Wednesday, July 28, 2010

VES Handbook Released

The VES Handbook of Visual Effects is now shipping. I know at least a couple of people I spoke to thought "why do we need another vfx book?" Once they saw the scope and depth of the handbook they changed their minds. It's not a tutorial. It doesn't deal with specific software or hardware. The book covers a wide range of things: budgeting, previs, shooting on set, shooting elements, color issues, digital cameras, stereo, rendering fur, video game creation, workflow, etc. We've tried to at least touch on a bit of everything and in most cases we had experts writing a detailed article. I'm hoping vfx artist of all types will find a use for it as a reference, to help fill in gaps of knowledge, tips and tricks and as a means to come up to speed on other areas of visual effects that may be outside their expertise.

If you're at SIGGRAPH this week they have some copies at the Focal Press / Morgan Kaufman booth that you can check out. (update: Told if you show your membership card you'll get the discount there)

VES members check emails for member discount.

Amazon does have it on sale at 10% less than the marked retail.

Focal Press is hoping to release the book on Kindle and as a paid eBook PDF on their site shortly. There's some conversion involved to get it into an electronic version. They are also trying to get it on the iBook store but that may take a little longer.  Kindle edition would work on any device with Kindle software - iPhone, iPad, PC/Mac, etc.  iBook version would be for the iPad and iPhone. These eBook versions will be handy to have available where ever you are.  The printed book is 922 pages.

NOTE: Focal Press did want to alert buyers that the electronic versions will be missing 70 photos that are in the printed book. These are photos from the studios or other sources that we don't have e-rights to.

PIRATE COPIES:  Please don't pirate the book.  Pirating is stealing, despite what excuses people give themselves.  Assuming you are involved in vfx you are involved in making IP (Intellectual property) that can be pirated.  I suspect you'd like to be paid for your work and the time you put into something. Respect yourself and the business you're in.  I and the other authors/editors who worked on the book chose to volunteer so the VES could provide something of value to vfx artists and that could also provide a source of revenue for the VES.   The more copies that are pirated, the less likely updates are made. This is true of any product for sale.

Focal Press will also have a place on their site that will have some extended articles which were trimmed down for the book.

I was a co-editor and did write some of the articles. I cover some of the issues from this blog but these were all re-written from scratch for the book.

Added:  Focal Press has a sample online.  The page also lists the table of contents. See link lower on that page for a sampler.   This is a section of Bill Taylor's article on shooting greenscreen/bluescreen.  This article gets into a lot detail because it's a defined technical process.  In the handbook there are a mix of articles, some that deal with very specific technical issues and some that deal with broader issues.

VES Handbook companion site - Includes author bios and extended versions of some of the articles.

10/27/2010 Update

VES Handbook of Visual Effects released for the Kindle!  Now take it with you on the Kindle, iPad, iPhone, etc.

7/20/2011 Update  Now actually out for good on the Kindle and Nook.

8/4/2010 update
I was interviewed about the handbook by fxGuide which always does a fantastic podcast.  (Subscribe through iTunes)  In the video I'm trying to blink at 24fps and as always my hands are juggling invisible objects.  Sorry. I would be remiss if I didn't mentioned fxphd, which is an great online training program created by the same team involved with fxGuide.  They cover Nuke and many of the professional packages.

One other note is someone on Amazon reviewed the book and didn't think it would help you get a shot finished.  No it won't. It was never designed to do so.  As I mentioned in the video interview if you're already an expert in any one thing and that's the only article in the book you read then you're not going to get a lot out of it.  The book is designed to provide the principles to areas outside your expertise. It does cover pre-production and production, which not all vfx artists are involved with, but are critical in seeing a shot all the way through the process.  If the live action is not shot correctly then there's less likelihood of success downstream.

There are also an infinite number of vfx shots and numerous programs and other tools that can be used so trying to come up with a solution book for all 3D rendering, compositing, animating, (etc) issues would be impossible.  You're better off getting a specific book or online class targeted your specific software applications (and kept up to date).

You can post comments here for what changes/additions you'd like to see in the next update. I view the handbook like a software application that will get updates and have improvements made to it.  If you're a VES member there's a specific area of the forums at the VES site to provide feedback as well.


  1. Scott,

    Great job on the handbook! Very well done. I love that you can just open to a page and read up on any given subject.

    -david burton

  2. Hey! I just found your blog today - I was googling the term VFX supervisor and it came up - saw about the handbook and went and bought it tonight. I'm gonna be on-set for an indie feature in a VFX supervisor-type role in a few days and was getting kinda nervous. I have a ton of experience with post-production - but not onset. So, just flipping through the book - I know it's gonna be a great resource. Thanks for the blog and for contributing to the book.

    Oh - and I love fxphd too... Great site.

  3. Hi Scott, can you confirm the status of the book on Kindle, as its still missing?

  4. I'm trying to get an official answer from the publisher. I'll post once I know more.

  5. Focal Press has submitted an updated Kindle version where the Table of Contents has been fixed. Should be coming soon depending on how long it takes to go through the Amazon process of being posted.


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