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Hierarchy in the industry
show user profile  9krausec
Many of you may not know that I'm pretty segregated in the real world from the industry and other CG Industry professionals (why this place is so important to me).

That being said I really don't know the hierarchical structure of command when it comes to a full fledged studio or other corporate environments. Would any of you please enlighten me on this?

Specifically I'm trying to figure out who mid level 3D Artists report to? Simply the CG Supervisor? Do Technical Directors run parallel with 3D Artists ultimately reporting to the same superior? Then does the CG Supervisor report directly to the Art Director?

I know it's different from one place to another, (check out my comma game herfst) but I'd be interested in getting the general lay of the land.

Thank you.

Edit: I should also specify that I'm looking for hierarchical structure that would be most common in a small studio. Where "render wranglers" are a luxury and you'd be hard up to find free coconut water and beer fountains provided by the company. Something of a bare bones operation.

- Portfolio-

read 625 times
4/21/2016 2:50:11 PM (last edit: 4/21/2016 2:52:51 PM)
show user profile  Dave
No idea what it's like in non-game studios, and I can't comment on AAA studios either since I'm a scrub, but probably the most professional place I worked at had a pretty simple structure:

4 owners, 3 of which were directors of the 3 main disciplines, Art, Programming and Design.
1 lead of each discipline for each project (where possible) who reported to their respective director.
Also 1 producer for each project, who reported to all directors.
And then just "artists, designers, programmers, QA", we didn't really do "junior, senior, technical, 2d, 3d, etc" titles

It worked out okay, you'd get the usual power struggles between disciplines but I enjoyed it.

For the place I'm at now, it's pretty chaotic actually
1 boss, also a programmer. 1 lead 3d artist, 1 lead 2d/concept artist. 1 designer. Then a bunch of artists and programmers. We get moved around a fair bit from project to project, often working on multiple projects in a single day. There's no real order, I'm the lead 3d guy, but the boss has more control over the artists than I do, which creates a tonne of problems that nobody notices until it's too late.

Much better pay than any of my previous gigs though, so I've got that going for me.

"I flew over Egypt once"

read 605 times
4/21/2016 4:47:01 PM (last edit: 4/21/2016 4:47:01 PM)
show user profile  9krausec
I sort of figured there would be different business structures for different places.

If a person were to be a "lead" artist at a company, would that person typically be responsible for artists under them that do not hold the "lead" title.

Looking at how are Industrial Design Department is ran, we have Senior level Industrial Designers that may give a hand to mid-level Industrial Designers, but they aren't "responsible" for their output or how they are operating.

More-so they just work on higher level projects and get paid better due to their experience.

- Portfolio-

read 601 times
4/21/2016 4:55:13 PM (last edit: 4/21/2016 4:55:13 PM)
show user profile  Dave
Aye, if you're the lead artist on a project then you're responsible for all artists on that project. Also, if a programmer on the project needed some art, they would usually speak to the lead artist first, who would either delegate the task to an artist, or allow the programmer to speak directly with an artist. Or just straight up refuse the request.

And yes, although we didn't have specific titles, your level of experience and more importantly your current capabilities pretty much dictated whether or not you'd also be helping out other artists (but not be responsible for them). There are a lot of places who do junior and senior titles, but I think the reason we didn't is because technically I would have been a junior, as I had very little experience, but my current capabilities outweighed those who did have years of experience.

This isn't an ego trip or anything, it's actually super common, the youth that get pumped out of uni's now can be insanely good. Well, the good one's at-least. The shit one's are still shit.

"I flew over Egypt once"

read 599 times
4/21/2016 5:15:06 PM (last edit: 4/21/2016 5:15:06 PM)
show user profile  9krausec
Alight, also really good information Dave. So what are the differences then between a "Lead Artist" and a "CG Supervisor"? I'm not referring to a project to project basis, but all projects and jobs on a day-to-day basis.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Lead Artist sounds pretty much like a supervisor as I know it right now.

