Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I'm writing up some more podcasts and articles.
Are there specific topics people want me to be covering so I can try to prioritize them?

Preferences regarding podcast vs written articles?

Just post as comments and I'll try to sift through them.



  1. Hrm, it would be really great to see some case studies of specific problems and how you solved them. Particularly unexpected problems. Either problems you ran into on set and tried to fix on set or problems you didn't discover until you received the footage.

    I would love to see more detailed rotoscoping technique. People tend to gloss over it, maybe they think they are trying to protect us from the tedium, but I would love to see how a pro really gets the detail needed to roto a person, considering hair, costume details like straps or strings, etc. Especially where motion blur comes into play you have virtually no clear shape to roto. (Have you tried any of the newer tools like Silhouette FX Roto or Imagineer Systems Motor?)

    Just some thoughts. Thank you.

  2. Whatever you post, please include some visual material. It is a visual medium, and you could show us how you approach vfx problems.

    Maybe it's time to migrate to a video podcast?

  3. Scott, I would love yuo to tell the story of Commotion, especially in relation to Photoshop and the latest features they have introduced. The story of Photoshop having no timeline initially, and how it all came to be now (no proper raster paint application for video on any desktop systems, except maybe Silhouette Paint).
    What kind of problems you ahd to solve? How did you manage to squeeze in-RAM playback for sequences on the meager hardware of the time? What were the design decisions behind Commotion when it was born? How did it happen that it ended up in Pinnaccle's closet?

    I am sure this will be a fantastic insider info about a legendary piece of software, which stays unsurpassed even as of now.

  4. I have an interest in how the work is organized in a studio where several people work on the same project: filenaming conventions, folder structures, workflow, versioning... how that workflow maybe automated by scripts...

    I think that this is the darkest part of visual effects. It maybe very boring but as an aspiring to be visual effects supervisor, I know it is extremely important.

  5. I think case studies would be excellent, with some visual material.

    And tell us about your experience as a VFX supervisor, what are the challenges, what can or can't do as a supervisor, how to be a vfx supervisor and all that stuff.

    maybe tips and tricks used on some of the movies you have been involved.

    but visual material would be really appreciated.

    thanx scott for time you spend sharing your knowledge with all people.

  6. Cloud tanks! I know it's old-school and they may be redundant in this digital-age, but anything that inspires people to go out there and create there own plates via practical means is a good thing in my book!

  7. All good suggestions I hope to address in future podcasts.

    Problems - There's always problems. A fair bit of visual effects is problem solving; both technically and creatively.

    Roto - I'll go into more details but it's all about the illusion. Do you notice it? If not then it's working, even if it's not correct (actress has lost a few hairs, etc)

    Video - Yes, that was why I set this up as a podcast versus just a blog. The downside is video takes more time (of my very limited free time) and legally there are issues with showing anything I don't specifically own. That's why I was able to do the roto breakdown since I owned the content. Given the amount of postings on Youtube and it's ilk of commercial content I may provide snippets of content with the hope it would be covered under fair use.

    Case studies, Commotion and cloud tank are all good topics.

  8. i'd just add another vote- audio podcast is not enough. i'd either prefer video podcast or a written article. generally i find listening to audio podcast is too boring since while you can fastforward in video or written media, audio fastforward just skips the information and you get out of the context very fast :s

  9. Video podcast or written articles are better than audio podcast for us non-english readers :)

  10. I´d really appreciate to see your input and related techniques in Camera Mapping, as i read everywhere that´s a very used technique and very powerful, but i hardly find information, tutorials on the basic stuff needed to apply it.

  11. Hello Scott,

    I love your podcast/blog
    thank you for taking your time
    to share it with us.

    I personally would love you to
    migrate into a videocast,
    I think it would help allot
    in order to understand the
    working process.

    And I was wondering if you have
    experience with camera tracking
    and 3d compositing?

    I find some tutorials but I was
    wondering if you have specific
    advice for measuring the set
    and so on, especially problems
    that happen on real outdoor
    sets, like a real street and so on.

    Also I am guessing allot of the readers/listeners of your blog
    are students or hobbyists,
    It can be a problem trying to
    achieve those shots
    with only one assistant or none,
    very basic equipment and almost
    no budget,
    and I was wondering if you have
    advices to people like us as well.

    Thank you

  12. I just listened to one of your podcasts on Odeo. I am 46 and I live in San Francisco. I am considering going back to school for visual animation - I was hoping you could look at some of my videos at http://66bricks.com or my animations at http://blisterine66.deviantart.com/ and let me know if you think I have any potential. I know you are busy. I hope you can find a few minutes to check them out. Thanks.

  13. AnonymousMay 16, 2007

    First Thank you for your Tips!
    im still confuse how the production handle scene with matchmoving and tracking.from adding tracking markers, do's and donts etc..
    more podcast on this would be appreciated. thanks

  14. I would like to see 3d particle effects in motion graphics especially faking 3d with 2d plates.

  15. Great blog! I'm interested in your opinion about the crew structure of a vfx studio. Here are a few questions: how much management is needed for a small,medium and big sized operation? How many leads? How do you balance between creativity and the budget? Who is responsible for what; what are their roles specifically? Does the vfx supervisor worry about the creative only? Is he/she responsible for managing his crew directly? Does he/she has a say about workflow and how things should be done technically - or he/she responsible solely for the creative side of effect? In solving problems and making decisions, how does the crew structure help? What are the limits for the crew members themselves, their responsibilities? Can you talk more about production vs. creative process? What about chain of command?

  16. Hi, thanks for all the awesome information you put on your blog. I hoped maybe you could do a part about floating point and te relation to visual effects. Thanks in advance.

  17. Not sure what type of connection regarding floating point and VFX you would like more info on. Are you talking about color channels? EXR is one of the supported floating point format and many of the newer composting systems now provide floating point support. Originally most compositing systems were 8 bit so the dynamic range was somewhat limited. Floating point allows a larger dynamic range that can be shifted or adjusted as need be without some of the quantizing results you would get with a limit of 8-bits per pixel color.
    Floating point, especially for alpha allows some interesting processing as well. There are tradeoffs of course in that the size of the pixels is at least doubled with floating point. (meaning double the memory). Displays are still in integer values so a conversion is required for display and there can be some calculation differences with floating point.

  18. For curiosity's sake assume you had the money to pay for all the hardware/software needed what would your ultimate VFX studio include?

    Thanks for the great site.

  19. The most important thing for any visual effects company is the people.

    In terms of hardware and software - that all depends on what you're doing specifically and what your crew preferences might be.

    Most companies these days tend to use Maya for 3D and nuke for compositing. But there are other packages. After Effects is useful for motion graphics and certain types of compositing. Some use Fusion.

    3D studio max and other 3D packages.

    Flame systems are useful for interactive work.

    There are plenty of specialty software packages as well as plugins and extensions. Houdini and other simulator/particle systems are useful to have.

    In terms of hardware you want to try to get the fastest systems you can with plenty of ram and disk space. Many packages can also take advantage of Graphics cards so getting a graphics card with speed, power and memory is very useful and productive.

    A render farm with blades and other units is good for massive rendering needs as well as isilon stooge/networking systems.

    Most larger companies use Linux for their operating systems. Window OS and Mac OS are also used.

    In the end you want to get the best crew and give them the best tools to do their job.

  20. Thanks for the informative answer. I appreciate you taking the time to explain something so basic,

    Have a great week.


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