Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Developing a business plan (long term)

4 year business plan: 2014 – 2017

The period starting from 2014 could lead to several possibilities when it comes to working in the CG industry. At the moment, my plan is to kick start my career in game development art after I graduate.
The only factor that influences how the upcoming four years shape is whether I will be good enough to succeed in the mentioned sector.

Plan A: if I manage to achieve my initial goal, I will focus on becoming better as quickly as possible to ensure I could fit in to a large variety of companies. Goal is to build up experience and reputation as an Environment Artist. Widening my network of professional contacts will play a huge part during this period as well.
By researching artists like David Lesperance, it becomes obvious that building up a solid reputation in your field is key. Mr. Lesperance, besides being a dedicated Environment Artist on the Halo 4 game at 343 Industries, he constantly creates personal 3D art material, varying from high-poly cinematic work to low-poly game assets (www.davidlesperance.blogspot.com) . He worked at Blizzard Entertainment’s Cinematic team, involved in projects like the opening introduction video for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. He easily made the transition to low-poly work thanks to his reputation and contacts.
I am aiming for a similar approach, one that focuses on all of the key elements that make me a valued person within the industry.
My aim is to eventually work in the U.S.A as this has been a great desire for a long time. There are a lot of personal reasons behind a move to America, but it would be amazing professionally as well. It’s good to travel and work at several companies to widen your experience. I plan to make this move no later than 2015 and will keep honing my skills and acquiring experience until then.

Concentrate on acquiring as much experience as possible and building up a good reputation via the quality of my work and through an ever expanding professional contact network. Jobs would be accepted anywhere in Europe or abroad.

By this time I hope to have made a move to the U.S.A. to further expand my arsenal of experience and skill set. It is also important for an artist to have a fresh mind and keep the ambition/motivation at a high level. Undertaking new challenges is important.

2016 - 2017
I am to have worked on two triple A titles for one or maybe two high-profile game development companies. By the end of 2017 I should have earned a Senior title in Environment Art.

Plan B:

There is always the possibility to approach the cinematic part of Computer Graphics. The assets which I create for games all have high poly versions with textures applied to them. If I end up with too many failed attempts in the gaming industry, I will take these high-res meshes and prepare a portfolio comprising of pre-rendered, cinematic-quality work.
At the moment, I have a few contacts at Digic Pictures in Budapest, Hungary (www.digicpictures.com). Digic is a high-end animation studio, specializing in cinematic/realistic work. They are involved with projects like Assasin’s Creed, Halo, Castlevania etc. Their work is recognized throughout the CG industry and they are considered to be one of the best alongside the likes of Blur Studios.
A friend named, Miklos Gabor has been working at Digic for three years and has been giving me advice on how to approach the company if I intend to apply for a position.
Digic tends to hire Hungarian artists mostly and Hungary hasn’t got the competition that Western Europe/America/Canada ha to offer. Earning a job at Digic would not be impossible at all with a properly tailored portfolio.
Professionally, Digic would be an amazing place to work at as the experience to be gained is excellent. I would grow as an Environment Artist and my CV would be enriched with an absolutely prestigious workplace. This could result in an eventual possibility on making a move to a company abroad after my contract ends. There is one setback with Digic, though: the wages they offer pale in comparison to those offered in the UK/U.S. etc. This would be one setback, but as mentioned earlier, I could easily find a job abroad after my contract ends.
Despite Digic being my biggest chance on entering the cinematic industry, I would still aim to apply to companies that have cinematic departments, like Blizzard Entertainment, Blur Studios, Electronic Arts etc.

First three months of this year would be focused on creating a portfolio comprised of high-resolution, cinematic quality work. Hard surface assets, alongside architectural pieces should showcase in my show reel.
Starting from March – April, I would start sending out my applications to the likes of Digic Pictures, Blizzard Entertainment, Blur Studios etc.

This year depends heavily on where I acquire a job. Digic tends to offer artists long-term contracts. If I manage to get into the studio, I will probably spend my next five years there. During that period, focus will purely be on becoming the best I can be and ever expanding my professional contacts.
If I acquire a position at any other company I would keep my options a bit more open and not exclude possible moves to different countries.

