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Best approach to learning about VFX


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#1 James Malamatinas

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 01:13 PM

Hi,

 

First time posting in VFX so go gentle if this is in the wrong place...
 

I’d like to start learning about visual effects and visual effects cinematography.  I’m a huge film fan and got into the industry a few years ago as a camera assistant which is something I still do and absolutely love doing, but I would really like to work with 2nd Unit’s and visual effects crews if I could, so to help me get there I’d really like to begin to understand the craft, techniques and everything else involved.

 

What I’m looking for is a recommended way to start researching / engrossing myself in this aspect of filmmaking and hoped people on this forum could offer advice. I realise I’m not going to learn it overnight and just want start building up knowledge as quickly as I can over time.  Are there basic concepts and theories that need to be learned before looking at actual techniques?  Or is it better just to study films and learn how the effects in those films were created i.e. looking at the Stan Winston School tutorials, YouTube documentaries and so forth.

I have to admit to being more in love with practical effect and doing effects in camera, but I think that’s just because I was bought up in the 80’s and 90’s on action films and sci-fi!  At the same time I’m completely fascinated by CGI, and even more so by the combination of the two, there’s been a number of recent films that have blown me away in this regard (surprisingly one is Black Swan, just because of how well the visual effects were used so subtly).

I’ve recently purchased two books that I wanted to read:

> The Art and Science of Digital Compositing: Techniques for Visual Effects, Animation and Motion Graphics 

> Techniques of Special Effects of Cinematography

 

Both of which seem to be great resources, however I feel that perhaps I need a better understanding of VFX before I can get the most out of them – especially the second which refers to a lot of film techniques that I am beginning to understand only through reading the book itself.

So after that ramble – I guess I’m asking for advice on how I should approach learning such a huge subject and could anyone offer recommendations for resources including; books, forums, websites, videos etc. which would help me get started? Obviously, I’d love to start doing it rather than reading about it but I haven’t found my way in just yet!

Finally, what is the difference between special effects and visual effects (if any), and what term best describes purely computer generated effects (CGI?) Also, where does Virtual Cinematography fit in!

Thanks for reading and for any suggestions,

James



 

 

 


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#2 dan kessler

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 04:58 PM

Starting with the last question first, visual effects are mainly post-production techniques,
which today is almost entirely CGI, whereas special effects are production techniques
carried out in front of the camera (pyrotechnics, props, mechanical rigs, etc.)

People enter the field in a variety of ways, none of which is easy.

Self-study, like you are doing now, is a given.  At some point, though, you have to put
the knowledge you gain into practice so you have something to show on a demo reel.

On the visual effects side, people learn CGI through self-study, or through formal training,
many have computer science degrees, etc.  There's a lot to learn. Your intelligence, skill
and talent will determine how fast you progress, but it all takes time.

After you make that sizable investment of time and energy, you will then face the even greater

challenge of finding a job. You will need a strong reel, or perhaps an advanced degree, and it
always helps to know somebody. You must set yourself apart from the crowd of wannabes all
clamoring for the same thing, because today, the talent (labor) pool is global.  In the present
economy, there are no visual effects companies remaining in the U.S. who have not migrated to
offshore facilities or have simply closed their doors altogether.

Also, be aware that there is widespread dissatisfaction today because of grueling hours,
wage abuses, frequent layoffs, etc.

Not trying to be discouraging, but if a vfx career is your goal, you need to go in with your eyes open.


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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Glidecam

Technodolly

Rig Wheels Passport

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