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SpawnofGaea
07-19-2009, 08:02 PM
Hello all,

I am new to all of this, but always known what I wanted to do: Visual Effects in movies and such. I love to paint, sketch, work with charcoal and computers. I have a few course catalogs form various schools to become familiar with the software of the industry. I just started to explore this forum, so don't mind me is a question like this was posted once before.

I have gotten a bit overwhelmed and not sure where to begin on my quest to become a VFX artist.

I am hoping to start Full Sail's online Computer Animation program in a few months (working on getting my financial aid processed :eek: ). But it looks like the online program just touches the subject.

What can I do on my own to pursue my dreams? (looking for info on software, free learning/software, etc...)

Thank you! :D

eraser851
07-20-2009, 11:57 AM
Tagged.
I'd like to hear what a veteran has to say about this as well.

leigh
07-20-2009, 12:33 PM
I'm not that clued up about US schools and such, so I can't really comment on that, but to give you some information about the VFX industry as a whole, here are some tips I can give.

- The VFX industry, especially the film industry, is very specialised. This means that you should ideally choose one area to focus your studies on, whether it's modelling, lighting, animating, texturing, shaders, rigging, etc. Having said that, it's also good to have at least some knowledge of the rest of the process.

- Keep up with your traditional art skills like painting and sketching. More and more studios these days are looking for people from a traditional background, especially in the more "artistic" roles, like modelling and texturing. The studio I work for even has life drawing sessions for us once a week, to encourage us to keep at it.

- I don't want to start a software war, but if you're aiming for the film industry, learn Maya, because it is the most widely used application. This is simply a fact. However, having said that, most studios, especially larger ones, do use a lot of in-house tools that you're not going to find in Maya, or indeed any off the shelf software anyway, so there is always some learning to do whenever you go to a new studio. I'd also recommend you familarise yourself with working on a Linux platform.

- Just work really hard. With so many people trying to break into the business, it's harder than ever to stand apart from the crowd. Studios want to see candidates who are hard working, and tenacious. Keep up to date with new techniques and advances, take an active approach to learning (ie. never stop learning), and just keep pushing yourself to do the best work that you can.

Good luck.

taxguy
07-20-2009, 02:58 PM
Gnomon School of Visual Effects is named that for a reason. Check them out.

leigh
07-20-2009, 03:20 PM
Gnomon School of Visual Effects is named that for a reason. Check them out.

I don't want to put Gnomon down (because Alex and his crew are great), but attending a course just because "visual effects" is in the name isn't necessarily going to be the perfect option. At the end of the day, it comes down to your own skills, and frankly, anyone can learn the basics of 3D and the principles of VFX on their own, while attending another course. Students are not necessarily limited by the content of the course they do, because the onus is on them to push themselves, both in class, as well as in their spare time.

Frankly, if someone with no idea where to study asked me for advice, I'd recommend they do a traditional arts university degree while learning the digital stuff on their own. I think in the long run that people who choose that route are more likely to succeed in the long term, because their studies have taught them about timeless, always relevant theory about visual aesthetics, whereas more focused digital schools are teaching techniques and software which could be out of date by the time the student graduates. That's not to say that those schools are necessarily useless; quite the contrary, they're great options for students who have already covered the art basics, and then want to brush up on what they've learned in their spare time before hitting the job market. But I really do believe that a solid art foundation is important, and in terms of job hiring trends, it's becoming more essential.

Noggy
07-20-2009, 04:36 PM
Hello all,

I am new to all of this, but always known what I wanted to do: Visual Effects in movies and such. I love to paint, sketch, work with charcoal and computers. I have a few course catalogs form various schools to become familiar with the software of the industry. I just started to explore this forum, so don't mind me is a question like this was posted once before.

I have gotten a bit overwhelmed and not sure where to begin on my quest to become a VFX artist.

I am hoping to start Full Sail's online Computer Animation program in a few months (working on getting my financial aid processed :eek: ). But it looks like the online program just touches the subject.



What can I do on my own to pursue my dreams? (looking for info on software, free learning/software, etc...)

Thank you! :D

Well, first welcome to cgTalk.

You should download the free Personal Learning Editions of a couple softwares like Maya/Houdini/Max etc. Do some tutorials and see how you like it. Getting your hands dirty is the best way to find out what you like/don't.

