Life as a CA Trainee - Patrick

Life as a CA Trainee - Patrick

February 7 2019 | Studio


Patrick joined CA as part of our 2018 traineeships, here he shares his journey and his first impressions of the industry.

Patrick, Trainee VFX Artist

I graduated from college in 2011 and found myself working in media. One day I was sat at work, and I don’t know what it was about that particular day, but it suddenly occurred to me that I had worked hard and done well in jobs I had incidentally fallen into, and that if I applied that same ethic to something I was really passionate about I could have a career in something really loved. Games was the obvious choice I’d just never thought of.

I took the bold step of returning to education to follow my dream. In 2018 I completed an MA in Game Art with Escape Studios in London. They are one of the education establishments that CA works closely with. Whilst studying for my Masters, we were visited by one of CA’s environment artists, who rounded out a great talk about art direction and environments by mentioning the trainee roles offered, and how herself and others had started off their careers at CA as trainees.

It was around the same time that I attended the VFX Festival (curated by Escape Studios) and went to a Total War VFX talk by my now colleagues, Steph and Mohrag. I spoke to them afterwards and asked various questions about their work and the game VFX pipeline. Incidentally, I also spoke to Mohrag at the Creative Assembly booth at Vertex Festival, and she gave me some great feedback on a piece of my work.

When I applied for the trainee role, I knew that I had put as much as I could into the application and had looked for feedback from my tutors and the very helpful Real Time VFX community online, but beyond that I was honestly completely unsure if I would get an interview. But I did! The first stage was a Skype call with a senior vfx artist and a senior tech artist. They were both friendly and seemed passionate about my work, as well as genuinely interested in the way that I had put together the pieces in my showreel. I was asked questions about games I had played where I had particularly enjoyed VFX, the most difficult challenge I encountered so far in creating VFX, and why I applied for the position.

I was in the middle of a field in Somerset at the time I found out I’d gotten the job and managed to just get a single bar of signal on my phone to immediately call my mum and gush about how excited I was. I think it might be the proudest moment of my life to date.


First impressions

On my first day I got to meet the team I’d be working with, and my art lead directed me to some of the concept art done for previous and current projects, and generally encouraged me to have a deep dive into the tools and see how things worked. One of my colleagues had also just recently finished writing up a comprehensive document on the VFX pipeline and the various ways to use the tools, so that was great to have at my disposal straight away.

I feel like in the brief time I’ve been here I’ve already learned a lot of valuable things that can be difficult to pick up when creating work on your own at home, or on isolated projects in university. A lot of both minor and major techniques you pick up are from working alongside experienced artists, and the pace of a traineeship is perfect for learning them and asking questions when you need to.

From the moment I received my offer to now, CA has kept me in the loop with ways to engage with the industry, design talks I can attend and social activities to get really embedded with CA life. As a first timer in the industry, CA has made it really easy to settle in, which could have otherwise been quite a daunting process. During lunch in my first week I could hear loud voices coming from behind me that sounded like either arguing or debating. I took a quick look around to see what was going on, and it was one of the art teams playing a multiplayer game together (and possibly losing!?). It was surreal to see that in an office environment for the first time but that’s very much the culture here, it’s very relaxed and fun but everyone works incredibly hard.

I’ve only been here a short time, but just getting to see a piece of my own work in the game-engine alongside the rest of the incredible artwork from across all the teams has been a real motivator and a proud moment for me. There are so many possibilities with games, and VFX especially, that feel like they are not too far away. The idea that I’ll get to progress in my career alongside the technological advancements and improvements in modern hardware, being knowledgeable enough to create great art, is something that really excites me.