View Full Version : The real deal...

11-24-2003, 01:14 PM
Let me help clear something up.

I'm a DAVE School graduate. DAVE School is just like any other technical training school. First you only get software and process training. DAVE School is not an art school. If you have no artistic talent, or training you WILL have a difficult time. Don't bother.

Secondly, and most importantly, you only get out of it what you put into it. 5 hours a day, 5 days a week for a year is barely enough time to comprehend computer animation, let alone excell enough at it to become marketable. I had spent 12 hours a day for 6 months with Lightwave before I even went to the school, and once there stayed after class (7am-noon) until 8 or 10 at night and then went home and worked until 2-3am on my own computer to practice and expand my abilities. I have built and textured scores of models, rendered hundreds of shots, rigged dozens of character models, figured out how to recreate effects and comped shots from TV shows and movies... all on my own.

No one, and I mean NO ONE else in my class, or any other class (there are 3-5 each day) spent much more time beyond that 5 hours a day on learning CG. A few started out doing it for a few extra hours, but soon dropped it to just the classtime. The very few people who ever started original projects beyond their class assignments all quickly dropped them. After graduation many of them had given up on finding a job in less than two months! Some only sent 4 or 5 tapes to places like Pixar and ILM. I mean COME ON!!! :rolleyes:

I watched more guys wasting time playing Quake or football than working on improving as artists. THAT is why they don't have jobs. I hear a lot of ex-DAVE people ***** about not being able to find work and its bull****. The work is out there. They are just lazy and greedy. They either won't make the time necessary to improve their skills, expect WAY too much money or too high a position for their first job in the industry, or are simply in denial that they have no talent.

That is, I believe, the reason that almost no one from that school has a full-time paying job in the FX industry. Not because the DAVE School couldn't prepare them for the job market, not because they were learning LW vs Maya, not because the school couldn't hook them up. Simply because they didn't put in the time and effort required to become a good artist.

There is a serious misconception that somehow a software program or a class you can buy will make you a great or even decent CG artist.

This is a lie! It requires talent, long hours of hard work to develop marketable skills, and a SERIOUS FULL-TIME COMMITTMENT to make it in this business. Those other things are just tools to that end. The won't do it for you and are worthless without the effort and talent that this business requires.

If you reach down deep into your soul and cannot find there a lust for this art that will keep you up until 3am every night doing it and get your *** out of bed a 7am to get back to it because you can't stay away.... then don't waste your money on going to a school... any school. You don't have what it takes.

Now, as far as the school itself. I learned quite a bit. About technology, about how things work in a studio on a deadline, about all sorts of cool tricks, cheats, workarounds and techniques to get stuff finished that looks cool. Compositing, lighting, modeling... It was a valuable and fun experience for me. It didn't give me everything I wanted to learn, but it was worth it. For me.

But the fact that I work in the industry now, has much more to do with my innate talent, my many years of traditional art experience, my ability to learn new skills quickly, and a rock solid work ethic than the fact that I went to some school to learn how to use Lightwave and Fusion. And even now, that I have that coveted industry job (and I'm at the bottom of that pile working my way up), I'm not just sitting around on my ***. I go home every night and continue to design, model, make effects, practice animation, ply contacts in the industry to find out what's going on, how things are changing. If I don't I know that I could soon find myself falling behind and no longer moving forward as an artist. I'm driven.

So if you are considering going to a school with the goal of getting a job in the visual effects industry, ask yourself if you really have the dedication that its going to take to get there--and keep you there. If you can't give everything you have and are to your art, then there's a damn good chance that you are going to fail.

11-24-2003, 01:37 PM
Good points - well spoken - I agreed with everything except the Lightwave vs Maya comment (if I am taking it right - please correct me if I am misunderstanding). Maya is the tool to learn if you want to become employable, as much as I love Lightwave.

11-24-2003, 02:05 PM
SteveM, after everthing novadesigns said I think you still missed his point.
It's not the school that gets you a job, nor is it the software you know. Using Maya won't get you a job any faster then knowing Lightwave. You can learn other software if your job requires it. A talented person that uses Lightwave and works hard is probably going to get a job before a lazy schloob that uses Maya. You can take that one to the bank.
Look at Victor Navone or Jeff Lew. Both of them did a lot of their work in Animation Master, a $300 program.(Although, it was only $200 when Vic and Jeff bought it). The work they did in that program got them very coveted jobs. Victor works for Pixar and Jeff was doing work in the Matrix movies as lead animator as I remember.

