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View Full Version : Advice on how to earn income with Lightwave?



B_Free
11-20-2013, 01:41 PM
Hi All,
I come seeking advice and wisdom. I was a high school science teacher for 4 years until I was let go back in March. I've been a stay at home Dad with my 2 year old daughter since then and I've been trying to improve my skills in Lightwave whenever I get a chance. I want to turn this hobby into some sort of income, and I would really appreciate your knowledge and input on how to do that.

I know the first step is putting together a demo reel, which I'm working on, but where do I go beyond that? Who and what are the kind of places I should shop my demo reel to? Is it better to try and get hired by a company? What's it like to do contract work? (Also, where could I learn how to write appropriate contracts?) These are a few of the questions I'm hoping to answer.

Thank you all very much in advance!!!

OnlineRender
11-20-2013, 02:11 PM
1) Network 2) Be professional 3) be good at what you do "No matter the genre" 4) push yourself 5) learn more applications other than Lwave

RebelHill
11-20-2013, 02:32 PM
Spose it depends what you're after doing and, possibly, your background.

First, presuming you wanna make final images of some description for folk... check out what other pro's or studios are putting out and work like heck till you can either match them for quality, or be prepared to charge substantially less. The two things you can count on... people WILL pay for quality work... people WILL be happy with lesser quality work if they can get it dirt cheap.

Second, try to get going in an area where you can leverage some of your background and existing knowledge or skills (even if its not the sort of work you hope to do) and stick with those areas for a couple/few years while you build your own versatility and quality output... Specifically... there's always work to be nosed out in scientific/medical visualisation/presentation. Exploit any connections you already got, dig out folk you knew in college on facebook/linkedIn... cold call like a b1tch till someone throws you a bone.

B_Free
11-20-2013, 02:43 PM
Awesome, thank you both for your advice! Any tips on who or what companies would be looking for scientific / medical visualization / presentation?

Ryan Roye
11-20-2013, 03:30 PM
1) Network 2) Be professional 3) be good at what you do "No matter the genre" 4) push yourself 5) learn more applications other than Lwave

I like this. Short and to the point, but I'll add a 6th...

6) Love what you do; because passion is a self-perpetuating quality that affects everything a person does. This isn't to say every job you do will be a fluffy pleasant cloud of unicorns and rainbows, but you get the idea.

erikals
11-20-2013, 09:40 PM
good comments above,

also www.freelancer.com might be a good start... just to get you going...

vector
11-20-2013, 10:00 PM
When somebody asking me for somebody for a job, I always remember before a render than a face/name/avatar/nickname.

Share nice works with us to remember you :)

JonW
11-20-2013, 10:01 PM
Being a teacher you have a stack of human resources skills. You are a very employable person in any industry. Teachers in Australia are constantly moving out of the profession into management positions because of better offers and less stressful career path not dealing with children. The average age of teachers in Australia is extremely old. There is already and going to be an ever increasing shortage of teachers. Look here for a job!

As for LW you will have to knuckle down & work hard at it. You can never learn enough quick enough & you never stop learning. Nothing like a real project to get you going. Even if it is a pretend project that you force yourself through to the end, with a deadline!

pinkmouse
11-21-2013, 02:35 AM
As for LW you will have to knuckle down & work hard at it. You can never learn enough quick enough & you never stop learning. Nothing like a real project to get you going. Even if it is a pretend project that you force yourself through to the end, with a deadline!

Indeed. I'm in very much the same sort of situation as you, and I set myself little projects to push my skills and learn new stuff. This can be as simple as just picking up a random object from around the house and modelling it, or texturing a 1m cube to match a real world photo of a surface. Or for a more serious challenge, try and emulate an effect you've seen in a film, a shot of spiralling missiles from one of the Transformers films was the inspiration for my Nodal motion (http://forums.newtek.com/showthread.php?137961-TrueArt-Item-info) project.

Oh, and showreels. I've been back playing around with LW for over six months now, and started at least three, but have gone back a bit later and seen how bad they were and scrapped them. I'm only now feeling confident enough to do something that I think will stand up to scrutiny, and with the self-set brief I've given myself, I doubt the new one will be ready until after Christmas.

I'm yet to pick up any paid work with this 3d lark, (though I am available! :D), but as someone who has been a freelancer virtually all my working life, I know you need to put in time and effort to get new skills, and even more effort getting the business up and running once you have them. It will take a while, you will have no money for ages, and once you get going you may not even enjoy it anymore.

But you won't know 'till you try. :)

Surrealist.
11-21-2013, 10:39 AM
To add to everything said I have this one word or two of advice.

First understand that this is going to be a gradual thing. But also understand that you may not have to be as good as you think you do to get work and get started.

Getting jobs as a freelancer is a combination of 3 things, 1) Timing, being in the right place at the right time. 2) Having the goods to show you can do the work and 3) Negotiating and closing a deal.

That is really all there is to it. In reality is is very simple and not mysterious. It is just a matter of knowing where to look for leads. They can come from many places. Sometimes right here from helping people on the forums.

Then when you do get the work, always always always do the very best you can. Never work at the "quality of the pay". The challenge is to get the best work done within the deadline. And there is always a deadline. But don't do shoddy work when the pay is not good.

And because simply in the beginning you have to be willing to work on whatever work you can get from wherever it comes. It builds both your confidence and your skill. And better to do it getting paid than for free.

And ideally you don't want to get stuck. So for example you have one kind of work that you never compromise on the pay. You can do this stuff with half a brain and the client should pay. You have all the references for this on your site.

