Career Advice: Working as a VFX Generalist in Paris

Career Advice: Working as a VFX Generalist in Paris

Junyou Jiang is a VFX Generalist at BUF Compagnie Paris. He sits down with us to share his journey and advice to aspiring artists looking for an exciting and challenging career like his own.

Want a successful career working as a VFX Generalist? Junyou Jiang, VFX-Workshop alumnus, is a VFX Generalist at BUF Compagnie Paris. He sits down with us to share his journey and advice to aspiring artists looking for an exciting and challenging career like his own.

The Journey

What's your current role and what does it involve?

My current role is VFX Generalist, the word "generalist" means you should have almost all the knowledges of producing a photorealistic VFX imagery: modeling, texturing, rigging, animation, layout, lighting, compositing, etc.

Where do you work, and what type of projects are they involved with?

I'm working in a VFX studio founded about 35 years ago called BUF Compagnie.  BUF is one of the VFX pioneers in the world, and as early as the 80s, the company worked on cinema movies, streaming media TV series, music videos, and also TV commercials and animations.

Image from Junyou Jiang's graduation short film 

When did you first realise you wanted to work in this industry?

This is all about a dream from my teenage years, when I first saw the Iron Man movie at a friends house. I thought the flying high-tech armour was filmed in real life, but after a quick google search I learned that it was computer generated.

The idea of creating something similar on my own was born at that moment.

Describe the journey you took into your current role?

I started my VFX journey after finishing my mechanical engineering degrees, I decided to follow my dream, and luckily my parents were very supportive of my choice, so I restarted my studies at VFX-Workshop. After 3 years of studies, I graduated with a VFX Degree with one little short film that I made all by my own which completed my dream.

You can find the breakdown of the film here.

How does your education complement your work?

VFX-Workshop taught me the basics of CGI and gave me the global vision of how a VFX shot is done from the basic modeling, to compositing. Being at the school helped me to develop my skills of becoming a VFX Generalist, without a doubt.  

Day in the life

What third-party and proprietary tools do you use on a daily basis?

I use in-house software for my daily work which was developed by the team at BUF, and constantly being developed.

Outside of that, I mastering the common commercial 3D softwares like Houdini, Maya, 3ds Max, Zbrush, Nuke, Adobe Substance 3D Painter & Designer, Photoshop, etc.

I'm currently using this software to work on a person project which I've been developing over the last three months. Check out a work in progress below, and the breakdown here.

What does your workflow look like?

My workflow is pretty simple: I get the idea or inspiration from another artist's work, a film, a statue, or even an oil painting, and then develop my own story.

I analyse the tasks and potential problems, and the last and most important step: put it into practice and keep going until the end.

Which departments and key people do you work closely with?

As we are all generalists in our company, there are not any specific departments; the tasks with which you are assigned are dependent on the project.

The juniors like me are working with the lead, but we can also work directly with the supervisor.

One thing you'd never change about your job?

The one thing that I'd never change about is being always creative and openminded.

Career Advice

Is formal education essential for someone aspiring to do your job?

I don't think the formal education is that important for everyone in the VFX domain. There are many great VFX artists that are not from VFX school and are self-taught with the resources they could find.

There is a proverb in China: 师傅领进门,修行靠个人

It means: Teachers bring you into the field and help you to learn, but what you can learn at the end mostly depends on yourself.

I will say, that a formal education can give you more chances of getting early access with the real VFX professionals in the industry, because many teachers in VFX schools are also working professionally alongside their teaching. You are also able to make connections with your classmates and peers who are doing the same thing as you, and can help you out.

What tasks would you be typically asked to do as a junior artist?

As a junior artist, it's pretty normal to be asked to do the simple and repetitive jobs because the company needs to gain profit and needs to efficiently assign the right jobs to the right artists.

Doing less complex work to start with, doesn't mean you can't attempt more complex tasks when you are off work.

If you set your sights on improving your skill and to be trusted with more challenging tasks at work, you can always keep learning to do so.

Describe your attitude towards your job?

My attitude are pretty simple: do what you're asked to do, improve, be better!

You can find more of Junyou Jiang's work on IMDB, Vimeo, LinkedIn and ArtStation.