Trouble shooting as a 3d Artist?

It doesn’t matter where you work or what your profession as a 3d artist is, there will be errors/hiccups/issues with your scenes or with scenes that you worked and passed to someone else.

First of all, as a junior there is no need to panic. Having some difficulties and annoying/weird problems are so common. It is actually why you are hired, you need to troubleshoot those problems at the same time creating artwork.

Try to solve the issue even if you’re not the guy for that particular problem or not good at that part of 3d. To give an example, say you are an FX artist and there is a problem with your smoke simulation not colliding with a model, you should check your simulation first then the model for some possible errors. Don’t go back to the modeling department right away. Or if you’re going to, make sure that the error is in the model and that it is not a small thing that you can solve. At least you found the cause which saved time for you and the modeling department.

Don’t blame other people. It doesn’t help anybody and may even create more trouble. Instead of whining, try to find a solution to the matter because one way or another that difficulty will be solved, even if you complain or not.

Prevent things to get out of hand. Don’t postpone the issue or leave the trouble to be solved by someone else. Don’t act like you do not care or didn’t see the error and just continue with your broken work. Try to tackle the difficulty as soon as possible. I’ve had colleagues that rendered scenes that I worked on even though they saw that there was an issue with my effect. And after the faulty render when I asked them why at least they didn’t inform me, the answer was “it is not my concern”. Imagine working with these kind of people and what an impossible environment it can be. In addition think of all the time and energy we lost for no reason.

Take backups and versions of your shots based on your work format and style. Even if you or the studio you work for saves backups automatically, take your own backups. If you made a mistake and some other artist asked you to fix it, know that you have your backup files, versions and that you are in full control of your own work.

This might sound silly, however, check the scene thoroughly. Reimport the assets, restart the software, try to put your work on a new, clean scene and see if everything works there. You might be surprised how some artists doesn’t even try these super simple steps and just say the scene is broken. What I prefer is to reverse engineer the scene, go step by step backwards until you find the problem. You might think that nobody will have that much time to do that but believe me finding and solving the issue early on will save you a lot of time in the long run even if it takes time initially. And with experience you’ll just catch the cause in no time.

As a last case scenario, get help from your lead or supervisor or colleagues. Maybe they’ll be faster than you to identify the problem or even solve it instantly. Remember that this is a teamwork. Try to get help from others and be open to giving assistance when they need your help.

  • Anyone can do an explosion simulation but not everyone can find the reason why the smoke looks pale in the render.

Remember, it is your job to fix these issues and what I learned early on in this industry is that, trouble shooting is more important than what you need to create. One way or another you are going to model that object, simulate your effects or finish your layouts. However, fixing those cases and problems are mostly unique and rarely available in tutorials or Google searches.

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Berk Erdag

Berk Erdag

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VFX artist writing about mostly the business side and a bit about the artistic side and some technical experiments of the VFX and CG Sector.