Visual effects apprenticeships

Job roles: Assistant technical director, Junior pipeline technical director, Junior FX technical director, Data wrangler, Render wrangler, Junior creature FX technical director, Junior rigger, Junior 2D artist, Paint and Roto artist, Junior compositor

Visual effects (VFX) is the term used to describe any imagery created, altered, or enhanced for moving media. This involves the integration of live-action footage and computer-generated imagery to create images which look realistic but would be dangerous, costly or simply impossible to capture during live-action shooting.

As a visual effects apprentice you will probably be employed by one of the post-production companies that provide services to the British and international film, television and commercial industries. They are usually based in an office environment, working on television commercials, television series and feature films. There are two apprenticeship standards available: Assistant Technical Director and Junior 2D Artist.

ASSISTANT TECHNICAL DIRECTOR

Assistant technical directors perform a range of technical support functions that help to ensure the smooth running of a visual effects project. They are responsible for:

  • supporting and troubleshooting the pipeline and workflow tools;
  • providing technical assistance to people in creative departments; and
  • managing data and resources.

As an apprentice assistant technical director, you will learn to use a variety of industry-standard graphical applications, scripting languages and operating systems. You might find yourself supporting projects by gathering artist requirements, designing solutions and coding small-scale tools using established employer workflow requirements. You will be expected to work well within a team and to be a good communicator and problem-solver.

Successful completion of this apprenticeship could open up opportunities to progress into a diverse range of careers: you could become a pipeline technical director, software developer, rigger, technical director or FX artist, perhaps one day working in a supervisory capacity.

The full apprenticeship standard is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-...

Junior 2D artist

Junior 2D artists are responsible for assisting senior visual effects artists by preparing elements for use in the final VFX shot. This might include:

  • Creating mattes (masking areas of the live action footage) by roto-scoping (tracing around objects in the frames) and keying (isolating areas of blue/green screen in the live action footage) to allow all elements of the scene to be layered convincingly by a compositor.
  • Removing erroneous objects within the live action footage, such as camera/lighting equipment and safety stunt wires and rigs
  • Producing simple composites (combining live action elements and computer generated imagery to create a shot that looks as if it was captured at the same time by a single camera). These simple composites could be for editorial purposes for test screenings of the film or they could be used in the final film for simple VFX shots.

As an apprentice junior 2D artist you will get to use your artistic skills in areas such as composition and colour in addition to learning how to use accepted industry-standard compositing software and operating systems. You are expected to work well within a team and to be a good communicator and problem-solver.

Upon successful completion of your apprenticeship, you will typically progress to become a compositor and may eventually become a 2D or VFX supervisor.

The full apprenticeship standard is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-...

Qualification: Level 4 (Higher)

Salary: £12,000–£15,000

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