80 Level Podcast

Beyond-FX CEO Keith Guerrette on Education in Games and the Future of VFX - 80 Level Round Table

June 28, 2022 Kirill Tokarev / Keith Guerrette Season 2 Episode 5
Beyond-FX CEO Keith Guerrette on Education in Games and the Future of VFX - 80 Level Round Table
80 Level Podcast
More Info
80 Level Podcast
Beyond-FX CEO Keith Guerrette on Education in Games and the Future of VFX - 80 Level Round Table
Jun 28, 2022 Season 2 Episode 5
Kirill Tokarev / Keith Guerrette

Send us a Text Message.

Beyond-FX CEO Keith Guerrette joined 80 Level Round Table to discuss the studio's apprenticeship program. We also talked about VFX in games, the power of community, and the amazing stuff happening with RealtimeVFX forums.

Beyond-FX Website: https://www.beyond-fx.com/
Apprenticeship program: https://www.beyond-fx.com/apprenticeship-program
Real-Time VFX Forum: https://realtimevfx.com/

Keith Guerrette is CEO & Studio Head at Beyond-FX
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/keithguerrette/

Follow 80 LEVEL on social media:

We are looking for more artists!
Join 80 LEVEL Talent for free: https://80lv.pro/rfp-rt  
Get your work noticed by some of the biggest and best developers, publishers, and studios in video games today.

The Gaming Blender
Could you design a video game?

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

This video is sponsored by Xsolla, a global video game commerce company with a robust and powerful set of tools and services designed specifically for the video game industry: http://xsolla.pro/8023

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Beyond-FX CEO Keith Guerrette joined 80 Level Round Table to discuss the studio's apprenticeship program. We also talked about VFX in games, the power of community, and the amazing stuff happening with RealtimeVFX forums.

Beyond-FX Website: https://www.beyond-fx.com/
Apprenticeship program: https://www.beyond-fx.com/apprenticeship-program
Real-Time VFX Forum: https://realtimevfx.com/

Keith Guerrette is CEO & Studio Head at Beyond-FX
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/keithguerrette/

Follow 80 LEVEL on social media:

We are looking for more artists!
Join 80 LEVEL Talent for free: https://80lv.pro/rfp-rt  
Get your work noticed by some of the biggest and best developers, publishers, and studios in video games today.

The Gaming Blender
Could you design a video game?

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

This video is sponsored by Xsolla, a global video game commerce company with a robust and powerful set of tools and services designed specifically for the video game industry: http://xsolla.pro/8023

hello guys uh today we have a very interesting interview with keith karate

the ceo of beyond effects studio that specializes in creating visual

effects for games and film and what's even more interesting that keys

is actually one of the people behind real-time

vfx forum that's being loved by members of all of

the video game community we talk about vfx

education and visual effects as well as things you need to learn in

order to be a successful vfx artist greetings and welcome to the 80 level

roundtable podcast in each episode host corel tokorev invites video game industry leaders to

talk about the world of game development no topic is off limits as long as it

relates to video game development new episodes are in the works so remember to follow us or subscribe and

share with someone you know will also enjoy the podcast thank you so much for joining us today

and uh doing this journey although i know that you're probably in the l.a area right so it's not i actually live

in seattle as well really yeah but i was just commuting yeah this our studio is

is located in santa monica um and so i fly down once a month or so to check in

the studio work with the team et cetera okay awesome so thank you for finding the time absolutely twice more

than so i have a question like an opener so

and this is the question that we ask everyone who's working on visual effects in games and my question is like

imagine a game and there is no visual effects like would it still be fun like would it

still be you know something that you can enjoy like why are visual effects so important

when you're building games i love it it's funny because this plays into why so many of us love visual effects so

much um so i think at base visual effects are they're used to bring life to the world

right i think that it's pretty easy to look around outside and see that everything that moves it's not a character or vehicle or a gun it's

probably going to run through some form of visual effects department so we bring the frosting on the cake as we say sometimes but it's we're adding

motion and life to make this sort of static digital world feel like it actually has its own story to tell

the thing that i love about visual effects though is that with every single game comes a slightly different purpose for

the effect to be there and so in some cases visual effects are just used to help sell the narrative and build the

world and bring life to that that world and other times visual effects actually belong more in

the design department and we're used to help deliver information to the player and other times we're one of the core

reasons that the player receives a good sense of feedback and consequence and impact from from interacting with the game

and so i think what i love about visual effects is that the reason for our art

it crosses over into so many different disciplines and fields and we kind of get to interface as a

part of every different department in development yeah i always think about visual effects as

kind of music and sounds like when if you have if you're in game development you saw a demo

and there is like no music and no sound and it's just like whatever even if it's like very polished it just doesn't work

right and the same thing about visual effects if you don't have them in the frame the

the prototype literally might not work like people would be reluctant to give you money or anything

it's funny because it changes the way it feels i think a lot of in those cases a lot of people wouldn't really be able to spot what's missing but they would feel

that something isn't there that there's something that feels flat it's it's static it's a little bit boring um

and so i don't know i do like the analogy of frosting on the cake like the cake is actually the most important part

you can have a whole jar of frosting and it's not going to be great but

if you just have a cake without that little bit of extra accent then it feels like something's missing

and that's definitely the case with with visual effects so once we're at it tell us a little bit

about how your journey in visual effects kind of worked because you worked in so many

different companies so many different games and now is beyond effects you're working on even more projects and

helping all over so how did you get into this industry and in this particular

kind of career path yeah i i was very fortunate that i i stumbled into this uh this little

niche industry that that just appealed to all my passions but um i was studying film visual effects

and i was actually teaching uh commercial visual facts out at a university in florida called full sail and i had a student ask me how game

effects worked and this was at the time like unreal 2004 was out

quick too you can open up the editors and you could actually load the editors and load all of the work that those artists

uh produced and sort of break them down and recreate them and learn how they functioned and so i just told the

student i have no idea and i went home and i started playing with the radiant engine and with unreal with unreal 2 at the time and realized

like wow i really love this i love the immediate feedback and being able to tinker and play and ultimately

you know we're working on games working in games and that means it's kind of play

and the era that i was doing that was right at the point in video game history where the processing power was

was large enough that this was a full-time need right at the dawn of the playstation 3

where studios were starting to differentiate themselves by saying we've got great looking visual effects

and so it was the first time in the industry where there was actually this need for somebody to come in and focus just on visual effects and i was

fortunate that i was one of the few people putting work up online saying like this is really fun and uh started getting job offers and

realized like wow i would love to pursue this and sort of started my my foot in the door

that way when you think about your career like where did you learn the most i know

you worked at like knotted up for like six years fun and then you worked at ea so what are

like what is the place where you felt like you discovered kind of like the most

about this artwork skill or craft or yeah i mean i'll i'll

be honest and say that every single project that i've ever worked on even today the work that i was doing this morning i'm still learning um i think

that's maybe one of the cool things about visual effects is that it's always requiring me to be a student

um when i was at naughty dog i definitely found my love for the craft of what we're doing there's something

really infectious about being with a team that's so focused on on

using our artistry for a greater purpose and being surrounded by that and being being in a space that's just passionate

about it and i've i've seen other teams establish their own form of that

passion and desire to push craft in their own specific way i think a lot of the work that i've done across

small teams and large teams alike has been almost just infectious and uh in

excitement so you you mentioned naughty dog and your own studio right now is uh here in los

angeles area and my question is why does kind of this area los angeles

and the greater los angeles area in general why does it appeal so much for video game companies like why are there

so many studios like naughty dog and yeah there was a there and like activision

and all of those studios are kind of building places here why this particular area

that's what i've actually wondered that quite a few times myself and i've never come to it because i mean there is a lot of studios and great shoes in seattle as

well right yeah the the west coast has has them kind of littered up and down and um

i think that this city in particular attracts a certain type of creative uh we see that for all the entertainment industries

have a large hub here and so if you're an artist of any kind you're probably going to consider coming here and once

you are here the culture of this area is one to push and grow

and so if you're an artist that's in the industry looking for a great place to uh to thrive the city's going to come

to mind and it's probably going to attract you you might have a job from film and then once you're here if you're looking to push yourself there's a lot

of other people around you that are also artists looking to to push themselves and do a little bit more do something a

little bit different and so it's just a really good incubator um yeah it's a big soup of people trying to do things a

little bit differently you mentioned this like the because the film industry obviously historically is very big here and i

remember i talked with my wife like a while ago and she said like if we

didn't come here like if we lived in california we would probably end up one way or another connected either with

music or with film because it's just like such a huge presence there and

you you kind of gravitate towards it but with with games what's interesting is

that um now especially with like real-time tech and

kind of technology is sort of merging you see a lot of people kind of going from film into games and then from games

into film and kind of all mixed up maybe yeah maybe this is one of the reasons

why kind of la is the place where there are so many game studios because

there were a lot of film people and animation people here like i mean disney is right next to

blizzard so it just makes sense because the styles are similar and the animations are similar

and so on so maybe that's one of the reasons and my question is you working with talent you are trying

to attract people um where does the talent come from is this

just because you know you put you know a job post online and you see

thousands of applications from local people willing to work for you or

is this just the people trying to fly here and live here

or maybe it's remote work right now so where do you find kind of the talon to work with you i'm

so excited to see that starting to shift actually um i love los angeles but i am so excited to see

studios and developers find ways to work with talent from around the country around the world

uh and for honestly for studios to be popping up all around the world because i think

at the end of the day the fact that all of us have been here in los angeles means that we're getting one type of experience and one sort of perspective

and story that's that's being told so um that's not a great answer to your question per se but i think that

for me now to try to figure out how to draw talent technology has finally crossed this

threshold where it's actually possible for me to try to work with talented artists around the country and around

the world without requiring them to come to l.a because that's such a huge ask for you to give up whatever you've built for

your home somewhere else to come and join us here for for a job um and i think that it's

it's actually really refreshing that there's almost a new sort of shift in the balance that hey we can

actually have the lives that we wanted and also work in this field you're kind of you're pro this hybrid

work approach and i am like long-term i mean there you don't have to you can

work from home and be in another state and it's you feel like it works for

yeah i think i'm very realistic about what it's good at what it's bad at um and uh

you know i think having everybody in one open space working together is good at a lot of things it's also really bad at a lot of things it's hard to focus when

you're in an open bullpen and people can just come and tap you on the shoulder all day and every day

and that's actually the opposite now working from home people when we have very clear tasks um

what i'm seeing in what the industry is seeing is like there's a marked improvement in efficiencies

um on the other hand what that big open space of all of us being able to sit and have face-to-face time was good at was

mentorship and team decisions and those are really hard to recreate through remote tools and so i think

there needs to be a little bit of both and i think that there's great strategies of ways to use both so i have two more questions kind of connected

with that but i think we'd better start with this new initiative that you launched please yeah tell us a little bit about

that but i think this is like a six-week program where you guys basically teach how to build uh visual

effects in games and it's not we talked about visual games as a as a frosting on

a cake and there are so many elements that are in your program i mean you're doing a little bit of environment storytelling

there is camera there's particles and all this stuff tell us a little bit about how did you come up with this idea

where did it come from like is this because you want um kind of more production ready

people and you didn't find many and you decided to teach them themselves or is this because of your educational

background like it's it's a lot of of all of it um i think

in in truth uh so there aren't any schools in north america that are teaching real-time visual effects enough to

create entry-level artists and so there's just a massive staff shortage and so as i look around at every studio

not just in la but honestly in the world vfx artist is almost always going to be

one of their jobs postings and nobody can find enough visual effects artists the other thing that we've noticed is

