How To Become a Compositor

How to become a Compositor

What is a Compositor?
You’ll find Compositors working in animation and post-production. They are the ones with all the technical know-how, who bring the various elements of the production together – responsible for constructing the final image of an animation sequence. This is done by combining layers of previously created material together into the finished product. It is primarily a 2D role within the 3D world of CGI and Visual effects.

What is the Job?
A Compositor works at the end of the production process. They receive materials from other stages of the process, including rendered computer animation, graphics, special effects, live action footage, 2D animation, static background plates, and more. The Compositor is responsible for ensuring all these elements are united in a way that maintains a similar style for the final image.

Compositors work closely with other members of the team to ensure that lighting is right, colour levels and blacks match, shadows are convincing, motion blur is added if needed, mattes are created where necessary, and rotoscoping is completed. The primary roles of a Compositor include working to make sure the green screen seamlessly works throughout a film, as well as digital image manipulation. The secondary roles include physical computing and background editing.

Key Skills
In this role an expert knowledge of computer graphics is mandatory. Further, knowledge should span the entire process as Compositors will receive materials from a range of sources. So, apart from being a technical wiz, what else is important when becoming a Compositor? Well, Compositors also need to have a flair for the artistic, and an eye for detail:

  • Intimate knowledge of the CG process from start to finish.
  • Considerable knowledge of many types of software.
  • Willingness to work long hours if required.
  • Good eye for detail.
  • Ability to stay up to date with technological developments.
  • Good team worker.

Salary & Working Hours
The average salary of a Compositor in the UK is £36,250 per year, with the lower end being approximately £19,000 for a junior role, and the higher end being approximately £50,000 for experienced professionals.

Due to the fact that Compositors work at the end of the production process, it is sometimes necessary to work very long hours to catch up on the schedule for a production, if there have been delays earlier in the project.

How to Become a Compositor
A degree in arts or design, such as photography, illustration or computer animation is a common way to get started as a compositor. You should be constantly up to date with the latest developments in the film industry. You should also be aware of, and be able to use, the latest software used in the industry – courses can be taken to increase knowledge in these areas. Examples of software that is used include:

  • Photoshop
  • Animo
  • Flame
  • Opus
  • After Effects

For those looking to take their first steps as a Compositor, internships are a good way to get hands on experience in the field.

Latest Compositor Jobs

Where Can it Take You?
If you show initiative and talent as a Compositor, you can progress to become a Sequence Supervisor, Compositing Supervisor or a Visual Effects Supervisor. Progression in this industry is based on how you craft and develop your talent – it’s not purely based on how long you’ve done the job. You may start out in a junior position and progress to senior level from there.

Become a Compositor Today
If you are ready for the next step in your career, why not take a look at the latest Compositor vacancies on our jobs board? You can view our latest vacancies here.