Monday, September 20, 2010

Price of VFX Education

VFXSoldier has a good posting about VFX education.

As VFXSoldier points out all of these VFX schools are in it for profit, which is fine, but be aware of what the true costs are, especially to what they're selling and that you actually end up with at the end of the day.  This is like all the books, DVDs, classes and other items related to screenwriting where there are a very limited number of actual script sold.  There's a whole business of selling to those with dreams in a limited market.

It's good to have dreams but don't go into early and costly debt, especially if you don't have to.

I recently replied to a comment in another posting and through email to someone asking about education:

Degree course - I don't know of any vfx company that requires a degree in vfx or a specific software package. I suppose some type of 'degree' shows you've taken a class but the thing that will get you hired is your reel, list of credits and your list of software you know and the level you know it. (be honest on your resume) 

If you want to get a university/college degree then best to check out the colleges near you or well know ones. However very few colleges offer real vfx classes.

You can learn quite a bit of the basics of any software with books, DVDs or online.  Good books and the better online classes cover the material at a professional level.   obviously you have to push yourself because it's self-education but this allows you to learn at your own pace and location without a lot of expense.   I'm self taught in electronics, computer programming, photography, vfx and many other things.

Many in person classes only run through the process of learning the software unless the teacher actually has hands on experience in production and the class is structured to cover those issues as well.

Many of the vendors of software have learning additions and tutorials.  As with most software read the manual first.

Check out the School Post if you haven't already. has classes on Maya, Nuke and others. Steve Write does the Nuke tutorial. Relatively cheap. and are some of the ones that offer more in-depth online tutorials. Please see the school links for the others.  

The only classes I've actually seen have seen the ones at so I can't provide any pros/cons.

The downside to all/most of the online classes is they are English only. 

Obviously the online classes require a reasonable computer and internet access.

The advantages of an actual course is it's likely to be in your language, hopefully the teacher will offer critiques and have you do various exercises. 

If you do need to take a clas I would recommend trying to find websites/forums that cover those schools to see what other opinions are. You can contact many companies and see if they have recommended schools. (i.e. these would be high on their list of likely candidates)

Nuke and Maya - Those tend to be the most popular for high end work. After Effects is also used extensively.

However you might want to check the local vfx companies to see what their job listings include.  It may be that Max or Lightwave are more popular where you are and that After Effects is the most popular compositing software.  So keep in mind what your marketable skills are.  If you know a software product that's not in use at most of the places that would hire you then it may not be much value so be sure to consider that first.

The other key thing as mentioned in my blog is to make sure you understand the actual process of what's happening.  If you understand the basics concepts of compositing, pulling keys, dealing with color then it's much easier to switch to another software package and learn the specific functions.  It also much easier to problem solve and adapt.  If you only know which button to push then it's going to be difficult to deal with anything out of the ordinary.

1 comment:

  1. VFX education is a very hard topic to bitch about :) You'll need a computer, yes, and if you're honest and not too poor, you can get the software and courses legally. If you're not so honest or too poor, you can get everything for free. Forums where people all over the world can critique your work - the second ingredient in education - are free and people write on them 24/7. I don't really see any other field where you can get good education totally for free, investing just your time and effort. So we can't complain really.

    One important thing not noted in your article - understandable, since you wouldn't like pesky foreigners like me taking westerners nice jobs away, hehe, is that an actual degree from an actual university is very important for immigration officials, if one wants to move from the east to the west.

    Cheers ;)


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