that as everybody did start working remotely the opportunity or the willingness to hire junior has actually

shrunk and that's because mentorship is so hard and so as we've sort of started

returning back to office as i've seen studios return back to their old way of developing i'm not seeing those entry level

positions open back up again and it's been fascinating because when i do ask them hey what's your expected

onboarding time when you bring in a new intermediate artist how long do you give them before you really expect them to

hit the ground running and i usually get one to three months well one to three months for an onboarding if i can actually

take somebody and run them through a training program in six weeks that fits perfectly into these large studio

onboardings and so the challenge for us when we created this program was

is it possible for us to take a recent graduate an inspired artist somebody that really wants to learn real-time visual effects and sprint them through

this whole swath of knowledge base of what we do and make them into a production ready

visual effects artist on the other side that we can then present to these studios and start getting more junior

talent and inspired artists into our industry so tell us a bit about the program

itself i mean you have some incredible talent teaching which is amazing tell us a little bit about that

and also tell us about what what's going on during those six weeks like what are

the kind of the yeah the first step that what do they get in the end i know that there is they

supposed to allow have some kind of like a sort of like a game or like a game

esque kind of project yeah what we wanted to do when we started looking around at how to mirror what

industries have something similar that we can mirror for this what we looked at was actually uh

the hand labored trade so plumbers and builders and craftsmen they have these

actual apprentices where people are learning on the job and that hands-on experience of actually seeing how to

craft and how to actually do the job is so vital and that's actually missing from most traditional

schools so what we did is we put together a six week program that's focused on three different

mechanisms of learning one of them is lectures because we obviously need to teach the content the other is actually

working within a game project that we built specifically for this apprenticeship and so it's a

it's a roughly 10 minute first person narrative adventure game that we built with all

kinds of visual effects opportunities in mind and unreal um that's actually

structured around what the apprentices would experience if they were working on an actual job we

asked them to check in to perforce we asked them to track their tasks using jira we work with an art director and

designer and sort of run through planning and sprints and then the final one is actually guest

lectures from talent across the industry not just visual effects artists although we've definitely had some awesome visual

effects artists come and join us to speak with us but also getting a graphics programmer and an art

director and a designer to come out and speak to us about their perspective on visual

effects and how artists should interface with them for their departments

the actual curriculum itself uh is broken down you kind of mentioned this earlier

we wanted to figure out why visual effects exist and structure a lot of the the challenges and lessons that we have

around those concepts and so the first one is environmental storytelling and so in week two after a big introduction

in week two we start to go into all the challenges that happen when your task is how to build out an environment

and add life to the world and how to match narrative tone and what you artistically should be focusing

on but then also what you should be focusing on for your craft and how to just make life easier for you as you're working the next week is all about

gameplay effects or um what i kind of focus on as feedback effects um so it's your muzzle flash

it's the things that make the game feel different that make you feel like you are interfacing and impacting the world

um they often require a totally different sense of timing because if you know if you play out a muzzle flash the way it

actually happens in reality it feels too slow whereas you want a lot of pop on that as soon as you pull the trigger it just

feels big and strong and bold the next week is all about information effects so we tend to see these in ui

elements or magical spells things like that where the key purpose of that effect is

actually to deliver information for the designer um and so the focus that i always joke

around here is like man you can have the most beautiful effect in the world but if it does not really clearly

communicate the intent or the language that that designer wants to send to the player the effect might as well not

exist and so it's a totally different challenge to focus on very clear reads as opposed to just pretty visuals

the last week of our breakdown here is cinematic effects where we go into uh sort of

locked cameras or locked action and you have to build accents on top of motion and so then

most of the focus becomes composition animation principles and how to use sequencer and things like that

then the final week which we're in now as we're speaking together here is actually all about advanced techniques

and then optimization and performance because one of the fun things about game effects is if you can't hit 30 or 60

frames a second you might as well have not made the art in the first place that's uh you mentioned those kind of

