24 Oct 2021
VFX Supervisor vs VFX producer
If you have ever dreamed of working in VFX, you’ve chosen a thriving industry! VFX has become increasingly important over the last few decades, you can find them in just about any movie or TV series. Two of the most important positions within the industry are those of a VFX supervisor and a VFX producer.
If you’re aiming to land a VFX career and you’d like to learn more, this is the article for you! We’ll be taking a look at the responsibilities and requirements for these positions, the average salaries, and most importantly the steps that you can take to get a place in the visual effects industry. Read on to find out more!
Firstly, let’s break down exactly what is expected from VFX producers and supervisors on a daily basis.
VFX producer is one of the most important VFX roles out there, as their main job is to manage the end-to-end VFX process. This will include early steps such as organizing and coordinating a full VFX team and pitching reasons for employment to a movie or TV studio. Once a team is set in stone, the VFX producer will manage the team schedules, budgets, and other essential organizational tasks. The role also entails working closely with movie production crews, ultimately ensuring that the entire VFX project runs smoothly.
Whilst the role of a VFX Producer is very important, visual FX supervisors have even more responsibilities. They are in charge of ensuring that the movie or TV studio is completely satisfied with the entirety of a VFX project. They will be required to communicate with movie and TV producers on behalf of their VFX studio from preproduction to postproduction, making core decisions such as where VFX is required, coordinating preliminary VFX prototypes, and even supervising the filming process itself.
This is because it is essential for VFX Supervisors to ensure that the entire project runs smoothly, so they generally must be present during any creative process in which VFX is being worked with. In order to manage such large-scale projects, it is essential for VFX supervisors to have excellent skills in art and creative software (particularly in terms of CGI), cinematography, and most importantly excellent skills in leadership and collaboration.
Considering how important VFX is in movies and TV these days, it will come as no surprise to learn that the average annual VFX supervisor and VFX producer salary is very competitive. However, the overall salary will completely depend on the scale and format of the project. We’re not just talking about movies and TV series – all sorts of industries require VFX experts.
For example, if you were to work as a VFX Producer or Supervisor within the advertisement industry, you would probably expect to earn somewhere around $40,000 per year. This is mainly due to the fact that such formats are generally shorter in length, and therefore less VFX work would be required in comparison to a movie, for example.
Producing or supervising VFX for the music videos chart-topping musician could easily see you earning six figures, whereas more small-scale projects could leave you with a lower salary than if you worked in advertising.
It probably comes as no surprise that the most lucrative industry to work in when it comes to VFX is movies and TV. Small scale, domestic and independent movies or TV series could leave you with a salary of around $60,000, whereas working on international Hollywood blockbusters would easily result in a salary of $100,000 (and perhaps significantly more).
Working as a VFX producer or supervisor for a ‘triple A’ video game is also on a similar level to that of the movie and TV industry. This is due to the fact that these games are completely based on CGI, and therefore huge amounts of VFX work will be required. Don’t expect a huge salary if you’re working for an indie game development team, but a VFX supervisor salary associated with a next-gen console exclusive could see you earning well over $100,000 a year.
In order to become a visual FX supervisor, you’re going to need to have an excellent understanding of how the industry works – after all, you won’t simply be producing VFX, but organizing entire studios of VFX producers.
One of the best ways to gain such advanced industry experience is to study under the wing of existing VFX Supervisors. Many educational establishments provide such opportunities for networking, but you will generally want to equip yourself with a university degree to accommodate the skills listed in the job description.
An example of this could be studying a BA (Hons) in Visual Effects and Motion Graphics. Other Level 3 vocational qualifications could also strengthen your application, such as the OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma in Art and Design (3D Design), or the BTEC National Diploma in Film and Television Visual Effects.
Much like any other career path, it is often very difficult to get your foot in the door of the visual effects industry. In order to make yourself stand out from other qualified VFX supervisors, you should ensure that you have a high quality and refined portfolio, and take any experience that you can get. Associating yourself with a reputable PR agency will also boost your chances of getting your name out there.
VFX production requires similar experience and qualifications to being a VFX supervisor - you will need to be able to present a portfolio of past work, industry experience, and relevant qualifications. Again, it can be difficult to gain that initial experience, so picking up an internship or voluntary work experience opportunity can be a great place to start. For example, you could search for opportunities to become a VFX runner, a production coordinator, or even a production manager.
However, even work experience opportunities will generally require higher education within the VFX sector. Examples of courses that employers may require include an MA in Digital Effects or an MSc in Computer Animation and Visual Effects. In addition to these, relevant Level 3 vocational courses can help you fine-tune your educational portfolio and stand out to more niche job opportunities.
Taking your first steps into forming a career as a visual FX producer or supervisor is very exciting – it’s an industry that is growing bigger every year, so the work is very much futureproofed. However, taking those initial steps is going to be difficult – if you want to be earning six figures like some of the biggest names in the VFX industry, you will need to work hard to get the relevant qualifications, network, and produce an excellent portfolio. Study hard, practice, and we are sure that you can find your place in the industry - it certainly isn’t going anywhere.