VFX in games vs VFX in movies?

Hello! I’m currently enrolled in a VFX program in uni alongside my friend and lately I’m consumed by her question, “can VFX artists work in the game industry?”
It’s because the program head seem to speak of VFX gearing towards the movie industry only and not at all towards game so my friend’s pretty bummed and thinking of quitting the course. I think they have the same basic knowledge, just different implementation. But I’m not sure too, so here I am turning to you guys to hopefully shed some light on this question.

Do they share the same/similar skillset or are they entirely different?

Thank you in advance and wish you all a great day :slight_smile:

EDIT: She’s interested to work as a texture artist in games.

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First you need to realize that film vfx is not the same as game vfx. A game vfx artist would me more of a fx than in film. A texture artist has nothing to do with game vfx.
A texture artist doesn’t really exist in games. She would need to model as well. That said, the actual texturing would be the same, but with extra steps, including baking and shading.

If you are actually wondering if a fx td can transfer from film to game vfx, sure! Often with great success. I can’t remember who said it, but it usually takes about 6 months to retrain a film fx artist to games.


If wanting to transfer into game FX it would only help down the road. When I was going to school they never taught FX only design. it was only later I discovered I enjoyed FX for games.

I honestly have this same question and would love to hear more feedback from people now in games/VR.

I’ll answer it the best I can. I’ve been a film vfx artist for over 15 years and am moving to VR. In film we have the luxury of time and disk space. I would spend days/weeks/months on one effect only seen from one perspective. It isn’t a big deal if it takes hours to render or simulate a single frame. In addition there is an extra step after I am done where a compositor can help it out and polish it up.

The constraints in games are completely different. Size, real time, speed… and in VR even more so. I’m learning how to be brutally frugal and rely on material tricks more then particles. It doesn’t matter as much to be photo realistic but more to fit in the style of the environment.

Though I do seem to be able to use my Houdini skills in simulations and get them into Unreal. Even if it is just on billboards. And there are a lot of simple techniques I’ve picked up that do work in Unreal.

In some ways games use the techniques that we had in film 15 years ago. I haven’t used spites in years, but seem very common in games. This does make me excited on what is to come in games in the next 10 years.

I hope I’m not just stating the obvious. I’m new to this club :slight_smile:

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I worked in film/tv for almost 10 years and moved to games in a round-about way. With particle editors like Unreal/Cascade it makes the transition a bit easier since the tech is advanced and you can do a lot of great things with the material editor.

That being said most places use their own engine, and from my experience the toolbox generally isn’t as large with a proprietary engine so you really do need to learn how to make stuff look cool without all of that tech at your fingertips.

But it’s a skill like any other. If your friend already has a good footing in film VFX, then a lot of what she already knows will transfer over. But I would say it took me at least a year before I became proficient as a game FX artist. Meaning… able to not only make good FX but also make them so they run efficiently in-game and understanding all of the technical aspects that go into an effect, like draw calls, overdraw etc.

Now I’ve been doing game FX longer than film and I still learn every day… just like anything else… the more you do it :slight_smile: