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Employment in the 3d graphics industry.

Hi JoS readers,

I was wondering if any of you guys was familiar with the job requirements and working conditions in the 3d industry - not computer or video games.

I'm currently enrolled in a CompEng masters program, which I should complete in April of next year. I've taken most graphics courses in my uni when I was an undergrad, and about four months in my masters (in January) I started developing a global illumination renderer, basically implementing popular non real time rendering algorithms such as ray tracing, path tracing and photon mapping. My program has grown fairly big (upwards of 8,000 lines of code, excluding blank lines and comments) and I should release it on sourceforge very soon. I've learned a lot in the process, and even though my masters subject has nothing to do with 3d graphics, I'm seriously considering it as a career option when I'm done with school. I've read many books on the subject as well, and more general books like Code Complete 2, to develop my programming abilities. I'm very satisfied with this experience and think it has made me a much better programmer, and even though I'm not a guru I focus on learning as much as I can.

I want to include this project on my resume when I start looking for a job. I was wondering how well this would be received at development companies in the field, and what would be your suggestions to improve my chances in that regard.

What do software companies look for in a program, demo or code sample submitted by an applicant? What about general software engineering and development? Do companies value constant learning, based not only on coding experience, but also reading opinions of experts on these subjects? I ask this because my learning style is very much academic, i.e. I tend to learn as much as possible from other people's mistakes rather than my own, by reading books, visiting places such as JoS, or Sink's weblog, etc.

Any input would be appreciated.

looking glass
Saturday, July 31, 2004

Oh cool - I was about to start something similar.

My daughter is a gifted artist, and loves the computer (you should see what she can accomplish with Paint - it sickens me). Is it possible to get a BSCS which focuses more on graphic design than writing compilers? Or would a BA in graphic arts be more appropriate? (Pity they don't have a BSCA...)

Philo

Philo
Saturday, July 31, 2004

Most graphic design programs deal a lot with computers because the people who sign up for them already have artistic ability and just need to know how to apply that to the computer.  Two of my cousins are graphic designers/artists and they make decent money at it.

Zip
Saturday, July 31, 2004

FWIW I have a BA in Graphic Design, but worked as a developer throughout / after school

Philo, there is no such thing as an 'Artistic BSCS', but some schools, like UCSD near me, offer a BS in 'Computing in the Arts', which offers the programmer / artist a bit more options.  These are good options for people into 3D.

If you're daughter is really a fine artist who has software skills, don't stick in her in a graphic design or computing program.  Let her develop her talent.

Sassy
Saturday, July 31, 2004

BS Computing in the Arts = BA Computing in the Arts
You're = Your

Sassy
Saturday, July 31, 2004

I *am* letting her develop her talent. Sadly, the best way to help her keep her options open is to send her to a good college, since with a degree in her back pocket she'll have more opportunities.
So the trick is sending her to a college that will allow her the flexibility to follow her wishes (to some degree, anyway).

Philo

Philo
Saturday, July 31, 2004

Sassy,

I see you have a graphics design background; any comment on my post above?

looking glass
Saturday, July 31, 2004

Philo:
I guess what I'm saying is this: if she has keen fine arts skills, i.e. illustration / sculpture / painting , unless she enjoys making brochures and business cards, graphic design is not going to allow her to fully develop those skills - most graphic design programs are very centered around commerial / production arts, and most pro designers contrat to fine artists when that material is needed.  Similarly, the 'Computing in the Arts' program is much more well-suited for someone interested in things like video games, programmatic graphics creation, etc.. as opposed to fine arts.

Looking Glass - if you are interested in graphics programming, and you seem to be: raytracing / rendering / lighting / etc... an arts program is probably not for you.  Your CS background will be a much bigger asset. Same If you are interested in 3D engines.  Game companies hire engineers to do these jobs, not artists.  Now if you are interested in the modeling / level design / character design side of things, the art background is also an excellent idea.

Typically graphic arts is really a place for people interested in commercial production arts.  This is not the place for people who have reached high-level engineering / illustration levels.  i went through a lot of pain trying to eek out an interesting curiculum with teachers who did not understand programming and what was possible.  The best impact I had was when I took their Flash / Multilmedia projects and applied programming techniques to the 'timeline' animations they were assigning.

Sassy
Saturday, July 31, 2004

Philo,  I know you are on the east coast, but you may want to look at Pasadena Art Center, they have an excellent program.    I know that SVA in NYC is a great program as well.

Sassy
Saturday, July 31, 2004

one more thing:

Looking Glass - yes, include this program as your demo.  Continue to show hands-on proficiency.  Game companies are incredibly competitve and tend to hire the best and brightest and proceed to burn them out.  It sounds to me like you are on the right track

Sassy
Saturday, July 31, 2004

Sassy - thanks for the info!
So far she seems to be most interested along the arts/graphics border. She likes drawing and sketching, but really lives for the computer - web design, flash, fireworks, is begging me for photoshop, etc.

And the Pasadena Art Center looks awesome - fairly well known in art circles, I take it?

Philo

Philo
Saturday, July 31, 2004

Pasadena Art Center is possibly the best *practical* art school in the country - it is very well known for it's automotive design progam - google it.  What makes this school stand out is it's strong connection to industry, and it's reputation as a place to push boundaries without being mired in 'art for art's sake'.

Of course this is an incredibly expensive school, but if the west coast is an option, CSULB has an excellent BFA program that is much much more affordable (especially CA residency).  These 2 programs are typically regarded as the best in Southern California.

Sassy
Saturday, July 31, 2004

Philo - your daughter actually sounds like a perfect design school candidate.  Great programs really do make all the difference!

Sassy
Saturday, July 31, 2004

Looking glass, to answer your question, it all depends. 3D graphics companies will look for technical expertise along with artistic ability.

Several CS graphics programs in California have close ties with CG (computer graphics) companies and are respected as providing the types of graduates and training those companies want.

You should contact large CG companies and continue this discussion with them. Summer internships would be invaluable for your career.


Saturday, July 31, 2004

Philo, check out the technical graphics program at RIT (rit.edu). Technical training so students are employable, but the schools attract like minded best of class artists who support each other.

Li-fan Chen
Saturday, July 31, 2004

People might like to follow a lot of the links from http://www.processing.org

Processing is a Java-based development environment and graphics API aimed at designers and artists from beginner-level onwards.  The site lists some of the schools and courses which are using it, including art-inclined CS departments and CS-inclined art departments.

Tom (a programmer)
Monday, August 02, 2004

To OP
You might want to look at places that make 3d rendering software along the lines of autodesk, NewTek, or alias.  They make a varity of 3d graphics products.  Not only do they make 3d graphics programs they also do 3d engineering products for technical drawing.

Brian
Monday, August 02, 2004

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