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VFX Career Tactics

By August 3, 2021 No Comments
Here are the notes from my talk VFX Career Tactics. Enjoy!


You can model yourself on other people, find the people who are either the best at your company or in your field, make a list of what they are doing that you like, emulate these qualities
– Look at other industries
Who are the best fashion designers?
How do you know they’re the best? Qualifiers.


  • They burn stock that isn’t brought – elitism
  • The price
  • Celebrities own it/people you know, trust own it
  • It’s something lots of others can’t have
  • Their brand story


– The more you sweat in peace the less you bleed in war
  •     The worst time to learn anything is when you’re under pressure, do no-pressure practice, so you can’t muck up
  •     Make contacts before you need them, I have my students start emailing 2 months before they’re going to apply.

Do the work

  •      If you wanted to be a professional cyclicst/swimmer you wouldn’t just passively watch videos of people teaching this then get in the pool and expect to be amazing. But so many people do this when learning VFX tools.


  • If you could learn something and be earning an extra 5gbp a month, because you’re more productive every day, every day you put it off you’re effectively losing that money. This is what opportunity cost is.


You’re not going to have a ton of interaction with the vfx Supervisor, maybe just in dailies etc. So when you do interact with them what impression do you want to give?

  • Personality
  • Even if you’re the worst compositor in the world you can give the vfx sup you are the best by just spending a little bit of time preparing before dailies
  • Come prepared
  • Make your own notes
  • Know all about your shot – The vfx sup shouldn’t know more about your shot


  • Most people don’t fail at things and aren’t bad at them, they’ve just get the order wrong. Most people have the ability to do and achieve what they want, but get the order of doing things wrong, which means they never build momentum.

Junior, mid, Senior?

Don’t expect to be a mid/senior compositor just because you’ve put in years.
Some compositors have 10 years of experience some compositors have 1 year of experience, they’ve used for 10 years in a row.

Rates – tv/Film

EUROPE (Euros)

  • Junior: 220-260
  • Mid: 260-320
  • Senior: 320-380


  • Junior: 150-220
  • Mid: 220-280
  • Senior: 280-370



If you’re happy where you are and want to extend your contract it’s generally worth asking 1 to 2 months before your contract’s over. Right now things are slammed so if you’re happy then you could try asking about extending now no matter how long left on your contract.


Be an Apple Product

Apple they have people designing the experience of buying the phone and opening the box.

Do the same in your career, how should you act/reply etc. What is the experience of working with you like?



  • This is when the upside is way bigger than the downside.
  • Get people to realise the risk of sending an email to industry.
  • Would you take a bet on a coin that gave you a VFX industry job for heads and you lost nothing if it lost?
  • This is the bet you are taking when you send an email to a VFX industry, although odds are different.
  • Right now you have nothing to lose/little risk/big upside little downside.
  • As you get older you’ll have bigger downsides.Bigger living expenses/ kids etc. If you’re starting now and you have people relying on you, you have a slightly bigger risk but having something to work for will give you more drive.


  • Put away X amount of months it would take u to find another job.
  • Having money put away lessens the downside is you can cover rent/ living expenses
  • Shorter contracts with bigger salaries allow those with savings to rig the game. Can take a risk on a shorter contract, make an awesome impression be asked to stay on.
Know your odds and play accordingly. People sending one email getting disheartened when they don’t have a reply. The odds can be low, maybe the artists away or busy etc send a load of emails. This will encourage you to do it more



People need to know you exist! Make sure you’ve got a website, with your work as well as a linked in page. Add recruiters and artists and companies you want to work for, so they know who you are.

Here’s a tutorial  on how to make a VFX portfolio site under an hour.


  • Make your own luck, opportunity/preparation. Create more opportunities by networking, asking for feedback, building more connections. Prepare by practising your nuke compositing skills.
  • The worst thing is when you get an opportunity and you haven’t prepared enough to make the most of it, this is when people contracts arent extended


  • Our brain works via comparing, we know we’re tall because we see people smaller than us etc.
  • This works in a whole bunch of ways in the industry if you’re at a company that isn’t great and you’re mediocre you may seem like a rockstar at the company, but not compared to the whole market of compositors.
  • When someone asks how long something will take, double what you think, now you look like a genius when you do it in half the time and if you muck up then you’re covered.


  • Two options stay at one company hoping you get put in a senior position, slower salary increase bu possibility of it going higher Or hop companies, quicker salary increase can be capped at a maximum salary.


  • Knowledge over money at first. This will lead to bigger responsibilities quicker and allow you to keep your learning momentum high.
  • You can then move this momentum to other things, I’ve done this with teaching no longer watching tutorials in the evening but teaching/writing/ making tutorials instead. The momentum is there but I’ve thrown it at a different problem.


  • Constantly be improving your processes, this may be you nuke compositing processes or your processes for dealign with overtime or dailies etc.
  • I like to ask my 2d Supervisors how I can improve at the end of each project.

Think like a company

  • Companies aren’t dicks for paying you less than you think you’re worth, their job is to make money, they do that by paying out less than they bring in. Don’t take anything personally.
  • If you do feel like they aren’t being you what you’re worth then you have two options leave to another company or tell them and see if they raise your salary and if you really do have such a huge impact on the company then when you leave it’ll all fall apart and you can go back and ask for loads.
  • if you’d like to earn a day rate of say 300gbp a day then you need to make the company at least double this amount potentially, even more, depending on the margins of the show. So the more money you make your company the more you can charge


Know what you know, and what you don’t know, do something about the latter and share the first.

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