View Full Version : Generalist or specialty?

05-07-2008, 08:26 AM
Looking for opinions on career direction. I'm at a point where I can continue on being a general Lightwave user, jack of all trades sort of thing, or, I could concentrate on one specific thing like organic modeling or whaterver and be specialized. Do companies (any type) want folks who can get by on everything but have a specialty they are really good at, or do they want people who can do it all?

05-07-2008, 09:02 AM

Hopefully someone with industry experience will chime in here but from the interviews I have watched and read feature film relys mostly on Maya. Maya users it seems are often specialists in one area. In interview after interview I keep hearing that Lightwave users tend to be more well rounded. (In retrospect I think all of those interviews have been on the Newtek board so expect bias)

So the system in place seems to favor the specialist, but the management always seems pleased when an artist can step out of one role and perform in another.

From the interviews at Animation Mentor, I gather that animators animate...period. Their job is in the manipulation of the models. To add the subtle movements that make them seem lifelike. So that program doesn't cover modelling or texturing at all.

I seem to recall one interview of Rythm and Hues BOX, where they said they assembled a Lightwave team to work on smaller projects that required quick turnaround. This is probably attributed to the fact that Lightwave artists are well rounded.

I think part of it boils down to the nature of finance. If you can't afford $5000 a seat for software and a team of people to get the job done, you learn to do it yourself. Could the team with better software do a better job? Almost certainly.

Falling to the axiom of "Neccessity is the mothe of invention." Lightwave is a cost effective tool that by neccessity has grown flexible users and a supportive community that help to create inventive ways to address challenges and or shortcomings in the product.

I ramble.

05-07-2008, 09:21 AM
Generally speaking there is a general trend to be more of a generalist. :)

OK seriously this is true. I see a lot of adds for 3D generalists. And not many of them are LW. Mostly it is Maya and XSI.

There are many smaller companies who expect a lot out of a guy holding a seat. These are not large studios. These are local companies. The larger the company the less generalized the jobs are.

So that is one thing to look at. What kind of job you want, large or small company.

But again overall I think there is an economic trend at the bottom to mid range companies towards fewer seats and more work dumped on less people.

05-07-2008, 01:30 PM
Going off of what Richard said, I would recommend getting over to all of the websites of the firms you are interested in working for, and keep an eye out for job openings. See what they typically look for. This will give you a good idea of what different types of companies are searching for in an employee.

05-07-2008, 01:51 PM
From a career point of view, I'd say you'd be wise to maintain your generalist credentials and add specialisation, especially if it's in character-related areas - modeling , rigging or animation.


05-07-2008, 02:52 PM
I've helped place more generalists then specialists:thumbsup:

05-07-2008, 03:25 PM
generalist work is more fun!

05-07-2008, 03:31 PM
Want to be a dedicated compositor? Spend hundreds of happy continuous hours tracking and removing a piece of lint accidentally lodged in George Clooney's left eyebrow!

jin choung
05-07-2008, 03:59 PM
as someone said, small houses will look for generalists to be their pointman.... but larger houses work with specialists out of necessity... it's such complex stuff that if you don't man your assembly line with specialists, it becomes unworkable.

so it depends on whether you want to be a small fish in a big pond (big studios) or big fish in a small pond (small studios).

i've spent most of my time being a big fish in a small pond and the work is more fun but there's not the prestige of being able to see your name on the big screen or being associated with something "cool". but then again, i got into cg to be able to do my own sfx for my own movies so i needed to be a generalist... and as soon as they start hiring for a guy to make movies, i'll be ready. : )

but if your focus is in pursuing a career in cg as a life mission, i suggest being a generalist WITH a specialty. have an EMPHASIS. be good at everything and be a motherfing expert in one area. and i highly recommend having an emphasis in TD work (including coding). that will make you probably more valuable and less expendable than almost any other emphasis or specialty. but alas, TD work is MOST tied to a specific package and so if you achieve a high level of TD knowledge in lw, that won't necessarily translate automatically into maya or xsi etc (and viceversa).

being a modeler is the WORST career choice. you can't throw a shoe in cg without hitting a modeler. there are probably more modelers than any other subset. and with the advent of zbrush and stuff, if that's what you want to emphasize, you better fing rock. don't get me wrong, i enjoy modeling most myself (and this is true of most people... hence the situation) but if you ever go up for a job as a modeler you're gonna have a legion of competition that's very VERY good.


05-07-2008, 05:31 PM
Pardon my ignorance, but English not being my native tongue, what is TD?

jin choung
05-07-2008, 05:36 PM
technical director. rigging monkey primarily.


05-07-2008, 08:17 PM
Thanks for all the feedback. I'll start looking into the specific companies and keep track of what they look for. I hear what you're saying about doing modeling, no matter how good you are,there's always someone better and faster ...

jin choung
05-07-2008, 08:29 PM
oh and for modeling these days, you MUST pick up zbrush or mudbox skills.... without mad zbrusk skillz, you're not in the game anymore....