Internationally acclaimed vfxLearning which specializes in providing VFX training, taught and mentored by industry experts will be conducting its first ever bootcamp in Mumbai from the 6th to the 11th of August 2012.
Luis Pages, Senior Effects Technical Director and Founder of VFX Learning, with 10 years of experience and credits that include Avatar, Harry Potter 5, John Carter, Ice Age 2 and many others will be running this training, live in Mumbai and will work hand in hand with the students.
Following are excerpts from an interview with Luis Pages.
When was VFXLearning.com formed and who are the founders?
VFX Learning was created in October 2010 by me after having been in the thick of the visual effects industry for more than a decade. It was started as a small personal project and in short time it became much more than that. I nowaday runs the company as CEO, but in the early days also created the original concept, designed the Maya Dynamics courses, and also built the website from scratch in my spare time. This makes VFX Learning a very important part of my life.
Since the company beginnings, our staff has grown considerably. At the moment we offer training in Maya Dynamics, Digital Compositing in Nuke,
Houdini Dynamics, and Naiad Fluid Simulations. At the same time our Course Coordinator Anastasia Khuziakhmetova oversees all administrative matters and student relations, and our Lead Technical Director Igor Gonzalez works as a Mentor and technical assistant across all departments.
What led you to set up VFX Learning?
Our school was born based on the need for professional training delivered live, anywhere in the world not by any regular instructor but by real industry professionals currently employed in the biggest VFX studios in the world. We want to make it easily accessible to our students by eliminating the need for relocation, visas or even long commutes. We pride on having a list of students that spreads to all continents and from many different backgrounds.
We see that you offer courses in English and Spanish?
Absolutely, the industry in Latin America and Spain is growing rapidly and until now there was a great black hole when it came to specialised training in VFX. I am originally from Venezuela and in the last 6 years I ran live training in my country, with busy production schedules it became really hard to continue visiting every year. Another reason that made VFX Learning possible.
How many students have you trained in VFX so far? How many have been online and how many have participated at Bootcamps on location?
Although the company has been active for almost 2 years, we have been running our training for the last 8 months. The first few months were used to develop the website, design the content and platform as well as create a solid group of instructors and active members in our community.
We like to keep our classes small in order to give enough attention to every participant, classes usually range from 4 to 10 students. We started
overlapping our different levels and in August for the first time we will be running all 3 Maya and Houdini Levels simultaneously. Nuke and Naiad training are running their first levels and will start overlapping courses as the first groups move from one level to the next.
We currently have approximately 40 students divided in all four applications and as we launch more levels this is likely to grow to a maximum about 120. Our first graduates are scheduled to finish the 36 week training this November.
Our Bootcamp in Mumbai will be our first edition of this new division of the company, we have an estimated class size of up to 20 students for this event.
We’d love to know more about the bootcamp you are planning in Mumbai?
Bootcamps are a new addition to our model. This was decided after receiving a large number of requests by students interested in the complete program but given in a short number of days. The idea is to cover the exact content given in Maya Dynamics Level 1, level 2 and Master Class in one intense week. We have selected Mumbai as our first stop and we couldn’t be happier. As we all know the visual effects industry in India continues to grow at an impressive rate and along with this the need for highly skilled artists, particularly in the areas of dynamic simulations and compositing.
Bootcamp students will enjoy the same benefits of our online training members, this includes a certificate of competition after each level, and use of exclusive students groups within our community where images, videos, questions and comments can be exchanged between participants and the instructor. Additionally, after the bootcamp is completed, each student will receive one personalised One on One review via our online classroom platform for every 2 days of bootcamp training taken. In this private sessions we will go over the results of each assignment in order to give you advice and tips on how to continue improving your work before is added to your demo reel.
To make sure that no time is wasted during this intensive week, VFX Learning will provide a computer lab, lunch and snacks during the entire 6 days, so our students have no way to escape!
I as a Senior Effects Technical Director and Founder of VFX Learning, with 10 years of experience and credits that include Avatar, Harry Potter 5, John Carter, Ice Age 2 and many others will be running this training, live in Mumbai and will work hand in hand with our students making sure that each hour spent in this course will be use to the maximum potential. Students will receive the same amount of information, assignments and examples covered in his regular 12 weeks online training, but in one concentrated shot. In order to guarantee efficiency we can only accept a maximum of 20 students.
What are the pre-requisites for an aspirant to be able to apply?
We have divided the Bootcamp in groups of 2 days that match our current level structure for online training. This means that this event is open to all levels of experience. The idea is that someone with no knowledge of dynamics in Maya can start on day one and work his way up to power user level by the time day 6 is over. But participants with knowledge of the basics can join on day 3 and pick up at an intermediate level, or more advanced users can join on day 5 for the Master Class and learn more about destruction, MEL scripting, advanced fluid simulations, etc.
To ensure that the level of experience is adequate in each group, we require samples of previous Maya Dynamics work to those who wish to enrol in day 3 or 5 directly. Those who decide to take the full program need to have a basic knowledge of Maya, particularly in areas such as navigation, basic modelling and animation, rendering and overall Maya functionality.
What will be the key takeaways for the students? Can they expect international internships?
Our Bootcamp students will benefit from having experienced professionals sitting with them sharing their knowledge and techniques currently used in production. At the same time they will have the opportunity to complete all the Maya Dynamics program in just one week leaving them time to work on shots for their demo reels. As mentioned before, all of our bootcamp students will receive the same benefits as our regular online training members. This means one on one reviews after the program is competed, as well as access to a student group in our community specially created for this event. Our students groups are a great way to share ideas, post images and videos of each assignment, share comments and ask questions.