If someone was in charge of the following, what would be the appropriate title-

-Setting up and managing start to finish pipeline

-Programming pipeline based, custom tools to expedite throughput

-Delegating tasks to 3D Generalists as well as overseeing/training them and whatever else it might take to ensure they are operating well. Being responsible for their output on a day-to-day basis.

-Being the primary link between all 3D work and the rest of the company (standardizing requests, being the person responsible in planning any projects with the marketing department. Setting up guidelines for general requests)

-Organizing (and generating) library of assets (project files, material library, asset library, solidworks database)

-Being responsible for software/hardware load out for workstations as well as local render farm. Render farm maintenance and hardware procurement.

-Also, pumping out work along side of the other 3D Artists as well as working on higher level projects that may exceed the abilities of the other 3D Artists.

-Setting up and building a complete 3D Department inside a larger company from nothing.

To me it sounds like a mix of TD/Manager, but as I have little experience in actual studios with a well fleshed out command structure I do not know for certain.

There is some shifting going around where I work and right now they are trying to figure out where to put me. They are leaving that decision mostly in hands. I don't want to suggest the title/pay of something that exceeds me, but on the same line, I don't want to be suggesting something that my actual responsibilities clearly exceed.

It's a bit challenging for me to pin down as I wear many different hats here as the job demands. Many thanks for any guidance.

- Portfolio-

read 592 times
4/21/2016 5:43:55 PM (last edit: 4/21/2016 5:44:57 PM)
show user profile  Dave
I can't be of any specific or exact help, we don't really have "supervisors" in games, or I suppose if we did they'd be on the publishing side. The closest thing I can think of to a supervisor is a producer, which is an odd name since they're not the ones producing content. Maybe they're called that because they're the one's producing the end result to the client. I don't know.

Either way, producers for us are the one's who make sure shit stays on track, they're the ones who sit down with the leads and directors at the start to "flesh out" a schedule and tasks, the leads of each discipline would then be able to refine those tasks more accurately and assign them to whoever fits. If a producer notices tasks are trailing behind, they'd have a meeting with the lead of whichever discipline is falling short, to find out why, and ultimately find a solution. If it requires any changes to scheduling, the producer would have to go through the directors for final decisions.

This is sort of an ideal situation in my opinion though. In practise... things aren't so strict, there's a lot of flexibility and often numerous ways to fix any one problem. I think most people you speak to will say that they feel like they wear many hats, it's just the way it is. I've worked with animators who also ended up producing music for the game, I've worked with level designers who were also responsible for editing trailers and doing promotional material. If someone can do something well, then it makes sense to use them for it, even if it doesn't fall exactly within their title.

The weirdest one I've seen is a 3d artist who was doing so much level design, that the design department just absorbed him,. His title changed to designer, and that was that.

Titles are stupid, man. It makes sense to have some titles for people but when you start getting into the realm of "technical supervising assistant to the director of senior management in logistics and interior rendering" then it can all just fuck right off.

"I flew over Egypt once"

read 580 times
4/21/2016 6:48:10 PM (last edit: 4/21/2016 6:48:10 PM)
show user profile  9krausec
Yeah, I hear you. I really don't care what I'm called too much as long as my salary reflects my responsibilities. Also thinking ahead for future career moves I'd like to have a title that is easily recognizable to the rest of the industry.

Will let you know how it goes. In the mean time if anyone else here has any other suggestions I'm open to them.

Thanks for the help and detail in your responses Dave.

- Portfolio-

read 576 times
4/21/2016 6:59:20 PM (last edit: 4/21/2016 6:59:20 PM)
show user profile  herfst1
Having a salary reflect your responsibilities is the ideal. But, from my experience, it takes time.

In my previous job, because I didn't have years industry experience I found it pretty hard for the bosses to listen to me or give me a proper salary.

Now, I have the opposite situation, too much responsibility.

The heirarcy at both places was the same: junior artist < lead artist < art director < producer. So the chain is pretty obvious, working my way up to art director. And it's easiest to make that jump by moving jobs, don't bother waiting for a proper pay rise while staying in the same company.
read 569 times
4/21/2016 7:20:54 PM (last edit: 4/21/2016 7:21:12 PM)
show user profile  Dave
That's a fair point actually, I always hear stories from friends about their titles changing ever so slightly to reflect the extra responsibilities that the company puts on them over time, but their salary stays the same.

