Career Advice - Working as a 3D FX Artist with Mattia Rodini
Want a successful career working as a 3D FX Artist at some of the world's leading VFX and Animation Studios?
Around 2014 while playing with Blender, Mattia Rodini slowly realised his interest for proceduralism and simulations and picked up Houdini. The rest is history for this recent CG Spectrum (Advanced Houdini Diploma) graduate! Mattia is now working at Bardel Entertainment in Vancouver, Canada, where he can contribute to crafting amazing effects.
Mattia sits down with us to share his journey and advice to aspiring image makers, looking for an exciting and challenging career like his own.
What's your current role and what does it involve?
I'm a 3D FX artist. I work in the FX team to design and create 3d effects using Houdini. That would be anything from RBD simulations and Pyro, to Geometry instancing or Particle Simulations.
Where do you work, and what type of projects are they involved with?
Currently, I work as an FX Artist at Bardel Entertainment. You may know them for The Dragon Prince (one of my favourite Netflix shows) or Rick and Morty! Bardel is the leading animation service provider in North America.
When did you first realise you wanted to work in this industry?
This is kind of a long story! About six years ago, I enjoyed working with an artist and friend of mine who built and programmed a drawing machine. The whole project was fascinating, and my desire to help him brought me to learn some 3d and coding fundamentals. Over the years, I realised I was mostly interested in procedural approaches and dynamics and decided to enrol in the Advanced Houdini FX Diploma at CG Spectrum.
How did you get your first big break?
It took countless applications and a lot of effort. At the end of the day, somebody must have liked my reel! I've been extremely lucky to be given a chance soon after graduation during such a chaotic (Covid19) time.
Describe the journey you took into your current role.
It's been a long one! I moved to Canada to realise my dream of working in this industry, and, as expected, it took some effort to be able to work full time while studying. I found incredible support in my school community, which kept me motivated throughout the most challenging times!
Day in the life
Describe a typical day for you and your team.
My day always starts with espresso. We are currently working remotely so our communication happens mostly on Zoom and via chat. We all have FX tasks assigned and we always try to create setups that are as procedural and as customisable as possible. This lets us iterate pretty fast and make adjustments to meet the clients' notes.
What third-party and proprietary tools do you use on a daily basis?
I work mainly with Houdini and Nuke. Shotgun and emails end up being a big part of my day-to-day too.
Which departments and key people do you work closely with?
The FX team, my Lead and CG supervisors.
One thing you’d never change about your job?
The "puzzle" nature of this job! Problem-solving is a major component of creating FX. I encounter obstacles every day and learn new things every day! I know I am inevitably going to get stuck on something but it's the process of breaking down bumps into smaller problems and working my way through them with logic that I'm most passionate about.
But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing changed is?
As a white man and a newcomer to Canada, one thing I wouldn't mind seeing changed is the inclusion of different perspectives in the industry. Diversity & inclusion representation has started to be discussed over the last few years, and I hope to see this trend continue to strengthen throughout my career.
Is formal education essential for someone aspiring to do your job?
I don't think it is essential, but I would recommend it. I have seen self-taught artists succeed in landing a job without formal education, but I strongly recommend a school for Houdini. Learning how to "learn" Houdini progressively every day is tricky without the help and industry professionals' feedback. A school like CG Spectrum teaches you the industry's best practices, and it's made of incredibly knowledgeable, passionate professionals and fellow artists!
If you could give one piece of advice to artists starting out, what would it be?
Don't be too hard on yourself! It's tough to track progress and remind yourself that you are getting better and building knowledge. Don't be afraid to share your work with others!
If you could go back in time to when you first started out, what advice would you give yourself?
Keep it simple.
Work "at camera."
Work on the right scale.
I bet it's quite common for FX Artists to get impatient, but it's critical to master the fundamentals!
You can find more of Mattia's work here.