How to Become a Visualization Artist
When I am looking to hire a previsualisation artist, I need to know you can adequately handle any task I throw at you, be it modeling, rigging, animation, texturing, or shot composition. I also want to know what your artistic or technical superpower is. Your skill that will help the team to save the movie and make it excellent not just adequate.
If I can't tell what you did the moment I look at it on screen then you're not communicating well enough and that's the biggest job in visualization.
Learn to develop Contrast Storytelling. Contrast Storytelling is the ability to recognize and visualize contrast in your images. The contrast or aspect that stands out might be brightness vs. darkness, smooth vs. rough, fast vs. slow, high vs. low, loud vs. quiet, near vs. far, left vs right... the list goes on. These are the keys to being a strong visualization artist and each of these pairs, and surely others, are the tools you need to use to create meaning and a story. When it comes down to it, these are the basics we learned on Sesame Street long ago.
When you have your generalist skills in a good place then you will be able to create contrasts in your lighting, your modeling, your animation, and shot design. This is where a story is told. Watch a movie and see if you can tell which of the pairs are being used at any given moment to create meaning. When you recognize it then you can combine that with your generalist CG image making skills to tell the story you are being asked to tell.
Be the reel, the artist, the person that stands out! Be the contrast to the rest that gets me excited. Then try again, and again until you accomplish what you set out to do.
How do we do that practically? Personally, I favor animation-- that is the core of performance and storytelling so learn and show me you understand the 12 principles of animation as seen in one of my favorite books, the Illusion of Life, and you will find work as a visualization artist.
How to Make Your Reel Stand Out from the Crowd
When you assemble your demo reel put your best work first. This seems logical, but you’d be surprised. Show me work that illustrates what you want and are able to create every day all day long. The reality is, if you end your reel with a favorite climax piece, I probably won’t get to it, I've already made up my mind and moved on to the next vid in the never ending que of reels.
If your reel is longer than 1.5 minutes it better be awesome. Unfortunately I won’t look at your shot breakdown. If I can't tell what you did the moment I look at it on screen then you're not communicating well enough and that's the biggest job in visualization. Show me onscreen- short, clear and concise- exactly what work you did.
For visualization reels, don’t over do dialog. It isn't used much in previsualization, nor is it very important in planning the shots and storytelling of the movie. I'm far more interested in what I will understand with all your sound turned off. That’s when I can tell what kind of storyteller you are.