Workflow Doubts: code, animation or both?

TL;DR - Do professional VFX artists and studios use code or animation clips for timing? In which proportion? Does it even matter?

Hello! I’m a programmer trying to get into VFX and I’m currently working in making a portfolio (in Unity). While making last month’s sketch I had some doubts about how to set the timing for the effects.

I’m used to work with the tween engine DOTween in Unity and I used it for most of the parts of that effect. As time was running out, I made the last bit using the Animator and the iteration times decreased, allowing me to work way faster and better focus in the effect and the timing rather than the code.

So my question is, when working in your professional works, do you (or most artists) use code or animation clips to drive the timing of the effects? Does it even matter?

I guess it can vary from one studio or professional to another, but I’d like to know what your typical workflow is and what to expect in a VFX position, since my previous “professional” VFX works were made as a programmer and mostly improvised when needed.

Sorry if this is a very useless question to ask :sweat_smile:

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Personally, I try to use the timelines as much as possible. Just like you noticed they give a lot faster iteration times and a better visualization of the timing. I’d use code only if there’s some wierd edge case that would stop me from using a timeline.

I think what’s needed in tools for artists the most is abstracting away and simplifying how something works under the hood enough to allow focusing on the artistic side of things.

I have worked with both, DOTween and Animator. If there is a lot going on, I use animation clips/timeline, as it easier to handle. If it is a simpler movement, I do like using DOTween.

BUT I set up the DOTween scripts in a more generic way, that I can throw a script on an object and add Animation Curves to do the job. This makes it easier to visualize and adjust what motion is going to happen. And it makes it easier to recycle motions imo, as you can reuse the curves in many different places.

At the end, it still might be that you have to adjust to the systems that the studio uses. I would recommend to look at the different approaches to get a general understanding and stick to the one that feels most comfortable for you to work with. You will never know what pipelines and tools your next studio is using, so having strong fundamentals and self-directing will help you through that more easily.

Thank you for your answers!

As a programmer for years, something I’m struggling with now that I’m trying to focus in VFX is changing the mindset and avoid doing things that are not the VFX, like making a small mechanic or system around the effect to test it instead of just making the effect :sweat_smile:

I’ve actually only used Animation Curves for DOTween once some time ago to set something up for a designer in a game jam and it seems I forgot I could do that, thank you for the advice! I’ll try combining both fo my portfolio, also to practice more with the animation tools.