Career Profile: Special Effects Technician
Think of a movie or television program that has good special effects. They might be fires, explosions, or something less dramatic like breaking a table apart or creating a scar on someone’s face. Special effects technicians help to make these kinds of effects look real and help make movies and television programs better.
Special effects technicians work with almost every stage of a production. They begin by looking at the script of a show, which says what the actors do and what they say. For each part of the show, they decide what special effects are needed and how to create them.
Some special effects technicians work in companies that specialize in that kind of thing. Others work in television and film companies, but most work as freelancers. The work depends mainly on the location of the movie and television industry, although some people work in small theatres. Most special effects technicians in North America work in Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
Becoming a special effects technician generally does not require any special education. However, taking courses in welding, lighting and other techniques can help special effects technicians to advance in their work.
Special effects technicians can become specialists in working with fire or with other types of materials. Technicians also have to know about safety and how to keep people from being injured. When something goes wrong with the special effects, technicians also need to check all of the equipment and anything else that might have gone wrong.
Keeping detailed records is important for special effects technicians. They write down what works and what they need to change the next time. These records can also be very valuable for other special effects technicians, who can learn new techniques for making everything work together.
One of the benefits of working as a special effects technician is being able to think creatively and to solve problems as they work. Suppose that you had to find a way to make it look like a character flies through the air. How would you do that? If you can find ways to make something like that look real and natural, you might have the skills to be a special effects technician.
Computers have helped to change the way that special effects technicians work. In the past, all special effects had to be done manually. Designing the effects and making them work could be a very complicated and time-consuming. With computers, however, special effects technicians can do many things that were impossible in the early years of the profession.
Working as a special effects technician can involve long days during times of filming. Some technicians work regular hours and can earn over $21.00 per hour. Others work only when they can find short-term jobs, but often they can earn more money during those periods than others can earn at a full-time job.
If you have a creative mind and enjoy movies and television, the job of special effects technician might be right for you.