TheCGBros CGInsider Newsletter

Editor's Note

Diving into the magical realm of creating Visual Effects (VFX) for games, films, and advertising is like stepping into a world where imagination meets reality. The allure of crafting VFX for entertainment is all about bringing virtual worlds to life. Picture this – you get to sculpt breathtaking landscapes, design jaw-dropping characters, and make explosions that feel so real you’d almost duck for cover. Gamers immerse themselves in these digital wonders, and as a VFX artist, you’re the wizard behind the screen, conjuring up experiences that transcend reality.

Now, let’s talk about the silver screen – films. The allure here is nothing short of cinematic magic. As a VFX artist for films, you’re not just creating visuals; you’re telling stories. Ever seen a dragon soar through the sky, a city crumble, or characters morph into fantastical beings? Of course, you have! That’s the enchantment VFX artists weave into films. It’s the power to transport audiences to galaxies far, far away or plunge them into the heart of historical epics. The allure lies in turning ordinary scenes into extraordinary moments that linger in the minds of viewers, making them believe in the unbelievable.

And when it comes to advertising, the allure of VFX is about making jaws drop and eyes widen. Imagine crafting commercials where products burst into a kaleidoscope of colors, or where realistic animations showcase the impossible. VFX in advertising is about creating that wow factor, stopping people in their tracks, and etching brands into the memory of consumers. It’s the art of turning ordinary ads into unforgettable visual spectacles, where every frame tells a compelling story and every detail captivates the audience. The allure here is the ability to make brands not just seen but experienced, leaving a lasting imprint on the minds of consumers.


Unveiling the Marvels of VFX Careers

This month in TheCGInsider Newsletter- March 2024: Embarking on a career in Visual Effects (VFX) is akin to embarking on a thrilling odyssey, brimming with opportunities and challenges that await on the horizon. In this comprehensive guide, we’re immersing ourselves in the intricacies of pursuing a career in VFX, unraveling the layers from salaries and career progression to the work environment, all while delving into the evolving landscape shaped by artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Are You Up For An Adventure?

Our journey kicks off by dispelling myths surrounding VFX education. Beyond the glamour, the VFX industry demands dedication, skill, and a profound understanding of digital arts. It’s not just about creating movie magic; it’s about navigating through a competitive landscape that requires perseverance and continuous learning.

When it comes to salaries, VFX artists in the United States are reeling in an average annual income of $85,000. However, the trajectory of your earnings is a nuanced ride, tightly tethered to your experience level. Let’s take a journey through the diverse landscapes of technical roles, where the paychecks tend to be more substantial.

Dreaming Big.

Ever dreamed of working on blockbuster projects for renowned studios like Star Wars or Pixar? We’re delving into the financial intricacies behind those dreams. From interns to supervisors, pay is progressive for each role, and something new on the scene is the freelance-style “permalancing” trend. But here’s a reality check – the world of VFX often involves short-term contracts, turning your income into a rollercoaster. You might make more per contract, but you are not working full-time. This is why having a financial safety net is your compass through these unpredictable waters.

Now, let’s paint a vivid picture of the VFX work environment – a canvas adorned with good pay, exhilarating projects, name recognition, potential awards, and continuous learning opportunities. It sounds enchanting, doesn’t it? But, as with any masterpiece, there’s a flip side. Brace yourself for extended hours, an unconventional schedule, and the challenge of short-term contracts that might add a splash of uncertainty to job stability.

Location, Location, Location!

Despite the recent trend of “working from home”, location still does matter! Here is a short count of the top cities for VFX artists – Montreal, San Francisco, London, Los Angeles, and Vancouver are where the action’s at. While remote work has its appeal, for long-term success, consider a move to these major VFX hubs where opportunities abound.

Zooming into industry dynamics, it’s not just about meeting tight deadlines and the lack of union protections – enter the realm of AI. Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the VFX landscape, alleviating the stress around schedules and becoming a pivotal player in streamlining processes. AI is contributing to the evolution of VFX, enhancing efficiency, and opening new creative possibilities.

Forging The Path.

