types of jobs you can do in mograph vfx list

Things you can do in the 3D MoGraph industry

You remember those books you had as a kid which listed all the possible professions, like fireman, police man, doctor etc.. ? I feel like in the 3D Mograph area that’s a bit of a lacking resource. So i decided to try stick together a bit of a guide of possible directions you can explore.

Before i go through them, i’d like to point out a key difference between MoGraph and general VFX and 3D for games and movies. When you work in Mograph, deadlines are a much larger issue, and they are MUCH shorter. So one of the main points here, is making something that looks cool with the least amount of time/computer power.

I’m also going to list the pro’s and con’s I see in each of these areas. But as everything in this industry, they always change, and depend on your geographic location, who you know and your personal level of luck.

Bumpers and 3D bumpers for tv channels.
I think this is where mograph in general originated, tv channels wanted cool stuff to show people. I’d have to guess MTV was the main driving force for this. These are kind of like title cards you see on TV ( if anyone reading this still watched this). The stuff that comes on before the weather, or a news update. The range here is huge, from super technical russian stuff, to quite basic stuff that is more favored in the west. This also has overlap with youtuber content now, since they need similar graphics for their channels etc.
main con: youtubers generally pay little, getting gigs with dwindling tv channel budgets is harder than ever. Also places like videohive provide just a mass of pre-built ones, which can be real pretty and you have to compete with that. Large brands pay very little, because everyone wants to work for them.

Some great work from top tier talents over here, Phillip Pavlovs is more skewed towards Russia and Eastern Europe, and then you can see the start difference towards more western work of Capacity

Vizualization
I’m going to group architectural and product into one here. This is basically creating very realistic or hyper realistic representations of real products for video ads, or maybe print ads.
Things to look up and google: Unreal architectural vizualization. RTX graphics cards and real time reflections in game engines. if you are doing product viz, you will most likely want some kinda of fluid simulation tool under your belt too. It will let you making swirly liquid stuff around juice boxes etc..

Animator
Basically here your job would be to make stuff move in an realistic and appealing manner. This could be characters, cars, particles, crowds ( although crowds is a bit more of a simulation thing). Would recommend to read up on the 12 principles of animation, and then start applying that to everything you can. Start with small basic stuff, like cubes, post boxes, fridges etc.. then move onto stuff with more moving parts.
This can also be applied to just text and camera moves. And just abstract shapes.

Character work
This is also a very vast field, which has many sections in it. Modelling/sculpting/retopology, texturing, Grooming ( hair fur), clothes creating/simulation, rigging ( putting bones and stuff in), animating ( blocking, cleaning up, adding detail) Danny Mac Has a great video about the process and what it involves

Abstract stuff for animation
Think all those crazy nike adds with knitting and other fancy stuff happening. This is basically a matter of learning the tools and what they can do and then figuring out how to combine them in new and interesting ways. Parts of it are very technical, but also lots of lucky accidents while messing with the various tools provided.

Previz
Short for pre-vizualization. Basically it’s blocking in all the movements, for characters, products, cameras etc and figuring out the timing, the mood, sticking some music onto it. This is something that really should be done for all projects, and often done by artists doing other stuff or art directors, but there are people who just do this as a profession.

Simulation Expert
Simulating fluids and explosions is something that is getting easier with every year, but it’s still not something that is easy to pick up, and the simulations takes LOTS of time, so lots of waiting for you computer to calculate stuff. In this field technical proficiency with managing networks can come in handy, so you can figure out how to get your software to calculate stuff across multiple computers, potentially in the cloud and get revisions faster.
Software to look into: Xparticles for cinema 4D, houdini

Medical Vizualization
Animating various medical stuff with molecules and viruses, you will be looking to provide visual materials for various medical research companies who need to demonstrate how their products work. Also documentaries which explain how the human body works. If you have an interest in biology, this is a good field to look at, since to do this well you have to be able to understand what is being explained to you and then visualize it. The more you already know about biology, the less the client has to teach you, and the faster you create what is needed.

Software: Cinema 4D mograph tools set, hair tools, xparticles, houdini, sculpting skills might also help.

Mad Microbe do some amazing work in this field!

Environment artist
This is basically all about making backgrounds, which spans from making rooms, like in archviz, all the way to making epic landscapes for lord of the rings style stuff.

For this kind of work you probably need houdinin, but lot’s can be done in Cinema4D. This is a small video that i really like about this sphere of work.

