I have found that there are many advantages to studying at Escape Studios. Aside from the obvious vast amount of knowledge that you acquire, you also get to visit and meet some very cool places and people. Last Friday we had the pleasure of visiting Framestore for a presentation with Ben Frost and Chas Jarrett to hear about their experiences working on the second Sherlock Holmes movie - A Game of Shadows. In particular, they discussed with us the typical hurdles and constraints they came across and what we as VFX artists may expect to experience working in the VFX industry.
So it’s almost bank holiday weekend and your old pal Ash is gonna give you another one of his awesome tips before you spend the next three days drinking your body weight in alcohol and watching The Avengers… seriously, how awesome is that film?!
It's important to only isolate three separate elements per ID pass, or the technique becomes redundant. For example, if I had made both the windows and door red in the image for Part One of this blog, then any colour correction I applied to the red channel in NUKE would affect them both. You've already seen a broad example, but there's no reason you can’t use ID passes to focus on more specific areas of your render. The image above shows an example of an ID pass refined to specialise in the windows only. This kind of pass would be useful if the texture I added to the window transoms (red bits) had rendered far too dark, but everything else rendered correctly, as I would be able to adjust them without damaging the rest of my render.
The current VFX Professional class were assigned The Mill as part of the ‘Industry Coaching’ scheme, which is a new initiative for us here at Escape Studios. The main idea behind the scheme is that we invite established post-production houses in Soho to mentor our students as they prepare to enter the industry as VFX artists. The VFX Professional course is our more advanced course for students who have completed the VFX Production course or artists already in the industry who are looking to further their knowledge in the field. For these students, getting advice from professionals working in the industry is golden, helping them prepare better for what is to come. Emmy Castelain was among the group during this visit, and this is what she had to say about their time at The Mill…
A recent venture undertaken here at Escape was to invite established post production houses in Soho to coach our students, to offer them direct feedback on their work here at our studio, and subsequently helping them prepare for what is expected once they enter the industry. On Thursday, 12th April 2012, the alumni class of Studio 5 attended the final coaching session with Framestore commercials, where they got to present their ‘end of course’ project to the VFX producers for feedback. Charles Downman was among the group presenting work that day, and here’s what he had to say about the experience...
So we have a new class of students for the Visual Effects Production course and I thought I’d quickly run through what this class has been up to recently and where they’re at now in their studies. We are currently on week four and they have just started their first major project after covering the ins and outs of Maya (the industry go-to package in VFX). So far, we have covered modelling, UV’ing, texturing, some lighting and rendering and a bit of Photoshop just to mix it up a bit. To put all they have learnt into practice, they have been asked to create a CG object, integrate it into a backplate and to make it look photo-realistic.
Welcome to the Studio Assistant workshop, with Ashley Miles and Brad Collier-Brown, and here's our debut issue. As studio assistants, our main job is to make sure both students and escapees are getting the most out of the Escape Studios experience, which involves answering a lot of weird and wonderful questions. We thought it'd be a good idea if we blogged a few of the most common queries and solutions every week, so you guys at home could learn a little something from us too.
When it comes to catching recruiters’ eye, it’s all about looking good. And this is when only the best showreels will cut the mustard. You have 10 seconds to impress and there is no room for error or work that you're half hearted about.
Those smiles pretty much tell this story! On 28th of March 2012 one of our Compositing classes had the exciting opportunity of having their work critiqued by two of MPC's finest: Christine Troianello and Doug Larmour and they loved every minute of it. The project they were asked to complete was a 115'" shot requiring both roto and keying which is taught on the course. The assignment was not without its challenges though! They had to deal with heavy motion-blur, integration of the key and the roto, as well as the amount of detail certain parts of the shot required. Toya Drechsler took the time to explain what the whole experience was like.
Last Friday, 23rd March, the students at Escape Studios had a much deserved break from the studio in Soho. It was nice to finally catch a bit of sunlight as all of us have been cooped up indoors, out from this amazing weather. However, the blast of sunshine was short lived as we were to enter one of the largest VFX studios in Soho.
I was pretty shocked last week when the Coalition Government reversed its position in their dramatic Budget announcement. The UK government has declared its intention to establish a nationwide games tax break policy, in a manoeuvre that leaves the British sector in shock and jubilation. They stated: "Following consultation on the design, the Government will introduce corporation tax reliefs for the video games, animation and high-end television industries from April 2013, subject to State aid approval," read the official budget report.
As an avid zombie fan, I spend my days either killing zombies on the game console or watching them get hacked to pieces on tele (not to mention seeing one in the reflection of the mirror, the morning after a night of partying). One TV series which I'm sure most of you have heard of, is 'The Walking Dead'. Apart from the ghastly zombies and the characters of the show - one of the most common things people talk about is the lovely VFX. The talented guys at Stargate Studios are responsible for the VFX for The Walking Dead and they have just released their Season 2 showreel.
Enjoy, VFX/Zombie fans!
We believe it's crucial for students to not just have a thorough knowledge of work flow and software, but also understand the VFX industry and pipeline where they will work. So during their course we invite established post production houses to coach them, this means they get direct feedback on their work from respected VFX supervisors.
This was hardly surprising news, but the positive spin put on this stat by Universities UK, was that the drop wasn’t as great as predicted. However, a decrease of 8.7% is significant, and demonstrates prospective students are unable or unwilling to pay the increase in fees imposed by the current government.
There were more women than men applying, but the biggest drop is not amongst school leavers, down only 3.6%, but from older students over 21 which were down significantly.
However, there was also a slight increase in overseas students applying here, and conversely more UK students are applying abroad, for example, Maastricht University forecasts 600 applications.
It’s not rocket science figuring out that fees of £9000 p/a over a three year degree, plus all living costs will be a considerable sum to repay, and for a non-vocational degree, it will require serious thought to justify. After all, if the degree studied will not guarantee a job at the end earning you X amount, then being saddled with that kind of debt is a hefty burden to bear.
Even the prospect of the student idyll and those first tastes of freedom living away from the parents, in the life of Riley, may now seem a little indulgent.
In our sector, Animation and Computer Graphic degrees are wide ranging and extensive, but this can be both their strength and their weakness. Yes, you may learn a wide range of skills, direct your own mini movie masterpiece, and if you’re exceptionally talented and hardworking, this film may lead to a job winning Showreel.
The reality is too often we see films that are either strong in one discipline but severely lacking in others, so making the overall effect disappointing. Or either, so many students have worked on one jaw dropping movie, that it’s hard to see exactly how much of a role any one individual played in the overall execution.
If getting a job is your top priority, fair to say it’s better to study an in-depth industry specific course, such as we offer here at Escape Studios, rather than something less focused.
Are you an aspiring CG artist who’s trying to get your CG career off the ground? Are you working in the creative industry and want to transfer your skills to VFX? We know how difficult it can be to make decisions and chose the right path, but that’s where our Careers Guide can help. By revealing the many opportunities that exist within the CG industry, the guide helps you overcome some of the hurdles you might face when you start making career choices.