like the cinematic effects like with the camera and then optimization and i think these are two of the

kind of invisible effects because when if you if you go outside and you ask

any player about the camera they usually never have any opinion about it right because if it works they don't notice

that's it if you've done it right then nobody's thinking if it doesn't then immediately they're gonna be in disconnect and then and the

same about optimization right because if everything is fluent nobody has it they don't see it which is

kind of like ironic because it involves so much work and it's so difficult but um

i have a question on top of this i know that uh you're using unreal to kind of teach all those techniques

but i have uh i have a question on top of this so in the portfolio of games that you've

worked on there are some projects like call of duty for example where

they're using proprietary tech right and i think uh

copper games like the below game yeah yeah that's very proprietary an

amazing game also made with their own tack um my question is do you feel like

teaching them uh to operate within unreal and operate with a sequencer which is also

like an unreal uh product um does it make them ready to face all the

other tech out there which which is not really documented anywhere outside of

those corporations sure i think one of the best things that has happened to

i'm going to say the niche visual effects industry has been the standardization of

unreal or unity because it's finally given us a common language

and so even when i do hop over to other tools and i love working in proprietary engines because it's just a new type of

puzzle to play with but we still have the frame of reference of unreal so if you and i have never

worked together before and you and i have never worked in this new engine before as we're exploring it we can still reference what unreal does to

communicate and figure out okay so i know holistically that i need to

spawn this particle and control the scale and the color and the opacity over its lifetime

and when it collides i want it to trigger an event to spawn something else and like that language is structured around some

of the standards that the major engines have produced for us so that we then are able to go in and manipulate that next

engine and figure out what can that engine do for us or if we're working

with engine programmers which most of the time with proprietary engines they're very well supported internally which is why i love working with them

we get to problem solve with those engineers to make those tools do what we need so

um at the end of the day i think what matters more is that we're learning the craft to some

degree um and that's platform agnostic as we joke around um

they're all trying to do roughly the same thing just in slightly different ways with different potentials

so a question on this like while we're at the talking about tech

in general so i think a cop i don't remember if it was this year was eventful so i don't

remember if it was this year or last year but uh so peter jackson

they sold their tools division to unity for like some

astronomical number like a billion and uh it was not i don't remember a billion point six or something a billion

point eight this was ridiculous like um and my question is because we get this a

lot especially working with you know tech people and people who are doing

something with proprietary engines and there are different kind of schools and thought on this so

share yours okay do you feel like a having your own tech right now is this

more um of a benefit or does it hold you back

like if you look at like cd projekt i think that's the most like a recent illustration right so they

work with their own tech and then they ship the game to to to a result that uh they had uh

now they're doing the next game with unreal and my question is like

is this for some studios it's just too much to play with it's just too much resources or

do you feel like this is still a competitive advantage in studios should still kind of pursue if they can

to do their own tech oh man it's it is such a complicated it's a it's it's a

lot and philosophical question actually as well because on one hand um

unreal gives us this great gift of these phenomenal tools that we get to iterate

with and what i really like about sort of the pre-box engine is that

you almost can hopefully let the tool recede and just focused on what you can do with it

and so you see if you look in like the the hobbyist channels and forums right now there's some amazing art being produced simply

because unreal allows them to most of that art isn't necessarily optimized or performant for what we need

in a in in a shipped product but they're just focusing on craft and i think that that's really telling that these users

and developers are able to let the tool finally recede from the conversation and just focus on what they're actually

producing what i see in developers that are building their own

proprietary engine is that the engine almost becomes a part of that product

which is so cool because instead of focusing on engine versions and releases everybody the graphics programmers and

the engine programmers and the developers and designers and artists they're all working together to form this end piece and they get to

sort of build this giant iterative flow together and sometimes that means tools that are phenomenally better at the

specific thing that they're trying to solve i think the only danger is that i and

this is also true with people that aren't unreal is that our industry is still very prone to focus on tech instead of craft

and i'm anxious for the day when we as artists all stop fiddling too much with our technology

