Project 1: Drawing the Line

For our first task of the year we need to:

“Devise a small animation, visual effect or photo edit that turns a simple line concept into something more aesthetically pleasing”. 

For this project, I have decided to try and do some concept work, an animation and VFX to make this.


My idea is to film someone about to throw an object, eg, a ball. And as they are about to throw it, a line appears, showing where the ball is going to land.

I have created another quick concept. I think that I am going to have the line to be a really bright colour in contrast to the rest of the footage.



However, the plan was to get my younger sister to throw a ball and get my dog to chase the ball. But she decided not to help out, so I have gotten my brother to throw a ball against a wall.

I had to film it 5 times to get it in the right angle, as sometimes either him, or the ball would disappear from shot.

The only thing I think may be a problem after I have looked at the shoot I have taken, is that the sky is rather bright and so Is the ball. So it maybe difficult being able to see it the whole time.

Industry Contract Types

Freelance they are self-employed or are part of other companies they often look after their own tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) they might not be entitled to the same rights as workers, eg minimum wage you’re still responsible for … Continue reading

The Importance and Value of Transferable Skills

Skills Developed within animation, vfx and games design are pretty much all transferable. meaning that no matter which sector you go into, these skills all apply one way or another into the other sector.

These skills include:

  • Specialist Skills- be a generalist with specialist skills. Be able to work in other groups and cover a range of functions, but be able to be a specialist in one sector.
  • team work – team work is key within all the sectors above, as you all work together to produce one thing, whether it be a movie or a game.
  • creativity and efficiency – you must be able to think creatively to overcome problems within design and in general.
  • the ability to think about the big picture – VFX is about the overall pipeline and not just one shot, so you must be able to thinking about all aspects of it rather than just one
  • meet deadlines – deadline are a massive thing within these industries, if you miss the deadline, the game or movie may not get published or released, meaning people may not get paid.
  • working to a brief – in the industry, you need to get the shot right for your customer, not for you, so you must be able to change things based on your client.
  • respond well to criticism – criticism may come in the form of your client not liking a certain shot, and so you may need to change it in accordance to their liking.
  • presentation skills – ideas will always need to be presented, whether to another colleague, your boss or to the client to show how you will do certain things, or just for certain ideas. You need to be able to explain yourself concisely and clearly so everyone can understand.
  • knowledge of cultural references – VFX is about making photo real characters or images. These need to be believable so that it feels like they are within that world.
  • observation skills – being able to mimic vfx or an animation is key to making a great scene. So we need to be able to observe movement and then apply that to the shot to make things seem as real as possible.
  • planning – being able to plan ahead is great, in case you come into any problems, you will have a plan to try and over come them.
  • be able to draw – drawing isn’t essential, but it is a great way to get your ideas across to others
  • be proactive and self motivated, always learning – no matter where you work, you will always learn something new, whether it be a new piece of software, or a new way to tackle a problem!
  • be confident – ask questions – asking questions is essential to over coming problems, this will help you learn how to do it later, and it may also help you to help someone else in the future
  • know the language – within any sector, they use a certain type of “language” to help clearly communicate between each other and companies.
  • awareness of cinematography – you will need to be aware of key terms, how certain things are produced and be able to analyse shots
  • maths – trigonometry, matrices, vectors, applied mechanics, algebra, scripting, physics – maths is always going to be a big part of games and animation, whether it is keyframing, physics, blast radiuses or other things, maths isn’t essential to an artist, but you will need to have an appreciation for this section, just like how a programmer doesn’t necessarily need to be able to draw, but needs to have an appreciation.
  • computer literacy- this is essential to be able to navigate within computers, applications, files and understand how to use shortcuts.
  • film theory – Film theory is always helpful, in case you can apply it to a shot later on, and how narrative and structures work.
  • knowledge of vfx history – VFX has come a long way, be looking into the history, you may be able to learn from the past and apply it to new shots
  • knowledge of editing – editing is a big part of the shot, this can be removing boom mics, cables, or other things that shouldnt be visable within the scene.Although your career choice may not require editing, it is good to know the basics.
  • style and vision – each sector may require to work to a certain style. Whether is being photo-realistic, cartoony or just another style, you must be able to work with different ideas to produce the next movie or game.
  • understand optics – optics is how the eyes work. By being able to know how your eyes work, VFX can be used to trick the viewer into believing something is there, or to make them look to a certain area of the screen.
  • be innovative. – although vfx and games have been around for a long time, everyone is still learning. These skills and ideas are being improved everyday and may lead to new ideas in the future.

