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5 VFX Workstation Additions To Improve Workflow

5 VFX Workstation Additions To Improve Workflow

From health benefits to workflow efficiency, here are five additions you should consider getting for your setup.

All jobs have their challenges, and the visual effects industry is no exception. If you’re a full-time VFX artist, you probably find yourself working long hours, collaborating with your team and stakeholders on revisions, and needing to meet tight deadlines at a moment’s notice.

Anything that can help you work more efficiently has the potential to save not only your sanity, but also your client’s time and money. With that in mind, here are several workstation additions that can go a long way in helping you get through the day and reach that export button quickly!

1. A Control Surface

There are a multitude of physical USB controllers that go far beyond the traditional mouse and keyboard setup for apps like DaVinci Resolve, Premiere Pro, and After Effects. In addition to being able to program tons of custom functions to speed up your processes, using a control surface can also bring more comfortable ergonomics to your workflow.

You can check out some of the most popular control surfaces below!
Out of everything mentioned, the Monogram Creative Console is perhaps the most worthwhile option for VFX production at the moment. Not only is it a more updated version of Palette, but it’s also backwards-compatible with Palette modules. Additionally, the creators of Monogram are committed to providing a great solution for virtual production by including Unreal Engine support.

Another great one not shown in the video is the recent Loupedeck CT, which features a touchscreen with complete control over virtually any program or function that you’d need.

If you’re feeling like experimenting with some unconventional controller methods that might make VFX production faster (or at least more fun), you can use a video game controller to navigate and edit, or even build your own DIY controllers.

2. A Wacom Tablet

An industry favorite, Wacom tablets can provide a much better alternative to tedious (and often tiring) mouse movements. One of the greatest advantages of using a Wacom tablet for VFX work is the ability to rotoscope much more fluidly than with a mouse. It’s also a must-have for matte painting work.
The video above showcases the higher-end Cintiq Pro with a built-in display, but Wacom makes cheaper alternatives without the display, as well.  

Wacom tablets also give you the ability to have a few custom buttons as well. While not as robust as using something like a control surface mentioned previously, it is a nice feature to have.

3. An iPad

Chances are pretty good you have an iPad lying around, but did you know it can make a great companion for VFX work? In addition to using it on-set for storyboards, note-taking, and snapping rough reference photos, you can also use it as a secondary monitor using the SideCar feature that Apple introduced this year.
Having a second monitor is great, but if you have an Apple Pencil, you can take it a step further and use an iPad in a similar way as the Wacom Cintiq Pro. Simply load After Effects onto the iPad and get to work!

As mentioned in the video, yet another benefit of this method is that you can collaborate easily with your team or a client. Hand them the iPad for review, and they can even make changes directly on the iPad. Even if you didn’t use an iPad for anything else, SideCar really opens up a lot of possibilities for VFX artists with an iPad!

4. A Standing Desk

One of the most popular modern workplace tools is a standing desk. As a VFX artist, the majority of your time is spent behind a desk, so having the ability to take regular standing intervals during your work can not only potentially improve your overall health, but it can also help improve your problem-solving skills.

Check out the video below to see what a standing desk can do for you. You can imagine seeing yourself edit, and how it can benefit your entire body.
While there are a lot of studies that differ on the overall benefits of sitting versus standing desks, many of them tend to conclude that a standing desk is most effective when it’s used in conjunction with regular intervals of sitting as well.

By alternating between sitting and standing positions throughout the day, you’re able to reap the benefits of improved problem-solving and alleviation of potential back pain, without the constant strain on your body that comes from all-day standing.

While Vari makes some of the most popular adjustable standing desks, they also make more Varidesk Converters that allow your existing desk to be converted into a standing desk with ease. With so many adjustable points, you can also move the desktop to accommodate a more ergonomic seated position.

5. A Comfortable Office Chair

Like a good desk, the value of a comfortable chair can’t be understated. If you’re physically uncomfortable after working for long periods of time, it’s a simple fact: your productivity will suffer.

With more people working at home these days, you might be using a chair that is less than ideal for long periods of VFX sessions. If you’re in the market for a new office chair, it’s a good idea to check out how many hours of daily usage the chair is rated for before purchasing a new one.

While a decent chair can quickly become an expensive investment, it can make a big difference when it comes to your physical well-being, in addition to aiding your focus on every VFX project.

Here’s a quick guide to some of the best home office chairs of 2020.

If you’re interested in finding out what an accomplished VFX artist’s home office setup is like, be sure to watch the insightful webinar below from Hugo Guerra that shares a lot of practical advice for building and optimizing your own workspace. It covers everything from control surfaces to GPUs. 
Whether you’re working in an office or at home remotely, we hope that you are well and that this article was helpful in guiding you to some options for improving your workflow

If you’ve got a cool VFX workstation you’d like to share, we’d love to see it in the comments below!

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