and just focus on what we're actually doing with it so um this you mentioned kind of being fixated

on tech and this is something i hear a lot from people who are doing visual effects because it's in this

strange area where it's kind of art but at the same time there is a lot of you know math involved that's

the optimizations and there is a bunch of different tools like if houdini

popcornfx like a bunch of the internal tools that companies have

and my question is since you're doing this program and you're teaching them

which is very something the skill that's very difficult um what are the biggest challenges that you

face like what are the things that people are having most uh trouble with

you know like where where to look for the things to you know you know

improve before you start going there i mean i think the part that makes me laugh about this

question is that uh artists that are just getting into the industry

they assume that most of our time is spent on on producing art whereas the reality is the most of our time is spent

wondering why it's not working and so i think that's actually still to this day the hardest part is that

um i can have the best of intentions of making a brand new effect in two days and tomorrow i will get somewhere and

i'll find out like something isn't working and i'll lose the next three or four days just trying to figure that out

um it's a lot like it sounds a lot like an engineer's job

it's it is i think there's there's a very logical and uh

what i always try to encourage is the scientific process when you are debugging um

and so there is a very like pragmatic and logical breakdown that you have to do to analyze why isn't this working okay i tried this and i tried this and i

flipped this one thing over here and it started working but i need it to be flipped off so let's go dig into that a little bit more

um i think that is still the biggest hurdle with becoming a visual effects artist and i call that out mostly

because i think it's something that blindsides most people when you're just tinkering and when you're just building in a gray box

learning how to use niagara or a shader graph or whatever tool you want

for visual effects it's fun because you're just producing cool visuals and things and playing

and it's not really until you really try to use it for a specific purpose that you hit that point where it breaks

and that's where a lot of people get lost and they get stuck and so i think

that is still to this day the largest hurdle of our industry is overcoming the like why isn't this working question and

that's the part that i would love to lose because if we could just stay focused on creative endeavors if

everything just worked out of the box like people advertising right so that's an interesting point

that you mentioned that there is a lot of kind of iteration and we all know that iteration is kind of part of being

an artist and if you work on anything you you redo it all the time but here you also

figure out why it doesn't work and do you feel like this is um an important

i don't want to say that it's a skill but this kind of a concept to embrace if you want to be

what is considered to be a production ready uh employee right so

what does it mean to be production ready because we have um like we also have a recruiting service on 80 level and we

try uh to help companies find people who are production ready so and with us it

basically means somebody who has shipped a title or who had worked on something but

there are students there are people who are graduating there are people who don't really have that experience yet

how can you help them kind of become more quicker become this you know this cog in

the machine so they can continue start working and not do like the three months on boarding process

um that's a huge part of our our focus with the apprenticeship and it's a big part of

my focus with mentoring artists in general because a lot of times schools they teach you how to be creative

and they teach you how to create your artwork but they forget about the constraints

and i think one of the the realities that most of our industry almost laughs about is that the last five percent of

production is what takes 90 percent of it um you know that early getting the 90 is really easy because

the tools do get you there and so um when it comes to visual effects tasks especially working in production

there's people above me way way at the top that have they're putting money to this and so they need promises and then running all the way down to project

managers they need some sort of statements of time and so they come to me and they say like hey keith here's

your task we need a bubble explosion and i'm going to say i have no idea what

that even means what do uh sure that's a week right and they want some sort of time estimate and i

want to give them an answer because i certainly know better than they do but it's also terrifying because

i don't really know and there's so many reasons why i wouldn't be able to actually deliver on that and so you have to build that that

sort of um understanding of how to approach that conversation but then more specifically

you have to build an understanding of how to work and so um we try to beat into our it's

maybe not the right phrase i'll change my turn or phrase there we try to really reinforce the concept of splitting up

your individual tasks into thirds what we the anecdote that we always say is first make it work

then make it pretty then make it fast so you were saying about that uh vfx is a great place to kind of get into

