How I Got a Job as a 3D Generalist

From visual storytelling to 3D modelling, our Visual Effects and Animation degree offers students the chance to learn the latest innovations to get ahead in their career. Here, we learn from our alumnus Casey Eagle on how his experiences at SAE set him up to secure a job as a 3D Generalist. 

changing careers to get into VFX

My name is Casey Eagle, born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. After I left high school, I did a year of AS-Levels then dropped out when I was accepted into an apprenticeship in aircraft engineering.

I was an aircraft mechanic for a total of eight years, and it took me a while to realise I didn’t enjoy it. When the pandemic hit, the future of the aviation industry looked very bleak, so I decided to take the jump and make a career change to something I wish I had done from the start – exploring the world of visual effects.

I was very late into looking at universities given my situation. Finding a university that appealed to me while also accepting my engineering background with little artistic experience was difficult.

In my free time, I like to train at the gym for bodybuilding (not competitively), occasionally I would play video games (I’m either playing all the time or not at all), and usually go snowboarding every year.

My new job at W&N Studio would be described as 3D Generalist. My tasks vary every day, from carrying out and managing renders, modelling assets, animating, creating dynamics, and also pre-visualizing scenes in Unreal Engine using assets, animations, and simulations created by artists globally or by our team in London (if a quick turnaround is needed).

The job is extremely versatile which I love, and has me utilizing my skills as well as learning completely new ones in softwares such as Maya, Unreal Engine, and Houdini.

The freelance position became available to me through a fellow student and friend of mine, who recommended me for the job given what was required. During the interview we discussed more about the role, and what the exciting projects that were upcoming needed of me. The job needed to be filled immediately and I was glad to accept (I began working two days later).

How to get a job in visual effects

Check out some of Casey’s essential advice below for landing a role within the visual effects sector.

1. People buy people …

So make as many connections as possible, and that starts within the classroom, with your peers and lecturers. Another good way is to attend events and seminars in the field you’d like to be employed in (such as game jams, conventions, meet ups, etc).

2. Be open to opportunities…

Because you may end up finding something/somewhere you really enjoy that you didn’t think of. Don’t just narrow your career expectations to film studios or triple-A game companies.

3. Put in the work now…

Because even if you do have the connections, are they likely to employ/recommend you? Remember, it’s their reputation they’re risking if you fall short of expectations.

Who you know can get you in the door but it’s what you know that will keep you in. You’re not expected to have mastered all sorts of skills, but you are expected to have the work ethics to get there, and that will show through your projects, portfolio/showreel, and how you come across to others.

Why did you want to work in visual effects?

I wanted to pursue visual effects because I believed it was a great way to express myself artistically using technical skills, something I would never be able to do with a paintbrush/pencil (which is what discouraged me from taking an artistic path leaving high school). I also find it extremely exciting that some of the amazing visual effects produced in hit films that I watched over the years were completely attainable through some tuition and practice.

Given that I had already started and finished one career, I wanted a fairly quick change over to the next, which is why the two-year degree Animation Degree rather than the three years appealed to me. A VFX course also covers many skills in itself, each of which I had no idea whether I would enjoy or be good at. The Visual Effects and Animation course at SAE provided went through each of those skills, which helped me to find my niche at the end of it.

What I enjoyed most about my degree was learning Unreal Engine, and using it to implement my ideas and creativity. I imagine I’ll be raving about the software for years to come. The best part of SAE for me was getting to know all the people I worked with including students, lecturers, and staff, many of whom I continue to keep in contact with.

Speaking on behalf of the Visual Effects and Animation degree, if you put in the work, you’ll come out with what you want. Studying this was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Study Visual effects and Animation at SAE 

Studying a an animation degree at SAE provides students with a portfolio, work experience, employability and entrepreneurial skills and a network of fellow creatives to launch a successful industry career.

Discover the latest tech innovations and get the practical skills to take the next steps in your creative journey. 

Get in touch with our team to find out more.

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