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Riya

Is it possible to get a career in 3D graphics with a computer science degree?

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Well I usually don’t come on these forms for advice, more its just to answer questions or ask very technical type questions, but I have hit a bit of a hard spot. For the last while I have been working my way through my computer science degree studying 3D graphics on the side in my own time. Thinking I would be a programmer with 3D graphics knowledge. Though lately I have been finding myself able to get in 3D graphics, modeling and animating far more then I ever could programming, I am now confident that is the side of the gaming industry I want to work in, and I know with another year or two of work I can get my skills up to the point of basic level industry standards. Of course this puts me in a hard spot, the four year college I will attend (currently at a two year right now since I am on a budget) only has a few real degree options, there is a computer science, a fine arts (drawing and painting, no computer graphics), a English, a math, and then a few history type ones. There is no electronic imaging, or interactive media type degrees to go for, the best is a graphics program (print studio type work) where I would do two years of that at one local college and finish the other two up at the other college. So I figured if anyone would know it would be the people who have been in the business. Would a four year computer science degree still let me be hireable in the world of 3D graphics (provided I have a nice demo reel and such? Or would it be the type of thing where my application wouldn’t make it past the HR department because it would be lacking in a fine arts or electronic imaging degree, so would I be better off changing gears and persueing a fine arts degree? Any thoughts on the issue are welcome, however would really like to hear from someone who has worked with the HR department or who has done HR type work before. (By the way I know you all must get these posts a lot, have read through quite a few of them but sadly most of the ones I have encountered have all been about how to get a job in programming rather then 3D graphics.)

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Yes, it is possible. But 99% of the companies require some kind of graphics background, they usually test you at the interview or require you to send some coding sample.

Anyway, degree is not must have, but it is good to have, because at the school you will mostly learn theory, but afterwards when you learn to put it in real use it is very useful, or not.. :)

I do not have any degree, but I have studied computer science at university when I was 16-17 years-old, it was worth of it. I don't really care do people have degrees or not if they just can do their work. For example, I was 18 (7 months ago) when Hybrid Graphics (NVidia Corporation) recruited me. Even if you don't want to study the whole degree I still recommend taking some courses.

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Thank you for the reply Arex, however perhaps I was to vague in what I was saying. Its not the programming side of graphics I like, but rather the visual and art side (3ds max, maya, or blender) so I would be sending in a demo reel of what I could do with a low poly count rather then lines of code so to speak.

My worry being that I won't even get to the demo reel phase, because I would have been turned away because the computer science degree deals with programming and coding and not layout and other visual arts issues.

So I guess the main question is how specific of a degree are they going to be looking for, or will just a four year degree do, since I already have invested a lot of time and money into the computer science degree I am getting close to completing.

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Hi Riya, you wrote:

>Is it possible to get a career in 3D graphics with a computer science degree?

Anything is possible. Read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson50.htm. Bring in a 4-year degree, and a spectacular graphics portfolio. You weren't ignoring the need for a portfolio, right? If the portfolio is good enough, it doesn't matter all that much what the degree is in.

Tom

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Quote:
Post by Riya while I was writing
My worry being that I won't even get to the demo reel phase...

You can't skip that. If you can't make a portfolio while matriculating, make it afterwards. Nothing happens overnight. This is a long journey you're embarking on.

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Sounds like a technical artist position would be something that would fit your career goals. Do you have any experience with Mel or Max script? These are things we definitely look for in our tools and technical artist positions. I would say if you want to only do some form of art, such as polygonal modeling, texture art, skinning, rigging, ect. then a computer science degree is probably not the way to go. However, if you are going down the technical artist route where building perhaps plugins for popular art packages, exporters, or even work on tools such as world builders, scene designers, ect. then stick with the comp. sci degree for sure.

That being said, I would not just get a comp. sci. degree for the sake of getting it and satifying the "i have a degree" thing. If art alone is your interests you would be much better off investing your time and money into some sort of digital art school and/or degree.

It seems like you are going down two roads and find yourself at an intersection. I would suggest picking a road and commiting to one versus trying to walk down both of them at the same time.

Hope that helps some.

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Quote:
Original post by tsloper
Quote:
Post by Riya while I was writing
My worry being that I won't even get to the demo reel phase...

You can't skip that. If you can't make a portfolio while matriculating, make it afterwards. Nothing happens overnight. This is a long journey you're embarking on.


Yes I didn't mean that I wouldn't be making a demo reel, infact I have already started some story boarding for it, but I still have about a year til my I am done with my computer science degree so lots of time to improve and perfect, or about three if I do switch over to fine arts.

