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Apprenticeships at Pixar Canada: Role Descriptions
- The Modeling/Rigging TD will build either character or set models from concept artwork. Character Modelers rig and skin the models so that they can be animated. Set Modelers model the geometry of sets and props, as well as assemble these models into fully dressed sets. The modeler will construct shapes of the digital character or set in a 3D modeling software, such as Maya, then convert the models for use in our proprietary animation suite.
- The Shading TD works alongside Modelers and Lighters to create the look of characters, sets, and other objects in the film. All textures and materials are developed by hand and must integrate into the Pixar worlds. The shading is created with RenderMan shaders, using a mixture of painted and procedural textures, along with sophisticated illumination models.
- The Visual Effects TD works to create visual effects in the animated film. Visual effects work often includes aspects of modeling, simulation, animation, shading, lighting, rendering and compositing for the visual effects elements of the shot. Visual effects work often includes simulation of dynamics and natural phenomena, as well as animation of effects elements either done by hand, or using procedural techniques.
- The Lighting TD creates the lighting of sets and characters in each shot of the animated film. Lighting makes the images look attractive, rich and interesting. It does this while conveying the mood, directing the viewer's attention to key story points, and ensuring that important actions are visible and easy to understand. A love of photography can be a great foundation for lighters. Lighting involves the placement and adjustment of lights in Pixar's lighting system, as well as the use of compositing tools to further enhance the appearance of the rendered image.
- The Apprentice role is intended for new or recent graduates (from relevant programs) with zero to one year of work experience. An Apprentice works on films produced at Pixar Canada, and will have the opportunity to learn from our creative and talented team. All our Apprentice roles are paid full time positions. Apprentices also receive Pixar Canada's benefits package.
- Pixar Canada offers Apprenticeships in a variety of departments including Animation, Layout, Modeling/Rigging, Shading, Lighting and Visual Effects. Check out the Apprentice Role Descriptions for more information.
- The duration of the Apprenticeship is a maximum of one year and is based in one department.
- We hire Apprentices throughout the year depending on our film requirements. It is best to refer to our websitewww.pixarcanada.com/jobs to find out our current openings.
- This very much depends on our production requirements. We will generally have two to six at any given time.
- Following a new hire orientation, apprentices will go through extensive training to learn about our proprietary software and job specific skills. Once training is completed, an apprentice will work with Pixar Canada employees and contribute as full team members. Apprentices will be producing shots/assets for the film while continuing to learn "on the job". Apprentices will be evaluated during their time with Pixar Canada and will be considered for ongoing employment.
- Our Apprenticeships will be posted on our website typically two to four months prior to the intended start date. As these are posted throughout the year, please continue to check our website for information. International students are welcome to apply. Please note that any offer is subject to the applicant's ability to obtain the appropriate work permit to work in Canada.
- Your resume should highlight your areas of interest, any relevant work experience, and your education information. A cover letter should describe your interests and experience with respect to the position, and why you are fit for this position. For more information, have a look at these tips for Putting Together a Strong Demo Reel.
Apprenticeship Tips: Putting Together a Strong Demo Reel
- Check out the Demo reel guidelines on the main jobs page to get information about how to set up your reel. However, here are some tips to help you get the most out of the time you spend on your demo reel.
- Student reels should be no more than 2 minutes TOPS!
- Do your research. Find reference material from film and photos.
- Show you! We want to see your personality coming through in your work.
- Focus. Make sure you focus your reel on the role you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for an Layout Apprentice, show Layout, not modeling and lighting.
- Keep it Simple. Over-complicating shots/designs may lose the viewer's focus on your core skills.
- Always have a reason to move your camera. Unmotivated camera moves are distracting.
- Make sure you are happy with your camera angles, cuts, and timing.
- Pay attention to composition of shots. What are you trying to tell your viewer?
- Study the work of great cinematographers.... They are your mentors.
- Test your cut on other people. Do they understand it? If not, change it.
- Don't feel like you have to make your own concepts. Use designs that have been created by professional designers.... It will make your models better.
- If you use your own designs, create detailed drawings (front, side, and 3/4 drawings). It will make the process much smoother.
- Know everything about what your character does, who they are, and what happens on your set. This will help you make design choices.
- Model environments to a camera so that you only build what we will see.
- It is best to build characters with conventional proportions as they are easier to rig and animate.
- Study anatomy and find out where animals bend, rotate, and how the skin moves over bone.
- Shoulders are the hardest part to rig on a character. Take your time with skinning this part.
- Test your rig out. Ask an animator to help make sure it holds up to the movements we would expect.
- Don't build in crazy expressions that no one would ever use. Ask an animator what they need and then build those expressions into your rig.
- New shiny environments do not offer the opportunity to test your skills with materials. We like things to be rusty, dirty, and scratched. This is also truer to life than clean and brand new!
- Try models with multiple materials, not just metal, but also leather, skin, glass, and hair.
- Paint your own textures. Don't rely on scans or photos.
- Remember to create a story that sells your skills. Think outside the regular format for your project. Consider two short films or a few vignettes - they don't have to be long.
- Know the story point and emotional quality of every shot, as well as your character's development through the story.
- Watch for blank areas in the middle of a face as they reduce the punch of facial animation.
- Some things are hard to animate. Choose wisely when deciding want to incorporate: E.g, Two characters interacting (fighting, hugging, pulling), weight change (heavy objects, pulling, buoyancy, falling & contact, gravity), emoting, dialogue.
- Film yourself doing the actions in your project.
- Use dynamics efficiently and only when it's worthwhile.
- Show more than a particle or fluid effects right out of the box.
- Find a way to make your explosion, liquid, hair, or dust have a personality.
- Accurate timing and weight is everything. Make sure you pay particular attention to this.
- Show more than one type of effect in order to show a breadth of skill and knowledge.
- Show the breakdown and your process of creating the effect.
- See if you can create stylized fire, water, hair...something that would fit into the Pixar world.
- Lighting is not just about allowing us to see a scene. Itâ€™s directing our eye and making a statement about mood.
- Lighting needs to have a sound foundation in order to be effective. Use good models that are well textured and shaded.
- You should attempt interior and exterior, as well as day and night setups in your reel.
- Consider using a design or photograph to recreate an exact lighting style.
- Be sure your lighting doesn't cause a shot to flatten out. Find a way to separate foreground and background.
- Make sure to have your camera move a bit in your scene so that we know you did not doctor your lighting in Photoshop!
Specific Role Guidelines
What do the different roles mean at Pixar Canada?
In Pixar's production process the term "TD" means Technical Artist. There are four main categories: Modeling & Rigging, Shading, Visual Effects, and Lighting.
Layout Artists (3D)
3D Layout Artists continue the visual story telling that has started in storyboarding. The tool that they use to tell the story is the CG camera. Akin to a cinematographer in film, 3D layout Artists create a sequence of shots with the use of camera composition, timing, and movements. These factors must guide the viewer's eye through the scene according to the Director's vision.
Animation is not merely moving an object. Animation brings the object to life and gives it a personality. The animator creates motions, gestures, and expressions of 3D characters and objects. Animators must know their character's motivation and back story, then use CG animation tools to "act" them out for the viewer.