The Journey

Finding your way into the world of creative tech

Image: Darren Hull

Charting your course in B.C.’s animation, VFX and post production world

Careers in this area of the motion picture industry are more conventional in that those who enter the field do need highly specialized training in order to enter the field as a technical creator.

Jobs are typically posted on job boards and in general, this segment of the industry is in need of talent so demand is high – meaning opportunities are many for those who are seeking work.

The following three tailored journeys show what to expect when entering, building and advancing a career in animation, VFX or post production.


Most people working in animation have a combination of strong artistic skills, formal post-secondary education and proficiency with various animation software packages.

Those skills and work experience are demonstrated through an online portfolio (or demo reel) which shows one’s talent, creativity and a range of styles through work on various projects.

Getting In

Check out the entry level roles in Animation in the Careers section
Watch the job boards for animation companies
Keep a look out for production assistant internships offered by some of the animation studios.

Building Experience

In animation, most departments are organized with entry-level junior roles that allow workers to build on their formal education and learn on the job.

Learning on the job builds skills to advance into the next level or laterally to another department. 

Education is Key

B.C. is recognized as having excellent educational programs to serve its booming creative tech sector. All of the institutions listed below have animation programs. 

  1. BCIT – 3D Modeling, Art and Animation
  2. Capilano University
  3. Centre for Arts and Technology Surrey
  4. CG Masters School of 3D Animation & VFX
  5. Emily Carr University of Art and Design
  6. InFocus Film School
  7. Langara
  8. LaSalle College Vancouver
  9. Okanagan College, Department of Animation
  10. VanArts – Vancouver Institute of Media Arts
  11. Vancouver Film School
  12. Visual College of Art and Design
Advancing Professionally

As with many disciplines in motion picture, careers are built on work experience, skills development and establishing a network of connections. 

For animation, which has longer production periods, progression may be possible within a single production cycle. 

Look for formal or informal mentorships and professional skills training to help you advance your career. 

Visual Effects (VFX)

Similar to animation, those who work in visual effects typically bring a combination of strong artistic skills, formal post-secondary education and software knowledge to the job. 

An online portfolio is the key tool to demonstrate one’s talent and past experience working on a range of projects.

Getting In

How to get that first opportunity

  1. Check out the entry level roles in Visual Effects in the Careers section
  2. For visual effects, the entry-level position is PA/Runner, a support role for the visual effects artists and technicians
  3. Watch the job boards for visual effects companies
Building Experience

In visual effects, workers build on their formal education and experience is gained on the job and working across a variety of genres and specialized software packages to build a range of styles. Work in commercials or music videos can be a starting point to gain experience.

Artist teams are typically built around a mix of junior (0-2 years experience), mid-level (2-5 years experience), and senior artists (5+ years). Leads and Supervisors typically have 8+ years.

Years of work experience is often gained on TV series or feature films.

Advancing Professionally

Creative skills, work experience and familiarity with a wide range of software and processes will help you advance professionally. Maintaining a network of connections and a solid professional reputation is important in this freelance project-based career.

For visual effects, career progression typically happens as you move through various projects, gaining experience.

Education is Key

B.C. is recognized as having excellent educational programs to serve its booming creative tech sector. All of the institutions listed below have visual effects programs.

  1. Capilano University
  2. CG Masters School of 3D Animation & VFX
  3. InFocus Film School
  4. Langara Centre for Entertainment Arts
  5. Vancouver Animation School
  6. VanArts – Vancouver Institute of Media Arts
  7. Vancouver Film School
  8. Visual College of Art and Design
Post Production

While each discipline within post production is quite specialized, strong technical and communication skills are critical across all roles. Many of the disciplines are learned on the job, with progressive career paths, moving from entry-level/junior to mid-level, then senior, sometimes moving to Lead or Supervisory roles.

See more about the phases of post production below.

Getting In

Getting into post production usually means finding an opportunity on a project where you can gain on the job work experience and make connections for future work.

Starting as a post production assistant (Post PA) requires no prior work experience in post but does require proficiency in standard office software, an ability to multi-task and a keen eye for detail


Building Experience

On-the-job experience is the key to advancement in post production. Most workers start in entry-level positions and work towards greater responsibility through each project that they work on. Informal apprentice-style learning and mentorships are the most common approaches to gain critical work experience.

Education is Key

Two institutions in B.C. offer post production training:

  1. BCIT
  2. Langara
Advancing Professionally

As with many disciplines in motion picture, careers are built on work experience and establishing a network of connections.

For post production work, career progression typically happens as you move through various projects, gaining experience by working on different formats (a feature film or a Moview of the Week) and different genres (a drama or documentary). Look for learning opportunities through mentorships or other skills development training.

