VFX artist

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Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

£31,200

Currently employed in Scotland

3,600

Five year job forecast

+9.42%

"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

What's it like?

From the battle scenes in The Avengers to creating Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings, visual effects (VFX) combines computer generated imagery (CGI) with live action footage to create environments that would otherwise be too expensive, dangerous or just not possible to film.

These days, VFX is common in almost every type of film, TV production or computer game and is a fast-growing industry. Whether it’s using motion capture technology, computer-generated imagery or giant puppets, VFX films create fantasy worlds and creatures only limited by the film makers imagination.

As a VFX artist you’d use software to create animations and special effects. You might also have to operate cameras, work with lighting, and use microphones to shoot videos and record audio,

To create the finished visuals you’d work with a team of VFX artists, engineers, designers, and producers to meet the desired vision.

Things you might do:

  • Come up with creative ideas and solutions for visual effects

  • Use software and other resources available to you to design creative special effects

  • Communicate your ideas to the project leads and other members of the team or the client

  • Work with the project lead to create a plans and schedules

  • Be able to match the required art style of a project even if it might not be your creative vision

  • Work to tight deadlines and budgets

  • Work with the editorial department to manage edits

Things to think about:

The film industry is mainly centred around London, but there are some smaller indie firms in towns and cities around the UK.

Working conditions

Hours

Working hours will vary and can be long, depending on deadlines. You might also have to work late nights or at weekends.

Environment

You will mostly work in an office environment, buy may also work on location or on a film set to help shoot certain scenes.

Travel

You might have to travel frequently for this job.

UK employment status

Full-time

48%

Part-time

15%

Self employed

37%

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Cooperating
  • Working with technology
  • Creative
  • Innovative
  • Problem solving
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Implementing ideas
  • Taking initiative
  • Time management

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

There are various paths you can take to get into this job.  Have a look at the options below.

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.  Not all employers list specific qualification requirements but they do ask for relevant experience, usually work based.

There are a number of ways to get qualified for this job through college, university or work-based qualifications, such as apprenticeships.

VFX Artists will often have HND’s and degrees in subjects such as:

  • Visual Arts subjects – Animation, design, illustration

  • Computer science

Employers might consider applicants without formal qualifications if they can demonstrate knowledge and experience of the industry. Others may gain entry to this role through routes such as becoming a Runner. As a Runner, you would be involved in a variety of tasks such as organising meetings, delivering messages between departments and answering phones – overall ensuring that everyone in the team has what they need. This role would demonstrate your adaptability and enthusiasm for working in this industry.

For the role of VFX artist, it is helpful to have a portfolio/showreel detailing your skills and experience through any work or projects you have done in order to show off your abilities and creativity – include your best work and keep it up to date.

As technology is ever changing, it is necessary to keep up with advances in software and hardware as well as trends and techniques used within the industry, throughout your career.  There are a variety of free tutorials and online information about the technology used.

Apprenticeships

You can gain skills and qualifications in the workplace through options such as:

Foundation Apprenticeships (FA’s) are chosen as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 but include hands-on learning at a local employer or college. They are the same level as a Higher

You might want to consider an FA in areas such as:

  • IT: Software development

  • Creative and digital media

Modern Apprenticeships (MA’s) mean you learn on the job. You get paid and work towards a qualification at the same time.

You might want to consider an MA in areas such as:

  • Creative and digital media

     

Graduate Apprenticeships (GA’s) are designed for industry and you'll spend most of your time learning on the job but you'll also go to uni or college. You'll get a job, get paid and work towards a qualification at the same time.

You might want to consider a GA in areas such as:

  • IT: Software development

Useful subjects

Many colleges and universities will have required subjects that you must have for entry. They might also highlight additional subjects that they would value. Look at individual institution websites for specific entry information. 

Useful subjects for this job would be:

  • ICT subjects

  • Art and Design subjects

  • Physics

  • Maths

Helpful to have

Not all employers list specific qualification requirements but they might ask for relevant experience, usually work based, that show a range of transferable skills.

It is useful to attend events and conferences in order to keep up to date with changes and advancements in the industry as well as to network.

Gaining relevant work experience would be beneficial as it would help you gain experience and network - ensure quality work that you do is included in your portfolio/showreel and this can then be sent to employers.