What I'm Learning from VFX Apprentice All Access

vfx Jun 06, 2023
What I'm Learning from VFX Apprentice All Access - featured

Jason Keyser shares some insights and thoughts on FX skills he has learned from fellow VFX Apprentice instructors in these All Access courses. 

I wanted to share with you a few of the things that I've been learning from our instructors at VFX Apprentice. For those of you who may not know, we actually have a ton of content over 200 hours of content in the All Access pass, and I am only one of many people who are contributing to that content these days.

I enjoy going through and learning from my peers, other people that are teaching the craft of FX. And so I'm just going to share a few of the bits of things that I really enjoyed.

Also stick around till the end because I'm going to preview some of the things that have not yet come out but are currently in the works.


2D FX Meme Lab

All right. So first up, we have the 2D Effects Meme Lab by Milena Gonzalez. This is one of my favorite instructors that we have with us. I did an interview with her as well. She's amazing, but she worked on such shows as Rick and Morty, The Cuphead Show, Ninja Turtles and a bunch of others.

One of the things that I learned from her is how much fun our profession is. That's very easy to forget when you're bogged down with deadlines and approvals and really high bars and standards of quality that you're not sure you're going to be able to meet under those deadlines and approval constraints.

These lessons are a ton of fun. And also Milena does a great job of going into like the different tiers of costs that you can put into an effects animation. You can have 2 seconds of animation that you need to create, right? Obviously, it's not going to take you 2 seconds to build, but it might be a lot faster if you have a very low budget or not a lot of time. You're going to find shortcuts and simplifications to get it out the door faster. But then she also goes in all the way up to the most advanced budget, where you can put in all the time to polish it, make it gorgeous. We want award-winning quality, right? And that's going to take you much longer.

I'm really excited to see all the 2D effects stuff that y'all are going to create out there from your favorite means. This kind of stuff. This is the fun stuff just getting in and playing around.

All Access members can watch these lessons here.


Production-Level FX Breakdowns

Next up, I want to talk about the production level effects breakdowns that Rubfish did. This guy is amazing. He's one of my very favorite artists. You should go look him up if you're not familiar with his work. These lessons are definitely more intermediate to advanced. They're not totally for beginners, but they're a great thing to look forward to as a beginner to know to see where you're headed.

So what is it that I learned from these? Well, I gained a deep appreciation for the way that his mind works, specifically talking about Rubfish, because every VFX artist is so unique. Really breaking it down in front of your eyes, dismantling these effects for you to see. This is something I recommend if you want to specialize in effects and you're just getting started.

It's handy to work in a project that allows you to do that. That was certainly how I learned the Riot Games was like coming into a live project that was already fully functioning. I could look at other effects on League of Legends and study them and break them down and disassemble what these masterful artists did. Hugely valuable learning from other events artists.

All Access members can watch these lessons here.



FX Design & FX Timing Principles

I have to talk a little bit about Dan Elder's lessons on FX design and FX timing. These are based loosely off of the 12 principles of character animation we've adapted them to fit the needs of effects animation.

Let's go through all 12 of them.

  1. Intention - What is the effects purpose?
  2. Physical Properties - What physical laws of the universe are going to govern this effect?
  3. Composition - How does your effect exist in the world?
  4. Solid Drawing - How will you properly design your effect. It's very critical for an effects artist to know about design.
  5. Number of Frames - How will you wrangle the instantaneous and ever changing elements?
  6. Keyframes - What's your plan for controlling the effect over time?
  7. Ease-in and Ease-out - Which parts of the effect ease in and which parts ease out?
  8. Anticipation - Does your viewer have enough build up for a satisfying climax? Very important.
  9. Impulse and Rhythm - Is this a one time blast, or does it have a recurring beat?
  10. Follow Through -  Are you giving enough time for the payoff of your effect's motion?
  11. Arcs - Where can you incorporate organic curves of motion into your effect?
  12. Stretch and Smear - Will you use smear frames when your effect is at its fastest?

So that's a lot. It's probably worth regular repetition to go into these, and it's probably why I still watch them years later. There's a ton of things to keep in mind. But that's what I love about Dan's lessons is they're nice and short and he goes over each one. It's a great refresher for me and something that I continue to learn from today.

All Access members can watch these lessons here.


Intro to Materials/Shaders

To all the school teachers out there, I want you to listen really closely when your students are asking in their math class. Where in the world am I going to use this in my life? Your answer to them will be making shaders for video games. You're going to use math to make art for video games.

This series by Gabriel "Nibilli" Boileau is amazing and it takes you from total beginner like addition, multiplication, basic math skills up to making some beautiful imagery using shaders, also called materials. This course is currently covering Unreal Engine 5, and we have another series for Unity.

Math can be a bit scary at first. I totally understand. There's a lot of things to learn, but the good news is you're visually guided all along the way. So shaders are awesome. I freaking love them and Gabi does an amazing job of teaching them. 

All Access members can watch these lessons here.


Sneak Peek

You may have seen the teasers in the video above, and yes exciting new lessons are coming very soon! We are rekindling with an old friend for a new animation course from Slava Lightsoul, who is straight off of working on Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse

Also we have a new FX course on creating shield bubbles that will also have our first lesson for Unreal Engine for Fortnite (UEFN) taught by Guillermo Couceiro. 

Want to get a glance at our new Learning Paths? Check out the Milanote board here

This and so much more will be coming out in the next few weeks! Can't wait to share more.


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