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Written by Pete Draper – Co-founder, Division Head & Chief Technical Director – Makuta VFX ,Hyderabad

Regarding animation and visual effects training and alleged fraud against such institutes and closure of VFX / animation companies over here in India. Now I have been following with great interest such reports of “fraudulent” institutes – some with big franchises that are spread country-wide and have been viewing things from both sides, primarily from being a student at university in the past (doing nothing to do with what I do now FYI…) and also as an external examiner for a leading UK university’s VFX courses. And I have to say one simple thing: It doesn’t matter about your course or what you do to obtain experience.

For those companies who are demanding experience letters and/or “certificates” from institutions, they are simply for HR who have no clue whatsoever how to view a showreel. Personally, I do not give two shits if you have done a course at x-institution or have worked for y-company for z-amount of years. Your showreel is what matters; any good recruiter will tell you this – any which does not and/or relies purely on certificates from educational establishments, cannot tell the difference from their arse from their elbow (and possibly can’t find the former with both hands). So to those students (and prospective ones) I say this: why can’t you teach yourself? I bloody well did – when I started out there were no VFX courses.

We had to learn the hard way through trial, error, passion, dedication and commitment to our art. You guys & gals have it so bloody easy these days with the wealth of information at your fingertips. You think shelling out a few lakhs will guarantee you a job? Seriously? Just like paying that guy at the RT office got you the driving license made you an awesome driver? And if the institution you are joining / have joined says you are guaranteed a job worth x-amount, sorry but that’s bullshit. You and only you can guarantee your worth by practice, failure, more practice, more failure and sheer determination to succeed and to better yourself and treat the art as it is – art. If you think it’s a job, go do something else.

I don’t care if you’ve no experience. I don’t care if you’re got 10 years experience. Your reel says what it is worth. And if your reel is more than 6 months old and you have nothing else to show during those 6 months… sorry – you could have been self-learning to get yourself up another level. If you can’t even have the self-determination to learn and to better yourself in 6 months, how the hell are you going to develop in a studio without someone holding your little hand 24/7? Get off your arse, stop complaining and practice. It is art. You can’t get good overnight. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know shit. Do you think DaVinci leaned what a brush, a palette and a canvas was then painted the bloody Mona Lisa? No, he practiced, developed and taught himself for years. So, my dear prospective student / artist, if you are going to join an institution, check out their credentials first. Find one that is going to teach you fully with up-to-date methodology, by renowned trainers, designed by renowned industry leaders at an established place that is respected and valued within the VFX community and one that has legal software. Ask to see the certificates if necessary. Treat the course like your driving test – you know the minimum of “not to die on the road” – the rest is sheer experience and practice. And if you do go for a job and the first thing the HR manager asks you is for a certificate, they are simply looking for bums on seats.

Your showreel is your test – you have had months and/or years to prepare for this – why would a 4 hour test make any difference? Oh, and before I finish… if your studio has not paid you for the past three months, why the hell are you still there? If they haven’t paid you by then, get the hell out and take their arses to court. They have broken the employment contract, not you.

With love… Pete


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Amod drinks lots of coffee and writes articles. A student by day , blogger by night. When a team needs a gum to hold itself together , he is there to chew it.

  • Pankaj

    Now a days new trend has emerged……….. For test most of the studios ask you to rig and animate if you have applied for generalist post or even worse they will ask to model, texture, Rig and animate the character and that too when i have 10 years of experience with decent demo-reel to demonstrate all of my skills…………… what if i applied at 4 studios in a month………..What is the sense of demo-reel than ????………I don’t think industry is heading in good direction

    • Amod Mantri

      Having a good showreel means you are eligible to appear for a test. This trend has emerged because people downloads showreels available on youtube and vimeo. They can easily download videos and add it into their reel to show it as their own work so that they get hired. Once hired they are unable to execute a shot. So studio has to start all the recruitment process again. So to avoid this studio has started taking tests so that they can hire a genuine artists.

      • Angad Singh

        I don’t think there is anything wrong in giving tests….

        • Amod Mantri

          Yes,There is nothing wrong in giving tests. I am just explaining why studio conducts test before recruiting artists 😀

  • Angad Singh

    Good read.. In country number of good studios barely make it to double digits no .people increasing u say pick that studio, reject that studio… Like the artist has much of a choice…
    I wonder why do these articles always ask to do this to get accepted, do that n you get a job… Why not get your batch mates together start your own thing, at least give it a a try… Why not a article about how you can be a job creator than a job seeker..

    A struggling jobless artist doesn’t need one more lecture on how it’s his fault he was cheated.. I would love to find some article not on whats to be done but how’s it to be done…

    We all know the current situayion

    • Amod Mantri

      Hi Angad,

      This article is to address to those students (freshers) who are blaming their institute for not getting a job in a industry.
      Coming to your points
      1) Artists has much of a choice
      Agreed. An artist does have many other options and plenty of jobs.
      2)I wonder why do these articles always ask to do this to get accepted, do that n you get a job.
      I have seen students attending lectures for 2 hrs (most of them sleep :D) and then they don’t work on developing a skill. They end up making a godzilla which looks like a oversized camel on steroids. Then they make an awful showreel and when studio rejects them, they blame their faculties and institutes.

