Last week we were joined by Junior Lighting TD and Escape graduate Alastair Cross for a webinar that shows another side to VFX. The Hollywood side of VFX is probably why most of us want to work in the CG industry, but CG artists are putting their skills and knowledge to good use in lots of different areas. If you missed this webinar, the great news is we recorded it and the recording is now available to watch on our YouTube channel.
On March 20th 2013, Prime Focus World N.V. gained equity investment from AID Partners (a private equity firm focused on expansion capital and buyout opportunities specifically in the media and entertainment sector). Investing USD 10 million, this venture has contributed significant value to Prime Focus Limited as a whole, valuing the company at a total of USD 250 million.
How to get into and survive Film, Advertising and TV post-production is topping the charts on free Kindle downloads, out-doing Star Wars. Pretty epic! If this tells us anything, it’s that there are still a healthy number of talented people looking to break into the post side of production. The author of this very popular book is none other than Klaudija Cermak, a compositing tutor who previously taught here at Escape Studios, and she certainly knows her stuff!
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a career in Visual Effects is far from boring. As far as careers go, this is an industry that keeps us on our toes, offering us a never ending number of new creative project ideas to be realised, fun new problems to be solved and new technologies to be developed. This is an industry that constantly pushes us to learn and discover more.
I grew up with parents who couldn’t bear driving around in a dirty car. It just wasn’t socially acceptable in Ireland amongst that generation. And so, many a weekend during my childhood was spent polishing car windows. However, little did my parents know, we were washing away free art materials. Yep, that seems unlikely right? I thought the same, until I read about Scott Wade, the Da Vinci of dust!
It's very easy to lose creative motivation and it's something every artist will experience at some stage in their career. We all got into Visual Effects to work in a creative career, so why stop living the dream? To remain on the cutting edge of creativity, sometimes you need to take yourself out of your comfort zone and remind yourself of the things in VFX that speak to you the loudest - because ultimately that’s what will drive your best work.
To get a real good grasp of compositing and the discipline that surrounds it, there’s no better way than seeing the process in action for yourself. And if this is something that sounds right up your street, the only other thing to add is that your guide for this comp session is none other than NUKE devout, Simon Richardson.
Lincoln is very much a hit with the award bodies this year. Having only just recently hit the cinemas, the film has already scooped up a Golden Globe and a BAFTA as well as being nominated for 12 Oscars. And although this is all very lovely, we’re more interested in the stunning results achieved by Framestore for this epic biopic. Providing the backdrop of 1865 America, a country ripped in two by civil war, Framestore worked alongside the filmmakers to make a historically accurate recreation that was both invisible and believable. And having already proved their expertise on Spielberg’s previous project War Horse, Framestore have obviously earned the trust and respect of Steven and his team.
A big thank you to the ladies from WFTV (Women in Film and TV) for organising a networking event last night for women who work in technical roles across film and television. Three of us (Davi Stein, Anita Gribble and myself) from Escape went along to see what was going down! We had a great time meeting women from lots of different fields. Among them was a DOP, a few editors and to our delight two effects TD’s from MPC.
Recruiters in any company will be sent hundreds of applications on a weekly basis, and when it comes to getting your application noticed, just try putting yourself in their shoes for a moment. For example, their first job is to sort through the good from the bad. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to impress at a glance.
We have welcomed a great many students to our studio over the years, and those students all share something in common. That is, a passion for creativity and to start a career in visual effects. Students come from far and wide to attend our training facility, and emerge with skills that are truly mind blowing for 12 weeks of training. Each and every student invests extraordinary dedication to their work, and through that we are treated to some fantastic results.
We’re back, and with that we’re preparing some exciting events, bringing you the very best in VFX education. Kicking things off as we mean to continue we're holding a live interview and career talk, and look forward to an exciting 2013 filled with creativity and VFX know-how. We look forward to sharing the latest goings-on within the industry. But most of all, we look forward to seeing what you lovely people are creating or will create with the right training behind you.
