Discussion about hiring practices with regard to film vfx vs realtime vfx:
Got a Question that give me a lot of itch and thinking of asking everybody here for their point of view and opinion.
So Today I was applying for a Vacancies via a company website. The Requirement is pretty typical;
5-10 years’ experience in videogame production. Responsible for overseeing as well as creating and implementing the in-game VFX. Deep understanding of real time VFX techniques,. Wants to push real-time VFX work to the next level. Expertise in Unreal is a plus.
After My submission, I got a reply from the Staffing Consultant from the company, informing me that they are focusing on finding people who have feature film experience and the related toolsets they use (Houdini, for example) I was confused so decided to consult and discuss the event with Bill Kladis and a couple of game industry veteran. one of my friend who is an art director claim that both Realtime FX and Post-Production FX are the same thing. Which encourage me to bring the topic here.
Is it a common concept that hiring a Post-Production FX Artist to do In-game FX assets, believing that what they did in Hollywood can be brought into their game production.
I sincerely apologize just in case someone may be find the following topic not to their liking.
I hope that your opinion able to educate me and bring some light to this mentality. - Weili Huang
For us at Naughty Dog, this is not even remotely true. We have a very difficult time finding worthy candidates from our post-FX applicants - the tools, workflows, and techniques are so completely different that it either ends up frustrating the employee making the transition "down" into games, or they come in with an ego expecting to "teach us how its done in film."
So much of our work is about forming an illusion around the various obstacles that arise (optimization, engine, render pipeline, implementation, gameplay). For someone to ignore the value of experience from this sometimes actually offends me. I wouldn't by any means consider myself a valid applicant for ILM because I made effects in the Uncharted games.
This is, of course, not to say that someone from film experience would not bring useful skills and background with them, as I'd like to think that if I made the jump over to film, I would bring a different sort of perspective too. But in my mind, they are as similar to each other as sculpting a face vs. painting a face. - Keith Guerette
Comparing realtime VFX to pre-rendered VFX is difficult. My opinion and experience tells me that doing pre-rendered work benefits you, because you train your artistic eye by not having to work under "technical limitations" a game engine confronts you. I like to compare it to animation.....let's say if you have animated characters for a DS or mobile game with limitations of lets say 8 frames for a walk cycle. And let's say you have done that work for the past years and have not done any other animation job but you are really good at delivering 8 frames walk cycles. I can guarantee that you will have problems animating a character for a cinematic. Cinematics are asking for more than just a walk cycle. ...subtile movements, giving the character a character - making it believable. Or at least I had made the experience (back 15 years ago) . Going back to VFX. Let's keep in mind that vfx is art and not only a technical job. You have to train your artistic eye , e.g. timing, colors. The best way to do that (in my opinion) is to learn tools, methods etc which allow you to work and deliver a vfx that comes the closest to reality. ..... than you can (if you want) bring that knowledge to the "limited" field of realtime vfx. .....maybe another comparison is : scaling up an image will result to loosing detail.....scaling down an image gives you more flexibility (because you got the detail and you can decide what to keep and what do loose). - Andras Kavalecz
There is a big difference between real time and post production FX.
I would say there is an overlap in the creation of our source materials, but that is where it ends.
Having knowledge of fluid dynamics or being able to work with Houdini is definitely a plus. But for a real time VFX artist that is not where it ends. We have milliseconds to approximate what post production VFX artists do with render times of hours. I would say a lot of extra knowledge is required to make an effect work in real-time. - Edwin Bakker
Coming from prerendered, I can say that a lot of the knowledge is heavily applicable, especially for simulation, compositing, procedural texture generation, etc. I'm not entirely sure the staffing agent knows that, but I do know that companies like squaresoft do use houdini as their primary 3d package for creating fx.
If the game is super focused on realism, maybe they want film quality explosions as sequences (not that they are strictly correct in seeking that), and a sprite artist isn't necessarily going to understand maya fluids or nDynamics.