Then there is always going to be the work that helps expand your portfolio. Right now I have the same situation with one client. Two jobs. Same client. One I negotiate at my hourly rate and another, I told him upfront was I was willing to take on at his price waaaaay to low for the amount of work, because simply I don't have anything like that in my portfolio. So my choice is to do something on my own for free so I can get that kind of work, or work for at least meals on this guy's project and get experience not only doing that kind of work for a client but also expanding my portfolio which for the future is money in the bank based on 1) 2) and 3) above. Bankable because this a the formula that works.

And for me there is nothing more boring than doing the same thing for a couple of years. Even one client I have been working for for 2 years I am always expanding my skills and my offering to give them a better product and more options as far as quality. I am getting the same good daily rate but I am improving my product. It really stinks staying stagnant.

And finally the client should always feel they got better than expected.

If you take care of people, in the long run people take care of you. It pays off.

Hope this helps you get more perspective.

Philbert
11-21-2013, 01:05 PM
I suggest posting your best work online in lots of places, forums like this one and CGTalk are good. If you don't have one already get account at Twitter and follow people in the industry. Same for Google+, you can join the 3D Community there and post work. When you post your work let it be known that you're available. I think half of my clients came from people finding me online vs. me looking for them. Of course it helps to have your own website that y can point them to as well.

You can find me at google.com/+philnolan If you need someone to get your circles started.

inkpen3d
11-22-2013, 09:36 AM
Awesome, thank you both for your advice! Any tips on who or what companies would be looking for scientific / medical visualization / presentation?

You sound like you have a science background, possibly in biology. Use this to your advantage when calling potential clients - preferably who are connected in some way to your field of expertise - emphasise from the outset that, unlike most general studios that employ 3D artists without a grounding in science, you are in a better position to understand what the client is talking about and what their requirements are. This will immediately capture their interest - one thing your potential clients will hate/fear is having to waste precious time explaining in grinding detail complex scientific concepts to a non-scientist and then further down the line discovering that the artist still hadn't a clue what the client was talking about!

Also, at least initially, target companies of a moderate size. Experience has taught me that very small companies generally do not have the budget to throw at the type of CGI projects that will give you a decent income. On the other hand, the big multinationals either have in-house capabilities or can afford to, and are probably already using, some large studios who can handle the type of large complex projects they'd want done and which are probably out of your league at the moment anyway.

Medium sized companies, on the other hand, usually have smallish projects that they want done, but don't have the kind of budget available to go to the large studios. These types of project are ideal for you to cut your teeth on and you can quote a competitive rate that will secure the work and which will begin to give you a decent income.

I've found that cold calling companies generally works well - that is, once you've managed to sweet-talk the receptionist into putting you through to someone who'd be in a position to discuss possible CGI requirements with you. Also, have a web site or YouTube/Vimeo channel set up exhibiting some examples of your work. Have a pro forma email ready to send off giving a brief summary of your capabilities, your contact details, and links to your web site, etc.

That's basically how I started out a few years ago with my science/technology visualisation company - previously I'd been a freelance software engineer for ~25 years, but the work I specialised in dried up in my region of the UK. Much of the CGI work I do for clients makes use of my degree in biochemistry and physiology, though I do occasionally take on projects outside of that general field of expertise (e.g. nanotechnology, scientific instrumentation).

Hope that helps and good luck.

Regards,
Peter

Philbert
11-22-2013, 02:52 PM
Personally I would not make a form letter email as it looks insincere and has never worked for me. I would possibly make a pre-made 2nd paragraph with some info about you and your capabilities but for each one you send hand write the first paragraph with a little introduction and some things you like about the company you're talking to.

chikega
11-22-2013, 07:27 PM
You sound like you have a science background, possibly in biology. Use this to your advantage when calling potential clients - preferably who are connected in some way to your field of expertise - emphasise from the outset that, unlike most general studios that employ 3D artists without a grounding in science, you are in a better position to understand what the client is talking about and what their requirements are. This will immediately capture their interest - one thing your potential clients will hate/fear is having to waste precious time explaining in grinding detail complex scientific concepts to a non-scientist and then further down the line discovering that the artist still hadn't a clue what the client was talking about!

So true. A recent NOVA program entitled "Making Stuff Safer" aired recently a segment about concussion with an animation of coup-contrecoup with the brain backwards inside the skull!

118362


http://video.pbs.org/video/2365113186/

RebelHill
11-22-2013, 07:31 PM
with the brain backwards inside the skull!

fecking amateurs.

Ryan Roye
11-22-2013, 07:40 PM
Maybe they got their degree from Surgeon Simulator game ;)

Rip out the lungs, transplant heart. Everything A-OK!

JonW
11-22-2013, 08:36 PM
Now that makes it clear why the backwards thinking politicians are making a dog's breakfast of everything!

B_Free
11-23-2013, 08:58 AM
Wow! This is a completely insufficient thank you, but THANK YOU all very much for your replies!!! This will help me immensely!!!

inkpen3d
11-23-2013, 09:41 AM
Personally I would not make a form letter email as it looks insincere and has never worked for me. I would possibly make a pre-made 2nd paragraph with some info about you and your capabilities but for each one you send hand write the first paragraph with a little introduction and some things you like about the company you're talking to.

Good point and I agree totally.

I do in fact usually edit the first paragraph of my template email to make it more personal - i.e. "Dear ####, Further to our recent telephone conversation, please find below ...." and so on.

Regards,
Peter