This week I had a student express interest in becoming a modeler and an animator.
Many students, myself included, have many interests in 3D and digital art that they want to pursue because there are so many disciplines that are attractive.
The reality is that you will (almost) never get hired as both a modeler and an animator. Those two disciplines don’t have much overlap and most studios hire people who specialize.
There are positions called 3D generalists as well as previz and postviz artists that might need to do some very basic modeling along with animation, but the vast majority of modeling and animation jobs do not overlap.
However, I do think it’s valuable to know the very basics of almost every department, like modeling, animation, texturing, rigging, and dynamics, for several reasons.
The initial reason is that most first jobs in the industry are most likely to be at a smaller studio where you are expected to wear multiple hats. Those hats could include helping out other departments.
Many times in smaller productions one department might be waiting for another to get their work done to pass their work off to them, like animators waiting on rigs and models to animate. But, if you know a little bit of modeling and rigging you might be more valuable and able to chip in when it’s needed.
This has happened several times for me, one of which was this 2-time Emmy winning short film for Dolby sound called “Silent.”
I helped create UVs for an airplane asset. Making UVs for a model is not glamorous work, but if you read this previous blog post then you already have the attitude of a team player and prepared to help out where the team needs you most.
Another reason to know more than one discipline is to communicate with other departments. It’s easier to work together when you understand what each other needs to do their job.
In this specific student’s desire of wanting to be a modeler and an animator, the reality is that’s not possible at larger studios and you’ll most likely get overshadowed for a position by someone who has specialized in one of those disciplines.
My advice for new students is to expose yourself to every discipline early and keep an open mind for what may interest you because you aren’t yet aware of what is available.
When I began film school I switched from visual effects to animation after I began learning both, but I would have never had enough knowledge to make that decision until I started to learn the fundamentals of both and what is involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of those disciplines.
It’s hard as a new student to know how these things typically work without experience and that’s what I hope I can help you with and guide you in the correct direction.
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