I think in the end, the staffing agent possibly may not know what an fx artist for a game really does (which is common), or they may be looking for highly realistic examples of work rather than fantasy, which to them means film experience is better than fantasy rpg experience. - Adam Kugler
It's possible that the position they were hiring for was in game cinematic and not actually real time. Recruiters are not typically knowledgeable. Depending on the company, asking for film experience but expecting realtime performance could be a red flag. - William Mauritzen
Keith took the words right out if my mouth. I would like to add that it may be a common misconception by a recruiter that the techniques are exactly the same. I feel that this posting is very misleading since it put so much emphasis on having skills related to realtime production asset creation and implementation. If you don't appear to know what you're talking about when recruiting you don't only lose out on potentially great talent but you make your studio/company look like a less than desirable place to work damaging its credibility. That's just my opinion. - Doug Holder
Having not worked in Post FX, I could be wrong.... but I imagine there are a lot of 'principles' (simulation, timing etc) that can be brought from Post FX to real-time.... but the work itself will be vastly different in the procedures used. Having talked to a few friends who work in Post FX, it seems that you're pretty much only limited by the time it takes to render the scene.... where as in real-time, you're limited by your runtime and engine constraints. - Pete Clark
houdini is something that comes in handy for a lot of things but i think there are a ton of other skills that are a lot more important like understanding the concept of overdraw, drawcalls and performance in general. there are more possibilities opening up with next gen consoles but the fact that realtime rendering needs to be much more flexible is never going to change. it's a completely different approach - Hanno Hinkelbein
Keith, Andras, Edwin, Adam Peter, Adam, William, Doug, Peter and Hanno. Thanks So Much for your Opinion, I humbly learn alot from you all. Kudo !
@ Adam Peter - I am sort of getting used to the trolling not only from recruiters and HR but seasoned art directors as well! I emailed to the Staffing Consultant mentioning about the job decription. He did replied apologizing that the job descriptions are somewhat mis-leading, but they are in fact looking for what he had described in his earlier email!
I used to do Post-Production decades ago so I understand the difference between these 2 discipline, sometime trying to educate to fellow game developers who kept on argue why do sprites that face the camera all the time.
Like all of you mention.We can use some of the post production skills to create sprite sheet or simulation to that can be exported into game engines, Source Materials. then from then on thats where other part of our skills will kick in and make it run smoothly in real-time.
@ Keith - I can feel the frustration when the Post FX artist use their ego and trying to convince you to do things their way. It brought be back memories of training our Shader Artist whose extremely good in Maths, learning to do Visual Effect. He is unconvinced of the way we did our job and try to convince us with his Maths Formula in how gravity works!!!
By the way Keith, I will definitely use your Sculpting Face Vs Painting Face Metaphor, it is awesome. (need to tattoo it on myself somewhere.....)
@ Andras - I understand your 8-frame Walk cycle concept relating to FX. I am a trained animator as well. Until now i am still worried will I be able to go back to animating cartoons. Its even harder since I spend a decade doing VFX. Having worked in Post- Production does train our Artistic Instinct and emulate that into Real-time via the Game Engine. But that is most rewarding part. - Weili Huang
We've done some hiring lately for both game vfx people and film vfx artists, with great results. I think a well rounded team will have people from both. It's helpful to play to peoples strengths. I recommend not trying to train a film guy to right away behave like a constraint minded game artist and crank out lots of little efficient effects. Keep them in their comfort zone, have them render textures, do destruction, use the tools they are familiar with, blow out big moments. That has worked well for us.
So, to answer your question directly... yes, we've hired film guys to do in game vfx... but we're not putting them on a level like a standard game fx guy. We're giving them specific tasks that they can excel at. - David Johnson
Sony London: We've hired from television and film. Candidates require some training to get up to speed with the team structures and workflows (the basic tools but also perforce, revision control, dependencies from your asssets to the rest of the game etc etc). Techniques aren't directly applicable but the principles are definitely.
Oh yes - and the idea of an effects performance takes some getting used to for them - Ivan Pedersen