Last Monday, November 19th, we ran a very popular webinar with Victor Perez, a master when it comes to using Python inside NUKE. A whopping ninety nine people attended this live webinar to hear what Victor had to share, and we’ve had an incredible number of requests from people who couldn’t attend to share the webinar recording. For us, this interest has been very encouraging, and we look forward to bringing you more webinars like this.
How does someone go about getting a Junior Compositor role at an international VFX studio like The Mill? Well in this month’s tutorial Simon Richardson reveals how it all started for him. From experimenting with Adobe’s After Effects at University, Simon was introduced to basic keying techniques in a layer based system. And this was when the seed was planted that would flourish into him conquering NUKE, and working at one of the top VFX studios in the world.
January is fast approaching, and with that brings new year resolutions and ambitions. Looking to the future, you may be keen to find out what you want to do following the end of your studies. Or perhaps you’re keen to change careers or simply enhance the computer graphics skills you already have. With this in mind, it seems there’s no better time to visit our facilities and discover how doing a course at Escape Studios will help you get to where you want to be.
Earlier this month the Evening Standard compiled a list celebrating some of the top most influential creative figures in London. Inspired by the opening ceremony for this year’s London Olympics, which brought together an incredible pool of talent for a spectacular event, the Evening Standard took this opportunity to acknowledge the “fantastic cauldron of creativity” that exists in England's capital.
Here at Escape Studios, we know how you all enjoy getting to the heart of what makes up a stunning VFX shot. So imagine our delight when hearing that Prime Focus World have just released the first of a new behind-the-scenes web series, ‘Close Up’. And let me tell you, these nuggets of geekiness will not disappoint.
This month’s free tutorial is a sneak peak of a workshop presented at the VIEW conference in Turin, Italy. Earlier this month one of our VFX tutors, Daniel Shutt, led a 6-hour workshop to demonstrate camera mapping, transforming a still photograph into a photo realistic animated shot. A technique used in film, commercials and broadcast television, it’s now time to apply this process to your own projects.
Having the opportunity to learn over the web has been hugely beneficial for many aspiring CG artists. The perfect solution to fit around busy schedules, it has allowed students worldwide to take advantage of the comprehensive VFX and Compositing training we offer. But of course, the success of this tuition is very much down to our fantastic Escape tutors.
Some of you may have been feeding off the trickle of teaser footage in circulation for the Iron Man triquel, coming to a cinema screen near us soon! And if you are one such person, you’ll be delighted to learn that a ‘full’ teaser trailer is now doing the rounds, showing off the abundance of action in store for us upon its release in April 2013.
This Wednesday, October 24th, we’re hosting a webinar with compositing tutor and Head of 2D at Escape Studios, Davi Stein. During her presentation, Davi will guide us through the core processes behind compositing, highlighting exactly what a compositor does, the range of roles available in the industry, and how Compositors are largely responsible for creating the CG magic we see on screen. As well as this, Davi will comment on the effects of some of the most recent changes in the industry to date.
Looking to learn something new? If that’s the case, then we have two webinars coming soon that deserve your attention. Both webinars range from beginner friendly, to the more advanced, where NUKE operators can learn more about how to apply Python to their projects. Both webinars are at either end of the spectrum, concentrating on the art of compositing in all its different forms. So to get a better understanding of skilful compositing, make sure you tune in for either or both presentations.
You’ve got to take your hat off to the people who do the part-time evening courses at Escape. This is the course that people choose when they need to schedule their learning around other life commitments… and those life commitments usually involve full-time work.
Anyone who knows Escape Studios will know how valued our Studio Assistants are. Representing the heart of Escape, they keep this VFX academy a well-oiled machine. From supporting current students with their projects, making sure deliveries go out on time, to editing showreel videos, no job is too big or too small. And in return they are in the best place to ready their showreels for that next step in to the CG industry.
