3 Tips on Making Technically Sound and Sophisticated VFXApr 25, 2023
Consider these three steps when tackling the mountain that is learning and creating sophisticated VFX!
Today we're going to give you three tips on how to make technically sophisticated visual effects. We've covered the basics of making artistically beautiful effects in our last video.
While that's the most artistically fulfilling approach, that's only half of the equation when you're making visual effects. Now let's talk about the technical part, the tooling, the technique, the tricks that you need to know to make these things come to life.
Problem Solve Your Way Through
There's three things that you need to get. First? Get creative!
Now, a lot of people don't really associate creativity with technical challenges, and that's probably because oftentimes when we think of tech and tools, we might get a little anxious and we might think that there's a lot of problems. But the reality is that problem solving is a creative activity.
It's actually deeply creative, and you can explore that more deeply by realizing that they're not really problems so much as they are challenges. You want to replace the anxiety with curiosity. Ask any experienced VFX artist, the first year you're with a studio or doing this full-time is overwhelming. The amount you know you'll have to learn seems like Mount Everest.
You're constantly learning a new term, a new tool or a new technique. It really does start feeling like a challenge. You might start questioning what you're doing there or if you're ever going to be able to get to where you want to be. But, we all face that! Its important that you don't think of this as a problem! Think of it as a challenge.
Embrace the Unknown
This is something for you to get curious about, to try to understand it, whether it's a new shader technique, something in scriptable effects like Niagara or Visual Effect graph in Unity, or if it's like visual scripting, like blueprints or just regular scripting like you'd do in Unity. There's all kinds of new things that can be overwhelming when you're in the technical side of effects. But the key is to just remember you're in this strange new land and it's a magical land where anything is possible.
Imagine that you're like this creative entity that can move through this magical space and you can build anything you want to build.
Well, because that's not our world. You're going to have to learn the new customs, the new laws, the new language, everything that a citizen of that world or universe or whatever would need to know in order to be functional. And that's you becoming an effects artist. So don't be afraid of it! It's new for all of us. It's a new language and new customs that all of us have to learn. This process is awkward and that's okay, just like learning a new language, it takes time but it will start coming to as second nature.
Find Your Flow State
The next one is get lost in the complexity. So you're in this funny land? Well, it can be a very tedious land, I'll tell you that right now. But here at VFX Apprentice, we like tedious things!
For example, take Lego bricks. Lego's are tedious, repetitive, they require fine motor skills, they're little, but it's a hobby that takes a lot of focus, a lot of attention, and it gets me into a flow state. We talk a lot about this flow state because honestly, it's the key to finding creative productivity. There's a lot of other hobbies that are the same way, whether it's running, which is enormously tedious and repetitive. But a lot of people really love it because it gets them into a flow. It gets them into this nice, meditative, mindful state that they really enjoy. For you, it might be knitting or any number of hobbies. Most hobbies tend to have a component of repetitive flow state tediousness to them.
When we're in that flow state and you're trying to get lost in the complexity, what we mean by getting lost in it is that you're breathing, right? You're you're breathing in and breathing out and you're losing time because of the flow. And so next time you're feeling yourself kind of not getting into that flow, just remember to breathe.
If you're learning a specific tool or technique - just take a look at that tool and get excited about each little thing. You get to hook up its little number, you get to type in, and then the final thing you need to get is get help. Specifically, get help from a mentor.
We've all had to learn this the hard way, but now we don't anymore because we have mentorship. We have people over on our Discord server that you can go chat with and ask questions. In fact, go sign up for the free training. Now and then you get access to the Discord server. You'll see our mentors over there. They'll want to ask you some questions, and that's what they're there for, is to help you have a better experience than they had when they were learning with the tech and the tools. The free training is full of great resources as well to get you started. It's a nice starting point.
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