when you were speaking with colleges you're saying this is a very easy kind of place to start yeah i've been saying for

i feel like my entire career that visual effects in games really should be the easiest job to get in the games industry

um one because the demand is so outlandishly lopsided like every studio

needs visual effects artists and there just aren't enough of us but also because the tools that we use

you can just download for free you can open up unreal or you can open up unity and you can open up all the examples and you can see everything like

every step that that artist went through to create that artwork it's not like opening up a sculpture and wondering

like oh my gosh how did he sculpt this it's literally step by step you can see

all the instructions that we had in all of our settings to create that artwork and you can actually backtrack it and so for people that are

interested in visual effects they've got access to all they need to become really good visual effects

artists the problem is that it's super confusing and so there's just no real strong

guided educational resources and that's where uh there are a few

few groups of us that are trying to solve yeah you were that's what i want to ask you're one of the moderators on

the real-time vfx which is one of the amazing platforms for real-time vfx

artists because we on 80 level go to this to the forum and we check out like the

new stuff that's that's happening and sometimes we pick up someone to do an interview with because there's just so

much you are saying people are doing some amazing stuff in real i mean you can go to that forum and

figure that out because it's just insane i would love to yes i'd love to talk with you more about that how does that how having that that

platform kind of help educate the audience educate like the community about what can be done

yeah so that forum spawned out of a couple of us visual effects artists um

talking we were all out drinking catching up and realizing that we all used slightly different words

to say the exact same thing it was one of those bar arguments where like we're all actually saying the exact same thing but because we're using the language

local to our specific games engine uh we we weren't understanding each other and

what i realized and what we all kind of came to the conclusion of is that we as an industry just need to find better

places to share conversation that we the the first step that we need to do is start sharing knowledge so that we can

actually start to communicate and bridge that gap and so i started realtimevfx.com uh

several of us started the facebook group discord channel spawned out from that we also started working with gdc to get the

vfx boot camp going and uh just trying to find as many different places to create a thriving community

right now the twitter community for real-time vfx is amazing and inspiring

so now what we have is this really large collection of of talent and hobbyists and excited artists and

just knowledge sharing but there's still very few places to go to actually understand how to learn what we do

to if you're just starting out to ask where do i start um because there's a

lot to learn you even called it out there's a lot of tools that we use and so um we're just starting to see a

couple studios and businesses and companies try to focus on that jason kaiser with vfx apprentice is doing an

amazing job focusing on craft first and growing out from that and so i'm really excited about the curriculum

that he's building i think for us within beyond effects to take the opposite approach to start with

how much can we introduce and cover in six weeks and can we get them to this very specific target

goal of a hireable artist it's been a really interesting exercise and i'm

i'm just excited to see what amazing artists pop up around the world yeah with the content it's definitely

great to see that's kind of like i'm building a bridge to the next question it's great to see so many people kind of trying and

doing these experiments and putting them online but the question that i have for you so you

worked on many games like you work with riot and activision and a bunch of others

from from your perspective as uh as an artist and a leader um

maybe even games you haven't worked on like where do you feel like vfx are kind of

this integral part of the game where do they make

most sense when they're not just like for show you know it's like i always like this example with

uh fincher like his he has a background in visual effects

his he knows them very well but he uses them so sparsely

like if he wants to create like a helmet on on the lady or he'll like delete the helmet or something like little pieces

like in bits and something that he can't do on the set um where do you feel like are there games

like that when visual effects kind of you know really matter

that's a that's a beautifully philosophical thought yes uh and i think we see this in a couple

different formats there's there's some genres of games uh like

league of legends is one actually where um their visual effects are certainly visible

but the purpose and role of those effects is so finely tuned to the

balance of the game and to the information being delivered to the player that that is the beautiful craft

of their their artistry um and i i always find that the more you really go in and analyze the restraints

that they've had to put into their artwork is when you really start to appreciate what they've developed i think that the

