Jack of all Trades or Master of One

Hey guys,

Just a general kind of question....do you think its better to be pretty good at a few things like modeling or matchmoving or lighting or is it better to master one?  i know you have to have broad skills to a certain degree but i wonder what you're considerations are when hiring people.  Not looking for a job or anything...just wondering what the studios opinions on this are....generally!

Dwayne D. Ellis

Good question!

I’m not involved in hiring anyone, and I only recently moved back into

something production related, having previously worked at a software

company. (So my thoughts are just another opinion.)

I would think that with all the demands placed on VFX companies, most

would be looking for talented, but versatile, individuals. I do know a

few specialists that move from job to job solving one specific type of

notoriously difficult problem - like matchmoving, character rigging or

particle systems. For the most part, however, folks seem to be decent in

three or four areas and can adapt quickly when something unusual is thrown

their way.

I would say that if you are leaning toward an artist position, then you

had better understand artistic theory and have some practice with

traditional media. Likewise, if you are looking at TD work, it is

important to have good problem solving skills to compliment any knowledge

of your 3D tool.

dwayne -

it depends on the needs.

i like generalists because they are valuable long term, but in the short run - on a project - specialists are easier to hire.

like, if i needed modelling right now, i would hire a modeller, chances are the generalist wouldnt have as strong a modelling reel, for example.

so, i think that both are important and viable, but as a specialist you will likely get access to more short term contracts at bigger companies - which is a foot in the door for a permanent position. at a smaller company, generalist is king.

otoh. think about what you are best at, what you like and focus on that…then you can’t lose.


chris bond

I prefer to have generalists working with me.  Some of the reason is that some specialists are really set in their ways, so they might not work well with our people or pipeline.   Not a personality issue, just a matter of them having some really good techniques that might not work well in our pipeline. 

I also like it when a modeler or animator understands that not everything they model will be seen in the shot because of camera, direction, or rendering.  And I want my rendering people to know about compositing (and vice versa) so we render the passes we need and nothing more. 

Some people get hired as generalists and then are trained as specialists.  Just happens that way, where someone shows promise doing a certain thing, so management keeps tossing similar tasks their way, and suddenly you have someone who is basically doing dynamics, or title design, or camera tracking.

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