3D modelling Hard Surface and Organic
Hard surface – this is i guess part of the vizualization industry, but again, this is also a separate skill and specialization. Here you would specialize in modelling man made objects. Think Blenders, vacuum cleaners, cars, planes and electric toothbrushes. In this kind of job you would be provided with sketches and drawing which then you would have to turn into 3D models. Vitaly Bulgarov does some amazing work in this field!


Organic – Basically the same thing, but here the speciality is more organic stuff, Plants, food, animals, human characters etc.. The main difference from Hard surface modelling is you have to know more about rigging and animation, because your models will most likely be handed off to riggers and animators and they have to be able to deform naturally, unlike hard surface, where each individual part moves on it’s own.

3D sculpting artist
This a type of procedure that can be used for generating both hard surfaces and and organic surfaces, and if you are a talented sculptor you don’t really need to worry about good topology. You would be hired mostly just for your knowledge of what things look like or your ability to design characters out of virtual clay. It is up to you if you want to delve into retopology and baking.
Software: Zbrush, 3dcoat, blender

Clothing Artist
With tools such as marvelous designer you can focus on clothing design. If you can retopologize it and then sell it even better. This is a good field to go into if you ever wanted to be a clothing designer in the real world. Lots of the skills are transferable and quite essential.

Retopology and Baking
This is the process of converting the very dense geometry generated by 3d sculpting into much more efficient and light geo in order for it to be usable in animation down the line. It’s not the most fun work, but some people really enjoy it. Also every day there are new tools coming out which can significantly increase the speed with which you can work. Most people in the Mograph industry shy away from modelling.
Software: 3dcoat, topogun, xnormal, substance painter, blender, modo.

Vehicle Artist
Design and model, rig, animate vehicles, ariplanes, skate boards. Lots of overlap here with industrial design and concept art. Being good at drawing plays a pretty large role here. when targeting the mograph field, you will probably be more likely to make a profit modelling stuff for yourself and then selling them as ready assets so other artists can use them in their animations. Currently in 2020, i feel drone like vehicles, med evac or delivery type stuff i think should be quite popular.

This Is a great youtube channel about concept art in general, he talks more about the design process, not so much 3D. I think it’s a must watch if you want to move in this direction.

Lighting Artist
As the name implies, you would be setting up lighting for various scenes. This is all about conveying mood and emotion through lighting. Think of this as the type of person who sets up lights in a photo studio, but you could be working on an interior, or vast landscapes. Good way to demonstrate skills in this field, is getting a scene and then lighting it in different ways, demonstrating your range. Dark and scary, mysterious and exciting, happy and inviting etc. A good field to combine with materials/texture artist.
Look into: hdri light studio pro

Texture/material/surface artist
Here you are responsible for creating materials for others to use. Sometimes this is painting textures on an ogre, or realistic faces, other times its texturing an old rusty fridge, or a cargo ship full of fridges. The 2 main tools you should look into are Substance designer. This is a procedural node based material generator. So basically it is used to create materials which look at the geometry its being applied to and then vary based on that. So a smooth part of a model can be automatically painted different to an area full of corners and sharp point. And dirt can be automatically generated in creases. The second tool is substance painter, this is used to paint on stuff in a more direct way, like with paint brushes, but substances made in the other applications can be used as bases, and then customized for your specific model.

And some character texturing

UI/FUI
stuff like iron man, but can also be used by software developers who wants some cool looking stuff in their applications. But mostly probably would be targeted towards films, and futuristic video ads. You would be creating fancy stuff with mograph and cloning etc…

Projection Mapping
This can encompass pretty much all the stuff listed above, but you specialize in figuring out and creating ways to project the animations you make onto real life objects, like buildings, cars, tunnels, etc.. To practice this stuff ideally you would need a projector at home, so you can practice small scale. But you should also figure out how to project stuff virtually and then see if the virtual projection lines up with the physical one. The style of animation here is often very different to the stuff you do for advertising, since it needs to be slower and more long form.

Rigging
Setting up virtual object to be easier to animate. Here is a great video about what is rigging, i might have to make something of my own though at some point.

Overlap
As you can see lots of these fields overlap, and thats how it is everywhere. You can generalize or specialize as you see fit. What you pick is a combination of a) you should pick something that you enjoy doing, b) you should specialize enough for people to be able to remember that about you. for example :” oh yeah, i know someone who animates fridges!”

