Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review of the eBook How To Get That Visual Effects Job

How To Get That Visual Effects Job: An Insiders Guide To Making It Big Working For Hollywood by Demis Lyall-Wilson

Published in 2011

84 Pages in length

To purchase go to :

Follow the author on Twitter at:

Visit the author’s blog at

You can find the eBook ‘How To Get That Visual Effects Job’ for $12.95 USD on the authors website at The eBook is available for immediate download in either epub or pdf versions.

How To Get That Visual Effects Job is an easy read with practical advice anyone can use. The author is a digital compositor and worked on such films as The Great Gatsby, Prometheus, Killer Elite, Thor, even Sleepless in Seattle.

The book starts out by explaining why choosing a career in the visual effects industry might be for you and then recommends things to consider before you begin. To help you figure out the best employment route for you to take there’s a chart. If you already know what specific type of work you want; go for it! Not sure yet? The author recommends becoming an office runner for an overview of VFX office duties.

 Included in the book is a recipe for the perfect showreel and advice on how to best distribute your work. It delves into such things as social networking and the importance of having an online presence. There are sample employment letters included, lists of do’s and don’ts, even what to wear to job interviews.  Overall this is a primer to get you to make that move to a satisfying career in visual effects.

©Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Review of The Visual Effects Producer

Watch this review of The Visual Effects Producer: Understanding the Art and Business of VFX by Charles Finance and Susan Zwerman. The book is available in paperback and Kindle versions on Find out if you should add this title to your success library.

Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Best VFX Twitter Feeds to Stay Informed

Check to see if you are following these VFX industry leaders. These Twitter feeds can dramatically increase your knowledge and effectiveness.

The Twitterverse is full of accounts with VFX in their titles that are only set up to spam you with useless information and products you don’t need. Guard your time by following only the best. This list will change frequently so be sure to check back from time to time and get the latest and greatest.

1. @vfxglobal

Follow VFX Global to get the latest news on happenings in the CG community.  What makes VFX Global interesting is they regularly re-tweet what others are talking about and aren’t afraid to give advice.

2. @motionographer

Follow Motionographer for the latest video shorts. See what the industry is talking about and see if you agree with the comments.

3. @neonmarg

Follow Neon Margarita for Jeff Heusser’s interesting writing on everything from the state of the VFX industry to events and commentary. 

4. @vivekkay

Follow Vivek a CG artist with creative ideas to make your work life even better.

5. @scott_squires

Follow Scott Squires for information on the VFX industry and his take on politics. 

6. @vfxsoldier

Follow VFX Soldier for straight talk about the VFX industry and it’s “race to the bottom”.  No punches held here.

7. @alba

Follow Eric Alba for awesome VFX links with a Brooklyn attitude.

8. @vfxhack

Follow VFX Hack for Andrew Orloff’s take on the industry as a VFX Supervisor.

9. @vfxjobs

Follow VFX Jobs for visual effects job openings in Southern California posted on Craigslist and other sites.

10. @daverandcom

Follow David Rand a VFX artist and passionate supporter of the VFX industry.

11. @vfxsuccess

Follow VFX Success for ideas to jump start your career and create a better industry for all.

©Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 19, 2012

Top Print Publications for VFX News

I know what you’re thinking….. Do people still read magazines? Yes! Thankfully all of these publications offer online subscriptions as well.  Stay informed by reading everything you can the indust

1. Variety Magazine – Recognized as the premier entertainment source since 1905. Variety is the bible of showbiz. Variety publishes stories of interest to the VFX industry. A subscription can cost you over $300. Most readers get access through a company who pays for it.  
Variety Magazine
5900 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 3100
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 617-9100      

2. The Hollywood Reporter Magazine  - A weekly subscription print and online edition offers readers access to production listings and information on industry events. A subscription can cost around $200.

The Hollywood Reporter
5700 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(866) 525-2150
3. Cinefex – Cinefex is quarterly magazine focusing on motion picture visual effects.  

PO Box 20027
Riverside, CA 92516
(800) 434-3339

4. VFX World Magazine – Part of the Animation World Network; the largest online animation publishing network.

Animation World Network
World Headquarters
AWN Inc.
6525 Sunset Boulevard, Garden Suite 10
Hollywood, CA 90028

Telephone: (323) 606-4200
5. 3D World Magazine – Monthly magazine for CG artists and visual effects enthusiasts.
Future Publishing
30 Monmouth Street

Telephone: +44 (0) 1225 442 244

6. Animation Magazine – Monthly magazine reporting on films, gaming, visual effects and technology trends.

Animation Magazine
26500 W. Agoura Rd., Suite 102-651
Calabasas, CA 91302

(818) 883-2884

7. Computer Arts Magazine – Monthly subscription magazine for designers, illustrators and computer arts professionals.

Future Publishing Ltd. 30
Monmouth Street

01225 442244

8. Post Magazine – Post magazine is focused on the entertainment industry and those in the post production field.

Post Magazine
PO Box 3296
Northbrook, IL 60065-3296

(818) 291-1153

9. Creative COW Magazine – Bi-Monthly magazine for media professionals in the entertainment industry.

Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Best VFX Blogs to Keep You Informed

Here's a short list of the best visual effects blogs including my own; If you don't see your favorite on the list please comment below. It's always hard to narrow a list down.