I I had stayed on at my first studio, I'd probably still have the same title and be earning less than I am now too.

"I flew over Egypt once"

read 550 times
4/21/2016 8:25:13 PM (last edit: 4/21/2016 8:25:13 PM)
show user profile  3Ddeath
I think you have a pretty good idea already, there's not much else to it since it varies a lot from place to place.

I've done Junior artist postions reporting directly to producers
Usually see a CG supervisor and a bunch of artists under with an unofficial lead artist that simply is better at making decision where others are more un easy with.
Technical directors are usually pretty well self managed from what little I've seen on these roles.

Art directors usually give revisions to people while the producer deals with resources and ultimately art directors report to the producer.

I also find there are no more junior artists in the industry, you just have mid- sr level artists getting paid junior artist position ;) maybe in a massive studio like MPC or EA you'd still have jrs except getting paid like interns.

Portfolio Site
read 542 times
4/21/2016 8:45:26 PM (last edit: 4/21/2016 8:48:25 PM)
show user profile  9krausec
Aye. From what I'm hearing it sounds like what I'd be doing falls somewhere between the lines of a Pipeline TD, Lead 3D Artist and a Supervisor.

Maybe if I just mesh all of the names together... "Pipeline Artist Supervisor Very Technical"... Meh.

I'll probably just end up requesting CGI Supervisor... This "team" is going to be small though. 1 person initially and 3 people eventually. Boss man doesn't like "Technical Director" since it has "Director" in it. No matter how many times I try to explain it's a derivative of Director of Photography and isn't a "Director" position.

I'm not fond of the idea of giving places the impression that I've led a large team or anything, but it's better than being titled, "That one guy who sits in the corner and manages all 3D related stuff at work". Titles aren't important to me, but it's a basis for pay which is important to me.

- Portfolio-

read 537 times
4/21/2016 9:09:42 PM (last edit: 4/21/2016 9:09:42 PM)
show user profile  chillywilson
I've worked for various agencies, studios and interactive places.
From what I see the pipeline changes drastically from place to place except in the film world.

Most of the time for me it's:

Producer/Owner/Money person

Art or Video director





read 530 times
4/21/2016 10:25:20 PM (last edit: 4/21/2016 10:25:20 PM)
show user profile  preciousSTONE
I don't have much to add other than that my contract still says: Zombie Artist Engineer.

I'm not sure if that means I'm a zombie who is an artist and engineer, or if I'm an artist engineer of Zombies. For that matter, I'm not sure why I'm even remotely called an engineer. I'm the least engineer-like person you could ever imagine :P

read 502 times
4/22/2016 6:55:21 AM (last edit: 4/22/2016 6:55:21 AM)
show user profile  donvella
my history with hierarchy;

junior/contractor > senior > project manager > director

junior/generalist usually take 3d direction from senior who takes client direction from the PM. PM reports to director who may change things at any time depending on relations/budget/delays etc. Interesting to note that even though the generalist is the lowest in the chain they can make more $ than a senior as they are temps and pay their own taxes, etc.


junior > mid > senior > technical director/manager > editor > art director

juniors/mids/seniors/programmers all take direction from the TD/Manager. They are assigned different levels of tasks until they can handle large Sets or Approving assets for use in production. Generally assets need to fit into the pipeline and artists may have the skill to create - but the seniors will know what limitations are required to fit the budget/render outcome/quality/consistency. TD/Manager handled timelines with the art director - ensuring things are delivered on time to quality standard. Also when things go wrong (on a daily basis) - things choking the render farm, skinning/rigs breaking, last second changes from the client which need scripting to fix - these are managed by the TD's and they come up with scripts/processes or refining education among staff to ensure future delivery times or patch fix things.

Felt a bit like this most days;

I agree about the title comment, u could call me 3D Janitor - whatever Im always making bathrooms anyway :D

read 497 times
4/22/2016 8:22:44 AM (last edit: 4/22/2016 8:25:12 AM)
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