What Animation and Visual Effects Industry wants: 3D and VFX Generalist or Specialist?

Learn in-depth about the topic on Specialist Vs. Generalist of our 3D and VFX Industry.


Generalist or Specialist 3D VFX

3D and VFX Generalist or Specialist – This is one of the most important questions students seek knowledge for. It is always better to decide it within your course duration. It saves a lot of time and efforts to make your final demo reel / show reel accordingly. Be utmost true to yourself and write down your core skills and interests regarding different modules of CG and Visual Effects. Don’t worry if the list is very small. In fact, it will help greatly to narrow down your target job.

In case, if you are not sure at his stage, it’s fine. Majority of fresher artists faces this dilemma. Most of the 3D Animation and Visual Effects educational institutes or media colleges teaches general techniques of CGI and VFX pipeline to students. So, most of the passed out students have common knowledge of tools and techniques. For them, the simplest answer is to start a job which suits their skills. Professional experience of 2-3 years in any CG / post production studio will give clear idea about in which exact field he/she should go ahead.

Generalist and Specialist:

Generalist and Specialist are very distinguished job categories of our creative art industry. On a vast level, they are also known as CG / VFX Generalist or CG / VFX Specialist. The artist who belongs to such category knows various 3D and VFX softwares or applications. Their output can range from Movies, TV Series, Commercials, Corporate Videos, Games, Web Series to any other Media and Entertainment related services.

Check out the complete details regarding what should you be to excel in our Animation and Visual Effects industry: Generalist or Specialist?

What is Generalist? – Jack of all Trades

The Generalist is multi tasking 3D and VFX artist.

He/she is the one who knows very well various softwares and most importantly – their seamless integration. The artist is able to switch between different softwares using specific import-export techniques and plug ins. In the Visual Effects industry, the Generalist artist is also knows as ‘Jack of all Trades’.

The 3D Generalist artist have knowledge of entire CG Production Pipeline. The operations can range from various modules of CG object creation, texture, light, rigging to animation. To get complete control for desired output, render passes (beauty, diffuse, ambient occlusion, shadow, RGB, UV, velocity, fresnel, 3D motion blur, reflection, refraction, specular, vector blur, z depth, world position and many more) are must. If required, final compositing can be done by the same 3D Generalist artist or the render passes are transferred to compositing department.

On the VFX level, the artist can take care of complete Visual Effects shot. It includes rotoscoping, clean up, keying, 3D tracking, wire / rig removal, FX (simulation), use of VFX stock footage, multi pass composting, 3D camera projection and any other required production technique.

What is Specialist? – The Yoda

As name suggests, the Specialist artist have thorough knowledge and mastery over certain module of the digital production / post production pipeline.

It requires a great amount of hard work and determination to become the one. Coding (programming knowledge) is must here so that the artist can create new plug in and workflow, if needed, to finish the given project. Most of the Specialist artist have their own set of plugins and custom made tools in their arsenal. They keep updating and increasing their library to remain on the top notch position in the studio. They becomes ‘The Yoda’ when it comes to their area of expertise.

The Specialist artist knows one particular skill from it’s core. But, it is always advisable that the artist knows other tools and technique also. It will definitively will be a plus point or an extra advantage that always helps in the long run.

The Specialist artists makes their own niche in the job market, which is their biggest USP. Rather than they apply for the job, they are directly approached by another post production studios to join them. Such leverage helps for growth hacking in professional career. They reach on team lead / supervisor position in less time. Looks lucrative, but it is not a piece of cake. Sustaining on such position demands continuous R&D and great deal of dedication towards the assigned and future projects.

What 3D Animation and Visual Effects Industry Wants ?

The war of Generalist Vs. Specialist have so many parameters. There is no one size fits all answer for the question of ‘Generalist or Specialist’.

Generally, small scale production house requires Generalists and large scale VFX houses (Weta Digital, Digital Domain, ILM, Framestore etc.) requires Specialists. But it is not a yardstick, the choice also depends on the project budget and timeline. Hiring only specialist artist will increase financial overheads and hiring only generalist artist can hit negatively when there is a demand to tackle some particular complex sequences of a niche field. Majority of studios hires mix of Generalist and Specialist to get the best of both the worlds.

Well, in today’s competitive world, the lines had became thin between Generalist and Specialist artist. As an example, the Generalist VFX artist may be specialized in 3D Tracking / Matchmoving. Apart from peculiar skills of tracking, he has enough knowledge and skills like Rotoscoping, Keying, Paint to finish the entire shot on his own.

The Verdict:

From my opinion, it is better to be Generalist.

Because every Generalist is somewhere Specialist also.

CG / VFX Generalist artist knows many skills and techniques. He/she is flexible to fit in any kind of production pipeline which gives better job opportunities and challenges. Being Generalist artist gives much more wider scope for exploring new job opportunities. For instance, apart from Animation and VFX, the artist can also look for arenas like Games, Software Development, Architecture, Motion Graphics, Graphic Design, Training, Digital Content Creator, Technical Operations and so on.

But, ultimately, the choice must depend on your interest and expertise. Only you understand better regarding your final goal. So, select one which aligns perfectly with your career path map. Or you can follow this method: Start with becoming CG / VFX Generalist artist and gradually become CG / VFX Specialist artist. On the second note, you can also jump to Management / Director level jobs during this transition phase.

Best luck for your career.

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