What I meant is the recruiting people must get hundreds of demo reels a week, if each demo reel is five minutes in length it would be 8.33_ hours for every 100 demo reels, there must be some sort of refining process on who’s demo reel gets viewed and I want to make sure I don't get cut out in that process :)

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Riya wrote:

>I still have about a year til my I am done with my computer science degree so lots of time to improve and perfect, or about three if I do switch over to fine arts.

You didn't ask a question. But if I may reply to what you said: It would be stupid to quit your current degree track and start from scratch on another. Why not finish the one you're on, then if you want to go to art school, fine, do it.

>What I meant is the recruiting people must get hundreds of demo reels a week,

Assumption #1.

>if each demo reel is five minutes in length

Assumption #2.

>it would be 8.33_ hours for every 100 demo reels, there must be some sort of refining process on who’s demo reel gets viewed

Assumption #3.

>and I want to make sure I don't get cut out in that process :)

Three assumptions, and they're all wrong. Demo reels should be 2-3 minutes. Nobody faced with millions of demo reels (to exaggerate upon your exaggeration) would ever spend more than that - any 5-minute reel would be ejected before it hits the end.

BTW, you still didn't ask a question.

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Quote:
Original post by pammatt
Sounds like a technical artist position would be something that would fit your career goals. Do you have any experience with Mel or Max script? These are things we definitely look for in our tools and technical artist positions. I would say if you want to only do some form of art, such as polygonal modeling, texture art, skinning, rigging, ect. then a computer science degree is probably not the way to go. However, if you are going down the technical artist route where building perhaps plugins for popular art packages, exporters, or even work on tools such as world builders, scene designers, ect. then stick with the comp. sci degree for sure.

That being said, I would not just get a comp. sci. degree for the sake of getting it and satifying the "i have a degree" thing. If art alone is your interests you would be much better off investing your time and money into some sort of digital art school and/or degree.

It seems like you are going down two roads and find yourself at an intersection. I would suggest picking a road and commiting to one versus trying to walk down both of them at the same time.

Hope that helps some.


Thank you for the reply, was really something I needed to hear I think. I have been as you put it walking down the two roads for a while and its generated quite a bit of frustration. Trying to juggle both the practice that is needed to do good in art and the hard core studying that is needed to do well in programming.

I would definitely fit more into the aim for the pure art side. I tend to avoid programming at all costs unless it is needed for a class or information that I believe will be useful for me later on like flash action script, so yes the fine arts degree may take me a extra year in a half to two years to complete but it might be worth it since thats what I want to persue.

I have to admit though technical artist will be something for me to look into. Honestly despite how much I have done with modeling and texturing I really have never touched my MaxScript button (however recently picked up a book on it that I will be going through my next break in quarters where I will have free time.) so was already on my 'to do list' so to speak ^-^

Anyways just wanted to thank you again, gave me another angle of computers to explore, and as most things in it is hard to make a informed decision without being able to see the situation from all angles.

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Arex, i suggest you to change your qualification from 'software system engeneer ' to software techinician ( spelling??? ) in fact, in many countries this could lead you to legal problems, you stated that you don't have a degree ,and you are considering yourself an engeneer , usually in italy you have to take 5 years of course , you 've been hired by nvidia nad suddenly you get the qualification, this is illegal ,and it is unethical towards real graduates.

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Quote:
Original post by tsloper
Riya wrote:

>I still have about a year til my I am done with my computer science degree so lots of time to improve and perfect, or about three if I do switch over to fine arts.

You didn't ask a question. But if I may reply to what you said: It would be stupid to quit your current degree track and start from scratch on another. Why not finish the one you're on, then if you want to go to art school, fine, do it.

>What I meant is the recruiting people must get hundreds of demo reels a week,

Assumption #1.

>if each demo reel is five minutes in length

Assumption #2.

>it would be 8.33_ hours for every 100 demo reels, there must be some sort of refining process on who’s demo reel gets viewed

Assumption #3.

>and I want to make sure I don't get cut out in that process :)

Three assumptions, and they're all wrong. Demo reels should be 2-3 minutes. Nobody faced with millions of demo reels (to exaggerate upon your exaggeration) would ever spend more than that - any 5-minute reel would be ejected before it hits the end.

BTW, you still didn't ask a question.


I wasn’t going to comment about it at first, but for someone who assumed I thought this would be a quick and easy process from your post above this one I found it a little insulting you were quick to jump on a chance to point me wrong for assuming, and not in the kindest way either.

But to explain myself,

Point #1: The length of the demo reel I got from figuring I will need to show, modeling (more then one type), texturing, 2d concept art, vehicles, humans, creatures/monsters, lighting, scripting, particle effects, animation (and animation hierarchies to show that it wasn’t just from a plug-in) there is going to be a lot of stuff to cover in it, also I will admit I might have been aiming a little high for the length.

