Issue: Volume: 22 Issue: 12 (December 1999)

License to Practice Computer Graphics

I'm attending the University of Illinois this fall, and I'm interested in pursuing a career in computer graphics in the film industry. I am fairly good at math, and I like to think I'm a proficient computer user. A possible problem, however, is that I am not as artistically talented as some other people I know. Will this greatly hinder me in my chosen career?

You don't have to be artistically talented yourself-you just need to understand what kinds of tools artists need, and then know how to create these tools.

I send this letter in response to ComputerGraphics World's reply to Doron Galili, in which you stated that a person does not need to be artistically talented in order to pursue a career in computer graphics for film. I disagree totally.

I have degrees in both graphic arts and computer animation, and I do technical animation and illustration with a group of digital artists who create the graphics and animations for our company's print, multimedia, and Web publications.

Throughout my career, I have found that the most important proof of my knowledge is my portfolio, in which my sketches and concepts tell future art directors everything about my way of thinking and my artistic skills.

Believe me when I tell you that in the movie industry, a computer graphics/animation artist needs artistic skills. Even in my current job as a technical/industrial animator, drawing skills are required as well as an analytical approach to presenting visually intensive material. I have to be able to draw and present my ideas during the pre-production phase. Luckily, I gained these skills while working for a local movie production company, doing storyboards and conceptual drawings.

But I also believe that in all fields of computer graphics, we as digital artists must learn as much as possible about the operating system and programs related to the platform we use to create our work. Time is money, and if I can troubleshoot my machine whenever there is a problem instead of having to call for support, it saves my employer both time and money. Any skills involving troubleshooting as well as hardware upgrades or repairs only make you more marketable. Just hang out at the computer labs talking to the techs. You'll be surprised at what you learn.
Freddie Torres
Houston, TX

I am an art director at a university. I have alsoworkedina designstudio,and have been a partner and creative di rector in an ad agency.

My answer to Doron Galili is that I don't think "artists" will be entirely concerned about your "artistic talent" but they will be very interested in your creativity! Can you think "out of the box" easily? Do you find innovative solutions to unusual problems? Can you see opportunities where most people see only obstacles or problems?

The computer is only a tool. It cannot think very well. It cannot do a pas de deux or paint a landscape. Music is a mathematical medium, but few mathematicians can play as well as Isaac Stern, Itzak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, and Andre Watts, or compose like John Williams, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, and Beethoven.

There may be a very good place for you in the filmmaking industry, but good computer skills alone will not get you there. Your total talent, training, expertise, and performance are what count.

Jim Raatz
Art Director
Engineering Program Office
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX

On page 62 of the October 1999 issue, a statement regarding rendering on the ConocoLand project should have read: "Texturing was performed in Adobe Systems' (San Jose) Photoshop...."

On page 64 of the same issue, in "A Picture's Worth a Thousand Lines," a reference to the product Paint Shop Pro in the fifth paragraph should have read: "Using Pho toModeler Pro, Hess pulled off textures from the photos and placed them on the model."

We welcome any insights you may have that would further our readers' understanding of topics discussed in this issue. We may edit your response to conform to our style and space requirements.
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