Story Telling
I know this is technically not 3D, but don’t discount the importance of this. I myself struggle with remember that i need to practice this, but this ads soo much to whatever you do. Humans love stories. Add stories to everything, even if they are bad and boring stories, a bad story is better than no story.

Getting jobs
Go read my article on them here: http://ace5studios.com/jobs, but apart from that you have 2 main choices to consider. You can either go directly after end clients and offer them a full service. So for example if you do projection mapping, you can go after city councils or hotels or event companies which need this kind of stuff and provide the whole package ( keep in mind that you will need to also provide sound in many case). Or you can target studios and other artists who need help with projects. This depends on your personality more than anything. Do you just want to do the thing you specialize in? Or do you want to also manage people, and have more over all direction in your hands. You can obviously do both, but this decision affects how you market your skills. Do you focus on other people in your industry, or do you throw your net out to just the general public?

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but i’ll add to it as i go. Got any suggestions? list em below in the comments 🙂

how much should i charge for mograph vfx jobs

How much should you charge? – More.

When i was just starting out, i always strived to be booked, so that i would always be working. I remember I was doing this real shitty job. It was stressful and uncreative, it was a lot of cleaning up of scene files and watching renders. Would not call it rewarding, something very corporate. And I could only get $300/day out of them at that point. and then 3 days into the job, i got a call from another studio who had an awesome project Lindt, it involved animating chocolate rabbits and a whimsical world around them and they really wanted me to work with them. They actually volunteered the rate of $600/day to me, and then when I said that I already had a commitment to an existing project they actually offered me $800/day. At that point I realized it is important to keep your schedule free for the projects you actually want to come along. And to do that, i needed to raise my rates.

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while. There are lots of ways to figure out how much to charge, but most of the time the answer is: “you should be charging more”.

(quick disclaimer: these rates are US based, the rest of the world will have much lower rates, but the concept still applies)

Let’s say you are in a position where you are on the verge of burnout because you have been working so much, your clients are riding you, you don’t have time for your friends and family and personal projects are a distant dream. The only way this happens is if you are not charging enough money for your services.

Let’s say you charge $500/day and you are always booked. If you are not turning down any projects then you are probably charging the optimal amount to be always booked( that is a problem in itself, will cover it further down). Now there is a high likelihood that you have clients that are willing to pay you more, you just don’t know about it, because you gave them your rate and they agreed. If you raise your rate to let’s say $600/day let’s assume for a moment that because of this, you are only booked for 4 out of every 5 days. BUT you only make $100 less a week. ( 5×500=$2500, 4×600=$2400). Which means you have a whole day to spend with family, hiking, learning, working on personal projects etc.

BUT in reality you don’t know how much your workload will change. You might raise it by $50 and now you are only booked for 1 day a week. OR you might raise it to $1000/day and STILL be booked all week. And there is only one way to find this stuff out. It is to try it. You only learn by doing. In my example above, where you get one less day a week, might not sound like a lot. BUT over the course of a year that would be 52 days. That’s nearly 2 months off. And you only lose $5200, could you spend 2 months learning new skills? To offset that loss? But more importantly, you don’t know what your price could actually be. If you raise it $1,000 and are still booked 3 out 5 days, you are making more, and you have 40% of the year to spend on stuff where you are your own boss, you pick the projects, you spend time with family etc. And there is no way to know what you can charge until you try. And the thing is you have to keep trying, because the environment will consistently change around you. Your competition will change, demand for the type of work you do will change, your skills will change.

Minimizing risk

Obviously there is a lot of risk involved in doing this, and as humans we don’t like risk, we rather stick with a sure thing in most cases rather than take a chance. So here are some ways to approach this slightly more delicately than just rolling out new rates.

  1. Ask your existing clients how they would feel about and increase in rates. You’d be surprised often they will flat out tell you: “about time”. Pick the ones you are on good terms with. here though you introduce the risk, that they simply might not want to raise your rates. Especially if they are small shops. I would recommend, start with situations where you are working with producers who aren’t using their own money, since they might be more likely, to tell you “yeah, actually other freelancers we are working with charge way more”
  2. Raise rates for new clients. This is the easiest way. To make it even more effective. Give raised rates on projects that you aren’t very keen on doing.
  3. Start charging project rates. Instead of just working per hour, figure out how to package your service as a product. You can still charge extra hourly for revisions etc. But your core offering will be a flat rate.

