What education did you have before you took the Visual Effects for Film and Television course?
I did a 3 year animation and visual effects course from Frameboxx Animation And Visual Effects, Ahmedabad, India. It most definitely helps if you already know a little bit about this industry and its tools, in advance, before joining the VFT course at Seneca.
Tell us a bit about your experience at the college.
I very clearly remember the time when I was browsing the student profile page of Seneca VFX, trying to find an honest review before applying for this course. This is as honest as it gets. Having studied 8 months here, if given a chance to take the course again, I would do it in a heartbeat. There are plenty of good things about the course and barely any negative. This might make you skeptical but hey, if there are so many people saying so many good things about something, there has to be some truth behind it.
The mentors are some of the best, most knowledgeable faculty I have seen who are dedicated to making their students excel, provided the student is passionate about this as well. Every single one of them works in a VFX studio at a high position, which definitely keeps them updated to the current VFX techniques and this evolves the course as well. The lab is equipped with state of the art latest workstations that can handle all you can throw at them, which is another major plus in picking this course.Not only that, the lab is available to student use at any time of the day, 24x7. You also have free access to equipment room to shoot your own stuff and the greenscreen room which I really enjoyed using for reel. It most definitely was one of the most enjoyable, fun and memorable experience of my life. I miss it so much I wish the course was longer than 8 months.
How do you use the education you got at Seneca in your job today?
Two months before finishing the course I was offered a compositing job at Pixomondo. I really cannot imagine joining any of these studios without having taken the VFT course. Even though I did learn 3D animation and VFX before I came here, I still didn't know Nuke. I not only learned how to use Nuke but more so I learned how Nuke works. Classes like Python Scripting helped me understand the backbone of Nuke and how to get the most out of it. By no means have I mastered it yet but the VFT course definitely boosted me up in the right direction towards learning it faster.
What advice would you give potential students who are thinking of taking the course?
PLENTY! Word for the wise, follow these and you will be good.
> Ask Questions:
Very important. No matter where you are in life, never give up on curiosity and always ask questions. Mentors at Seneca understand that very well and will more likely figure the depth of your passion if you not only listen to them in class, but also respond back.
> Spend as much time as you can in the lab:
You will be working faster and more efficiently if you work late hours at class. It might not look like a healthy lifestyle but its just 8 months of rapid fire work. This prepares you for the kind of industry you are aiming for. Even though we all love to go home early from work, you do need to feel the burn of assignment deadlines as it simulates what you would feel in a VFX studio during crunch time. Go out and have fun every now and then but never forget why you joined this course.
> Be ambitious:
You should be in this field because VFX is not an end result but the means to deliver a story. That is what I personally believe. Be ambitious with the kind of shots you want to do for your reel but BE VERY REALISTIC about it. Whether you can pull it off in the given deadline or not. If possible, create a shot that delivers a story. Don't stress it though, its just an additional thing that will separate your work from the countless others that look like amateur vfx tests. Listen to your teachers' advice. They always tailor your needs to your strength and weaknesses.
> Do what you love for a living. Last and final advice. No matter of hardwork, money or time invested in this course is going to make you ace this course and find an amazing job UNLESS YOU ABSOLUTELY love this field. I will end with an example. The first shot of my VFT reel took me months of countless late night to early morning hours. Did I do it because I wanted to get a good job or grades? No. I did it because it was fun. Spending all those nights working on it in the lab with classmates was something I looked forward to. It drove me.
I have seen couple students join this course with the sole focus of finding a job that pays well. Needless to say they didn't make it through. It is a tough competitive industry that only seeks the best of the best. And you can only be the best if you are a person driven by passion to create epic visuals. Visual effects artist is going to be your job title because 'amazing miracle worker' sounds weird on a resume but remember you will be nothing short of that.
(Written in 2016)