Week 04: CG Department

The Computer-generated (CG) Department defines the look of the VFX, creates the characters, vehicles, backgrounds and effects like explosions

Here I am going to describe the remaining part of the CG Department starting from the Layout Artist.

Layout Artist

A layout artist designs the shot frame, camera paths and angles, depth, perspective, scale, and lighting for an animated sequence. They act as the eye of the cinematographer and gaffer in animation, working with directors to translate storyboards into sequences of action.

The layout artist works in collaboration with the director to establish the camera angle, lighting, and point of view of each shot of an animated sequence. They are the stylistic and technical eye of the entire shot, as well as choreographers of character action; have a sense of scale and ability to realize background, characters, and objects that work in proportion with each other to create a believable world. On larger-scale projects, these artists produce a number of versions of virtual camera shots so that the director has options when cutting the film together in post-production.

Layout Artists’ duties include:

  • Discuss with directors regarding the script execution
  • Working on the storyboard to set up layout of animation
  • Researching the genre, reference shots and the project’s style
  • Creating backgrounds that support the story narrative
  • Providing different verisions of scenes
  • Lighting each key scene
  • Setting the camera path each scene
  • Defining the perspective of the scene
  • Experimenting with camera angles to reach the best shot

A Layout Artist’s skills required are:

  • Have a good eye for movement and scene layout
  • Using camera and lighting techniques to affect emotions to audience (Experience in photography an advantage)
  • Awareness of the history of animation and/or filmmaking
  • Editing skills
  • High level artistic or graphic design skills
  • Familiarity with film and animation genres
  • Be able to use Adobe Ae, Blender, Cinema4D, Houdini, Maya, Nuke, RenderMan and 3DMax
  • Be abe to cooperate with other artists in the industry
  • Work within the production schedule

Layout artists work closely with directors and Environment Artists to create realistic 3D layouts in VFX programs.

Web reference



Matchmove Artist

Matchmove artists match computer-generated (CG) scenes with shots from live-action footage so the two can be convincingly combined.

Trackers/Matchmovers are responsible for creating CG cameras and other motion files that adopt the same movements as the original background plate. They may also be responsible for modeling geometry in the background plate to allow reconstruction of the static surroundings. This procedure enables the live-action to interact with the CG elements. The motion files created (camera, object, or body track) are then passed down to other departments via the VFX pipeline and be combined by compositors.

Responsibilities include :

  • Preparing and importing shots with the correct data, to ensure they are ready to be tracked
  • Recreating camera/object motion so that it can be published to the studio

The Matchmover Artist’s skills requirements are:

  • Background education in CG, Animation and related courses
  • Strong understanding on basic principles oof computer graphics
  • Skilled at using relevant tracking, 3D packages and compositing software
  • Definetely having eye for details and problem-solving skills

Matchmove artists’ work is passed to Layout Artists

Web reference



Lighting Artist

The Lighting Artist is responsible for following the look development bible for the production, and creating lighting for all assets, environments, and characters of the production.

This role ensures that all shots are complete, lighting rigs are optimized and organized so that they are ready for use in production. We should underline that the Lighting Artist role is a much greater deal than that. They adjust colors, placement, and intensity of CG light to create atmosphere, add realism and depth. As a lighting artist, your job is to add depth to sets and characters with shadows, as well as provide proper illumination to bring out the scene’s emotion and, in some studios, to add surface qualities to objects.

Their duties are:

  • Establish direct and reflected lighting, shadows, and compositing for each assigned shot
  • Ensure that assigned shots fit in the continuity of a sequence and fulfill the vision of other departments
  • Ensure quality of final frames and cleanliness of setups
  • Optimise, refine and correct model geometry to satisfy the artistic requirements of the CG Supervisor

And their required skills are:

  • Trained eye to enhance the tone, depth, mood, atmosphere and elements to make the lighting as close to reality as possible
  • To make the first point poossible you should have a deep understanding of different artistic concepts such as shading, composition, color theory, design theory, and perspective
  • Strong understand of the various CG lights and their attributes
  • Strong understand of 3D programs as V-Ray, Arnold, Redshift and Renderman

Web reference



CG Supervisor

The CG Supervisor is the person responsible for all 3D content on production and sits above all the different 3D departments. This role supervises and is responsible for the delivery and quality of all CG elements in a VFX project. Moreover, since supervisor positions are some of the most senior in VFX companies, CG supervisors are usually involved in the VFX artists’ hiring process.

3D work can get complex and the CG Supervisor will need to be very comfortable with both the artistic and technical needs of CG production. They design the VFX pipeline and manage to help decide which tools the Techincal Directors are needed.

The required skills to become a CG Supervisor are:

  • 5 or more years of work experience in a production environment
  • Strong understanding of various technical and creative aspect of production
  • Mature approach to implementation and software design
  • Complete understanding oof 3D principles and porduction pipelines
  • Know how to work with programs as Adobe Ae, Blender, Cinema4D, Houdini, Maya, Nuke, RenderMan and 3DS Max
  • High level of programming and coding skills in C++ and Python
  • Team leadership and motivational skills

Web reference


Look Development Artist

Look Dev Artists play a crucial part in both pre-production and post-production processes. They oversee the overall look to ensure all the art in the film or TV program is consistent.

They work with lighting TDs, texturing artists, and creature TDs to establish the different looks, balance the processes of texturing, lighting, and develop the differing conditions of a texture, for example how it will react to elements. Establishing visual style is an important responsibility of the Look Dev Artist.

As already anticipated, the Look Dev Artist focuses his work on the visual style, but let’s see what are the responsibilities this role include:

  • Liase with designer and developers regarding the design brief and visual style of the project
  • Research resources and genre materials fro the graphic development
  • Do first drafts fr key scenes, enviroments and assets within the same style
  • create prototypes
  • Oversee the visual development in order to maintain a consistent look
  • Finish all textures with special effects, lighting, texture etc..
  • Achive maximum quality resuts
  • Apply texture maps, set up scene templlates and define render passes

Therefore there is a list of skills a Look Dev Artist must have:

  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to work together or indipendently
  • High level drawing and conceptual skills
  • Strong understanding of visual language
  • Ability to collaborate with technical and creative departments
  • Highly experienced in texturing and adding effects to textures
  • Experience with fur and hair grooming and cloth simulation design
  • Able to create photorealistic finishes and visual effects 
  • Basic knowledge of 2D and 3D animation, familiar with the principles of animation
  • Be adept at using programs as Arnold, Blender, Maya, Mental ray, Adobe Ps, RenderMan, Substance Pianter, V-Ray and ZBrush
  • Familiarity with texture mapping and finishing

The looks that the look development artist creates are signed off by the CG or VFX supervisor.

Web reference



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