Don’t try to be 100% booked

The world of computer graphics is moving at colossal speeds. There are new plugins and software packages and updates every day. Some of them have ground breaking impacts on the work we do. They flat out make many jobs redundant. Octane render and mixamo jump to mind first. The ability to do super faster renders with GPU renderers and using mixamo to quickly do rough rigs of characters and populate your scenes with the mocap animation provided is revolutionary. If you don’t know how to use either of these technologies you will work MUCH slower than your competition. The list of useful software is long. Xparticles, various auto retopo tools, and don’t even get me started on the potential of Machine learning for generating ideas and versioning. Substance painter and designer have also been revolutionary in texture workflow, saving many many hours of work.

The reason i go over these things is because, if you are 100% booked you don’t have time to learn all this new software, and the longer you put off learning new stuff, the more you will fall behind.

Furthermore, sometimes when we are always booked we end up doing jobs that aren’t really the direction we want to move our careers in. And while initially might not seem like such a big deal, right now we live in a time, where its never been easier to find someone who loves what they do and hire them. This means that no matter what you do, especially in the creative fields you will be competing with people who LOVE what they do, and they will do it better, faster and cheaper then you. So with every passing day it is becoming more and more essential to do what you love, otherwise people who Love what you are doing will take your job away from you.

 

Should I charge more for Net45 Net60?

Especially in the States many companies will pay your invoice Net30, which means 30 days after you send an invoice, some studios have net45, net60 terms in their contracts. These are important thing to find out during the negotiating period. Should you charge higher rates to clients who take longer to pay?

There are so many variables here. It’s like any business, it depends on how hard it is for them to replace you. Also consider that if net 45 – net 60 is a problem for you that you perhaps should reconsider how you manage your finances. As a freelancer, you should try really hard to get your savings up to at least 6 months of living expenses. That way net 30, net 60, doesn’t matter to you that much. just add it to your calendar to remember to chase it up. It’s very dangerous to run a business pay check to pay check. 

A good way to look at it is that basically until you have 6 months of expenses, you have to pretend that you are effectively in debt/broke, and your main priority is to pay back the debt. Which means eating vegetables and noodles, not buying anything that you don’t absolutely need.


Because if you have 6 months of expenses, Then you have leverage to negotiate terms, because you have the freedom to turn down a job, since you know you have 6 months to find a new one. If you are running out of money while negotiating, then they have all the power, and you are more likely to agree to any terms they dictate. So having the savings both makes you not care about net60, and also gives you the power to negotiate them down to something you like.

When establishing your rate, include the calculation that you might be waiting for 30-60 days for this payment. 

 

What is the Minimum I should charge?

Double what a McDonald’s employee makes in your place of residence 🙂 That’s the easiest way I can think of calculating it. 

Plan of action: 

  1. Charge double a McDonald’s employee
  2. Keep making stuff and upskilling yourself until you can fill your schedule at that rate.
  3. start increasing your rates until you don’t have enough clients
  4. again start upskilling yourself until you are filling up your schedule

And keep building your savings! It’ll make every other step that much easier. 

 

The rest of the world


I wrote this article from the perspective and experience of someone in a western country in a central city. These rates may seem high to you, but with rent and insurance prices of the cities in which they were charged they are not that high ( Sydney, New York, LA )

What you charge is completely up to you. If you live in an Eastern European country, and you make $2,000/month you will probably have a much better life than someone who makes $400/day in Sydney.

But something to encourage you. On this planet there are people who can pay up to $1000/day to graphics professionals, so if you are charging $100/day or $50 a day, it is going to be much easier for you to quadruple your day rate, than it is for someone who earns $600/day. Since there are simply very very few studio’s who would agree to $2400/day, but there are plenty who would agree to $400.

The main point of this article is to encourage people everywhere to charge more, and not be afraid to try. Because this way the free market will function better in delivering good to everyone. A company/studio or any employer, in general tries to pay the least and get the most. In the same way when you buy computer hardware, shoes or look for plane tickets. So it’s your job to constantly increase the amount you charge, so that you are not competing with the new entrants to the market.

I hope this article helps you figure out how much to charge and how to start increasing your rates, so you can have a better life.

highway or motorway in cinema 4d c4d tutorial

highWay Tutorial – Fun With splines (Cinema 4D)

In this tutorial we are going to have “Fun with Splines” and make a little highway system in cinema 4d. We are going to us the spline wrap deformer and a bit of dynamics to simulate traffic and make cars go vroom!

