What Does A VFX Artist Do? (With Salary, Skills And FAQs)
Updated 3 September 2023
The job title 'VFX artist' can denote many specialised roles and responsibilities. VFX artists digitally create visual and special effects for different entertainment formats and mediums. If you are interested in creating graphics, visuals and animations for movies and video games, you can consider a career as a VFX artist. In this article, we answer, "What does a VFX artist do?", find out how much salary they earn and learn about the career scope and skills of VFX artists.
What Does A VFX Artist Do?
Looking at their common roles and responsibilities can help answer, "What does a VFX artist do?":
Generate visual effects and animations
VFX artists use digital tools and software to produce realistic visual effects in videos, movies and video games. They can be responsible for creating each element, particle, material or illustration in a frame and may have to make 2D or 3D graphics. VFX artists also ensure consistency between the visual language and style of all the elements and graphics in a video or game.
Prepare storyboards and other visual material
Creating storyboards to show a visual representation of the final effects and graphics is usually the responsibility of VFX artists. They may also have to create mockups to help the production or design team with their tasks. VFX designers are also typically responsible for maintaining the continuity of shots and effects in the frame.
Enhance or edit visual elements
In addition to creating animated or graphically created elements, VFX artists may also have to enhance the lighting effects, adjust the shadows, add blurring effects and integrate different videos elements. They also perform rotoscoping, or tracing frames in live-action videos, editing the textures and matching the movement of virtual elements with the real environment and actors. All these tasks are particularly important in the filmmaking and production process.
Offer consultancy to filmmakers and game developers
VFX artists are an integral part of the planning and pre-production teams in the entertainment and gaming industries. They usually advise filmmakers and directors on the best lighting, colour levels, saturation and audio to ensure realistic effects and graphics. They also work closely with game designers and developers to ensure compatibility between different elements and effects.
Capture the right visuals and audio
In some cases, VFX artists may also work behind the camera on-set, operate the camera, adjust the lighting or record the required audio. This is usually a part of the post-production process during filmmaking. VFX artists working in video games may also have to photograph, record and capture visuals and audio from real-life locations.
Collaborate with other team members
VFX artists are responsible for implementing the vision of the game designer or movie director. They may work in a large team consisting of engineers, developers, designers, producers, directors and other professionals to create the desired visual asset. They also work with several other artists to ensure that the final graphics and visuals are engaging and realistic.
Average Salary Of A VFX Artist
The average salary of VFX artists is ₹26,030 per month. This figure can vary as per the specialisation and experience of the candidate. For example, a VFX generalist who has experience handling large teams of VFX artists is likely to earn more than freshers with lesser experience.
Industries Where VFX Artists Can Work
The role of a VFX artist has become a crucial part of the following industries:
Filmmaking and entertainment: Whether creating an animated television show for children or a big-budget film with leading actors, VFX artists are typically a part of all movie and television production teams. They typically participate more in the pre-production and post-production processes.
Video game: VFX artists help conceptualise, design and implement video games. They are typically a part of all stages of the game development cycle and are essential to ensure a sense of continuity and synergy between different game elements.
Advertising and marketing: Many marketing and advertising agencies hire VFX artists to produce short commercials and videos.
Media and communications: Several media houses and publications also produce high-quality videos to explain current issues and complex topics. These videos are usually in different formats, but all of them require VFX artists and generalists.
Skills Of A VFX Artist
Here are some essential skills of a VFX artist:
Creativity and innovation are crucial skills for VFX artists to succeed in their roles. Understanding how colour, composition, texture and light work together to create compelling visuals can be essential. The ability to use technical knowledge and skills to achieve the director's vision or the game producer's concept and create realistic-looking visuals is also important. They may also require fundamental knowledge of photography, illustration, painting, design and other visual art forms.
Knowledge of different animation and graphic designing software like Houdini, Maya, 3Ds Max, Cinema 4D, After Effects, Foundry Modo, Flame, Flint, Inferno, Blender, Foundry Nuke and other tools can be vital for VFX artists. In addition to strong knowledge and experience working with VFX software and tools, VFX artists may also require working knowledge of physics, engineering, math, biology and engineering to generate realistic effects. For instance, if a VFX artist is creating an animated person, their knowledge of facial features, scaling, motion and movement can help them create the animation more realistically.
The role of a VFX artist working with different teams, directors, leads and producers. They liaise with several other professionals to create visual elements and effects to ensure that the end product has a uniform tone, design and style. This also requires communicating clearly, exchanging feedback, giving instructions and monitoring progress.
While most VFX artists with a full-time job may work for fixed hours, it is essential for them to prioritise their day and manage their time effectively. On a typical day, a VFX artist may have to complete several tasks other than digital animation and processing, like conducting meetings, supervising progress and reporting to directors. Many projects can also have strict deadlines and may require them to work for longer hours, making organisational and management skills crucial.
Attention to detail
The role of designing and creating visual elements and effects can require high levels of focus and concentration. Everything has to be meticulous and consistent, which requires having strong attention to detail. Since VFX artists are also responsible for ensuring continuity and uniformity between the real and virtual elements in a frame, it is important for them to be very thorough and conduct several rounds of quality assurances and corrections before finalising the composition.
FAQs About The VFX Artists
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about VFX artists and jobs:
What are the different types of VFX jobs?
VFX artists can work as VFX specialists, or those who are experts in one particular VFX skills, like modelling or animation, and as VFX generalists, or those who understand all different processes of creating VFX visuals. There are also VFX producers, VFX coordinators, VFX supervisors, VFX editors, VFX lighting artists and VFX modelling artists. Usually, VFX artists with more experience and knowledge of different tools and processes work as supervisors and manage a team of VFX specialists.
Can you become a VFX artist without a degree?
No single degree or certification can make you a VFX artist. You can complete a three or four-year bachelor's degree programme in animation, multimedia, visual art or graphic design. To supplement your skills, you may also enrol for short-term certification courses that train in specific skills and VFX tools. Knowledge about software animation, colour theory, visual design, illustration, science, engineering and other relevant subjects can help you start a career in this field. An internship or apprenticeship may be necessary to gain some experience before you can qualify for a full-time job.
How to find VFX artist jobs?
Follow this process to find relevant employment opportunities for VFX artists:
Complete your education. Finish a bachelor's degree programme in any relevant visual art or design specialisation of your choice. After completing your bachelor's degree or diploma, you can also pursue a master's degree or diploma in a specialised field.
Gain expertise. Enrol for short-term certification and courses that train in niche tools, processes and subjects important for a career in VFX.
Get some professional experience. Start your professional career with an internship or short-term project that introduces you to the professional setting and processes of VFX production.
Build a portfolio. A portfolio is arguably the most important aspect of your application when applying for jobs. Pursue personal projects in various formats and mediums that demonstrate your creativity and skills and add them to your portfolio.
Create an impressive resume. Write a short and effective resume highlighting your skills, educational qualifications and experience. Also, create a cover letter and customise it as per the role and employer while applying for jobs.
Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted website at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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