As far as international internships or job placement. We can only offer assistance in terms of demo reel reviews, tips and tricks on job search and general industry information. This are part of our training, but we cannot guarantee actual internships. We will obviously keep in mind our best students for when new openings become available. We also hold in our forum a job section where we very often post new opportunities. This goes as well for our Twitter feed. For more info please visit: www.vfxlearning.com/forums or @vfxlearning on Twitter.
Could you share some more about the founders and Mentors?
Luis Pages – Founder of VFX Learning / Head of Maya Dynamics Training
Born in Venezuela and currently living in Singapore where he works for Industrial Light & Magic as Senior Effects Technical Director. His career has taken him around the world working in films such as Avatar, The Lovely Bones, The Day The Earth Stood Still, 10000 BC, Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix, Horton Hears a Who and Ice Age: The Meltdownamongst others.
Victor Perez – Sr Digital Compositor – Head of Nuke Training:
Victor Perez is a senior visual effects artist with over 10 years of production experience in computer graphics, digital grading and visual effects along different continents. Nuke™ Official Certified Trainer by The Foundry®.
As a Senior Digital Compositing artist and 2D Technical Director he has a fine combination of both artistic and technical understanding of film postproduction and visual effects. Usual collaborator of Nukepedia, Victor has worked and researched with Oscar® winner studios such as Double Negative, Cinesite and Passion Pictures.
Alvaro Segura – Sr Effects Technical Director – Head of Houdini Training:
Alvaro Segura is currently a Sr FX TD living in Los Angeles, CA. He has worked at Sony Pictures Imageworks, Blue Sky Studios, Rhythm and Hues, and Prologue Films where he has contributed to some of the latest blockbuster feature films, including Ice Age Continental Drift, Hotel Transylvania, The Green Lantern, Tron Legacy, Iron Man 2, and Alvin and the Chipmunks. Before becoming a part of the film industry, Alvaro created motion graphics for television and through this stage of his career, he won 7 Regional Emmy Awards.
Diego Trazzi – Lead Effects Technical Director – Head of Naiad Training:
Diego Trazzi is an accomplished effects professional, who currently works at Weta Digital and who has been in the industry for more than 10 years. His earlier years involve TD generalist work and motion capture before he turned into a savvy in special effects, extensively on fluid simulation. His recent award was the Best single visual effect of the year in VES award 2009 for the highly talked-about “Neytiri drinking shot” on Avatar. He was also one of the very few people who helped developing Exotic Matter’s “Naiad” since alpha version.
vfx & Animation certainly make the world a smaller place…what got you into VFX in the first place?
My story is particularly interesting. I never imagined I would be working on blockbuster films, always a fan of the movies but never pictured it as a career due to the extremely limited industry in Venezuela. For personal reasons I moved to the US in the year 2000, as most regular immigrants and went through a variety of jobs that spanned from dishwasher to pizza delivery guy. After investigating about my education opportunities the only option that fit my budget and work schedule was a Web Design Certification in a local community college.
After becoming a web designer I started to work as a freelancer with 2 other classmates, opened a small office who in no time was on the verge of collapse due to the crisis generated after 9/11. As part of the rescue strategy for this new venture I decided to incorporate 3D graphics into our designs in order to separate ourselves from the competition. With no 3D knowledge of any kind the group researched on affordable tools and Swift 3D (later to become Maya’s vector render technology) was the first software on the trial.
I rapidly became impressed by the potential of 3D and my obsession for CG rapidly developed. Learning from books, online tutorials and countless nights in front of my computer I managed to compile in 8 months my first demo reel which helped me secure my first “gigs” in the industry, working as a freelancer doing forensic and medical animations. With a lot of determination and after some time I found myself working in major feature films which I continue to do to this day.
How is the VFX & CGI ecosystem in Venezuela and South America?
Is definitely a thriving industry, there’s a lot of potential, talent and resources. At the same time is an industry in need of experienced supervision who can show directors and producers the power of visual effects. I believe that by making CG more accessible in South America will open the doors to a whole new generation of filmmakers who for the first time in history will be able to let their imaginations run wild and create iconic imagery, specially in almost
untouched genres such as science fiction and fantasy. We hope that as the industry in India has grown exponentially in the last few years so will in Latin America.
Do you host bootcamps there too?
The list of Bootcamp locations is growing rapidly and we will soon announce a few stops all along South and Central America. This is also the case for Asia.
What is your comment on the advent of the new DSLRs that are a real boon
to independent film makers?
We at VFX Learning recently had the opportunity to supervise the visual effects for an upcoming film from a Venezuelan director. This project is the second theatrical release from our client and it was shot on its entirety on a high end DSLR, we were definitely impressed by the results, as well as the convenience, speed and freedom that such light equipment gave us during the shoot. We covered multiple locations around the world and it wouldn’t have been possible to achieve on time and on budget with a different camera.
We believe that these are exciting times for aspiring filmmakers as it never has been so easy to produce high quality video. Only imagine how many great artists didn’t get a chance to shine in the past due to costly equipment and overly complex setups. Luckily those days may be behind us.
We would like to thank Animation Xpress for taking the time to prepare this interview and for their support. We are very excited to be visiting Mumbai this August and we look forward to many more trips to your wonderful country. For any questions or enquiries please visit our website www.vfxlearning.com or email us on email@example.com For more information on the Mumbai Bootcamp and to know more log onto www.vfxlearning.com/courses/workshops
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