Prime Focus World is the VFX house behind another big box office success, delivering 650 stereo VFX shots for “Dredd” in 3D. To put that into perspective for you, that’s 90% of the VFX for the entire movie. What’s more, this was achieved over a 24-week production period. A massive achievement on an epic scale!
Described as ‘this decades The Matrix’, the phrase alone has already set very high standards for it’s audience. Possibly a bold statement to make, The Matrix was pretty groundbreaking for it’s time. At first glance, the statement seems a cheap marketing gimmick, and one with little to support it. But if ever a marketing gimmick was doing it’s job right, it is now… because it definitely grabbed my attention and intrigued me enough to find out more about the film.
Compositing in regards to VFX can be a difficult process to explain unless seen in action. Although the term may seem quite self-explanatory to those working in the industry, that’s not generally the case for those starting out, looking to break into the industry. And as we speak with budding CG artists every day, we feel it’s important to understand what sets compositing apart from the 3d modelling elements of VFX. As it’s only when you truly understand the range of departments that exist in the visual effects industry, can you make the right career decision.
October is certainly bursting with exciting events for the digital geeks among us. One to mention is our very own VFX Festival, the other is the VIEW Conference, a premiere international event in Italy for computer graphics, interactive techniques, digital cinema, 2D/3D animation, gaming and VFX. Running from 16th to 19th October in Torino, this 4-day event is overflowing with lectures, meetings, tributes, exhibits, screenings, workshops and demo presentations. And better still, our very own Daniel Shutt is among the exciting line-up for this year’s launching event.
Last month, the lovely Alexander Swann graced us with a simply brilliant webinar about his time working on Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. As a 3D Paint and Roto Artist, Alex gave an incredible insight into what this role involves, while also revealing the very fun side of working in the film industry.
We've invited Victor Perez to share some of his top tips and tricks when working with Python in NUKE. Having studied our Compositing for Production course back in 2009, Victor has gone on to master NUKE to a highly professional level. Voted this year’s second most valuable nukepedia.com contributor, and one of the first official Nuke certified trainers, Victor has prepared a webinar to show you what’s possible when you apply Python scripting to a project.
Following a lot of doom and gloom surrounding the UK economy, it’s always nice to read something positive about an industry contributing towards economic growth. The BBC posted an article this week discussing an independent report examining the impact of the film industry on the UK economy. And we feel this report is just the thing we need to restore faith in the creative talent that exists this side of the pond, so it can be nurtured allowing the industry to flourish even further.
If you’re an avid reader of 3D Artist magazine, then make sure to look out for an article on Escape and the VFX course we run here. Released in this weeks issue (issue 46, September 12th), this is a rather lovely article. The 'Course Focus' section is a regular feature in this mag, so we’re pretty chuffed they wanted to include our VFX course in this issue.
For those of you looking to get more adventurous in Maya, September’s free tutorial is a must see. This is the perfect opportunity to spice up your showreel with something a little different, while learning a diverse range of new skills in the process.
How much can you learn over 12 weeks? Well hopefully after seeing some student work in yesterday’s blog you’ve realised, quite a lot actually! Learning the tools that create impressive 3D visuals is the hard part. After that, it’s a process of applying what you’ve learnt to more ambitious projects and making sure you push yourself to continue learning.
When the award winning VFX team at The Mill approach a new project, they certainly don’t cut any corners. Setting out to create nothing but their absolute best, while pushing the boundaries of technology, these guys are serious about what they do. And you don’t win as many VFX awards as these guys without putting in the hard graft to make heads turn.
Before becoming a mighty VFX warrior, you need to become a master of Maya. That is why our VFX courses are designed so you dedicate significant time to mastering the tools inside Maya before taking the next step into more advanced visual effects. And of course, it’s only when you know the limitations of any creative tool, that you know how far to push it.
A few weeks back, August 14th, we said our farewells to another class of Compositing graduates, ready to embark on a professional career in VFX. An exciting day for all involved, we had the opportunity to check out their end of course projects. Presented to tutors as well as fellow students, each project got some constructive feedback from the pros on where improvements could be made, and where their talents excelled.
