Acquiring some VFX skills is a natural path for most people who are currently using all the great tools we have today for video/film production and editing. The technology has matured to the point where we (the average single graphics guy or gal) use it almost on a daily basis.
I started in commercial video production and editing about 10 years ago and in 2009, I woke up one morning and decided to learn Maya by myself (what was I thinking!) I purchased Maya 2009 Student Edition and the book, Mastering Maya 2009 by Eric Keller. I began reading about how to create stuff in Maya. At first, it was like reading a foreign language and I quickly realized that I was going to need some help both visually and instructionally.
The beauty of the internet today is that there are many people out there posting free tutorials to You-Tube and Vimeo as well as speciality tutorial sites for a subscription based fee. I began the process of learning Maya from these people who were kind enough to post tutorials, some of which were great and some that were the absolute worst. Either way, I learned something from all of them regardless of the quality of delivery.
The online learning experience led me to the idea that I could do this in a better way than the content I was finding "willy nilly" on the internet... and I also sensed that I was not the only one finding it difficult to navigate all the random tutorials. So, I established ‘deepfriedectoplasm’ on You-Tube with the idea that my channel could be a Maya only, core concept learning channel for anyone like myself who yearned for a unified "voice" and approach to learning Maya.
After doing a couple of exercises based on information straight out of the Mastering Maya book by Keller, I realized that it is very difficult to deliver a flawless lesson. If the material and delivery are not perfect, the educational experience would suffer, as well as frustrate and alienate the student. So, my philosophy toward creating tutorials is to simply make every one with the idea that this is the first tutorial a student is viewing to learn a core concept in Maya, and NOT assume they know anything about the program as they begin watching a tutorial. I think this approach is why deepfriedectoplasm is a popular You-Tube channel for beginners and intermediate Maya users to learn some cool stuff.
Today, there is a huge wave of people turning to online education in order to learn media production, animation and VFX. The benefits are that you can work at your own pace, on your own time and on your own machine. As well as this, when you are learning from a place like Escape Studios for example, you also have the ability to interface with top notch instructors, tutors and mentors who will answer your questions and give feedback on your work which is extremely beneficial for a superior learning experience. The most frustrating part about learning Maya is not having anyone to ask or answer questions which slows the overall process, and that's the great thing about Escape Studios approach to education, they are simply there when you need them.
My experience so far with the Taster Course has been very enlightening because no matter how much I already know about Maya, there is so much that I don't know and it's a thrill for me to learn new stuff. I originally found Escape Studios while surfing the internet to learn new things. I watched a tutorial by Mark Spevick about how to create a dry ice effect, which is a very difficult effect to create and control. His delivery and teaching style was enough for me to decide right away that he should receive a "Deepfriedectoplasm Award of Excellence in Education". And now, midway into my Teaser Course, I should just give the whole operation an award of some sort as well, because the presentation of everything I have seen so far is spot on! Stay tuned for more about my progress and thoughts as I'm only halfway through the Taster Course! This is good fun!