Point#2: Really I don’t think 100-200 people applying for the same position is that unheard of, and if it’s a large expanding company, they might have 2-3 such positions opening. If the game industry is half as hard to get into as people say I don’t think that is to unlikely of a assumption to make.

Point#3: I really don’t get what you find wrong with that statement, its pretty common knowledge (at least what I was taught in my PR class) that most companies will briefly glance at a resume and decide if its worth their time to really look at it, or if its just another under qualified person applying for a job with them.

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Riya, you wrote:

>I have been as you put it walking down the two roads for a while and its generated quite a bit of frustration. Trying to juggle both the practice that is needed to do good in art and the hard core studying that is needed to do well in programming.

It's common to have two interests and to have to figure out a way to balance them. It's too bad it's been frustrating for you.

>I found it a little insulting you were quick to jump on a chance to point me wrong for assuming, and not in the kindest way either.

It's common for folks your age to act based on assumptions rather than solid information - and to take insult too easily, too. I was the same. I was trying to chip away at the things that are holding you back. Too bad it didn't help but rather just irritated you.

>Point #1: The length of the demo reel I got from figuring ...
>Point#2: Really I don’t think 100-200 people applying for the same position is that unheard of...
>Point#3: I really don’t get what you find wrong with that statement, its pretty common knowledge ...

Maybe you should major in Debate. (^_^) Arguing these points isn't helping you get an answer to your question. Why not just say what it is you really want to know? You didn't reply to the advice I gave you, so I don't know if you even heard it. Maybe it was lost in your feeling insulted by this other stuff I wrote. I had originally suggested that you should complete your current degree program, but then I read your words:

>I tend to avoid programming at all costs unless it is needed for a class or information that I believe will be useful for me later on

On one hand, I imagine you would find it frustrating to drop your current program and start over from scratch. But if you dislike programming that much, perhaps it would also be frustrating to see your current program through to completion. Either way, frustration (a current fixture of your life) is likely to still exist for you. I don't say that to be fatalistic but rather for two reasons:

1. Still working on the question you asked, which was whether to switch programs or not;

2. To illustrate that no decision is without consequences. That doesn't mean the decision shouldn't be made (that too has consequences).

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Tsloper

Honestly I wasn't posting my reasoning to argue with you but rather post how I came to my conclusions and educated guesses based off a collection of prior information rather then random “assumptions” as your post seemed to point out that they were. I was hoping you might actually post a little bit about how you came to your reasoning on each of my "assumptions." Or why my thought process in how I came up with my conclusions was flawed.

Also I am unsure if you realize it or not but to me your posts have a little bit of a almost arrogant slant to them. Perhaps it is due to the antagonistic word choice.

For example the word assumption in itself is a cruel word, it means that the person who is using it is accusing the person who is receiving it of a ignorance of sorts. Another way of saying they are short sighted and have not properly looked at all the information regarding the topic.

Another example would be the use of "folks your age" I am guessing you are lumping me in with the 18-22 group from what you know about me. In general stereotyping isn't a good idea in any context.

However I do value your input, and at the same time hope you value mine. One other thing is I am not here to strictly "answer a question" think of it as a discussion so to speak. I already know there is only one person who can really answer this question and that is myself. What I am seeking is other peoples comments and thoughts on it and possibly a open discussion with them to make sure I have viewed all sides of the issue.

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Hi Riya, you wrote:

>I was hoping you might actually post a little bit about how you came to your reasoning on each of my "assumptions." Or why my thought process in how I came up with my conclusions was flawed.

I don't think that's nearly as important as the bigger notion of finishing an educational program.

>I am not here to strictly "answer a question" think of it as a discussion so to speak....What I am seeking is other peoples comments and thoughts on it and possibly a open discussion with them to make sure I have viewed all sides of the issue.

OK, well, that's not very interesting to me. Good luck with everything.

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My quick 2c on it is this: I work with artists who got their degree in everything from art to programming to history to mathematics... it all depends on the quality of your work. Your demo reel is #1 priority. To have a degree, in anything, proves that you can finish what you start.

As far as the last few posts go, apparently you don't know Tom yet :) He's a grizzled veteran and he knows his stuff, and he's not afraid to get it across to others in whatever way he feels necessary. So you shouldn't think of it as arrogance as much as a confidence that he knows more than you. Which he does. He definitely knows more than me! [lol]

Good luck, and I'd suggest sticking with what you started. The piece of paper only matters in that you have something, after that your demo reel is the key to getting the job.