Following on from Part I... Of course, the challenging work didn’t stop there. The team was faced with a range of tasks, including the China Falls sequence, creating multiple Synths for the Synth bay as well as getting the reflective metal and shiny plastic surfaces just right. To tackle this, the team customised their pipeline to help make the workload all the more manageable. Alex continued saying...
If a movie is a massive studio blockbuster, then the Prime Focus World visual effects team have most likely had some involvement in its making. Prime Focus was responsible for creating the stunning effects for titles such as Men in Black 3, Dredd 3D, Mirror Mirror and Total Recall…to name just a few! And of course, every new VFX project comes with its own challenges. Len Wiseman’s remake of Total Recall was one such project that allowed the team to flex their creative and technical muscle.
Today sees the launch of Reasons to be Creative, an annual festival dedicated to art, design, code and being creative. Born from its predecessor Flash on the Beach, this is a Brighton based digital media conference perfect for those who want to learn, get inspired, network, brainstorm, and collaborate. This is where leading minds in the business are brought together to share their knowledge, experience and above all inspire.
Ever found yourself pondering over a possible career in VFX? We’ve all had those moments when we’ve seen some awesome CG visuals and thought ‘how did they do that?’ The people who created these effects all started out somewhere, and that starting point is usually the time they started learning the tools they needed to get the job done.
Our visual effects and compositing students have gone on to work on some pretty awesome projects over the years. These include the many studio blockbusters that light up cinema screens around the world. Seeing escapee names in the rolling credits at the end of such films never fails to give us that warm fuzzy feeling of pride – proud to see they have achieved the goal they had when we first met them on our courses. And this was very much the case when some of the Escape team went to an exclusive screening of Snow White and The Huntsman at Framestore a few months ago.
For all budding Compositors out there, Alexander Swann is joining us for an exciting webinar exclusive next Wednesday. Roto Artist and escapee, Alex has spent the last couple of years mastering the art of 3D painting and rotoscoping at Framestore. Showing some examples from the very recent, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, we recommend that you check this one out.
“Big things have small beginnings”, was an idea acknowledged in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, released earlier this year. And for us, this statement couldn’t be more true. Taking the art of visual effects as a prime example, the spectacular CG you see on screens today was born from the most basic of concepts, and the people who created those effects invested significant time and energy to become the talented artists they are today. Every creative talent has to start out somewhere, and with the right levels of care and determination, it can evolve into something magnificent.
LinkedIn is a pretty awesome tool for lots of reasons, but one in particular is how it encourages some users to be quite industrious in their spare time. And a perfect example of this is how freelance digital compositor Vincent Frei has created a group called The Art of VFX. This is where Vincent shares interviews he’s had with a range of industry professionals working in VFX, offering us VFX geeks an inside scoop into what they’ve been working on.
A film currently bringing an interesting element of humour to cinema screens in Ireland has been described as the heir to the “Shaun of the Dead” throne. This statement may not be far wrong. I won’t lie to you, the plot is a tad mental, but in that great tongue-in-cheek way that makes it the kind of film that will surely cheer you up at the end of a tough week. The film in question is Jon Wright’s Grabbers, and it’s one I hope you’ll all get a chance to see.
Some of you may remember the incredibly addictive Maxis game, SimCity. If anything, you’ll remember the awesome tunes that accompanied your construction of cityscapes, with endless building potential. And for those of you with fond memories of this game, you’ll rejoice in knowing that the creators are taking it to a whole new level of development. SimCity is now global!
August’s free tutorial goes out to all the Compositors. Take this opportunity to breathe a little life into your projects, using some NUKE trickery. Based on a technique applied while working on Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Compositing tutor and Head of 2D at Escape, Davi Stein looks at how to enhance basic elements within your scene for a more filmic look.
