There are lot of cool things about working in VFX, for me one that shines brighter is the chance to get in touch and work with several people that have different skills and background. Most of the time I'm chatting with students with the same passion and enthusiasm for Rigging like me! :)
During our conversations I'm often asked: "In Rigging, should you be a generalist or a specialist?". The classic answer to this type of questions always seems to be “it depends.” Let's discuss about it ;)
FOLLOW YOUR PASSION AND HAVE FUN:
Before we start talking about what you should do, let's focus on what you are passionate about. In your work as in your life the passion is the energy that would drive you and take you to the next level.
Try always to be enthusiast for what you are doing and have fun everyday! ;)
I would like you to take this principle as a rule of thumb more than a rule, if you are happy to study and learn multiple aspects or just one aspect of the Character Rigging, push forward and improve your skills and don't worry too much.
THE STRUCTURE - FILMS vs COMMERCIALS:
The structure of the rigging department in your company is playing a key role. Working in commercials or films make a big difference, simply because this two worlds have distinct challenges and resources. The production time for each single project, for example, is not the same. Commercials have less production days due to the nature of their business, so they are often looking for multitasking people.
In Films they have more production days and more resources, this generally allows them to organize the team and people for skill and specialization.
The size of the Company you're working for it's making difference too. If you are working in a small studio, you will probably be asked to manage multiple aspects of the rigs, like Facials, Puppets, Deformations and props.
The bigger and more structured the company / department is, more the chances you have to specialize yourself in just one aspect. Keep in mind that this process will require time, if you are a beginner most of the time you will be asked to accomplish different tasks to get familiar with proprietary tools and pipeline.
With the right time and determination you will be able to find what you excel in, become a specialist and a reference point for other colleagues in the department.
THE FREELANCE WORLD:
If you are a freelance, often you can be the only rigger on the project and you will have to cover all the technical aspects during the creation of the character. In this scenario, to have different rigging skills will help to deliver in less time and to better sell your freelance profile on the market.
Lot of people love to have the overall technical responsibility on the project, but it really depends from person to person :)
In conclusion, If you are a beginner I suggest you to study all the rigging aspects, because it will help to practice and as I said before if you start working for a big studio you will be asked to manage several assignments. You will always have time to specialize and focus in just one aspect of Rigging.
At the beginning of my career I was fascinated about all the aspect of Rigging, from simple props to more complex puppets. Working on several projects, talking with really talented artists and improving my skills, I found what I love.
Everyday I spend my working hours studying anatomy, creating muscle systems and taking care about skin deformations.
I really hope this article can open a debate between students and artists! Follow you passion and believe in yourself..... ALWAYS!