VFX Voice: What are the most important things producers are looking for when hiring?
O’Neal: “Depending on the role and the project, producers will want the most talented, smartest and most accountable person possible on their team. The talent part can be ascertained by the reel, which is the artist’s calling card. Vimeo and YouTube links are sufficient, but as I work primarily in high-end commercials, the preference is for the artist to have a well-presented website with reel, bio, résumé, contact details and, ideally, a ‘personal’ section which may showcase work done not-for-pay – personal projects like photography, sculpture, improv comedy. I’ve seen all kinds of interesting things. The first thing on the reel should be the most recent and best work.”
Brigham: “Outside of technical or job-related skills, the most important thing hiring managers are looking for is culture fit. That doesn’t mean the person has to be like everyone else, but the hiring manager has to see the candidate within the team and environment, and would the candidate’s unique personality and skill set add value to the team?”
Hodge: “When hiring, VFX producers look for good communicators, team players and people that can work calmly under pressure to a schedule and budget. They need to be organized, great multitaskers, be able to forecast, be resourceful and solution focused, ensuring that things run smoothly behind the scenes at all times. Even at peak times of craziness when there is a lot going on, a good hire will never panic!”
VFX Voice: Should you specialize? Or be a generalist?
O’Neal: “The decision to specialize or be a generalist depends largely on where the artist wants to work. If you want to work at a large animation studio where projects last three years, you may enter a generalist, but at the end of the show you can become a specialist due to the nature of large projects. It’s much more cost-efficient in these cases to have artists specialize (layout, rigging, lookdev, etc.). If you choose to work in short-form projects with quicker turnaround, you will likely be valued more if you’re a generalist with a specialty.”
Brigham: “We have a really great mix of specialized skill sets and generalists at Zoic, so this is a tough question for us. We like having a mix of both. Even if someone has a specialization, they tend to also have secret skills that also come in handy in our fast-paced environment.”
Hodge: “This really depends on the company that you’re looking to work for. In a small facility, it’s a good idea to have a variety of skills, as this will carry you through to other roles in that company where hiring a specialist may not be feasible. At a larger facility, being a specialist allows you to really master a particular skill like FX, compositing and animation. You can also progress faster from junior through to senior artist. Most importantly, don’t restrict your opportunities to just feature film VFX.”