There have been some exciting changes at Escape Studios recently, and with that we are very pleased to welcome our new Relationship Manager, Anita Gribble. In this role Anita will have two main responsibilities. One is to work closely with post houses up and down the country to continue building on the industry coaching scheme we currently have for our full-time students. As well as this she will be helping to maintain our relationship with recruiters at a variety of post houses to further benefit our students.
We’ve been catching up with lots of the escapees from over the years, and one story in particular has been hugely inspiring to us. Having studied a ten week Maya comprehensive course at Escape Studios back in 2003, Alenka Abraham has paved a very exciting career for herself. Taking on an R&D software project at Glassworks, Alenka met her future business partner, Adam Cubitt. Together they set up Existential Ltd., a company that develops both real-time and off-line computer visualisation and animation technology. Collaborating with leading post-production companies like MPC, and many others across the UK, they’ve been involved in pioneering projects and are making quite a name for themselves.
We’ve just had some exciting news from the lovely people at Creative Skillset. The creative industries’ sector skills council are currently running a pilot scheme for short courses that provide training in areas such as TV, film, radio, interactive media, animation, computer graphics, facilities, photo imaging, publishing, advertising and fashion & textiles. By making training in these areas more readily available, they hope to open up these industries and create a more diverse pool of talent right here in the UK. And we’re delighted to play a part in that ambition.
NATIVITY is a pioneering digital art project by Martha Fiennes, a moving-image interpretation of the Christ Nativity inspired by a canon of Renaissance paintings on the story. Martha’s idea for this project was brought to life through the process of SLOimage, which is the process of random and perpetual image self-generation. It slowly transforms through a wide range of alternative pictorial content in a way that is unpredictable to both the artist and the viewer. In a way, it is as though this technique has its own level of consciousness, allowing the artwork to generate meaning in new and very unexpected ways.
After a previous visit to Double Negative, James Dower and his class mates really got a taste for the high standard of work that DNeg set. And on this, their second visit, they were all keen to get some professional feedback for their own VFX Production projects.
Want to introduce yourself to some of the fundamental techniques of compositing? Well now you can. The lovely Simon Richardson, compositing escapee and one of our esteemed Studio Assistants here at Escape, has put together a free NUKE tutorial that will demonstrate exactly that. This short video will walk you through a basic CG rebuild inside NUKE, using Maya’s Mental Ray passes. For anyone starting out using this software, it’s a great insight into the processes behind building a shot ready for edit.
Doing a VFX course can lead your career in many directions. For many of our students it has been the launching pad for a career in post-production, for film, TV and commercials. Many students have also gone on to work in other areas such as games and architectural visualisation. We teach the fundamentals and practicalities of working in CG, paving the way for what you will eventually specialise in.
We live in a time of minimalistic female role models. Gone are the days where young females looked up to icons like Florence Nightingale, Rosa Parks and The Pankhurst Sisters. If you look at our culture today we are inundated with reality TV role models. In no way do I have any issues with reality TV, everyone needs a little light relief in their lives and if watching the current episode of Made in Chelsea or TOWIE does it for you, then who am I to judge?
This year, Escape Studios is ten years old, and it’s a pretty big deal for us. It’s also a big deal for all of the students who we’ve trained over the years and are now dotted throughout the world of VFX. So, from now on, every week, we’re going to be launching a story from our escapee Wall of Fame which will showcase all of the escapees who have gone on to work on the biggest and boldest films, TV shows, commercials and games over the years. It’s a chance for them to step up and take a bow, albeit a virtual one.
Finally we can take a glimpse at the new Pixar feature animation, Brave. We’ve heard great things about the film, and so we’re all completely psyched about its upcoming release later this summer. This is Pixar’s first time to tackle a fairy tale, and it’s set to be much darker in tone to their previous Pixar releases, as it takes inspiration from the masters of whimsical storytelling, Hans Christian Anderson and Brothers Grimm.
In an interview with BioWare, the company responsible for the art in Mass Effect, Pixologic find out how ZBrush was used in the making of Mass Effect 3. The ambitious game series has exhibited some pretty impressive artwork during its time, and the work in ME3 is no exception. Read the exclusive interview here.
