I've been getting a lot of questions about software lately. What software should I use to animate with? What software will help me get a job? I only know 3D Studio Max, Animation Master, and Maya - is that enough to get into a studio? How many years of software training is necessary to work on a film?
Here's some quick answers to all of those types of questions:
- Will some amount of software knowledge help you get a job? Possibly. It sure won't hurt. But is it 100% necessary? Depends on the studio. Some studios won't care at all, some will care a tiny bit, and a few will care a lot. My advice is to research the companies you are interested in, and make sure you're prepared for whatever qualities and skills that studio is looking for. Generally speaking, the big studios won't care very much what software you are familiar with (and many of them use their own proprietary software anyway, so those studios couldn't care less), while the smaller studios may care more about specific software experience.
- Most 3D animation packages work very similarly to each other. Once you learn one, it isn't very hard to learn another. As animators, we're only really using probably 5% of the program anyway. We need to save key poses, adjust timing, and manipulate the pose - that's about it, generally speaking. Because of that, I think someone who knows XSI could learn enough about Maya to get started in a day or two, and most of the medium to larger studios have some kind of training program to cover that stuff.
- How do you keep up with so many different revisions and so many different packages? That's a great question, and the industry DOES move very fast. Because of that, it's futile to try to "keep up" with the latest and greatest software when you are an animation student. It's inevitably impossible because things change so quickly, and you end up wasting a mountain of time that could have been spent studying your animation fundamentals.
So choose one software, and stick with it. The industry standard right now seems to be Maya (though many games companies still use Max), and you can use an educational version for free. Whatever you choose to practice with, just stick with that program so you don't waste time learning a new one when you could have been busting out a whole other awesome action shot for your reel!
- Is it a good idea to lie on my resume and put software experience down that I don't really have? Uh, no. This is a pretty terrible idea, and if the studio does end up caring about your software experience, they are going to find out pretty quick that you lied, and you'll likely be let go from the job and saddled with a bad reputation. NEVER LIE ON YOUR RESUME OR REEL! Bad Bad BAD idea...
OK, hope that helps someone!