11-24-2003, 02:27 PM
Nope - I completely understood what he what saying. If you want to be sucessfull in the marketplace you need to make 3D a lifestyle of sorts. It takes hard work and talent. I understand his point; I just happen to disagree with a small portion of it - the point that software does not matter at all - (if indeed that is what he was saying - I hope that I am not misreading his words)

I very much agree with you that a talented, hardworking individual is much better off than a lazy person who uses Maya - I think that goes without saying.

However, given two people who are equally talented and equally hardworking - the person who knows the software that is requested in job ads is the person who is more employable.

Of course, if you know both packages (or at least are quite familiar with the other one) you are even better off . . .


11-24-2003, 03:20 PM
Well, I wasn't trying to make any points at all about software. I was just citing examples. Personally I think software debates are the stupidest of all discussions--they are ultimately pointless, because once again its the artist that really matters. At the artist level, software choice is a personal matter--how you like to work. In the industry its a little different, but on the whole if you are talented and can prove it, studios will train you to use whatever they are using.

Take a look at Expose, if that doesn't prove that software is irrelevant then nothing will change your mind. Its full of beautiful artwork created with a multitude of programs.

So IMO, no it doesn't matter what software you learn on as long as you learn useful principals of art that transcends the tools. If all you are doing is pushing buttons and letting plugins do all the work, you are not an artist. You are a monkey. ;)

Just FYI, I am a Lightwave only artist at the moment and had no trouble getting hired. Although I am training myself to use Maya, just to add to my quiver of tricks. ;)
I got my job at DNA as a TD solely on my artistic abilities. I was only asked about my software experience at the end of the interview process and quite casually. We have hired many people who have no LW experience and trained them (nice that LW is so easy to learn ;))

Some studios are very hardcore about applications, but they aren't as common as you might think. And I think that the tendency to be application agnostic is spreading. A lot of that is due to the fact that more and more places are using multiple software packages, and creating a lot of proprietary tools. In that case its the fundamentals of animation, modeling, and effects creation that are important.

Ultimately studios look at your work and your experience, not your degree or your software preference.

11-24-2003, 03:37 PM
i totally agree with steve M....why? because i'm a professional modeler working with both LW and Maya and i will tell ya something...the real talented artist are not the LW or Maya users but the designers, dircetors, writers that hire me just to recretae what after all are their creations...of course i'm speaking sincerely and with the humility that someone that has worked in production should have to improve his skills not his talents....when creating a prop or a vehicle the real talent comes from teh guy that designed it...not from me...and this is what happens in TV or movie productions all the time....give to caesar what belongs to caesar...considering this reality what makes you really employable or not is actually your knowledge of the software used by the studio or company that will make the movie....if you have more Maya seats in the market then it is wiser to learn Maya than other software as easy as that...:)....the important people for a movie are not the Maya or LW operators but the designers and concept artist (storyboarders etc...) the decisions about what pipeline is going to be used are taking later and for sure after the creative process of making a movie...talking about "talent" instead of "skill" is something you will only find in a 3d forum....3d is only a media and not the alpha and omega of creation so better be cleaver and realise that you are only a small part of the process and it requires that you master a technique...being awara of what tool is used in production is your main job...and knowing the pros and cons of the 3d techniques is essential...

11-24-2003, 03:38 PM
Well - while I do not think that software debates are useless (they can help people understand the differences between the packages ) - my point was only to underline the fact that in job ads certain software packages are mentioned and others are not.

Again I would state my point that those who have equal talent and ambition are better off knowing the package that is advertised the most.

I agree with everything that you have said novadesigns, just not with any notion that software does not matter. It is not the most important thing - that is for sure. The most important thing in getting a job is your work and talent.

But all things being equal between two prospective employees (talent, drive, etc.), the one that knows the software that the company uses, will be the one who gets the job. And Maya is advertised far much more than LW.

Obviously they have a preference or they would not bother to mention it in the ad.


11-24-2003, 04:40 PM
Hehe, hey does anyone know what happened to the rest of this thread? I know I wasn't the topic starter! ;)

11-24-2003, 07:41 PM
Hehe, hey does anyone know what happened to the rest of this thread? I know I wasn't the topic starter!

You probably hit "New Thread' rather than 'Reply'.

