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