2016 - 2017
I aim to have built up a respectable reputation by this time as an Environment Artist. My work should reflect an expertise level that would even allow me to possibly make a transition to the game development industry.
By the end of 2017 I hope to have earned a Senior level in environment art.

Plan C:

If my attempts to enter the CG industry become a complete failure and I end up not being able to make a proper living out of producing 3D art, I will open up my own business.
Having lived the majority of my life in Romania with frequent visits to Hungary, it is clear that the CGI education is lacking immensely (especially in Romania). This is based on personal experience, as the early years of my journey in Computer Graphics composed of self-taught sessions only. 
Later, after carefully studying a large range of video-tutorials from prestigious companies, such as Digital Tutors, Gnomon Workshop, 3DMotive, Eat3D, Lynda.com, Escape Studios etc. I feel I understand what separates mediocre tutoring from a highly effective one.
I also had the opportunity to teach 3D Studio Max to two groups in the past. These groups, each comprised of 15 people provided me with a good insight into the world of tutoring. After the end of the program people expressed their satisfaction and I feel confident that I can succeed in the tutoring industry as well.
People in Romania and Hungary can hardly afford the prices Digital Tutors and similar companies are asking. Also, the tutorials provided are strictly in English, which is not the most suitable language in these regions.
My plan is to offer online and in-class tutoring possibilities regarding the most popular CG software of today. With proper research, planning, advertising, some professional CG experience under my belt, a degree and low tutorial prices, I feel there is a possibility to start up such a business.
Plan C could come to life even if I do succeed in the gaming or cinematic industry. I would have the budget to open up the business and hire people to maintain it. It can be a plan for the far future, but could act as a backup plan, should I need it.

Involve myself in as many freelance projects as possible and shift my studies to a more Generalist approach. A Generalist approach would be crucial in order to teach a bigger variety of programs and topics to the students.
During the third part of this year, I hope to have started up the business in the city, Cluj Napoca, in Romania. Patience will be required to achieve profit and most likely the first few months would require re-investing the profit into the company in order to stabilize it.

As proper profit starts to come in, I will be able to hire several local people with proper skills with relevant software. I plan to offer courses relating to a wider range of software. Courses should multiply and occur more often.
I would use the income to make a proper advertising campaign for my company, including TV ads, radio station ads, presentations at universities and schools etc.

2016 - 2017
During this period, the company should be completely on solid ground and have earned a decent reputation. I hope to achieve a monopoly position in Romania.

2018 – 2022:

According to Plan A:

By this time, I have achieved a Senior level in Environment Art and have worked on several triple A titles.
Eventually I want to obtain the experience necessary to earn a Lead role. A Lead Environment Artist is faced with decisions that affect the game on a bigger scale. I actually would be involved on planning the environments and assets. 
By looking at Lead Environment Artist job postings it becomes clear that such a position would involve significantly more responsibility, but would provide a more engaging experience for me as an artist. This would be a leap forward financially as well and would cement my reputation even further.

According to Plan B:

Having worked four years in the cinematic industry, I expect to have gained the experience required to obtain a position at any of the leading companies.
From Digic, I would expect a switch to Blizzard Entertainment’s cinematic department as their visual style has always inspired me. This switch would be a huge leap forward financially as well, which will allow me to start up my own business back home as a back-up financial source.
I expect to have gained the Senior, and eventually a Leading role in Environment and prop art. I wish to represent my companies for which I am working for at major events such as conventions, conferences etc.

According to Plan C:

By 2008, the tutoring company should have grown immensely compared to when it started out.
I hope to have secured a studio flat big enough to allow for a fully professional mentoring environment. The company might start up a side business focusing on creating 3D art (adverts, banners, logos, animations etc.) for a wide range of clients. This new service could even be run by the successful students who finished a course or more at the company, hence raising more interest.


My professional future is completely linked with Computer Graphics. The next 4 months will be essential on how the near future shapes out, but I will constantly examine the possibilities this industry offers and aim to be successful.

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