Anyway I think you can also have problems at the other end of the spectrum. I spend virtually every waking hour of the day on my computer (and I mean 9am-2am, 365 days a year, for the past four years). I've been to University studying 'photomedia/digital imaging' and my marks were in the top 85% for every single class over a four year period. Yet I still don't feel qualified to get a job.

It's actually easier for me to find my own clients than it is to get full time employment.

I spend most of my time doing freelance client work, plus my own personal work, research etc. But it doesn't help me get a job. I'm lucky if I make it to the interview process.

In sydney when you go for a CG/Graphic or Web Design job they typically expect the following range of skills regardless of the position.

Photoshop, Illustrator, CCS, CGI, Perl, XML, DHTML, Henry, ASP, PHP, Flash, Actionscript, Director, Maya and FCP etc etc. Plus the money is crap, from what I've seen about US$15-25k PA is about the norm.

11-24-2003, 08:49 PM
Hi Riki,

I'm like you in that I freelance instead of getting a job. Mainly because the money is better freelancing. I learn what I have to to get my work done and not a bunch of crap that I don't want to know.


11-24-2003, 09:00 PM
well, technical schools have their place, I just wish there was a school that addressed the art of Visual effects. A bit more of a balance...

Idealy, the first two years would be figure drawing, painting, concept drawing/drafting, sculpting, photography, where the second year would conclude with a short shot on film (reversal stock, perhaps only B&W), an elective of either creating a comic or a storyboard, and a sememster in traditional animation..... you know, with pencil and paper. All that would be required in the traditional animation class is the completion of a walk cycle, a bouncing ball animation, and completed, drafted, inbetweened shot of the artist's choice (say using a scene from the matrix as a guide or creating your own!).

The last two years are all digital..

In my opinion, those two years build a foundation of theory and practice that is not often preent in current VFX artist.

11-24-2003, 10:33 PM

You could get that at the college I attended.

I went to Columbus College of Art and Design here in Columbus, OH for my first year of college back in 1991. They didn't have computer animation back then, well, not as we know it anyway. I took one computer class and it just says Computer graphics-Amiga on my grade card. I don't know what software it was.
Anyway, now they offer computer animation but everyone still has to take the same foundation classes. 2D, 3D (more sculpture and not computer), structural drawing, figure drawing, painting, lettering, etc... That's before you can branch off to whatever you're studying, ie. computer animation, fine arts, interior design, etc...
I'm sure there are other schools that will offer you this balance.

11-25-2003, 02:27 AM
What NovaDesign says is true in the case of most technical schools (I'm not sure about art schools). I see the same in the two schools I've been teaching at. You get one or two students who are 'into' the whole thing and just do as much as they can, work extra hours and ask really tricky questions ( :D )...

The rest think all they need to do is what is covered in class. You can do small exercises, but a decent project or major animation? You just can't... Straight and simple...

I also hear stories of ex-students who 'can't find a job' so give up and work in an office instead. However these are usually the same students who just think the 'assignments' they did in school are good enough as a showreel (seen plenty of those in my time!), and just stop doing 3D after the course is over waiting for that 3D job to just 'appear' and get them started on that career path...

Dedication and passion both play an IMPORTANT role in your 3D development. Never expect a school to teach you everything. A school can hold your hand and help you get started, but the rest will be up to you...

Me, I spend half a week working with LW in an animation studio as a contractor, the other half employed at a local Multimedia college teaching LightWave, and between all that I run the NZLWUG, my own projects and live online talking about LW (like I'm doing now)...

My wife calls herself a 'LightWave Widow' (in Jest - I think! :eek: )

11-25-2003, 03:21 AM
I think Nova hit on some important points that, as Kevin pointed out, are pretty universal when it comes to jobs.
You better REALLY enjoy what youre doing because youre going to be doing it for a long time.
I first got into 2D and 3D graphics because it was fun not because I ever thought money could be made doing it. Finding out later that money could be made doing was just icing on the cake.
I think a lot of places dont give students realistic expectations of what the job is really like. A lot of people think that 3D work is "sexy" work. Most of the time its long hours with few places offering benefits, overtime or incentives other then pizza during all nighters. The CGI industry is certainly not the place to be if one expects longevity and security. Anyplace that claims to have any real success at job placement is exaggerating at best.