Grab the scene files here: gum.co/5highway

Check out my other spline tutorials in my tutorial page!

Looking for free rigs to practice animation? Be sure to check out the Shop page!

Spline Wrap Deformer Tutorial Part 1

The spline deformer lets you deform objects along a spline, it can also deform cloners and other things. In this tutorial i also tell you about the difference between cloning on a spline and deforming along a spline.

 
 
part 2: rendering in octane:

 
Check out my other spline tutorials in my tutorial page!
 

Looking for free rigs to practice animation? Be sure to check out the Shop page!

 

Cinema 4D version icons

 

If you use these don’t forget to rate it on gumroad ( in your library, click download and you’ll have the chance to rate it) 

 

Download

 

Looking for how to customize c4d icons in the interface itself?

 

free c4d rig bouncy ball cinema 4d

Bouncing Ball – Cinema 4D tutorial

A free rig AND a tutorial?! No way! Yes way! Get the free bouncing ball Rig, AND learn to make a basic animation utilizing squash and stretch!

 
 

 

If you like this rig don’t forget to rate it on gumroad ( in your library, click download and you’ll have the chance to rate it) 

 

Download

 

Looking for other free rigs to practice animation? Be sure to check out the Shop page!

 

vacuum rig cinema 4d tutorial

Vacuum Rigging- Cinema4D tutorial

Got this question about rigging a vacuum from Joey https://instagram.com/joey_g_motion So here is the solution i came up with. The hand still can detach if you pull the vacuum too far, perhaps if people are interested i can make a part 2 and figure out how to limit the distance of the vacum, but in reality i think thats a waste of calculations that you computer has to do, when you can just make sure the vacum doesn’t go further than needed while animating.

 
 

Looking for the Other Rail spline tutorial? Not actually about train on rails? Check it out here: https://ace5studios.com/rail-spline

Check out this spline animation tutorial for more spline animation goodness: https://ace5studios.com/spline-animation-tutorial-c4d-dont-use-pla/

Train Tracks – Cinema4D tutorial

In this tutorial I will show you how to get a carriage to follow a spline realistically In cinema 4D. I will explain what is wrong with default spline and how to fix it.

 
 

Looking for the Other Rail spline tutorial? Not actually about train on rails? Check it out here: https://ace5studios.com/rail-spline

Check out this spline animation tutorial for more spline animation goodness: https://ace5studios.com/spline-animation-tutorial-c4d-dont-use-pla/

Copy and Flip Keyframes – Cinema4D tutorial

Ever need to copy keyframes from one object to another? What about needing to flip the keyframes for the other foot? and offset them? Well this is the tutorial for you!

Check out this spline animation tutorial for more spline animation goodness: https://ace5studios.com/spline-animation-tutorial-c4d-dont-use-pla/

6 step guide on how to ask for help.

I have recently been receiving a lot of messages asking for help. And generally i’m a helpful guy, i answer questions, make tutorials etc.

But more and more i’m getting the following messages, and they are all the same. First the person asks me how i am and then asks me to explain something that could be googled. So i decided i need to write a little tutorial on how to ask people for help.

So first Example of how not to ask for help:

The next one is slightly better, because at least he tells me what he wants and doesn’t waste my time with small talk.

But they are both bad, and i don’t really want to answer them. The thing is there are people who message me randomly out of the blue and i answer and help them, and have been over the course of many years. Some even pay me when they can, have a lot of good long term relation ships springing from just people asking me questions. But these people seem to be just lazy and just want me to do their work for them.

So… How should you ask a question that i would want to answer?

  1. Google your question.
  2. Try using what you found to make something
  3. Ask the question on a forum like core4d.com Or a cinema4d facebook group, or twitter or cinema 4d slack/discord channel.
  4. Try make something
  5. Now if you still haven’t figured something out, you can show me what you made with a screen shot( and maybe a link to your file hosted of wetransfer.com) and ask me what you can’t figure out. And i will most likely make a tutorial about it.
  6. It doesn’t really matter where you are from, or what you do for work or how old are you 🙂 I don’t understand why people keep writing this..

Obviously if you’ve purchased one of my products and have a problem with it feel free to reach out, or if you’ve downloaded one of my free rigs and it’s not working correctly, don’t be shy and message me about it 🙂

Hope this helps,

Cheers,
Aleksey