I’m looking to make a career switch from 2D art and animation into VFX because the potential for growth is much higher than my current role.
I’m still learning the ropes in Unreal, though I’ve been using Unity for the large part of my game dev career. I don’t think i’ll be able to make leaps on just my understanding of Niagara, Shuriken, and Shaders/Materials though.
I’d like to ask (especially to the big earners) - what technical skills did you develop to access higher pay tiers and what might you encourage someone to focus on early for bigger returns later down the line?
I appreciate any response, thanks ya’ll!
I might not be the perfect person to answer this as I got a bit different motivation for VFX, but from what I’ve seen around VFX art is about certain skills:
- Most of our time is in engine: Niagara, Shuriken, Materials/Shaders
- Some time on asset creation: Photoshop, Designer, Blender etc.
- Some time on simulations/VAT: Houdini, Embergen etc.
In many cases it’s well paid specialization afterall, I believe it’s more about quality of effects you make rather than which tools you chose (tho imo it depends on so many factors that it’s hard to predict)
Hey Manus, you’re very active on the forum, and I appreciate your breakdown. I figured I’d have to dig into simulation stuff sooner or later - which is seeming more sooner than later - but good point about the quality of vfx being one of the most important determining factors.
Does anything come to your mind around resources to help me learn Unreal VFX? There’s a gap in what i’ve found between foundational/generic stuff and more technical things (which I can’t name cause I don’t know)
Huge part of VFX are techniques (so different approaches of solving a specific problem), to learn them you basically just need to create variety of effects and watch people use different techniques.
I’m not sure what’s your experience right now, tho if you are still more on beginner level, then I would suggest following through effects of CGHow: CGHOW - YouTube. They are great to learn basics and getting good understanding of Niagara.
Tharlev got tons of awesome videos on many vfx/tech art topics: tharlevfx - YouTube
There you can get many quality of life tips from Partikel: Andreas Glad - YouTube
If you want to learn more advanced effects or better work pipeline I suggest checking out Simon’s effects: https://simont.artstation.com.
It’s an amazing place to learn, he got breakdowns of all those effects + Unreal project files so you can download them and tinker around. It’s truly high quality!
Apart from that there are tons of talented people in this community, so read through forums, maybe watch materials about VFX, like talks on GDC: Can We Do It with Particles?: VFX Learnings from 'Returnal' - YouTube
And what’s most important, enjoy the process VFX are a lot of fun!
Thank you so much for all the links and resources. I have only found a few of these resources on my own, so this helps a bunch
This has given me more to dig through. I don’t know exactly where i’d sit on the competence scale with VFX, but there’s a lot of fundamental things i’m certain i’m missing.
I’d say the most important fundamental is just learning the ins and outs of your particle editor. Learning all the little tricks and quirks you can use to make a novel effect. Beyond that you’ll want a solid grasp of animation and timing, because that’s really going to be the main determining factor in how an effect feels to the player. With good timing you can make any effect feel good with even the simplest of materials.
What you really want to do is study your contemporaries- see what other games are doing to try to recreate it yourself. Modern Warfare 2019 won an award for its VFX and it did nothing too technically fancy- no volumetric simulations or complex materials- just a lot of very well constructed particle systems and flipbook textures.
Thanks for the heads up - I’ve been thinking this exact thing. Recreating fx certainly should help reduce the workload required since the design and timing of the effect is already set.