The 9th annual Architectural 3D Awards, hosted by CGarchitect.com, are taking place on July 4th 2012 and a last call for entries has just been sent out, with only three weeks remaining. The competition is open to everyone in the Architectural Visualisation industry, and looks to award the best imagery, animation and real-time projects created over 2011 and 2012. This year there are five categories for the award, and only five entrants will be shortlisted for each category - Image (Commissioned), Image (Non Commisioned), Film/Animation (Commissioned), Film/Animation (Non Commissioned) and Real-Time.
Journey is the visually stunning online game that has the gaming community in awe. From the creators of Flow and Flowers, thatgamecompany continue to further their ambition to make games that push the boundaries of interactive entertainment, offering meaningful and enriching experiences that inspire the people who play them.
Every year Sci-Fi London runs a competition inviting Sci-Fi fans and filmmakers to take part in a 48hrs film challenge. Armed with a title, a line of dialogue, a scientific theme and a specified prop, competing teams have two days to develop and make a 5 minute short film. The winning film is premiered during the London Sci-Fi Film Festival, and also benefits from a promotional platform through The Guardian newspaper website, as well as a development deal with independent UK production company, Vertigo Films.
Following the recent release of ZBrush 4R3, we are running a webinar on May 10th, 2012, that will present some of the more important new features now available in this 3D modelling software. We have invited the development team at Pixologic to show off what makes this new version even greater.
Last night, Thursday 29th March, was the Art of 3D Visualisation event at the Barbican Centre, and we’re delighted to report it was a great success. To start with, the setting was spectacular. The Barbican is an inspiring setting for architectural design. The event kicked off in the conservatory terrace, a hidden treasure in the heart of the Barbican and a lavish space with a back drop of decorative tropical plants. This time was spent wisely, arming ourselves with a cold drink the proceedings moved to Cinema 3 where we and our guests were treated to four presentations from five fantastic speakers.
Pixomondo, an international visual effects company with eleven facilities worldwide, have a very talented team right here in London. Based just off Old Street, the London facility opened in 2010 and is one of the more recent additions to the Pixomondo global network. The company is currently growing from strength to strength, and is working on some very highly anticipated projects such as Snow White and the Huntsman, The Amazing Spiderman, and the new series of Game of Thrones. Over the past five years, Pixomondo has provided VFX production and supervision for over thirty high-concept feature films, including popular titles like Hugo, Red Tails, Sucker Punch, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Super 8, Fast Five, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief and 2012, to name just a few.
HP has partnered with DreamWorks since the beginning, helping the business mature into the well-oiled animation machine we know today. HP is responsible for the hardware platforms at the very heart of the company, with a storage infrastructure that allows the team to share data quickly and easily over a global network, as well as state of the art workstations and monitors for creating detailed and realistic effects. In the video above, the team at DreamWorks discuss how HP technology has contributed significantly to the company staying on the cutting edge and how this technology brought to life the 2011 production of Puss in Boots.
On Thursday 29th March, Escape Studios are hosting an event at the Barbican Centre that will discuss the art of 3d visualisation. Joined by four industry speakers this is an opportunity to discover how professionals in film and other media create stunning as well as captivating animated visuals. The event is aimed at anyone working in the business of 3d visualisation, whether that’s in architecture, design, engineering or media and entertainment. We would like to invite you all to this exclusive event as we expose the creative side of this visual form.
Last weekend I stumbled across an album cover with the VES (Visual Effects Society) logo on it. For those of you who don’t know, the current logo for the VES is the iconic image of the moon from the film Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon), a 16 minute black and white silent film from 1902. It was a revolutionary film for its time, being not only the first sci-fi but also using special effects that were very high tech at the turn of the century. Though the film was distributed predominately in black and white there was also a hand-coloured version that was thought to be lost for quite some time until the only surviving print was found in Spain in 1993.