It really doesn't matter where you go, it all depends on what you do with the resources the school provides. In the end, it's how hard you personally push yourself to learn the material and create good work.

Check out these school websites, (list from top of my head)
SCAD
Rhode Island School of Design
Academy of Art University
Gnomon
School of Visual Arts
Vancouver School
Dave School
Full Sail

3D is going to feel extremely overwhelming! I know it did for me but over time, it gets easier and you understand more. There's no shortcut to learning this stuff than sitting down and reading/experimenting/tutorials/books. Try not to feel overwhelmed because everyone else understands it's not an easy subject to learn. Good luck and start playing with some PLE software.

SpawnofGaea
07-20-2009, 07:02 PM
Thank you everyone, you were all very helpful.

I would love to go to a real art school, but that was never in my cards. I do regret getting an ASIS in Communications, I wish I got an IT degree instead. I went to the Art Institute Online for a month. It was ok, but they do not help you upgrade your computer or purchase the software needed.

I really wanted to go to Full Sail, but the cost versus length of the program doesn't translate well when trying to get the government loans. I can afford to take the online program which has traditional art classes, 2D and 3D animation, modeling and character animation, etc. And you can include all the tools into your financial aid plan (mac book pro, scanner, wacom pad and software). Unfortunately they don't tell me exactly which software, so I won't find out until I start. I do believe they teach Maya. An admissions rep told me that if I wanted to get into the VFX end (the elements, rippling, etc.) I would need to learn Python.

I did look into the Gnomon School, it might be something consider when I figure out what Full Sail doesn't cover. I am in love with the Academy of Art University's course catalogue. I also found two online learning centers:

lyndia.com and fxphd.com

I really like lyndia.com because it has a lot of free learning videos which is great to understand what the different programs are used for. I am looking into Blender and VUE at the moment. fxphd.com will come in handy once I know what I am doing, I really love the price (3 courses for $330) and that they give you access to the programs you will be learning in the course.

I also found the thread about the free programs very helpful and useful.

SpawnofGaea
07-20-2009, 10:38 PM
-duplicated

forsakendreams
07-21-2009, 01:18 AM
As stated already, these days the industry is very specialized and highly competitive.

The best course of action is to first figure out if you know what area you want to specialize in, then based on that choose your path of education.

If you'd like to get into fx (smoke, water, fire, debris, etc), then a more technical oriented education would be best. Programming, physics and linear alebra will be your friends. Get further education in particle systems and compositing. Gnomon may be a good place to go for this.

If you are interested in animation, either start with a solid basis in art and acting. Or attend a school that strongly emphasizes animation - AAU, AnimationMentor, Ringling, VFS. Depends on how quickly you want to get a job, some venues are cheaper and shorter than others.

If modeling or texturing is your thing, developing strong traditional sculpture skills (painting for texuring) would be excellent. If you just want to jump right in and get a job, go for a vocational certificate at a place like Gnomon.

Compositing, find courses that will teach you the current software and techniques as well as the math behind the manipulation of pixels.

good luck!

taxguy
07-21-2009, 02:36 PM
leigh notes,"Frankly, if someone with no idea where to study asked me for advice, I'd recommend they do a traditional arts university degree while learning the digital stuff on their own"

Response: Yes, I assumed that the OP had the basics of live drawing and figure drawing skills. However, Gnomon does have courses in live drawing, head and hand drawing, figure drawing, and character design. See http://www.gnomonschool.com/programs/entertainment-design/

However, I have never taken these courses there ; thus, I don't know how good they are at that training. Maybe Leigh or others have further insights in this.

For what it's worth, I know someone who is taking the advanced Maya program this summer and LOVES it. She not only loves her instructors ,but she noted that she only has 6 people in her class! She is getting a LOT of individualized instruction, not to mention getting all her questions answered.

SpawnofGaea
07-21-2009, 06:27 PM
As stated already, these days the industry is very specialized and highly competitive.

The best course of action is to first figure out if you know what area you want to specialize in, then based on that choose your path of education.

If you'd like to get into fx (smoke, water, fire, debris, etc), then a more technical oriented education would be best. Programming, physics and linear alebra will be your friends. Get further education in particle systems and compositing. Gnomon may be a good place to go for this.



Thank you. Yes fx is what I would love to learn. I am only able to go to an online school due to time and money constraints. That is why I am going to Full Sail's online Computer Animation program. Good thing is I will have the knowledge to make my own little animations, an awesome laptop, learn physics, and a demo reel.

