What It Takes

We are looking for a Senior VFX Artist to help create jaw dropping visuals for our new God of War that set the bar for the PS4. This individual will work side by side with our art and tech teams to create VFX that enhance gameplay, help set the mood and feel of unique environments, and bring visceral epic experiences to our players. As a Senior VFX Artist, you must possess the ability to effectively collaborate with the art and creative directors to create VFX that are stunning, while also working with other development team members to ensure technical feasibility. Our longtime Lead Sr. VFX Artist Max Ancar and Technical Director Florian Strauss, discussed this role with us and offered up some explosive tips on what this particular position entails.

What does it take to be a Sr. VFX Artist on our team?

Max: A strong passion to raise the bar of our FX up a new level. We need someone that not only loves FX in games in general, but has the ability to analyze the movement of what you see, and transfer that into games. A drive to push the looks of character based effects, with a great attitude towards hard problems and to look at them with a challenge instead of anguish. Of course, if you've worked in the games industry that’s a plus for me because the ramp up time will be shorter. However, we're not concerned with the number of games you've worked on, if you've got the right talent and technical skillset, no matter the length of your experience, we want to meet you.

Florian: The power of the PlayStation has increased substantially across the generations of hardware. In the past we could only define behavior per particle, but we can now dramatically enhance the fidelity of our visuals and define motion on a per pixel level. The industry is moving to physically based rendering work flows, allowing us to check the accuracy of our results against reality, and then bend the rules a bit to get what we want. I would expect a Sr. VFX Artist to not only understand these industry norms, but be forward looking and improve on the status quo. A combination of a desire to apply lessons learned throughout the industry, and a thirst for knowledge is what’s needed to create new special FX that we haven't seen before.

 

Technical tools wise, what would you highlight as a focus for this position?

Florian: More important than knowing specific programs is understanding what the high level concepts are. For example,  do you know what a signed distance field is, how it works, how its quality changes with respect to resolution, what kind of problems is it well suited for solving, etc. It doesn’t matter if your preferred tool is Houdini, Maya, Real Flow, Fume FX, or an in-house proprietary tool, as we're not beholden to any specific tool to achieve the goal, but we must adapt and evolve to get the best quality -however possible.  Also, being able to write shaders is a big plus, even if it’s only to prototype ideas.

 

Where does the importance of this position fit in our development pipeline?

Max: This person will, in many regards, be a technical orchestrator between our FX team and Programmers on God of War, linking us together with strong communication to improve our FX system. From enhancing our shaders to our pipeline in general, we need someone who is constantly thinking about how to improve what we currently have.

Florian: The tech is just a means to an end. What is important is pushing the quality of our FX as far as possible, however possible. This person will need to be a driving force in a way that inspires and informs both the other members of the vfx team, and the programers.  If you have the passion to create the best thing possible, you'll quickly find yourself surrounded by many people on this team eager to support you.

What we're looking for is the creator, the one who likes to set other people up to succeed, to help drive technical initiatives forward and teach or inspire everyone entirely new ways of creating FX that haven't been done before.

What do you feel is the most important cultural fit we're looking for?

Max: Man I’m getting old, 18 years at the studio now, I guess that’s an achievement on its own! To have an open personality (you're not dealing with a bunch of jerks, everybody is cool). We don't want a grinding attitude; we want someone who can deal with multiple different team types. The diversity in people and their drive to make something great is the reason why Santa Monica Studio is special. For me as a team we push each other so in the end the games we make show how much love and care we put into every little detail. It’s very important to step back and look at something you have done and really scrutinize it because, at the end of the day, I’m a gamer and I care about how the effects are perceived by my fellow gamers.

Florian: Everyone is pushing everyone to create something amazing. What we're looking for is the creator, the one who likes to set other people up to succeed, to help drive technical initiatives forward and teach or inspire everyone entirely new ways of creating FX that haven't been done before. That type of persona with an artistic eye would be an amazing fit for this position on our team right now.

[BONUS] For those aspiring to create VFX for games, be it technical or artistry, what does that journey look like?

Max: Well my journey started a LONG time ago so things have changed a bit, but if I was starting out today I would do the following:

  • Learn Maya first or any 3D package
  • Do a ton of effects tutorials
  • Learn a game engine like Unreal or Unity
  • Make a demo reel
  • Look for a job

Or go to a school like Gnomon, they could steer you in the right direction.

Florian: What he said =)

CLICK HERE TO APPLY for our Sr. VFX Artist position, or visit our CAREERS section to explore all other available opportunities

topics: Internal
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