I always had the goal of being a visual effects artist. My specialties are dynamics, lighting and tracking.
Tracking means recreating a liveaction camera shot in order to then insert CG effects and add 3D elements to the plate. Dynamics are what most people would see as smoke or fire - anything using particles or fluids.
I went to Sheridan College to study computer animation and digital visual effects. That gave me a good base in a lot of different 3D elements. I wasn't specifically focused on one subject. If you work in a small shop, you need to know a lot more than one thing, so the faculty did a good job of preparing us for a multitude of tasks.
School gave me a basic understanding, but we didn't really get in-depth about a lot of things. Most of the time you learn once you start working. I'd say I learned 80 per cent of what I know now on the job.
Before I started the visual effects program, I took classical animation, and when I came out of that I realized that it's a dying art form and that I needed to come back for computer animation. I just really prefer live-action movies over cartoons, and I wanted to work with live-action plates. I love art and movies, so I thought it was a good combination.
There are only so many different types of effects you attempt to make while in school. You're given a lot more challenges in the workforce, depending on what a client wants. You need to learn a variety of programs because different companies use different software. I've learned a lot of programs I didn't use in school. At Rocket Science we use Maya, 3ds Max and Nuke.
The best visual effects artists are dedicated. You've got to be willing to put time and effort into learning new things all the time or you'll fall behind. If you're not the type of person who likes to spend a lot of time at work, then it's probably not the best choice. It definitely takes up a lot of your life.
WHERE TO STUDY
Durham College (Oshawa) VFX and digital cinema (graduate certificate): $9,050/year. durhamcollege.ca
Fanshawe College (London) Visual effects and editing for contemporary media: $2,973/year. fanshawec.ca
Humber College (Toronto) Film and television production: $3,705.48/year (plus additional costs); film and media production: $6,936.34/year. humber.ca
Sheridan College (Toronto): Digital visual effects: $12,328/year. sheridancollege.ca