I am looking into Gnomon's workshops and dvds on compositing. I saw Nuke and Shake mentioned, so I'm going to look into these programs. To learn fx, should someone first have a background in modeling, and/or character animation? (am I over thinking this. lol?)

Thanks for your help!

forsakendreams
07-21-2009, 10:29 PM
If fx is what you want to do I would recommend:

Learn Houdini - procedural network modeling/animation/particle
Learn compositing - nuke or shake, a lot of cheats and tricks that make your effects look amazing are done here
Learn Renderman / shading
Study up on physics (fuilds, waves, etc), math and programming/scripting (python)

Massive, flocking simulations, AI agent/networks may also be helpful

You can pretty much skip modeling and animation and go right to fx. Knowledge of basic animation prinicples would help and if you're an awesome animator it will help you nail awesome but convincing fx motion. Modeling will also help of course, but really you can skip it all if you want.

deatheater4ever
07-24-2009, 02:12 PM
Thank you. Yes fx is what I would love to learn. I am only able to go to an online school due to time and money constraints. That is why I am going to Full Sail's online Computer Animation program. Good thing is I will have the knowledge to make my own little animations, an awesome laptop, learn physics, and a demo reel.

I am looking into Gnomon's workshops and dvds on compositing. I saw Nuke and Shake mentioned, so I'm going to look into these programs. To learn fx, should someone first have a background in modeling, and/or character animation? (am I over thinking this. lol?)

Thanks for your help!



Have you checked out Bournemouth University's MA in Digital Effects course ?

It's only for one year and the content is exclusive for visual effects ....

Check out this link ...

http://onlineservices.bournemouth.ac.uk/courses/Course.aspx?course=101&school=MS&level=pg&code=MADE&mode=ft

dandeentremont
07-24-2009, 06:21 PM
I'm from the DAVE school, and as such, I'd suggest having a tour there :P it's based in Orlando and is right next to Universal Studios. Way too convenient to pass up, IMO.

SpawnofGaea
07-24-2009, 09:07 PM
If fx is what you want to do I would recommend:

Learn Houdini - procedural network modeling/animation/particle
Learn compositing - nuke or shake, a lot of cheats and tricks that make your effects look amazing are done here
Learn Renderman / shading
Study up on physics (fuilds, waves, etc), math and programming/scripting (python)

Massive, flocking simulations, AI agent/networks may also be helpful


Thank you for this information, it is very helpful. I can't believe how many opensource programs there are for computer animation in general. I just found the python site and they have a lot of information for all levels of programmers. Now that I know which programs to focus on for fx, fxphd.com is a really good site for those programs.

Have you checked out Bournemouth University's MA in Digital Effects course? It's only for one year and the content is exclusive for visual effects ....

Check out this link ...

http://onlineservices.bournemouth.ac.uk/courses/Course.aspx?course=101&school=MS&level=pg&code=MADE&mode=ft

Thank you for the link, it looks cool, but it is in the UK, and I only have an Associates degree at the moment.

I'm from the DAVE school, and as such, I'd suggest having a tour there :P it's based in Orlando and is right next to Universal Studios. Way too convenient to pass up, IMO.

Yes I did look into the DAVE School. It is perfect for my learning needs, but they are not accredited at the moment. Unfortunately this means that you can not use stafford loans to pay for the school, software, computer, etc.

deatheater4ever
07-25-2009, 06:58 AM
SpawnOfGaea ,

Can you tell me what's an Associate's Degree ??

I am from India and I don't know much about the American education system
How diffrent is it from the Bachelor's Degree that I have ?

Thanks .

MKScrivana
07-26-2009, 12:29 AM
an associates is two years of schooling. BA is four years

deatheater4ever
07-26-2009, 07:43 AM
an associates is two years of schooling. BA is four years

Thanks a lot ,
MKScrivana

Over here we have 3 years for BA .

leigh
07-27-2009, 09:34 AM
I wanted to get into the VFX end (the elements, rippling, etc.)

Just for clarification, what you're talking about there is FX, not VFX. VFX is short for visual effects, and is a broad term encompassing all aspects of digital production that are used in the creation of imagery that's added to live action footage - this includes modelling, fur, rigging, lighting, texturing, shaders, FX, compositing, matte painting, etc.

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