As a design graduate with 7 years’ experience working within design departments in architecture and retail I spent what time I could learning how to model and animate to create short sequences influenced mainly by films I like. Although fun, learning that way means progress is very slow as is the rate of improvement - at least in my case anyway. I wanted to get better quicker and that's why I signed up for the VFX Production course.
Being 8 weeks in, my classmates and I have learned an unbelievable amount and are now able to model, texture, light, render and composite models we've made into live video footage which is unbelievably exciting. We're now only limited by our imaginations which is awesome! We got to visit Double Negative who showed us around their studios and took us through what they've recently been working on and the tools and methods they use. We also got professional feedback on our work from The Mill who also showed us their studios and how they do things.
The teaching style on the course allows you to learn huge amounts very quickly. If there is something you don't understand or something isn't working as it should, the tutor will stop and explain or will come over and to fix the problem for you and best of all - tell you WHY it wasn't working! Something you don't get from tutorials. There is also a studio assistant around who will do the same thing, so help is always around to keep you from falling behind.
What I've really enjoyed is seeing the class's rate of improvement. In week 1 we were all struggling to model and texture an apple and by week 6, you look at screens around the room and people have created amazingly complex and intricately detailed models that when rendered look real! It’s a treat being in a classroom environment and actually enjoying what you're learning. I don't want it to end!
My advice to anyone thinking of doing the course is this:
- Try and at least learn PhotoShop before starting. It will be one thing less to learn (trust me there is a lot!) and will really help you when it comes to texturing.
- While on the course, take as many notes as possible. The fast pace and sheer amount of information to retain is staggering and I at least wouldn't remember even half of it without being able to refer to my notes. Also, try and repeat what you've learned that day until you can do it without assistance or referring back to your notes. That way it really sticks.
- Try not to miss a day or arrive late. Missing even just the first half hour means you miss briefing on what you're learning and the first ten steps out of fifty. It puts you behind and catching up is a real pain, as what you learn one day is hugely relevant to what you learn the next day.
- Competition for jobs in this industry is fierce and only the best students get their dream jobs straight away so work as hard as you can to give yourself the best chance. The more you put in the more you get out. The studio is open from 9am to 10pm so milk it dry!
For me anyway, I couldn't be happier with how the course has gone and what we've learnt so far. The future is now very exciting!