Post Production by Department

Post Producion is a technical process that transforms live action footage into a finished product. The work is organized by stages, as outlined here.

1. Dailies

This is the processing of Original Camera Negative “Dailies” from set to add color look to selected takes, sync sound files, and then process for editorial and production review.

The Dailes Department starts work following production camera recording of photography, and most frequently happens overnight. Depending on the scale of the production, this work may be done with individual operators working independently or in teams to process the day’s footage. Operators prepare the recorded materials in collaboration with the Director of Photography or Digital Imaging Technician’s instructions for the Editor, Production and or Studio departments for review or creative work.

2. Picture Editing

The Editorial department has 2 main parts.

  1. Assistant Editors who prep all the necessary assets and materials to begin the Picture Editing process. This can include finding stock footage, temporary sound effects, temporary music, or any other temporary assets that will be used to tell the story.
  2. The second part of the Editorial department is VFX Editor and Picture Editor. The VFX Editor does temp VFX during the Director / Producer / Network / Studio cut stage. They are in charge of cutting in-progress VFX for review, as well as providing all turnovers to the VFX vendor. They track versions of VFX shots in progress and are a bridge of communication between the Editorial and VFX departments. This position is usually found on Features and TV shows with heavy CG sequences.  The Picture Editor is the head of Editorial department. They will use their creative and technical skills to assemble a cohesive, engaging story through the manipulation of images and temporary sound design.  This person will be focusing on finding the best performance, using the strongest visual storytelling, to evoke an emotion from the audience. During this process, this person will creatively collaborate with Director(s), Producer(s), Showrunners, and more, through to picture lock. Picture Editors can also be invited to share feedback and ideas during the sound mix stage.
3. Sound Editing

Post audio/sound can be divided into 2 stages: editing and mixing. During the editing process, sounds are created, recorded, edited and refined. After all sounds have been created, the mixing process starts which takes on the task of bringing all the elements of the soundtrack together and define volume levels, add effects to blend the elements within the environment and balance the overall soundtrack of the project.

4. Music

This department’s main focus is on the commissioning of original score and the licensing of pre-recorded tracks.

The Composer handles all original creations while the music supervisor handles the licensing and budgeting of pre-recorded songs and the negotiations with the music lables and publishers.

The music editor supports both editorial and the composer in temping in score/songs and then supports the composer until the final mix of the music. The music editor may also create or assist in the creation of the mandatory cue sheets at delivery, once all cues/songs are approved after the mix stage. Typically these positions are freelance, the music editor may be hired by the producer or by the composer.

Other positions exist to assist both music supervisor and composer. A composer may rely on a technical/studio assistant or engineer who may optimize the composer’s technical or software set-up, and mix the music tracks according to the post-production supervisors specifications. A composer may also employ an orchestrator/copyist to do “take-downs” of their midi scores, transforming them into paper score and parts for live musicians to record. A composer may hire musicians to perform on the score and/or may perform the music her/himself.

5. Finishing

The Picture Finishing Facility is responsible for multiple facets of the post production process often including Dailies Processing (see separate item), offline/creative editorial, online picture finishing (conform, color correction, titling, sound layback, vfx insertion), mastering, QC, and Duplication or Distribution.

The Picture Post Production Facility is often the first and last step in the post production process, and manages the workflow and resources from many of the other creative and technical departments to create the final master of a feature, series, documentary or commercial project.

This is a collaborative process that includes working with all levels of studio, production, and creative personnel to maintain and enhance the technical integrity and esthetic look of the project. It requires a vast array of personnel with a broad range of skills from colorists, editors, artists, engineers, and technicians through project coordination, marketing and sales, and administration.

5. Supervision

The Post Producer, Post Supervisor, Post Coordinator and Post PA fall under this department

These are project management positions that cover the logistics of keeping the entire post process moving on schedule, on budget and overseeing that the creative quality is met at each milestone.

This department handles scheduling of directors/producers and network/studios for editing notes, scheduling milestones for music, ADR, sound and visual effects, as well as all finishing work. All credit documents are created and approved through these posistions as well.

The post producer will create and oversee the budget for all aspects of post producxtion and be expected to bring each project to delivery on budget and on time with the support of their team.

Typically these jobs are freelance jobs based on a project’s schedule, and not permanent employment. The key work in this department is managing the expectations of all stakeholders involved throughout the post production process.

6. Accounting

The post production process can require a post production accountant, who will manage cost reporting and estimates, payroll, accounts payable.

Post production accountants usually have formal accounting training and/or experience with film industry accounting which includes unique systems such residuals, labour tax credits, corporate reporting, and music licensing. Post production accountants often work on multiple productions at once, making for a varied and demanding job.

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