1. Motionographer

Enjoy great in-depth discussions about film making and visual effects. Find a laundry list of tutorials and find out about upcoming events.

2. Video Copilot

Andrew Kramer posts regular news updates and his tips for visual effects artists.

3. Effects Corner by Scott Squires

Effects Corner has offered readers insights into the world of visual effects since 2005. Scott Squires is a director as well as a visual effects supervisor.

4. VFX Soldier

Read frank discussions about challenges the VFX industry is facing. As an anonymous writer the VFX Soldier is able to cover ground some would be hesitant to publish due to fear of being blacklisted.

5. FX Guide

Listen to podcasts, watch videos, read articles from VFX artists and industry insiders from around the globe.

6. The Digital Gypsy

Insight to the world of a global visual effects artist with rants tips for improving your career and the industry as a whole. 

7. The Art of VFX

Go here for interviews with various VFX industry insiders. This blog is authored by Vincent Frei president of the Swiss Visual Effects Association.

8. Computer Graphics World

Computer Graphics World offers practical tips and techniques from leading artists and authors in computer graphics.

9. DotMogo

DotMogo is a hub for UK motion graphics experts who  weigh in on the latest in industry trends.

10. VFX Success

VFX Success tips and commentary to help visual effects artists reach there full potential.  

Copyright 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

10 Visual Effects Training Programs to Jump Start Your Career

Vocational training is important, whether it’s to improve your skills or gain basic experience to land your first job.  Ongoing training will be a necessary part of your career as technology changes and new techniques are used. The visual effects industry is changing. Stay ahead of the crowd by upgrading your skills.

Consider some of these courses:


Eight week subscription based online training with a completion certificate you can share with employers.

2. University of Advancing Technology (UAT)

Offers a Digital Video Bachelor’s of Arts Degree

The University of Advancing Technology
2625 W. Baseline Road
Tempe, AZ 85283-1056
(602) 383-8228
(877) 828-4335 Out of State

3. The Art Institute of California – Hollywood

The Art Institute offers courses in Visual Effect and Motion Graphics and Media Arts and Animation.

The Art Institute of California
2900 31st Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 752-4700

4. Gnomon School of Visual Effects

This facility offers classes with instructors who are working professionals.

Gnomon School of Visual Effects
1015 N. Cahuenga Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90038
(323) 466-6663

5. Expression College for Visual Arts

Expression offers a Bachelor’s Degree program in Animation and Visual Effects.

Expression College for Visual Arts
6601 Shellmound Street
Emeryville, CA 94608


CMIVFX  offers an annual training plan featuring access to online training videos for around $400. 

7. Digital Animation and Visual Effects School

Digital Animation and Visual Effects School offers a 12 month program where students can earn a diploma.

8. Video Symphony Pro School of Media Production

Video Symphony offers a variety of visual effects certificate programs students can complete in 12 months. 

Video Symphony Pro School of Media Production
266 E. Magnolia Ave.
Burbank, CA 91502
(800) 871-2843

9. Escape Studios

Escape Studios trains their students in computer graphics through hands on experience. Students who complete the training have a demo real they can use to impress employers.

Escape Studios
2400 Broadway, Suite 210
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(855) 932-7324

10. VanArts Vancouver Institute of Media Arts

VanArts offers visual effects diploma programs.

VanArts Vancouver Institute of Media Arts
570 Dunsmuir Street, Suite 600
Vancouver, BC V6B 1Y1
(800) 396-2787

Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Top Four Books for Visual Effects Success

Whenever you make a list of your favorite anything you immediately invite criticism. That’s okay, there’s plenty of room on the old book shelves for more. Feel free to agree or disagree. Let’s hear which books have helped you in your career. Meanwhile if your book shelf is empty or you haven’t started your own VFX library yet it’s time to get started. Consider adding these titles today

1. The VES handbook of Visual Effects: Industry Standard VFX Practices and Procedures Edited by Jeffrey A. Okun and Susan Zwerman

This book was written with the help of dozens of leading VFX practitioners and covers everything you’ll ever need to know to excel in the industry. If there’s a Bible of the Visual Effects Industry; this is it. Buy it, read it, study it, mark it up, dog ear the pages and reference it; just don’t loan it out as it won’t come back. You won’t be sorry. Some books get read only once, but others are like an old friend; this is one of those books.

2. The Visual Effects Producer: Understanding the Art and Business of VFX by Charles Finance

To succeed in any industry you need to know the business side as well as the artistic and technical side. Avoid the mistakes so many have made by learning all you can about the business. This book will help you by showing you industry best practices as well as the mundane things such as budgeting and scheduling.

