How Much Do VFX Artists Make

C&S Staff Writer

This article will discuss how much do VFX artists make in comparison to the majority of industry professionals, and for VFX professionals at studios. To start off, let’s break down how the industry works.

The job, work, and income of a typical VFX artist is much different than the average worker. Here is a more detailed breakdown of each:

Minimum Wage and Overtime Laws

VFX artists are not considered as employees but more as contractors. Therefore, they can work when they want as long as they produce a certain amount of work or meet some required criteria.

Some VFX jobs are categorized as “at will,” meaning that the artist can be hired on any time, but may not be employed until the job is completed.

This work is typically involved in the pre-production phase. These positions pay the “standard rate” which ranges between $30 and $40 an hour.

If the project runs over the budget, artists are paid according to their time. Overtime is usually for working over 40 hours a week.

Like any other worker, VFX artists are required to follow labor laws and pay the minimum wage. Most VFX artists work 40 to 50 hours a week. These workers are on the clock for each and every minute they are not in their workstation.

This ranges from a $24.95 to $28.95 an hour. These workers are also required to work 50 to 60 hours a week in order to earn premium pay.

Cost of Living

“Average” VFX artists in the U.S. live a comfortable life, earning about $56,000 a year, or $61,600 a year if they work overtime.

VFX artists in other countries, like India and South Korea, are not any different. VFX artists in these countries earn a living as freelancers working on their own projects.

In South Korea, Vfx artists are compensated as contractors and work either 60 hours a week for $106,000 or 80 hours a week for $150,000. In India, this works out to be about $55,000 per year.

However, many cost-of-living adjustments have occurred, pushing the cost of living for a VFX artist in the U.S. to around $82,000 a year.

VFX Artist Hourly Salary

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As previously mentioned, it takes an average of 4 years to become a master VFX artist.

Before you can be considered an average VFX artist, you must be paid in accordance with your skill level. With the average VFX artist starting at $61,600 a year, $26 an hour, or $130 an hour, a master VFX artist’s rate could range from $150,000 to $200,000 a year.

For a recent graduate, with no work experience and possibly no special training, the rate would be lower than the average.

Studio Avg. VFX Artist Hourly Salary

The median income of a VFX artist in a typical U.S. studio is $69,000. It is worth mentioning that artists who work on blockbuster movies make a much higher salary.

For instance, an average VFX artist working on the Marvel Cinematic Universe earns about $90,000 a year.

Specialty Skills

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The amount of specialized skills required in a typical VFX artist is higher than the average worker.

The average designer can be called upon for a number of projects on any scale. For example, a shop that only produces frame-by-frame effects would be unlikely to be able to handle a game level.

The skills that the average artist would use to create a frame-by-frame effect would need to be incorporated into the work they do on a multi-channel production.

What Does It Take To Earn $70k Per Year As A Vfx Artist?

To figure out how much you can make as a VFX artist, first determine what kind of work you're qualified for.

This is best done by talking to industry professionals who work in the areas you are interested in. You can also go to VFX trade shows and ask around. There are a variety of sources, such as VFX locales in Southern California.

Keep in mind that there is a lot of overhead in running a VFX company. This includes the people who have to create the special effects shots (VFX artists), the people who work on the computer and software that the artists use to create their special effects (rendering specialists), and the people who run the VFX company.

However, you can be paid much less than $70k per year if you don't have this overhead. If you're looking at being an independent artist, you will need to have the overhead.

Second, determine how much you want to work. If you're looking to make a full-time income, then you will need to make a ton of money per shot. However, if you're a beginner, or you're looking to pay off some student loans, or you're just looking to pay off your home, then you may be able to do part-time work.

Freelancing vs. Working At A Contracting Studio

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While there are many factors that determine how much money you can make as a VFX artist, I will focus on the single factor that causes people to quit: the amount of time you spend in the editing suite.

If you're looking to make a full-time income, you may want to consider getting a job at a studio as opposed to freelancing.

You'll have a more secure job, make connections in the industry, and be in a position to freelance if you ever want.

Crowley & Shaw

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