A career as a VFX artist is an exhilarating journey filled with creative possibilities. The career path typically kicks off with internships, where you get to showcase your talent through a standout demo reel. This is your chance to make a lasting impression, so make it count! Whether it’s perfecting the art of motion graphics or mastering 3D modeling, internships are the launchpad for your VFX adventure.

As you navigate the early stages, the journey involves progression from junior to mid-level roles. This is where you hone your skills, gain hands-on experience, and contribute to diverse projects. Your portfolio becomes your best ally, showcasing your evolving expertise. The ultimate goal? Climbing the ranks to senior roles and, for the ambitious, securing a supervisor position. It’s a climb, but each step brings you closer to becoming a seasoned VFX professional.

Networking, Education, & Skills.

Throughout this journey, networking is your secret weapon. Don’t shy away from seeking guidance, asking for help, and following up diligently. Creating a solid professional network opens doors to opportunities, mentorship, and collaboration. The VFX community is vibrant, and connections made along the way can play a crucial role in your career trajectory. So, gear up, embrace the challenges, and get ready to bring your VFX dreams to life!

Now, let’s pivot to education for a second. While a traditional degree is very impressive – it isn’t etched in stone.  The bottom line for most hiring professionals is answering the question “Do you possess the skills, illustrated by a stellar portfolio, and do you have a great personality – these are your golden tickets. In-person schools like the Lost Boys School, the Think Tank Training Center, and the Gnomon School For Visual Effects in Los Angeles are just a few examples of the top-notch companies that are actively forging and shaping the industry.

If you’re eyeing the Gnomon School it comes with a price tag of around $84,000 before scholarships, and most dedicated VFX schools have similar pricing levels. A quick tip: steer clear of public schools for VFX education, with a few possible exceptions being the University of California and Texas A&M. Private art colleges often have newer hardware and more updated programs that align with the dynamic nature of the ever-changing requirements of the VFX field.

Self Discipline & Self -Learning.

As we shift gears to online VFX schools, where flexibility, affordability, and global accessibility take center stage – especially as AI is beginning to make its grand entrance. AI algorithms are starting to revolutionize online learning platforms by personalizing the educational experience. Finding a good online learning platform can sometimes be difficult, but Rebelway and Full Sail University offer some great courses, and there are many on YouTube as well – it just takes time to find the good ones. 

As with anything else, a triumphant journey requires one to develop habits of discipline and a high level of dedication especially when it comes to online learning. To be successful it’s necessary to dedicate at least  30 solid hours a week, as well as network like a pro, reaching out to industry mavens, and showcasing your work online. As the industry evolves, AI will be playing an integral role in shaping online learning experiences as well, tailoring curriculums to individual needs, and accelerating the skill development process.

What Is The Pay Like?

Let’s break down the pay journey in the thrilling world of VFX careers. As a rookie, rocking internships and junior roles, you’re looking at an annual paycheck dancing between $40,000 to $60,000. Generally, this is the phase of soaking in knowledge, honing your skills, and crafting that killer portfolio.

Now, picture yourself climbing up the ladder to mid-level positions. Here, the cash vibe gets more exciting, ranging from $60,000 to $90,000 a year. You’re not just learning; you’re actively shaping projects and adding your creative flair to the mix.

Fast forward to the senior level, and your paycheck gets another boost. Senior VFX wizards typically rake in around $80,000 to $120,000 per year. These are the pros, the maestros, showcasing mastery in their craft and often taking the lead in projects.

And if you’re eyeing that supervisor seat at the VFX table, the pay scale reaches new heights – think $100,000 to $150,000 or more. Supervisors are the captains, steering the ship, managing teams, and ensuring VFX triumphs.

Your Results May Vary.

Remember, these figures are like a ballpark estimate and can wiggle a bit based on where you are, the size of the projects, and the studio calling the shots. So, as you level up in your VFX journey, your earnings groove with your growing skills and the cool responsibilities you take on.

Let us know what you think at! If you found this information interesting or valuable, please be sure to “spread the word” and pass this newsletter along to your friends and colleagues. Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising 🙂 Don’t miss next month’s issue of the CGInsider newsletter! 

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