What can people expect from working in the industry?
That it is a tougher job than it seems. There are a lot of people that want to become a CG artist because computer Graphics imagery looks beautiful once it's finished and displayed or screened, but not too many people are aware of the amount of work done behind every frame.
Computer graphics, as any visual art, is also an industry where people have different opinions about how things should look and unfortunately, they tend to change their minds too often. Sometimes, it can be frustrating to be redoing work over and over again because someone cannot make up his mind.
People should also expect long working hours, especially during production peaks or crunch time, often due to the previously mentioned point. The bright side is that after all the hard work, it really pays off once the project gets done and you can see the final result.
What are the key things that a great portfolio must have?
Something that catches the attention of the person looking at your portfolio. The CG industry has been growing very rapidly during the last ten years and there are a lot of people trying to break into it. For those people, I would recommend trying to differentiate themselves from the herd and offer something different, unique. Ask yourself: why would company "X" hire me instead of someone else applying to the same job? What can I offer that other candidates can't? Sell your potential.
Where would you like to be in five years' time?
Wherever my heart takes me. To me this job has always been vocational and the main goal has never been to make loads of money but to enjoy it, which I will keep pursuing all my life. Something that I would like to try in the future is to get into pre-production, development and even scriptwriting, and move away from production a little bit. In the past I've directed and produced a couple of short films and also pre-produced a couple of animated TV series, and I miss that creative part of the process.
Looking back with the benefit of your experience, are there things you would do differently in your training/career if you had the chance to do it over again?
I have always thought that each decision you make during your life is the right decision for that moment. Obviously, it would be awesome to be able to make decisions knowing how those would affect your future, but unfortunately that is not possible.
From my point of view, nobody should ever regret about decisions made in the past as there is no way to go back in time and change them. If you think you made a bad choice in the past all you can do is not make the same mistake again in the future.
Success and failure are also part of the learning process and both are necessary to progress. The only mistake that it is a failure is the one that didn't teach you anything.
If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to break into the industry, what would it be?
Besides the previously mentioned, I would say that people should work hard and do their best. I would also say that people should try to find which part of the computer graphics world is the one where they feel the most comfortable and focus on it. It is way easier to become proficient in a specific area that feels second nature to you than in something that you struggle with.
I have seen people that wanted to be animators where their true skills were in lighting, or talented developers that wanted to be artists. There is nothing wrong with wanting to learn and improve in those areas that you like or where you feel weaker, but what will help you succeed is to focus on those areas where you have your full potential.
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