Otis College of Art and Design: Visual Effects Lab, Fall 2014

 

Syllabus

 

This class is designed to help every aspiring visual effects, 3d, motion graphics, and concept artist. Regardless of your personal interests and career direction, this class will cover visual effects related topics and give each student an understanding of the fundamental concepts of visual effects that a student can draw on throughout his or her career. We will do this by covering basic thru advanced topics as they relate to digital artists going out into the field. We will accomplish this by establishing basic compositing skills and concepts such as color correction (the correct way), rotoscoping, tracking, keying greenscreen, color space and bit depth, 3d match moves and live action integration as well as other important topics.

 

This class will be conducted in a "Lab" format. Each student is encouraged to experiment in developing techniques unique to his/her interests. You will be required to discuss the problem/solutionevolving from your process. While proper technique and execution will be stressed, a premium will be place on innovation and invention. We are interested in thoughtful and divergent solutions beyond the obvious uses of the software. This class will address building technical and conceptual skills, the main emphasis will focus on simple and elegant solutions and the process involved for creating convincing visual effects.

 

The class will consist of at least two simultaneous streams of activities:
1) Technique workshop: ongoing discussions and software demonstrations of techniques and methods useful in the making of visual effects.

2) Semester Project: As well as a series of short "Charette" type projects, there will also be a semester project that each student designs and executes. The possibility of working in teams can be discussed.


The Student will complete a series of exercises, research projects, and presentations in order to develop creative
solutions essential to the visual effects artist. In time, these skills should evolve into practical methodologies and
techniques.

1) 50% Charrettes (short, intense assignments) / Participation
2) 30% Semester (final) Project / Participation
3) 20% Written Tests

100% Final Grade (factor in attendance)

Grades will be based on the effort and scope of the endeavor, depth of understanding, and overall completeness of each
project. Late or unfinished work will be marked down and may not be accepted.

 

Attendance:
This class will meet once a week as scheduled with a lab session on Saturdays. Please let me know if you
need to audit another evening if you miss your scheduled class. Class sessions will vary from lectures, movies,
software technique demonstrations.
Attendance to each class is mandatory as is working in the lab on the class work each Saturday.
Should you need to miss a class because of an emergency, please do the following two things:

1) Contact me by sending an e-mail to: rmoreno@otis.edu.
2) Contact a classmate in your class section to find out what you missed and assume responsibility for obtaining any
assignments as well as making up any missed work.

Please bear in mind that according to the official attendance policy at Otis, you are not allowed to miss more than two
class sessions. Three or more absences will result in the failing grade for the semester.

 

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Suggested Reading list:

 

"Professional Digital Compositing: Essential Tools and Techniques" by Lee Lanier
Published by Sybex, the ISBN # is: 978-0-470-45261-5

 

"The Art and Science of Digital Compositing" (Second Edition) by Ron Brinkman.
It is published by Morgan Kaufman, the ISBN # is: 978-0-12-370638-6
A very comprehensive reference for compositing and computer graphics in general.

 

"The DV Rebel's Guide" by Stu Maschwitz.
It is published by Peachpit Press, the ISBN # is: 0321413644
The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap.
Clear practical descriptions of some advanced concepts. A very good reference book.

 

"Digital Compositing for Film and Video" (Second Edition) by Steve Wright.
It is published by Focal Press, the ISBN # is: 0-240-80351-5
The book explains some very complex subjects in plain and easy to understand language.

 

"Compositing Visual Effects" by Steve Wright.
It is published by Focal Press, the ISBN # is: 978-0-240-80963-2
A good compliment to Steve Wright's book above "Digital Compositing for Film and Video".


"Special Effects: the history and technique" by Richard Ricket
It is published by Billboard Books, the ISBN # is: 9780823084081
This book diagrams most of the subjects very well. Some of the topics are quite complicated
and the pictures and diagrams are extremely helpful. Highly recommended.

 

"Industrial Light and Magic: The Art of Special Effects" by Thomas G. Smith
It is published by Ballantine Books, the ISBN # is: 0-345-32263-0
Excellent reference book that is well written. The complex topics are explained in plain language and most are
diagramed very well.

 

"Mental Ray for Maya , 3ds Max , and XSI" by Boaz Livny.
It is published by Sybex , the ISBN # is: 978-0-470-00854-6
Very complete and in-depth guide to mental ray.

 

"The HDRI Handbook" by Christian Bloch.
It is published by Rocky Nook, the ISBN # is: 978-1-933952-05-5
Everything you need to know about HDRI. (Not really, but it's a pretty good start)

 

"Learning Python" by Mark Lutz.
It is published by O'Reilly Media , the ISBN # is: 978-0-596-51398-6
Learning Python is an introduction to the increasingly popular interpreted programming language that is very useful for the 3d artist and compositor.