3D COMPUTER LAYOUT ARTIST

DEPARTMENTS
3D COMPUTER ANIMATION | ANIMATION DEPARTMENT

OVERVIEW

  • Breaking down 2D storyboards into 3D shots
  • Staging every shot and plotting the action that will take place within each scene
  • Ensuring that everything that is going to be animation is set up properly

For this role, you will need to:

  • Be highly film literate and able to meet the filmic needs of a production
  • Proven artistic skills including a strong sense of composition and perspective, good use of light, shadow and colour
  • Be able to create atmosphere
  • Have a good understanding of editing
  • Have strong IT skills
  • Understand the principles of cinematography including use of lenses, positioning and moving the camera, etc.
  • Be able to apply motion capture to computer-generated models
  • Be able to take direction and be willing to address constructive feedback
  • Have good communication skills
  • Have good team-working skills
  • Be able to work with a minimum of supervision
  • Have good problem-solving skills
  • Be able to deliver on schedule, working calmly and efficiently under pressure
  • Show respect for the procedures and requirements of a particular studio, production or pipeline
  • Have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

WHAT DOES A LAYOUT ARTIST DO?

In most cases, Layout Artists break down 2D storyboards into 3D shots. They use production designs and models as reference to build locations and major props, to block in the position of characters, to select camera angles and to plot camera moves. They are responsible for staging every shot and plotting the action that will take place within each scene.

They ensure that everything that is going to be animated is set up properly, including not only characters, but also any props or parts of the background that need to move (e.g. an opening door).

Layout Artists may also be responsible for establishing the length of shots within a scene. It is likely that the Director and Editor will view and make comments on a low resolution first pass of a layout reel so Layout Artists can make any changes before the scene is passed on to the animators.

There is a later stage of Final Layout, after the animation is complete, when set dressing is added, background models are built in high resolution and final adjustments are made to camera moves and shot lengths.

The role of Layout Artist exists within some areas of CGI and not in others. In animated features, the layout department plays an important and creative role which can be related to that of the Cinematographer’s team in live action filmmaking. A mid-level Layout Artist could be equivalent to a Camera Operator.

In television, where roles may not be as specialised, the size and structure of the production dictates whether there will be dedicated Layout Artists.

They will generally work most closely with the Director and Storyboard Artists but may also work with other departments.

In post-production facility houses, if the job exists at all, Layout Artists may be called Layout TDs or Set Up TDs (Technical Directors) and perform a more technical role. It is more likely that CG Animators will pick up whatever information they need about camera moves and proposed action from previsualisation than from layouts.

Depending on the size of the project, final layout can become the responsibility of Lighters/Compositors.

Will I need a qualification?

To become a CG Layout Artist, it will help you to have a degree in an art-related subject such as illustration, fine art, sculpture, computer animation, graphic design or in one of a variety of film or computer subjects.
You will need to have artistic talent and be film literate. In addition, you will need to have trained in at least one of the industry-standard 3D software packages, such as Maya, 3D Studio Max and Lightwave. A good understanding of Maths and Physics could also be useful.

WHAT’S THE BEST ROUTE IN?

There is no typical career route you can follow. One of the routes to this role is to have honed your artistic talent and gained skills in the relevant software in a previous role. This could include working as a designer, illustrator, sculptor, Storyboard Artist among other roles.

Another less common route is that you could be self-taught or a recent graduate and secure a job in the layout department on the basis of an impressive portfolio and showreel.

RELATED JOB ROLES

PRODUCER 
The boss in the animator’s studio, the producer is responsible for the budget and scheduling, making sure the project develops creatively while running efficiently.

 

  • COMIC ANIMATIONS

    Comic Animations is a content creation and intellectual property company which partners with talented screenwriters and filmmakers, taking creative concepts from initial development and seed financing through to final delivery.

    Visit the site
  • CINESITE

    Cinesite works with filmmakers around the world to bring their vision to life. An essential part of the creative process for over 20 years, they have worked on visual effects for a wide range of films, from independent productions to box office smashes. With studios in London and Montréal, Cinesite offers world-class services to a mutual global customer base.

    Visit the site
  • ANIMEZ MONTREAL

    We aim to help anyone looking to get involved in the animation industry, but we’ve zoned in on four particular parties; Creative Talent, Creative Businesses, Creative Professionals & Creative Educators. Whether or not you fit into these four areas, feel free to get in touch to see what we can do for you!

    Visit the site