I am an FX artist. I use Maya, Realflow, and Houdini. I’ve started learning Nuke this month. but I don’t know how far I should go with the topics. do I have to learn green screen compositing? or just a basic comp with simulation and background and some CC and grading? I know I don’t need roto keying tracking and all that stuff. Could anyone suggest specific topics in nuke that an fx artist has to learn?
For CG integration you should definitely look into deep compositing, multi-pass compositing and using tech passes: world position, reference position, UV and normals.
For traditional 2D comp, learning tracking, warps (stmap, smart vectors) can be very useful.
If you are planning to work as an FX artist, the important part is not necessarily becoming a good compositor, but changing your FX mindset towards efficiency.
The topics you should focus on is how to achieve the similar FX with compositing shortcuts instead of brute-forcing the simulation and render.
For example some particle FX which doesn’t have animated emitters can be replaced with stocks in comp. So if you learn camera tracking and using 3D cards you can save a lot of time by using a simple stock footage on a card.
Sometimes light animation can be done in comp with extra light passes and 3d position masks, so you can save a lot of 3d render time when iterating light animations with the client. This requires some experience with render passes.
what about the studios with separate compers, they usually don’t want the fx artists to go deep into comp and just need some slap comps. and a lot of places they need fx artists to just make a slap comp and let the compositor do his job. So learning just basic comp would suffice in those situations?
Slapcomp is not just a simplified way to create your daily preview but also a technical test. So even if your preview could be done with merging beauty passes it is better to do a proper comp setup that helps filtering out render errors in all the passes that the compositor will use at the end.
Big studios usually use deep compositing workflow and require all kind of tech passes, so even for a slapcomp you should be able to put together a deep composite shot anyway.
Your lead or CG Sup will tell you how much you have to care about your comps, but if you come up with an idea that involves more compositing than brute-forcing simulations and 3D renders they usually welcome it.
Most likely you will not have to track camera and add stock footages or do rotos, etc. but for example animating light in comp using light passes instead of animating color values on the shader level is something they will consider a smart solution.
Anyway knowing compositing techniques can never hurt and an FX artist that has proper compositing skills always have advantage on the job market.