I’ve been lurking here for a while and joined vfx apprenctice in october.
I’ve been toying with gamedev for some years now but wasn’t sure whether I wanted to make a career out of it or not. Seeing all the amazing work here, on the vfxa discord and hearing encouraging insight on the job market for vfx convinced me to give it a try.
I thought it would be fun to archive my journey here, so I can look back at all the work in a few years and see the progress.
The journey started in early october. I already knew a bit about game engines, programming, 3d modeling and illustration, so diving into the vfx apprenctice courses wasn’t too confusing. After going through most of the videos in about a week, I made this small effect to make sure I could use niagara, blender and substance designer by myself.
End of October 2021
Even though it was early in my journey I wanted to focus immediatly on building effects for a portfolio that I could bring to a studio. I’ve always been more of a realistic game type of guy, so I decided to aim for effects that would feel at home in AAA realistic games.
Early November 2021
Still learning the basics of how VFX are made, at this point I was watching every VFX related GDC videos I could find, just trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible even if I couldn’t understand some of it. Writing down what software the pros use, how different techiques are called… I realized fluid and fire simulations were a big part of realistic effects and decided to learn embergen first as that seemed like the more intuitive option.
Early November 2021
Getting familiar with niagara at this point, I could create emitters and use the sequencer without needing too much outside help. I realized houdini could be a very good tool to learn for modeling meshes and doing fluid simulations and dove right in. After binging a few courses I knew how to put together simple meshes and managed to created a water simulation mesh. I think this effect has a nice block in, but trying to make it visually appealing ended up being a bit too much for my knowledge at the time. I decided to shelf it and come back to it later down the line.
Mid November 2021
Feeling pretty confident with niagara now (as long as I’m not trying to do anything too funky). This effect had me learning a whole bunch of blueprint, and was my first taste of having to come up with clever solution to create an effect (making the portals appear in a dome formation). That really cemented vfx as the perfect artistic format for me, a mix of painting, animation, 3d modeling, programming. As someone interested in all those things but who thought I had to choose one it makes me incredibly happy that being a generalist is actually a viable option in this industry.
I also made an alternative, single portal version of this effect. (51) Portal Shot VFX - YouTube
Early December 2021
This is the first effect I’d confidently call “done”, and most likely the first one (chronologically) I’ll put on my portfolio. It took about a week and a half to complete. Learnt a bit about houdini rigid body simulation.
End of December 2021
That was a big one. I really wanted to make an effect that could be interacted with. That meant learning more about unreal, blueprints, how to change material properties at runtime… No wonder it took almost a month to finish !
Early January 2022
After spending so long on the last effect, I just wanted to have fun with a small effect. At this point I feel like I know enough things to really have fun with those effects, and I’m able to come up with a reasonable solution to most ideas I come up with. The thing to work on now is really polish. The first few months were spent on overcoming technical hurdles, and the next wall is the artistic one. Creating good textures, knowing how to blend elements together, nailing the timing, those are things you unfortunately can’t learn entirely from a tutorial, the only way is to make effect after effect and gradually become better and better.
I really want to thanks everyone on the VFXA discord for their great feedback. I learn so much from every interaction and I can’t wait to see what I’ll be able to achieve this year !