Visual effects (VFX) assistant
Also known as:
- VFX production assistant
What does a VFX assistant do?
VFX assistants help ensure VFX projects run smoothly. They arrange the day-to-day running of the team and make sure everyone has the information they need to work effectively. They organise the movement of artwork and art assets through the VFX pipeline.
They are responsible for distributing the assets and artwork needed to the relevant departments. They deliver briefs to artists and feedback to the relevant teams about the progress of the work. They keep production databases updated with the current status of shots. They also track costs and budgeting. Scheduling internal and external meetings might also be part of their job.
VFX assistants need to communicate well with everyone. They liaise with production and post-production. It’s their job to help to keep everyone on target so projects are finished on time and on budget.
What’s a VFX assistant good at?
- Knowledge of VFX: understand the artistic and technical processes through which VFX is made, know the key roles and responsibilities of the team
- Communication: work within a team towards a shared goal, be able to communicate clearly with all team members
- Organisation: be good at managing projects and working to deadlines, be organised, show attention to detail, be able to multitask and prioritise
- Software knowledge: be able to use Microsoft Office database and scheduling software, be good at learning new software, understand common file formats and resolutions
- Resilience: remain calm and confident under pressure, cope well with fast-paced environments and short deadlines, be adaptable, use initiative, have a positive attitude
Who does a VFX assistant work with?
How do I become a VFX assistant?
There are two routes to becoming a VFX assistant. One is to have skills as a VFX artist. The other is to have a background in film production. Either way, you need to show you have very strong teamwork and organisational skills as well as a good understanding of the way visual effects are made.
At school or college:
If you want to go to university, study subjects that will give you an understanding of VFX production and business. A-levels and Highers in English, economics, business studies and maths are useful. Or you might want to take the following Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Creative Digital Media Production.
If you want to go straight into a job or apprenticeship, the following Level 3 vocational qualifications will equip you:
- Aim Awards Diploma/Extended Diploma in Games Animation and VFX
- AQA Technical Level Business: Marketing
- AQA Foundation Technical Level Business: Marketing Communications
- AQA Technical Level Entertainment Technology: Video Games Art and Design/Design Production
- OCR Technical Diploma in Digital Media (Digital Content for Interactive Media)
Get a degree:
You could either take a degree that equips you with the technical skills of a VFX artist or a degree in film production. Have a look at ScreenSkills’ list of recommended courses in VFX. We recognise courses with our Tick award where they offer training in the relevant fields, dedicate time to building a portfolio, and have strong links with the film and TV drama industries.
Get an apprenticeship:
An apprenticeship is a job with training, so it’s a great opportunity to earn as you learn. You might find a job as an apprentice in VFX but even if you don’t, it’s worth getting a job as an apprentice project manager in another industry. Some companies do Level 4 associate project manage apprenticeships while others do level 6 project manager apprenticeships. Having established yourself as a project manager you will be in a stronger position to be a VFX producer.
Search for jobs:
Find the VFX companies that you’re interested in. Look on their websites to see if they’re advertising for junior roles. Some might advertise for runners. Some might advertise for assistants, receptionists, administrators or personal assistants. Even if there aren’t any jobs advertised, contact the company and ask if you could do a work placement with them or if you could come and meet them. ScreenSkills offers some advice from professionals on how to approach animation and VFX employers.
Watch a lot of films:
It’s really important to develop an appreciation for the industry. Make sure you’re familiar with what’s out there in the world of VFX.
You might also be interested in…
Being an assistant games producer. This is another production role that involves helping with the day to running of projects that combine artistic and technical expertise. If you like games, you might enjoy that too.
Some other job roles in post-production
Visual effects (VFX) producer
Manages the visual effects, sets schedule and budget, communicates with crew on set
Responsible for the post-production process, manages creative and financial resources
Writes (or translates) the dialogue into two-line captions for deaf and overseas audiences
Back to post-production