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CG Modeller

Industries:
Animation
Personality type:
Technologist
Departments:
3D computer animation | Stop Motion

The lowdown

  • Building three-dimensional computer models of everything that is needed for a CGI project

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • be able to think in 3D
  • be able to follow design reference accurately and work in a range of styles
  • be able to create moderate to complex and organic models
  • be able to model characters, props and environments, working to a good level of finish, if required
  • have good drawing skills, including use of light and shadow, along with a good understanding of anatomy
  • have a strong sense of scale, form, weight and volume
  • have a good understanding of modelling with either Polygons or NURBS (Non-uniform rational basis spline)
  • be able to do UV mapping
  • have good problem-solving skills
  • have good communication skills 
  • have good team-working skills
  • be able to take direction and be willing to address constructive feedback
  • be able to work with a minimum of supervision 
  • be able to function as team leader, if required
  • be able to deliver on schedule, working calmly and efficiently under pressure
  • show respect for the procedures and requirements of a particular studio, production or pipeline
  • have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

What does a CG Modeller do?

Modellers build three-dimensional computer models of everything that is needed for a CGI project.

They work to established designs and need to produce an accurate translation of the design reference, staying on model (in style). They may do their own research or scan in a maquette or sculpture as reference.

The models they produce need to meet the creative requirements of the Production Designer and/or Art Director and/or client, but it is just as important that they should satisfy the technical needs of the CG department and be efficient, reliable, to scale and to be easy to rig and animate.

Further on in the process, Riggers will rig the models to enable them to be animated and Texture Artists will apply texture which will be further enhanced at the lighting stage when tone and depth are added.

It is important that Modellers understand what will be required of their models in the later stages of production because this can affect the work they produce. Information about this will be provided by a Director, Supervisor or Animator, or can be found in the storyboard or layouts.

On smaller productions, Modellers may also rig, build textures and create lighting. On larger projects, they may be required to liaise with Riggers, Texture Artists and Lighters.

Will I need a qualification?

To become a Modeller, you will most likely need to gain a degree in one of a variety of disciplines including mechanical or civil engineering, industrial design, architecture, computer graphics, computer animation, sculpture, woodwork, metalwork or ceramics.

If you are considering taking an animation or art and design/graphics course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a creative career:

Animation courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

Art and design/CGI/graphics courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

You don’t absolutely have to be a graduate, though. In some cases, you might be able to become a Modeller having gained enough relevant professional experience, or having worked up from being a trainee. In such a case, you would need a portfolio that demonstrated you had the necessary talent and skills.

You will definitely need solid experience in at least one of the industry-standard 3D CG packages. Maya is currently the programme most widely used by film, television and facility houses in the UK. However, it is unlikely that knowledge of a specific programme will affect employment. Life drawing and experience of sculpting or traditional model building will also be an asset.

What’s the best route in?

There are several levels of Modeller from a new entrant taken on as a trainee or junior, through to a Senior Technical Director or Supervisor. This job profile relates to a mid-level Modeller.

Ideally, you will possess and develop both modelling and texture skills which will give you flexibility when progressing through the CG department.

Where might the role take me?

If you have the appropriate talent and skills, you could progress eventually to become either a CG Supervisor or a VFX Supervisor.

Interested? Find out more...

Websites

  • Animation Magazine - a US magazine about the business, technology and art of animation and VFX
  • Animation World Network - production news, interviews, jobs and a big archive 
  • Shooting People – community-driven site, founded by filmmakers, and providing opportunities, news and animation jobs 
  • Skwigly Animation Magazine - the longest running UK based animation magazine and community. Offers news, interviews, reviews, podcasts, videos and tutorials 
  • Toonhound – website about cartoons, animation, comic strips and puppets in the UK
  • Own-it - offers intellectual property (IP) advice, information and learning resources for the creative sector 
  • Animation Nation - Animation industry news and useful links
  • 3D World Magazine - international magazine for CG artists, covering the fields of animation, VFX, games, illustration and architecture
  • Computer Graphics World - magazine covering innovation in computer graphics technology across various industries
  • Cinefex - quarterly magazine devoted to motion picture visual effects

Books

  • An Atlas of Anatomy for Artists by Fritz Schider, translator Bernard Wolf (pub. Dover Publications)
  • Visual Effects in A Digital World: A Comprehensive Glossary of over 7,000 Visual Effects Terms by Karen Goulekas (pub. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers)
  • How to Get a Job in Computer Animation by Ed Harriss