Questions about building career in VFX in Europe or Canada

Hi guys,

First of all, thank you all guys, you are an amazing community. I just passed the test period in my first VFX job and this would be much harder without this forum. If you don’t want to read the whole post, main questions which I would like to ask is in the end.

I didn’t find any question about the general VFX job market, I think because for most of you this is a piece of common knowledge. I’m Russian citizen, but for many reasons, I want to move my family to the EU or Canada.

So, I’m trying to develop my skills in a direction that will be interesting for studios in these regions. And that is a very tricky question, actually.

Obviously mobile gaming is the biggest industry for vfx artist to work in. But how many VFX artist mobile game need? In my head much less than PC or console games. But if we talking about importance of the role of VFX artist maybe the cinematic industry is better choose? You know, because they filmed Mandalorian using an Unreal Engine.
But at least here, in Russia, vfx salaries in movies much less than in gaming. I don’t know if this is true in your region.
All this become much complicated if we start to think about software, applying to visa, job safety etc.

But to narrow this mess, I prepared a couple of questions if have a time, please answer, you will help me much.

  1. How much skills and software correlated between real-time vfx and pre-rendered vfx?
  2. Where is easier to find a job: real-time vfx or pre-rendered. And does salaries the same or not?
  3. Which is actually more demanding: real-time or pre-rendered. I’m asking because for more skill demanding positions, companies more tended to hire someone abroad.
  4. Does focusing on mobile games vfx a viable option for career?
  5. Does the separation between stylized and realistic vfx even exist? Maybe I’m totally wrong and I need to learn Houdini sims and hand-paint water animation at the same time? Is this even real to be good (just good) at both?
  6. Is this possible to build a VFX career but not live in US? Cost of living there really scares me but Artstation and Glassdoor tell me that majority of the industry is there.

Thank you all in advance!

Interesting questions. I’m no expert by any means, as I have worked most of my time in real-time vfx, so to the best of my knowledge:

  1. In real-time it’s a massive bonus/help if you know pre-rendered vfx stuff, but you will also need to be able to work within tight performance constraints as well as learning how to use a realtime engine (and their particle editor etc.). In pre-rendred there might be other skills needed like being able to composite, light etc., depending on the vfx company. I’d personally think it’s relatively easy to switch from one to the other (if you have experience), but also they are definitely different.
  2. I’d say real-time is easier. It’s just a job not many people are doing (well). Afaik it’s harder to find good work in (pre-rendered) vfx companies.
    Not really sure about salaries. I assume real-time is better payed, although I think it scales much steeper within vfx companies. Like if you are junior in a vfx company you will earn much less than in rtvfx, whereas if you are vfx director, you will earn much more than in rtvxf.
  3. Both are demanding on different levels. Although as mentioned above, i think rtvfx artists are more sought after, I think it’s harder to find people who can achieve amazing quality within the performance limitations we need to handle.
  4. For sure! I get most offers from mobile games companies/rectruiters. If that’s something that interests you, go for it!
  5. Yes. We usualld would hire for one or the other, even though someone really good might be able to transition easily. It’s never wrong to increase your skills in many ways. They do have things in common. E.g. Stylised flames will still behave similar to actual fire. If you only ever learn one, e.g. hand painted frame animations, you’ll have a hard time transitioning to a realistic project, which requires sims everywhere.
  6. There’s loads of game companies in Europe & Canda who are seeking vfx artists. And one of the largest VFX industries is in London. So if you don’t want to live in the US that’s not a probelm at all.
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I agree fully with Priareos’ response. I’d add that some film VFX companies have real-time departments and are expanding into VR experiences, amusement parks and whatnot, so there’s definitely some overlap and people transitioning in between them.

In Canada the largest portion of the industry is in Quebec, followed by British Columbia. There’s a lot of demand for VFX on both. They have a significant cost of living disparity so have that in mind when doing salary research. Taxes, public services, culture, climate, language and immigration processes will vary too. Having a company sponsor your visa, though it still requires a bit of patience and a lot of paperwork, is very possible on both. Good luck!


I want to add, that it is best to have some skills that is above “just art”. If you can do some scripting or even shader coding(both more or less performent), this will help you get a job tremendously and should give you a good ground to negotiate your salary.

How much you earn is super dependent on which country, city and even company. There is like a span of 1000€ salary difference for the same level. So you really have to research cost of living first for each area :confused:

Going for mobile VFX is a good bet, there are tons of mobile game companies (that nobody has heard off) that have good working conditions.

I wish the best for you and your family in your endeavour!

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