      3)Why not get your batch mates together start your own thing, at least give it a a try
      Starting your own studio or a setup is a great thing. In this cut throat competition getting a client is easy, retaining them for a long time is difficult. You need to deliver good outputs to your client. For that you again need skills.You need a good business plan. You can’t expect it from a person who blames people for his failures.

      4)A struggling jobless artist doesn’t need one more lecture on how it’s his fault he was cheated.. I would love to find some article not on whats to be done but how’s it to be done…

      You will currently find fair amount of posts on this blog regarding showreels and job tips. More will be published soon

      I hope this helps,


      • Angad Singh

        I agree, half of them get rejected, well coz they suck..
        I think we need more articles on what you need for your own setup, how to set up benchark on work, what to compare, n what to charge, not the policies n rules but guidelines.
        I agree handling client is tough, so let’s have some experience shared on that. You dont want artist cheated.

        There is life beyond outsoucing.. Just an idea.. Imagine not being the brush for someone else’s painting.. Trust me best feeling ever.

        One point iloved of yours, u can’t expect that from these people who just complaint blame n sit at home with no value addition in months n months..

        • Amod Mantri


          There are two kind of people
          1) One who complains
          2) One who wants to succeed

          The latter one will find their own way to succeed and survive. Where as start up is concerned they need a good MENTOR who can always guide them throughout their startup journey. Web will cover some general and basic points that they should consider while starting a studio or a company.

          But for the first kind…….you need to motivate them and make them understand what industry actually needs from them through such articles so that they learn and contribute instead of blaming others.

  • unaperrson .

    I find the tone of this article slightly patronizing, even obnoxious. Just because you get rejected it doesn’t necessarily mean your work ‘sucks’, it could just be that you are not the ideal fit for their current requirements. I find much of the advice online very hastily put together and generic. I seldom ever see anything that is very perceptive.

    • Amod Mantri

      Look at this and tell me that this model is good and an ideal candidate for a studio job??? And after looking at this model tell me why shouldn’t I cover generic points first???

      Will you hire artist with skills like this???

  • seany b

    This is somewhat true but doesn’t really apply much to home based VFX artists, you don’t have to be employed at a studio to be in the ‘industry’. I have never been given work because of a showreel, I just started out doing lots of favours (to substitute self-study and personal growth) and made a lot of people happy. I think on some level the time spent doing that is the same amount of time I’d spend making and updating my showreel quadrimesterly. Since then I am now known to all the right people in a positive way. And anyone i’m recommeonded to who has questions can just see links to my work, where I am able to explain what I did on the project, what challenges I overcame, and why i’d be useful for whatever their project is. There is interpersonal communication and a stronger sense of community, compared to just throwing your fishing line out into the ocean and hoping your fish food looks better than everyone elses. I have seen great work, far superior to my own that is still not getting any love out there on the internet. So in addition to Pete Drape’s advice, my 2 cents is: Make yourself personally helpful to the people who need it, deserve it, and have something to offer you back, and try to be sure about all THREE of those if you can

  • Cain Jones

    This post- and the comments following it- have been an inspiration. I am surprised to find that the Industry in India is the same as it is here- at least in regards to neophytes seeking employment.

    First off, I looked at the Car Model. You asked if I would hire this person. As an honest critique, I liked the tires, but the rest of the vehicle lacked polish. It seemed like the artist simply found some nice shaders made by someone else, and used them to try and make a bad model look better. This in itself isn’t too bad- IF the artist had created the model in less than an hour or two. If this was a project that was the result of several days or even weeks, I would pass on offering employment. As it stands, it is rejected from High-Poly standards because it’s rather ugly… and sadly it is rejected from Low-Poly usage because it’s not optimized. It has too much geometry that accomplishes nothing.

    Second, I didn’t think the post was terribly patronizing. Here on the West Coast of the US, the people are mostly descendants of hardy, no-nonsense pioneer folk, so we are used to hard criticism and rejection. If a prospective employer doesn’t like what you do, they will not even take the time to tell you why. They will simply say no.

    Finally, I have found that if you are an artist and want to work on your art, you will not find satisfaction working for someone else. Does this mean you shouldn’t work for a company? Not at all. In a company setting I was required to create hundred of low-poly objects. I view this time as an opportunity to hone my craft, and fail at things that mean nothing to me. For example, if I were to create a game or an animation for myself, I don’t that project to be plagued by trial and error. Working for another company has given me the ability to create up to five low-poly models per day, complete with normals and materials, sometimes with basic animations tied to them. As it stands, I can create fifteen models a day- (~200 polys each) if I don’t have to worry about materials. If I had been on my own, this would never have happened.

    Now that I have honed my low-poly skills, I am freelancing and am very happy. Several small jobs a month is enough to allow me the time needed to create my own projects- things that I care about and wouldn’t want to work on with other people.

    I suppose my point is this- large studios are soulless entities that will make you work on things you don’t want to do. If your goal in life is to work for them, know that you will only be working to man another man rich. Your pet project will never get off the ground, and if it does, it will be mutilated by a committee. Instead of saying to yourself, “I’m going to work at PIXAR!” you need to be saying, “I’m going to work for Studio X for a year, and then I’m going to start my own studio.”

    A small studio will force you to hone your skills. A large studio will chew you up and spit you out. YOUR studio is the goal.

    • IMConqueror

      Well said .. respect!!

      • Amod Mantri

        I loved the last line……

        • IMConqueror

          but each lines of your blog is awesome man!!

  • Ashish Kushwaha

    respect …..