VISUAL EFFECTS FOR DIRECTORS
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Well, yes, but that's the whole idea! The point is for you to get some solid exposure to a subject that you, like many Directors and DPs, may have been avoiding -- partly because there hasn't been any really good training that explained it properly.
This is a demanding course, but it's made to be as easy to understand as possible. The assumption from the beginning is that you're a smart person who simply has never gotten a proper explanation of visual effects.
Most VFX Artists actually don't have a particularly broad understanding of other topics than the ones they work with. That way, Character TDs don't know matchmoving, compositors don't know rigging, and the vast majority of VFX Artists have little or no idea about what should be done on the set -- which is a critical aspect of Visual Effects For Directors, and something that everybody, including or maybe especially VFX Artists, needs training in.
No, Visual Effects For Directors is not software training, it's concept training. We're far more interested in making sure you understand the underlying principles, because that's how you understand both how to shoot it, and if you feel like it, how the software works.
For example, all matchmoving is based on something called Photogrammetry, and once you understand that, it's suddenly extremely obvious how to place tracking markers on a green screen -- but it also becomes extremely obvious what you're really doing in the matchmoving software. Many people feel they suddenly understand their software for the first time.
But we don't care which software you use, or if you use any at all and just leave it to others. They're all built on the same principles. Whether you matchmove with BouJou, SynthEyes, Matchmover, PF Track, or do 3D in Maya, Max, Cinema 4D or the software 'du jour', from our perspective, it's just a different user-interface to the same technology.
On the contrary. With very few exceptions, this entire course could have been made 15 years ago. Software comes and goes, but the underlying principles stay the same. A texture has always been a texture, and will probably be so for the next 50 years. The same way, rigging is rigging, skin weights are skin weights, ambient occlusion is ambient occlusion, green screen is green screen, and matchmoving is matchmoving.
The core principles of visual effects don't change very fast. What changes is the ease of use and automation of the workflow, and the sophistication and intelligence of the tools.
Because Per Holmes is both a Director and a nerd, which puts him in a unique position. His computer graphics background goes all the way back to Commodore 64 and hacking the VIC chip to make border sprites -- and if you know what that means, you're a nerd too!
Being primarily a music producer during much of the 90s, he trained 3D, compositing and character animation on the side, which became very handy when he got his first break as a Director – on a high budget music video with motion control and green screen and virtual set and tons of 3D. Everybody was very nervous, but Per Holmes pulled through!
Per Holmes doesn't like to not know how things work, so he has spent years figuring all this out in a way that would make it actionable on the set. What is it really you need to place tracking markers? How do you really make a virtual prop? What does it really take to paint something out? What are some simple rules you can act on? These are the kinds of questions Per Holmes asks, and the answers are in Visual Effects For Directors.
Yes, the vast majority of topics have nothing to do with the medium you're shooting on. There are really only a couple of topics where film is different from HD, and those times we cover both.
Yes. Modern DVD players and TVs are multi-standard by default, and since the DVDs are Region Free, you can play them without problem. Through the years, we've never had a single person in a PAL country who had any trouble playing them. And worst case, you can always play them on a PC/Mac.
The course is also for...
Directors and Cinematographers are unknowingly often the ones with the power to make a visual effects shot an easy breeze, or a nightmare in post. But too often, shots are done without a VFX Supervisor, often resulting in plates that are extremely hard to track, key, and roto.
Without understanding the exact needs of post production, it's hard to know what to do on the set, and Cinematographers often move on to the next show not knowing that a 5 minute time-saver on the set became a 2 week rescue operation in post.
It's therefore imperative for Cinematographers to have a solid education in visual effects, so that when the animators are tracking a shot, you'll blow their mind by having shot helper frames and survey data for them, and placed a prop to create artificial parallax for a tight shot. Don't know what this means? Watch Visual Effects For Directors to find out.
Producers have the ultimate budget-responsibility, but are also the ones who are often told the most crazy stories about how cheap and simple an effect is to make when it's actually hard -- or how hard it is when it's actually easy.
Producers need to be able to cut through the BS and know exactly what the consequences of other people's decisions are -- including decisions made by Directors, who sometimes need to be kept under control.
It is very hard to fool a Producer who has watched Visual Effects For Directors, and you'll be able to steer the production towards effects that can be made to look good on your budget.
Visual Effects Artists are often most familiar with the station they work, and it's actually quite rare for VFX Artists to have an overview of the entire pipeline -- and that's exactly what Visual Effects For Directors is.
Additionally, Visual Effects Artists often have very little experience with what should happen on the set -- which, sadly, Directors and DPs also have -- meaning that you need to be the one with the on-set expertise, so that you can tell them exactly what they should do.
If you're toying with the idea of becoming a Visual Effects Supervisor, Visual Effects For Directors is essential viewing, because it's exactly about how all the technologies fit together, so we talk about matchmoving and compositing and shadow-casting and light-matching and rotoscoping and exposure in the same breath.
Whether you're a Production Manager, Art Director, or any other crew member, you're actually around visual effects all the time.
With Visual Effects For Directors, Production Managers can cut through the clutter and know the truth about what's involved in creating an effect, and keep the production on track.
Art Directors can build sets directly with an eye for extending them digitally. And all crew members can automatically make good decisions that help shots become easy composites.
Writers often write effects into stories without knowing how easy or hard the effect will be to make. Producers are automatically nervous about any effect in a script, so you really need to make the case that you've written the script exactly so that the effects are simple and easy to make.
With Visual Effects For Directors, you'll exactly know how. Then when somebody says that it's impossibly expensive to make, you can prove that it isn't.