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Quote:
Original post by ketek
Arex, i suggest you to change your qualification from 'software system engeneer ' to software techinician ( spelling??? ) in fact, in many countries this could lead you to legal problems, you stated that you don't have a degree ,and you are considering yourself an engeneer , usually in italy you have to take 5 years of course , you 've been hired by nvidia nad suddenly you get the qualification, this is illegal ,and it is unethical towards real graduates.

I don't mean to change the subject, but could someone explain why not having a degree would not qualify you as an engineer?

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because the title engeneer is obtained ( at least in italy ) after 5 years of univeristy and after 1 state exam to be enabled to work as a professional.
Claiming to be an engeneer without having a degree is against law.
In italy this is called 'millantato credito' i think you can freely
translate with ' fake credentials' 5-10 years of prison.

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because the title engeneer is obtained ( at least in italy ) after 5 years of univeristy and after 1 state exam to be enabled to work as a professional.
Claiming to be an engeneer without having a degree is against law.


Italian laws apply in Italy and its soverign territories; other countries (Finland, the United States) don't neccessarily have the same laws. Making assumptions is bad (as tsloper indicated, albeit for a different set of assumptions).

In many countries (US and UK, maybe Canada? and others) the term "Professional Engineer" is a legally restricted title. "Engineer" alone is not, or at least is a shady grey area at the moment. I am allowed to call myself a "software engineer" in the United States, but I cannot claim to be a "Professional Engineer." Some cursory research shows that the same is probably true in Italy (the title "Dott. Ing" is used to denote a professionally licensed engineer and cannot legally be used by those without the requisite five year qualifications, et cetera).

To get to the topic and address one of Riya's assumptions; your estimates for the number of applicants to a job is a little overblown. Even if that number of applicants were recieved on average, the large majority of them would likely be culled away purely based on resumes before somebody even bothered to look at their portfolios.

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Quote:
Original post by jpetrie
To get to the topic and address one of Riya's assumptions; your estimates for the number of applicants to a job is a little overblown. Even if that number of applicants were recieved on average, the large majority of them would likely be culled away purely based on resumes before somebody even bothered to look at their portfolios.

That is very true. It also depends on how advertized the position is. A well-advertized position gets that many reponses or more, but very few people submit samples. It isn't hard to do a quick-and-dirty first pass that throws out most of the stack.

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The title Engineer varies by country widely.

Europe has a few Europe-wide qualifications, though a Masters degree from a UK institution can qualify you for a large part of this if the degree was accredited by an an institution like the IET. An example is that my course qualifies me to skip the academic portion of the CEng qualifaction (Chartered Engineer).

The US has various laws by state, some make it illegal to use "Engineer" without a Masters degree, others allow you to but restrict additional qualifiers (so you could be a Software Engineer but not a Professional Software Engineer).

The UK has no restrictions on Engineer other than using things like CEng etc which must be approved by an body capable of giving it.

Other than that I run out of information from my professional issues course :D

In relation to the actual topic a degree is a bit of paper, mostly what it says is that you can a) carry through a 3-5 year project and b) are capable of learning at a higher level. The specifics associated with individual degrees vary however I would think that a compsci degree would be a reasonable qualification for a technical artist, in fact it might be better than a fine arts degree (sure you can draw, but can you work with technology, script etc? I know people doing art degrees who got really upset when the University imposed penalties on marks for late coursework (something the engineering side always had)).

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<< there is a computer science, a fine arts (drawing and painting, no computer graphics), a English, a math, and then a few history type ones >>

Maybe you should find another school that teaches you what you want to learn. If not you'll just have to persue another degree and teach yourself 3d on the side. There are plenty of great books and DVD's out there.

Being able to script and program is a very valuable tool in the hands of an artist. You can definately get more out of your 3d package and game engine if you understand what's going on under the hood.

I think the computer science degree is the way to go. If the education you want isn't offered at your school take the degree that'll be most helpful getting into games and teach yourself the things that you want to know that they do not offer.

There are tons of resources out there help you learn computer graphics. The Gnomon DVDs are amazing, also check out www.nerdbooks.com or Amazon.

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If you really want to get into the creative side of 3D modeling, then I suggest not to turn down the fine arts program yet, just because it doesn't involve 3D computer graphics.

Learning the principles of sculpture can go a long way in producing detailed, well-proportioned models in 3D. You'll get a good sense of depth and space taking drawing and scuplting classes, and also learn how to tell compelling stories with a single image. Fringe classes like color theory are also good for design. Good artists don't start out by staring blankly on the computer screen, they sketch out their ideas on paper first. Remember that the software is used to enhance your ideas, not merely produce them from scratch. You will probably benefit from a minor in fine arts, if you decide to get your major in another degree.

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