3. The Art and Science of Digital Compositing, Second Edition: Techniques for Visual Effects, Animation and Motion Graphics (The Morgan Kaufmann Series In Computer Graphics) by Ron Brinkmann

This is a huge book with 675 pages of information that will take you through the history and techniques of digital compositing. You will find yourself immersed in this book because there is so much useful information you can put to work right away. Full color images help illustrate the authors points. It would take a lifetime to learn all these techniques and yet the author has and puts it together in a way that you will understand.

4. The Visual Effects Arsenal: VFX Solutions for the Independent Filmmaker by Bill Byrne

Ever wanted to just lop someone’s head off? Well now you can “digitally” that is. Bill lays out the techniques and you follow his demonstration. It’s that easy. It comes with a DVD you can use to put the techniques learned into practice.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ten Best Books for Success in the Entertainment Industry

Here’s a list of the best books to read for success in the entertainment industry. I hope you find this helpful. I’m always looking for new books to add to my library so please feel free to bring them to my attention.

1. Filmmakers and Financing, Fifth Edition: Business Plans for Independents by Louise Levison

Let’s face it. No one puts out a fifth edition of any book unless it’s worth it. This book is worth the money. Read it through and get ideas for financing your next project. Go in there with a plan and don’t be intimated. This book will show you the way.

2. Surviving Hollywood: Your Ticket to Success by Jerry Rannow

A fun read with practical real world advice for anyone working in Hollywood. The author will show you how to set yourself up for success while watching your back.

3. And…Action! Powerful, Proven, and Proactive Strategies to Achieve Success in the Entertainment Industry by Jessica Sitomer

This book offers the reader a plan for a successful career through goal setting, networking and of course “action”.  It’s an easy read. If you get a chance to attend one of the author’s seminars; don’t hesitate.

4. The Business of Film: A Practical Guide to Achieving Success in the Film Industry by Stephen R. Greenwald and Paula Landry

This book is packed with great information for thinking different about an industry once only dominated by big name stars and Hollywood studios. Take advantage of new technology and distribution to achieve success.

5. Success in the Arts: What It Takes to Make It in Creative Fields by A Micheal Shumate

An informative book with witty practical advice you can use to create a career in show business.

6. The Hollywood Way: A Young Movie Mogul’s Savvy Business Tips for Success in Any Career by Frederick Levy

There’s the right way, the wrong way and then there’s the Hollywood Way. This book covers how to become an expert, pay it forward and build a business that will last even in the toughest times.

7. Highway to Success: The Entertainer’s Roadmap to Business by Elliott Smith and Ian Quick

Learn how to market your services successfully and bring in a steady stream of work so you can focus on what you love to do.

8. The Hollywood Assistant’s Handbook: 86 Rules for Aspiring Power Players by Hillary Stamm and Peter Nowalk

A guidebook filled with somewhat snotty advice from someone who has been there and seen it all. It’s an insider’s look at the industry and the people trying to get past the gatekeeper.

9. Reel Power: The Struggle for Influence and Success in the New Hollywood by Mark Litwak

How things work in Hollywood and how you can manipulate outcomes with advice from people who have been there.

10. The Tao of Show Business: How to Pursue Your Dream without Losing Your Mind by Dallas Travers

The author combines good career sense with practical exercises the reader can follow for personal development.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why Studios LOVE the VFX Community

According to the Visual Effects Society 43 of the top 50 movies of all time are effects driven. Visual effects artists are the goose that laid the golden egg for studios.

Studios love this group. Why? Because visual effects artists are incredibly creative individuals with few demands after rates have been paid. Compare this with actors. Their contracts require ongoing financial responsibility. Their contracts are bullet-proof and have stood the test of time. Just try paying a Hollywood actor late! Their contracts include waivers, restrictions, riders, fees, insurance coverage, limitations, meal period violations, rest periods, penalties, holidays, percentages of sales, commissions, salary, bonuses, agency fees, pensions, and rebroadcast fees.

A lone visual effects professional has very little bargaining power. The lack of structure of a master agreement allows studios to pocket money that would otherwise have been negotiated in the form of benefits and residuals paid to the artist. While other groups require an ongoing fiduciary responsibility visual effects workers have given a pass to the studios.    

Monday, March 12, 2012

Great Video on YouTube!

I saw this posted on the VFX Soldier Blog. Great message! Enjoy!

Which Way Now for the VFX Industry?

Through meetings with visual effects practitioners and entertainment executives, it’s become clear the industry has not yet reached its potential. 

The visual effects industry is fast approaching a fork in the road. One direction continues along a path of outsourcing jobs overseas to the lowest bidder in an ever spiraling race to the bottom, another takes on a more challenging but necessary journey to replicate other entertainment industry groups reaping the rewards that come with a well defined association. The entire industry could benefit greatly by a frank open discussion about what the future needs to look like.

Don’t Call Me Your Employee!

The fact that most workers in the visual effects community don’t consider themselves “employees” per se only complicates matters worse. By referring to their positions as 1099ers, artists, entrepreneurs, practitioners or independent contractors, with any one of over 250 job titles or descriptions (see the Visual Effects Society Industry Credit Guidlines) companies are essentially released of responsibility. Something has to change.

Helping everyone in the VFX industry succeed will be the focus of this blog. Stay tuned.