VFX Breakdown: The Martian

The Martian is a movie produced (VFX) by Framestore, THe Senate, Industrial Light and Magic, Territory Studio and MPC, leading companies within the VFX Industry.

By looking into NASA’s mar mission archives, the teams were able to collect the best references for the movie, and this helped them to get the best results when shooting for the film in Wadi Rum in Jordan.

The VFX Companies then changed the landscapes of Jordan, into the red planet and made it look more alien than just our home planet. The main component of this is the grading and colour correction seen in the majority of the breakdown clips.

Original plate.

Original Plate


Progress Plate

Final shot.

Final Shot

The next component that was used a lot was adding the visor onto the front of the astronauts helmets.

The reason why they didnt include the visor on the actors helmets, is that it would reflect all the cameras and the area that they were filming in, and this would have been difficult and tedious to remove during the editing of the film.

During the VFX, these visors were extremely believable and integrated them into the environment , using highly realistic reflections, using tracking and rendering reflections within the CG Environment.

The filming on site in Jordan used high resolution photography, however extra rocks, craters, mountain ranges and a view of a distant Olympus Mons to create a greater landscape were all added within the CG landscape.

Although there isnt any wind on mars, Ridley Scott wanted to add more to the environment by adding fast ice and dust clouds, to create more of an atmosphere.

These effects were created using houdini and maya CG Fluid simulation, combined with pouring salt and dry ice.

‘We added light clouds to the surface, to echo the dust clouds; above that, we worked to create something that would add the depth we wanted, without importing the fluffy white variety we’re accustomed to on Earth’.

Greenscreen plate.

Greenscreen Plate


Render 1

Final shot.

Final Shot

“Many of the plates we shot in Jordan were replaced in some way, except the very middle strip that were the amazing mountains,” adds Stammers. “In the background we’d add additional mountains that were even further scaled. Most notable is in the area of the Hab site where the main mission is taking place, there’s one really distant volcano which is a nod to Olympus Mons, Mars’ largest volcano at 59,000 feet. Ridley wanted something epic in the background to dwarf even the big mountains that are there at Wadi Rum. Then we added other ones that were half that size but much bigger than the ones present in our plate photography.”

Original plate.

Original Plate


Effects Plate

Final shot.

Final Plate

VFX Industry: Runner


“Providing support to the VFX artists and Ensuring the studio atmosphere remains positive.”

Skills and Experience required:

  • Work well under pressure whilst maintaining high standards
  • Be well presented, tidy and efficient
  • Have great communication skills
  • Have a keen interest in VFX
  • Be able to cope under pressure
  • Be able to respond quickly and prioritise requests

Relevant Qualifications:

  • some runners have a degree in a subject relevant to vfx, it is not a requirement

Best route into the industry:

  • entry level position and the best way to get a job is to apply for one.


Depends on the company. It can range between £10K and £17K a year.

Contact Type: Intern, apprenticeship, entry level, junior

Role Specification:

  • A Runner in a VFX studio will find that a lot of their job relies on making sure the site itself remains operational and the atmosphere remains positive. Whether this is acting as a messenger between two departments, gathering resources for an artist or simply making a cup of tea, the Runner is an integral part of any studio.
  • The added benefit of working in a VFX studio is all of the knowledge and artistry involved. Budding VFX artists will find plenty of teachers and opportunities to impress while working as a runner, and can use it as a platform to move on to greater things.

Screenshots of Job Adverts:


VFX Industry: Digital Preparation (Paint/Prep) Artist

Digital Preparation Artist

“Digitally preparing the plate for the Compositing Department to layer in CG, digital matte painting, graphics or other photographed elements, sometimes using green screen, or effects photography.”

