View Full Version : With Today's Market, should you be a Generalist or Specialist?

03-22-2019, 08:05 AM
I created this video, specifically for the Lightwave and Modo community, talking to John Gonzales about this topic. I'm interested in hearing the community's thoughts on it.


03-22-2019, 08:32 AM
Thanks Thomas. Your other video about LW/Modo is really good too, because it was not pitting one against the other, as is often the temptation, but looking at a complimentary usage. :)

Modo and Lightwave 3D - Brothers with Different Mothers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX-bGSMJ78U)

03-22-2019, 10:06 AM
Thanks, I honestly believe that using the two apps together will give you very good results.

03-22-2019, 10:38 AM
and to be frank the toolsets are moving more and more in that way.
Look how a 6 person team was able to develop a AAA game on their own.
Hellbalde using the Unreal engine is incredible.

And the deadlines are getting more and more crazy as the hunger for content grows at an ever increasing rate. Small studios will eat the bigger studios, not associated with Disney, alive.

03-22-2019, 03:42 PM
I have to agree with you. As the tools get easier, people are starting to diversify their skill sets. Now, if there was only 1 program to rule them all. The perfect 3D App ;)

03-23-2019, 07:03 PM
I have been using lightwave for many years as a hobby, but my goal is to excel and produce my own movies.
I really want to be a generalist, because my plan is to make my own movie, and I want to be able to do all required
by myself. I do want to produce my own 3d movie by myself, and sincerely want to be a generalist.

03-23-2019, 07:26 PM
Generalist, with One strong extra skill (VFX, Motion Graphics, CA, or other...)

alternative, Specialize as heck in One area.


but, to add, whatever works. https://i.imgur.com/BYFz23S.gif

Tim Parsons
03-23-2019, 08:37 PM
Generalist. And then in some kind of specialized area. :) I mean I hear of all these FX houses struggling to make a go of it and being abused by the studios and think - why would anyone want to deal with that. So be a generalist in some kind of niche business.

03-23-2019, 09:38 PM
I think you need to be both. Being a Generalist is good because if you can learn as much as you can about as many things as you can, it makes you versatile, and more valuable to your team and/or clients. But, having a specialty, something difficult that most people have a hard time with creates an opportunity to stand out. If you're really good at modeling, or rigging, or texturing, that can go a long way to make you noticeable. And getting noticed is the first step in getting a great gig! :D

Good Luck,

03-24-2019, 07:06 AM
I can be both, once the clouds has scattered to allow me to get a broader view :)

Privately, specialist and generalist to visualize my dreams and similar.
Business wise, specialist and generalist when needed.

03-24-2019, 08:35 AM
I think on a broader scope. Generalist for small operation, but specialist on large corporate projects. If you run your own business in some way, definitely generalist.

03-24-2019, 08:55 AM
Seems safer in the long run to always maintain some sort of generalist competency even if you may work as a specialist at a job. Should mean you are Less susceptible to being made obsolete by some newfangled tech in the future. The more tied to a specific workflow your expertise is the harder it is to adapt when the industry inevitably changes. As it is impossible to look 20-30 years into the future and pick the right specialty better to not have all your eggs in one basket.

03-24-2019, 11:00 AM
I think it's like any other field, it all depends on who you are and what the end goal it. Life also seems to cause that end goal to shift and redefine itself as you move towards it. The video was quite interesting

Look how a 6 person team was able to develop a AAA game on their own. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eylUOJgs9Ig
The 'on their own' part was interesting, as that is also kinda how the video is presented. They also go into all the parts that they got other companies to work on. This is mostly just a hobby/side thing for me. I do the videos 'on my own'. Mostly product demos or junk I want to do. I dug out an old 486 laptop the other day and found the last human model I had built. It seems like there is a nearly endless supply of models of any sort out there. There is also a huge supply of sound and music files out there. How much time is there for the project, or for that matter, how much time is there in your life and what do you want to do with it. Looking at the credits from Captain Marvel and there is no way a single person could have done all the Fx work in that movie alone, in any reasonable time frame. Lots of who do a thing very well are required for that kind of quality and time frame. On the other hand I've seen some things done by a small group or one person that are great. Most people I think are more in the middle. I know how to model a human, or at least did/could at one time, at a level that was ok back then. All I've done for a long time is use human models others have made and some times do a bit of rework on them. I probably only do 10% of the models in a video, that 'I made alone'. The background music is either classical I played on the keyboard or something free or low cost I got some where. The majority of the surfacing stuff came from some where.

Learn what interests you and learn what you need to in order to do what you want. I think there will always be a market for some one who does one thing extremely well. I think there will always be a market for those who can do it all. Then there is the majority who are some where in the middle. In a team of 6, most people probably do more then one thing, but most probably have a thing that they are the 'expert' at.

Just my 2 cents

03-24-2019, 10:32 PM
Every CG artist, no matter what their career goals are, should have at least basic generalist skills. If for no other reason than to have a good understanding of how the whole production process works. To be a truly good artist, you need to be able to perform the basics of every task and understand how they all work together to form the finished product. Be it games, film, television, interactive media, etc. You don't have to be great at it. But you should at least understand each skill and know how to do them at a basic level. Every really good specialist I know is also a basic competent (at least) generalist. And by that same token, every really good generalist I know has at least one skill that they're great at.

There are, and probably will be for the foreseeable future, plenty of opportunities for both specialists and generalists. First and foremost, follow your passion. Because you only become really great at something if you love doing it. If you want to specialize, go for it. But IMHO, at least learn to be a basic competent generalist first. Knowing that will make you a more versatile and marketable artist, and a better specialist in the long run.

03-25-2019, 03:03 PM
The more independent you are, it seems the more of a generalist you have to be.

Though, FWIW, Lost Boys seems to suggest they see a trend toward specialization.


03-25-2019, 03:20 PM
The more independent you are, it seems the more of a generalist you have to be.

Though, FWIW, Lost Boys seems to suggest they see a trend toward specialization.

I disagree... STRONGLY. even the mayor studios (like Pixar) are cross training their animators. The walls that divide the aspects of a shot in a production environment are coming down, because of the advances in speed and tech.

03-25-2019, 04:01 PM
I can't help thinking that the answer is that you need to be a specialist....who understands everything :)

03-25-2019, 05:21 PM
My hunch is that it doesn't really matter as long as one keeps an adaptable mindset, even if it comes down to "fake it till you make it". That crosses with the Richard Servello interview thread (https://forums.newtek.com/showthread.php?159262-VFX-interview-Richard-Servello&highlight=Richard+Servello)by erikals, particularly at 8:59 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1078&v=86V85Q-jTeE#t=8m59s).


03-25-2019, 05:32 PM
I enjoyed watching the video.
I really want to be a great generalist, but also want to super specialize in character animation.
I really loved to hear about sasquatch and Fprime, I am still using lw 9.6 and use them a whole
lot for fun.

03-26-2019, 06:44 AM
Thanks. We'll try to do more talks. I just need to balance these videos between work and family.

I personally specialized in FX work, but started out as a generalist. Now that I moved back to New Jersey for family reasons, I find that being a generalist is pretty important to get a wide variety of work. I hope that Newtek continues to serve the generalist and make Lightwave the flexible and fast tool that it is. They finally got a gas solver, that is a big step in the right direction.