How To Get Started in Visual Effects (in 2019)

The question I get asked the most is: “How to get started in Visual Effects?”

In 2019, we’re in the information age — with so many resources, so much information that it’s so easy to get overwhelmed that we stop, before we even begin.

There IS information out there on this topic, but most of it is quite literal “go to Gnomon, or some VFX school” “DONE”. Most of us don’t have the luxury to spend $80,000+ (USD) to attend Gnomon or similar schools. And, who’s to say that is actually the answer?

In the beginning, we just want to hit the ground running. I wanted to focus on this topic from the point of minimizing the time, minimizing the noise, and how to get clarity in your goals and what you truly should be focusing on.

What software is best, Houdini, Cinema 4d, 3ds Max, Maya, Blender or After Effects, Photoshop or any others. Who you should listen to or what resources to study, or what specifically you want to do, whether it’s visual effects in terms of compositor, technical director, creature animator or many other disciplines — let’s get clarity on what this means TO YOU.

It’s so simple to know where your attention should go — once you really hone in on what your goals are. And in this video I want to break through the noise and really get to the essence of what you want to do, and simply answer the question “How to get started in Visual Effects”.

QUICK QUESTION – Please leave a comment: What websites or resources do you find valuable for learning or keeping up to date with the latest design and VFX news? Or other goldmines on the web that others might not know about

FREE GUIDE – If you want to download the FREE guide I wrote on how to make a Demo Reel (from an employers perspective) go to www.allanmckay.com/myreel/


FREE 18 Hour VFX Class (City Destruction)


ALLAN’S INNER CIRCLE (My weekly newsletter)


Youtube comments:

Jonathan Sanchez
sub spanish! please haha
Hari Krishnan
Sub from India. Sir I would like to be a VFX Compositor. Can you please point out what should I do/ do not for achieving that. Thank You
Felix Larios
What is the difference between CGI and VFX
Gabe Buehrig
Hey man big fan it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the learning curve love the videos gave me lots of encouragement please keep going
making videos out of busy schedule is no easy! thank you allan your videos have helped me a lot!!!!!!!
14:47 in my experience it's more like blender users favorite topic. What a bunch of loonies : D It cracks me up every time.
Rúben Rhodo
You are the best of the best! Thank you so much for videos and I definitely gonna learn a lot with you and your awesome tuts! =D Best regards from Portugal
Hector Ruiz
This is great info Allan. I needed to hear this topic since I got a little lost lately in trying to figure out how to transition from my current career.
Yggrassil Digital
thank you
Donrick Pond
Allan, you need to create a video on that light you have on your desk. I am confused as to if that's even a real light or a CG render. With my background in photography, I would like to know how your camera is exposed so that the light isn't blown out... Create a video on your lighting setup. :D
James Jarrett
Omg 3mins in and already the most informative video, I’m thrilled to hear about how to choose your focus and why. My vfx binge watching can now start to make sense. Thanks Allan... ok back to the education 😁
Unskilled Naive
Is it possible to learn motion graphics+character stimulation+rigging+destruction+scripting+sculpturing as Generalist
Unskilled Naive
Thanks sir .Love from India
Lokesh babu
Hello sir I'm very much inspired by your videos and everytime I watch I feel I can succeed......! And two more questions sir, 1. I'm a 21 year old guy and I'm just starting to get into VFX and I'm very much inspired to do VFX so can I be successful by starting now ? 2. I'm thinking of doing a diploma in VFX in Canada is it worth it ? . And for your question sir ,I find video copilot very useful and check out Andrey Lebrov's YouTube channel sir very much inspired by his works too....!
Aykut Bozkurt
Thank you Allan for brief explaination.
Tran Tien Dong
As a beginner i tried to absorb everything i could without clear goals, afraid of missing/not knowing something important, and just blindly following tutorials because i feels like it needed (then forgot as soon as the day later) this video make me realize that. I guess that change now. Thanks!
If you go for creature animation watch a lot of nature documentaries, nature is much more complex and rich than an artist interpretation...and animals don't scream when they hunt because if they scream, their food runs away.
Mr. White
I've been in the industry for about 20 yrs now. I'm self taught and did not goto school for VFX. I find that in life it's all about who you know and not what you know. Anyone can be trained to do VFX, just like anything else. If you really want to get into the industry all you need to do Is move to Canada and get your foot in any VFX company , your chances will be better up there. The more you talk yourself up the better your chances of getting a job. It's all about how you talk, your attitude and who you know.. Check out a few YouTube videos, learn the lingo and have confidence in yourself. You'll be a VFX sup sooner then you know. Good luck!
What if I want to get into Title Animation Design? I love the original Avengers end credits, Netflix's Daredevil, Black Panther, Captain America-The Winter Soldier, etc. Certain networks have really cool graphics as well. I love all the work by Troika.tv. Are you familiar with them?
any aspiring compositors here ???