Skills and Experience required:

  • have a precise attention to detail
  • generate clean patches through collaging or clone painting on still frames
  • understand the matte process
  • use software to track cameras and objects in 3D space
  • warp, morph, distort and stabilise footage
  • remove tracking markers in green and blue screen footage
  • correct colour, grade images and restore and repair damaged footage
  • communicate with colleagues and work as part of a team
  • understand the different elements of the VFX pipeline, including compositing, lighting and matchmoving
  • take direction and critical feedback in your work
  • develop your skills to keep up with new technlogies
  • apply your skills across a range of different software packages, which could include Maya, Nuke, After Effects and many more

Relevant Qualifications:

  • most VFX artists have done an undergraduate or postgraduate course, or undergone training.
  • some study art at university, but usually enter as a runner
  • qualifications in computer science, physics, maths and art are liked for vfx jobs

Best route into the industry:

  • For most people, paint prep is a stepping stone to compositing, but some people stay on to become a senior in the field after two or three years.
  • learning nuke will set you on the right path to becoming a paint prep, but after effects is a good option as well.
  • applying as an art department trainee is also a good way to get into the job.


some companies working in high end television and feature film VFX pay skilled and experienced paint artists on a similar level to Senior Compositors.

Contact Type: Intern, apprenticeship, entry level, junior

Role Specification:

  • Paint/Prep Artists are responsible for rig removal tasks, painting out markers, wires and rigging before the shot can move along the pipeline.
  • The work of a Paint/Prep Artist is likely to be reviewed by a VFX Supervisor, often one frame at a time, and compared back to the original plate on a cinema screen.
  • In addition, there are sometimes mistakes on the shoot, such as boom mics or crew members accidentally appearing in the frame. Sometimes images need to be restored too, removing damage in the shape of scratches and dust. The Paint/Prep team will fix these problems before the footage moves to the next department.

Screenshots of Job Adverts:


VFX Industry: Matte Painter

Matte Painter

“A matte painting is often a painted glass pane that is used to show a landscape or large set piece.”

Skills and Experience required:

  • have a thorough knowledge of matte painting techniques including colour space, digital paint and photo-realistic collage techniques
  • have a good understanding and application of the rules of perspective
  • have technical proficiency in photography with an emphasis on composition, depth, light interaction, tone and colour
  • communicate with colleagues and work as part of a team
  • understand the different elements of the VFX pipeline, including compositing, lighting and matchmoving
  • take direction and critical feedback in your work
  • manage your priorities to move each work through the VFX pipeline
  • constantly develop your skills to keep up with new technlogies
  • apply your skills across a range of different software packages, which could include Maya, Nuke, ZBrush and many more

Relevant Qualifications:

  • Undergraduate or postgraduate VFX Course
  • training with a private company
  • art at FE or University
  • Physics, art, maths and computer science are looked upon favorably within junior VFX Roles

Best route into the industry:

  • Usually come from traditional art and design backgrounds.
  • possible to move into matte painting with a blend of skills in 2D digital preparation or junior compositing.
  • from 3D Texture painting, you can also look for opportunities to move across to junior or entry level matte painting.
  • University and college students can take part in competitions ran by large VFX Companies to find matte painting talent.


In USD as of Apr 15, 2016
animation matte painter $43,000
digital painting needed $14,000
senior matte painter – entertainment and media industry opportunity $102,000
concept artist $47,000

Contact Type:

Junior Entry level role, entry level, intern,

Role Specification:

  • A Matte Painter creates virtual backgrounds used to either replace or enhance live action photographed plates.
  • The artist works with stills taken from live action photography, digital still photography, rendered CG elements and digital paint to create believable ‘environments’ that are seamlessly integrated into the film by compositing artists.
  • Matte painting now tends to come under the umbrella of environment work , completed in the larger VFX companies by an environment team/department. However, in smaller VFX houses, many artists may contribute to all the different sections of the VFX pipeline.

Screenshots of Job Adverts:

matte painter.png