‘Pomodoros’), and write down how many sprints you think each task will take. At the end of the day you can see whether your estimate was accurate.
“Do this for a week or so and you’ll soon see a pattern of which tasks you tend to estimate incorrectly. Logging your time is the best way to get good at estimating time,” adds Andrew.
Measuring time is a critical tool to help both freelancers and agencies get better at gauging work and ultimately at being more profitable.
I just want to share another project that I was able to work on for Microsoft. I actually really want one of these! because I can use it with my android based phone and tablet! I modeled the keyboard and worked on some of the lighting as well.
What do you think?
|segmation on Is traditional freelancing all…|
|cpalmer5 on Making of Disney Playmation…|
|cpalmer5 on 7 tips for getting a job on Ga…|
|Ariel Javines on Making of Disney Playmation…|
|Ariel Javines on 7 tips for getting a job on Ga…|