Beyond Video Games: Industries for Game Art Students
In addition to the game industry, Full Sail’s Game Art program prepares students to work in industries like film, simulation, architecture, and more.
Students learn to create vibrant video game worlds in Full Sail’s Game Art program, but the skills they learn have applications far beyond the game industry. Learning how to build realistic settings and characters in game engines like Unreal and Unity can set students up to work in film and television, simulation and training, virtual reality, commerce, architecture, and more.
“If there's a situation where you're going to be using virtual reality to some extent, or interacting with stuff or using game engines, that's where we fit in,” says Chad Kendall, Full Sail’s Game Art Program Director.
Any project that uses a real-time environment, where a user can interact with the system to change it instantly, is capitalizing on the skills taught in the Game Art program. Here are some industries outside of video games that use those skills.
Film & Television
The film and television industry is always looking for new technology to enhance the audience experience, and virtual production is the latest major investment. Students in Full Sail’s Game Art program learn how to build realistic worlds inside of game engines, which translates to the world of virtual production.
With virtual production, artists work in game engines to construct a virtual set, which is displayed on an LED backdrop behind the actors during shooting. Instead of filming in front of a green screen and adding in backgrounds and effects during post-production, virtual production lets everyone on set see what the completed scene will look like as it’s being shot. Actors can be “on location” anywhere from a living room to a city on the moon. The game engine also allows for rapid on-set alterations: backdrops can be changed in seconds to accommodate a new setting and lighting shifts can instantly change the time of day.
If you’ve ever used an app to see how a piece of furniture would look in your living room, you’ve experienced augmented reality. Online retailers are relying more and more on these features to show consumers what they can expect when their products arrive. Game Art students learn how to create shading and lighting for more realistic augmented reality experiences.
“We have [Game Art graduates] that work at Wayfair who do [augmented reality work]. So that's just realtime work. Essentially, they're making versions of things that exist in your life. And it's got lots of different implications.”
The metaverse is still being defined, but game engine technology is being used for augmented reality experiences that might expand as the metaverse takes shape.
“I think people are still going to want to incorporate the world,” says Chad. “It’s much more likely that you might have wearables or glasses or something like that and be walking down the street and see the deals at the restaurant as you walk by, that kind of thing. A lot of that stuff is happening now.”
Architectural visualization upgrades the process of designing a building. Instead of showing paper drafts to clients, architecture firms can design real-time digital spaces in a game engine to transport clients into their completed building.
“There's a lot more situations where you could take clients in VR in those spaces, which will allow you to change the floors or be able to see what different views look like at different times of day, that sort of thing,” says Chad.
Industries like healthcare, the military, and the police are using simulated training programs to prepare people before they enter those professional fields. Simulations allow nurses to practice on virtual medical procedures and help members of the military and police forces run through emergency preparedness training. Many simulations are built using the same games engines and skills like 3D modeling that Game Art students use during their education.
Caris Baker: Bringing Game Art Skills to Alternative Industries
Game Art grad and Hall of Fame 13 inductee Caris Baker has used her education to succeed in the artificial intelligence industry.
During her time in the Game Art program, Caris learned how to use Python (a programming language), how to structure components in game engines, and how to use lighting, modeling, and texturing to create realistic environments. That came in handy while she worked as a Senior Technical Artist in the AI Professional Solutions division at Unity Technologies, the software development company that created the Unity game engine. She took components like models, textures, and animations and manipulated them in Unity to help computers recognize objects in AI environments for Unity’s clients.
“Let's say it was a hot dog. For the computer to detect what a hot dog is, we had to give every possible variation of a hot dog, including all the possible backgrounds so that [the computer] doesn't learn the background, then give it every possible condiment with every possible type of bun. We had to make all those models, we had to write the code to randomize every frame and position them properly, animate them properly. So the lighting, literally every possible thing that you could make in a 3D scene had to be randomized. For some of the projects I was writing new randomizers, some of the projects I was making new assets, and some of the projects I was getting assets sourced from other artists. And my role as a technical artist, not the modeler, was to put those things together in the scene and manage expectations with the client.”
Whether Game Art graduates land in the video game industry or pursue work in another area, they can rely on their Full Sail education to help them find their professional footing.