team at naughty dog is still producing some of the best usages of

a visual effects to accent a tone and to help tell a story that i've ever seen and there's something really charming

about their attention to detail being so subtle that you're not supposed to notice it

you're not supposed to feel the massive impact but if you do

take the time to look you see it there and it fits in with the world that they're trying to build

the way they're trying to make you feel about their story as you're playing through it and those are the types of experiences in both cases i think those

are two very extremely different uses of effects but they're starting to exemplify the

way visual effects can actually be used for the greater purpose which is

you know to elevate into accent to some other goal and i think that that's why i'm so excited to see people

uh empowered with tools that can focus on on craft and as well as so excited to

see so many different types of artists hopping in and using our tools i really like this

example with league of legends because it's like you know we all talk about like attack

animations like and that the like i play a lot of elden ring right now so it's a it's an important topic

for me so you kind of learn the enemy and you understand when he hits and like you can see almost see

the hit boxes like at the time and the same goes for like league of legends because it's like it's like chess but

with with more elements and it's all real time so vfx is part of that and the language that's being presented to you

is largely through those effects even in eldon ring like it takes a long time to learn the language of that game

but it's there and it's consistent and it's largely told to you through their visual effects yeah i just wanted to say

that i really enjoyed like the forms of you the forms that you're you watch them not that long ago it's like they're they've been here like

for seven years seven years same as the 80 level so it's like the same yeah great minds

think [Laughter] so i have a question like since we're kind of uh almost at the end um we ask

this a lot so to readers who haven't made it into the big studio who

are trying to get into some big company or land a better job or get into like a

lead position what should they be working on

like what are the things that people who are making hiring decisions looking for like what are they looking at like

updated portfolio or maybe programming or some other tech skills

or you know go to harvard learn how to manage people i don't know like what are the things

that are kind of the biggest importance right now on the market and this is specifically for visual effects it can

be yeah i guess for visual effects

the the answer that for me usually starts with a slight paradigm shift from what i

see in most students and this is hard for students to have but when they're interviewing somewhere

the thing that they need to understand is that the people they're interviewing with are just trying to understand if they

can be useful to them when i'm looking to hire somebody to bring in my team it's usually because i have

i need help i've got way too much to do and i need to know that i can put somebody

in my team that's going to help me stand all of it up and get it done um

the most important part of that for visual effects is that i know that they're going to be able to ask

questions when they need it and to push themselves to grow and to learn [Music]

the different steps that we actually need there's definitely a statement of art style and sort of

matching and you know there's the really really basic of can this person even do what i need them to do

but most of the questions that we're trying to get answered when we're interviewing or when

we're looking at an applicant is can this person join us and actually grow into what we need them to be

um and so a lot of that comes from the confidence that they're going to again ask questions and uh be curious enough

about the ways we're doing things to learn how to do them correctly and i i guess like the the biggest answer is

that you need to learn all the time that's kind of like what this industry is all about that's what i keep saying

whenever i go to talk to any of the students or anyone we have this lecture where it's like 21

or something something steps and uh if you can condense it into like

under one thing it's basically you need to learn all the time because if you don't

somebody else is gonna take your job or they're just going to do like a photogrammetry thing and you

won't be able they don't need a model there anymore right you have to do this all the time and i guess that's that's

kind of like the moral of this interview that you have a educational course so people can enjoy

that or they can learn anywhere else and uh if they fall against your their dream

and they keep learning they will be able to achieve what they want i think that's that's beautifully said

yeah right yeah cool well thank you so much for your time i really appreciate it so we'll add all the links in the

description so people can check out and learn more about the programs that you have and maybe somebody wants to work

with you so we'll leave a link to the career page as well all right thank you so much

thanks for enjoying another episode of the 80 level roundtable podcast check out upcoming episodes on the 80

level website at 80.lv join our career site at 80.lv

rfp and share our podcast with friends and on your social networks


(Cont.) Beyond-FX CEO Keith Guerrette on Education in Games and the Future of VFX - 80 Level Round Table