My experience with students is that the ones who have the drive to succeed already came into class that way. Their die was cast and all they lacked was knowledge. Ive seen way too many wannabes who dont understand the concept of 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration, that hard work and drive are in most cases, more critical then talent. Out of 100 students I usually see 5 that eat, drink and live CGI. Its their whole life and they are extremely focussed on it and usually end up going on to do well.

11-25-2003, 06:59 AM
Originally posted by kevman3d
My wife calls herself a 'LightWave Widow' (in Jest - I think! :eek: )

Only *part* in jest I think you'll find, my wife goes into a mortal decline if I try to spend more than an hour or tw oat a time on LW.

Gotta be dealing with that whole "quality time" issue when ya married! ;)

She's a damn fine artist, but the woman just will NOT do my textures for me ;) Hmm, maybe time to bring out the big guns, flowers and After Eights. :D

As for the topic... well, yes, skill and dedication, true in any field, you don't get to be good at anything just "doing what you have to", funny thing is - a lot of people just don't seem to get that.

11-25-2003, 09:16 AM
Originally posted by colkai
Only *part* in jest I think you'll find, my wife goes into a mortal decline if I try to spend more than an hour or tw oat a time on LW.

Gotta be dealing with that whole "quality time" issue when ya married! ;)

I feel your pain brother. Or pleasure as we're supposed to call it.;)
My wife is actually pretty great about it. She knows that I don't want to spend my evenings watching Joe Millionaire and queer eye for the straight guy with her so she usually 'releases' me to go play. Of course, my wife goes to bed by midnight and I'm an extreme night owl so I usually get plenty of time after hours. I just live on less sleep.
Just to echo what Larry said.... I don't work in the industry yet and probably won't until I get out of school but I do have one friend who works for a video game company as a set/environment modeler. Most of his days are 9-12 hours and that's not even at deadline time. The pay isn't spectactular and he pretty much depends on the 3 or 4 bonuses he gets throughout the year when his company finishes a project. It's alll about love of the job I think with him. But then with our economy and the market, he's one of the lucky ones to have a job.

11-25-2003, 09:39 AM
Yeah, I'm pretty lucky in that my wife is incredibly supportive of me and what I have chosen to do with my life. It helps that she is a very creative person too--photography, quilting, craftworks... so she can relate to the passionate feeling that I have for my chosen field of art.

One other point about schools... these places are businesses. Their main concern (sometimes ahead of providing a quality education sadly) is to make money to pay their staff and keep the doors open. Secondly I think that some schools spend more time worrying about attracting new students than they do taking care of the students that they already have. DAVE School has a real problem with this in fact.

These places are trying to sell you something and they will try to make their school sound as attractive as possible so that you sign up. In some cases I have had places outright promise me that I would get a good job after attending their school. I avoid those places like the plague! There is no way that they can know my talent level, dedication, and ability to improve, what the job market will be like in 4-5 years, etc... to make that kind of promise honestly and truthfully. Its a BS sales tactic and an outright lie.

FYI I also have a Masters in Jazz Composition from Berklee College of Music... another totally immersive art environment. It was very much the same situation at that school as at DAVE School only on a larger scale: A few dozen incredibly talented, ambitious, and dedicated musicians who really put everything into their time there and eventually succeeded in the music business. And about 2,000 others who sort of glided through, barely completing their assignments and expecting recording contracts to be waiting for them on the gradutation podium. And once they didn't get what they wanted, they blamed the school, the current job market, the city they were in a good enough music scene... pretty much everything except their own laziness and lack of talent.

11-25-2003, 03:05 PM
You need to get email GF's on the other side of the planet, that way you've got an excuse to sit up all night and never leave your computer :)

11-25-2003, 11:46 PM
ah ah...!! Lucky guys, my wife and I fall in sleep every night between 9 and 10 on the coach.... but I have to wake up at 5:30 every morning (to bring my children to school (one hour trip) so.....

My wife wisched I'd never found LW, she hates it, in fact when a movie has special fx in it, that's a B movie for her... I know love is blind... (have to say after 12 years, still almost like the first day, although now I'm too old for sex... but good feeling still here)

As for the thread, 80% or more of 3D people have no talent what so ever, or so little... so why are they involved in 3D,........mmmmm matrix, fantasy movies,...... and in my pov, all the 3D companies are making some sort of false advertisment, (and that's the way it is) they are showing a nice packaging with real cool images (from talented people) and say "look what you can do with our tools..... true....

Brushes and paint dont have enough ads, that's why people dont buy them so often.... he he....