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“Learn The Secrets of becoming a VFX Pro!!” A Seminar was held today at Arena Animation Academy, Sec 17, Chandigarh, by VFX Artist, and Specialist Aayush Chopra (Masters Degree in VFX from Bournemoth Universty, UK), on the path to becoming a VFX Professional and the learnings required to become one. Being privy to the latest happenings internationally, Aayush was in an excellent position to share the secrets of the professionals.
He demonstrated the entire VFX Pipeline to the hall chock-a-block eager students. Going through the pipeline step by step he uncovered each step and the various measures taken at each step to ensure that reality of the scene is not compromised. He also dwelled on the major savings in cost by the intelligent use of VFX quelling the myth that VFX is a costly option. In fact he showed why it is cheap to opt for VFX than go for a live constructed scene.
Trained in the Art of VFX by eminent VFX artists from the world over during his Masters at Bournemoth University, UK, Aayush shared various tips given by the experts to avoid costly equipment and the way simple utility items could achieve the same end result.
Arena Chandigarh also later demostrated state-of-the-art VFX Equipment directly imported from UK by their Studio VirtualSoft.
Bhanu Sharma, our Alumnus of Multimedia Program from 1997-1998 came visiting the campus to interact with the students and faculty on 28 Dec 2011. He spent some time interacting with the students sharing his experiences and answered their queries. He’s currently working in Ericcson as a Product Design Head and is located in the US. He recapped his long journey that started at Arena and through many different positions at Wanadu, Macromedia, Adobe and his own startups and upto the current position. He guided students on various aspects of tackling career issues and taking career decisions.
He gave away Awards to some Arena Toppers.
The world started seeing moving pictures through animation and not as live movies as per the popular notion. Sets of sequential pictures have been seen all over the world in different cultures. All Buddhist stupas have the entire storyboard of Buddha’s life left for us in accurate detail. Good enough for you to make out his life and transform into a movie or an animation.
Human beings learn maximum when the essence is delivered in terms of a story. This is especially in case of conceptual learning. To tell a story we have to put together a crew. Now sometimes our story becomes too difficult to tell when the setting is a fantasy, or if the risk involved is too much (like acting with a lion – over come in Narnia). And most of the folklore which build our character are fantasies of one’s mind. So it became important that man was able to create such imagery and animation became important.
Since the animators have to deal with such complex decisions. Art decisions are the toughest decisions and no computer has reached the point where it can take artistic decisions yet. Hence animation and storytelling require people who are artists by heart and willing to experiment and toil till they find the right answer.
Typically an animator is a person who is full of patience and reads voraciously (bookworm for the less initiated) and love literature and languages. The animator would usually be good at drawing and/ or painting. Some of them are good at acting or love to perform on stage in form of dancing. A few of these even write stories or poems. In short they are dreamers and usually can be expected to learn disciplines which give wings to their dreams. They do not care about money and are more likely to lend money on hunch than an engineer since they are emotional. This empathy is what makes them achieve emotion of screen.
To make a good career in animation you must start working on your drawing and there are some good books like “Drawing from the right side of brain” (Betty Edwards) which claim that anyone can learn drawing within 5 days. There are other experts too who claim similarly that drawing is a skill that can be acquired.
Parallely you could be working on your drama or literary skills as well. Being able to develop communication skills like these would anyway serve you all your life so do not hesitate just because your education board doesn’t know how to rate these skills and they go missing from your marksheet. I must state here that there are much more subjects you need to learn in your life that are not there on your high school marksheet than those that are on it. It can easily be stated that a little less knowledge of mathematics would not be so detrimental as a small lack of confidence that the stage can give.
Now once you’re ready to learn, there are 2 kinds of paths that you can take. One is the path of self learning that the best take (people like Gandhi, Chaplin, Einstein, Disney, Ghalib, Steve Jobs, CV Raman, Kabir, etc fall in this category). This is no way a safe path and more people fail than succeed in this path. The other is the path for lesser mortals. There are more chances of a safe career but consequently lesser chances of astounding success. However, it ensures that you go through structured learning within a reasonable time frame. However, this method is not able to keep pace with rare/ exceptional people, but is the best for the rest. Anyway not to confuse you further, mostly this path would be apt for you. Now you must choose a curriculum or an institute. If you are very clear about what you want to do, choose a curriculum and enroll for it. If you want to create a solid base go for an institute you like. Nothing but your innermost talent and passion should lead you to the course and the institute you choose. Go speak to people over there and see if you like their philosophy and they change your perspective. Try their website for more details. Typically go for a school which offers all the information including faculty on their website if all other things are the same.
The leading institutes in this field in the world are CalArts, USFCA, Sheridan, Vanarts, Seneca, Gobelins, George Mieles, Animation Mentor, Gnomon, Ringling, Savannah, USCLA, etc. Closer home in India some of the best would include IIT-IDC, NID etc. Then there’re the Arena, MAAC franchises (always research which centres are the good ones). There’re even some new colleges that are coming up and it would take some time before a college stands out from others in terms of quality.
Typically you must try to learn both the art of 2D as well as 3D animation to start with. Later on in life you may opt for one of these once you’re surer on what works best for you. Also, there’d be many options in 3D like lighting, rendering, texturing, modeling, rigging, blend shapes, animating etc. Similarly in 2D, like background artist, key animator, in betweener, in and paint artist, key compositor. There are some common areas too, like storyboarding, character design, background design, art research, compositing. There are some periphery areas too like sound design, voice artist, actors, story writers, screenplay writers etc. In fact, similarly there are many techniques of animation that you can work in – like clay animation, paper animation, light animation, sand animation, paint animation, jib jab animation, puppetry animation, pixilation etc besides the usual ones like flash animation, 2d animation, and 3d animation. There’re even periphery and neo-animation areas like Visual Effects, Motion Graphics, Web Design, Graphic Design, Matchmoving, Motion Capture, Stereography, etc.
While you are learning the art of animation do also work alongside on other creative areas like film making, photography, clay modeling, drawing, theatre, etc. Get reviews by knowledgeable people and take feedback without responding emotionally to it. Keep on visiting art galleries and improving your art appreciation ability. This would develop your creative eye and judgment. All this is immensely useful in creative decision making. Do also attend all workshops in your college and also take up paid workshop if a good expert is visiting. These workshops would help build your perspective. Try to find a faculty you resonate with and if you feel confident about the faculty do take suggestion and mentoring from him/ her. Do remember that faculty can change and do not respond personally to it, try to adapt yourself to change in environment and take everything in the right spirit. Also learn life skills by working with people you don’t personally like, when they are in your teams, especially if their skill set is good. Do also take faculty help in identifying good books and make it a habit to read a minimum of one page per day. You can mail me for a list of books if you like at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally once you’re ready to step out of college, do build your portfolio to the desired level even if it delays your start. You can also go for an internship before going into the real market. This would help develop your skill to the next higher level. You can also form a group with some of your likeminded friends and work on a personal movie. A good movie can kick start your career like nothing. Also, if the movie wins a prestigious award you can expect to grow exponentially as the studios would not like to miss out of talent. For e.g. two of the students of gobelins school production “oktapodi” were hired for good sums and send to india to rhythm and hues to work on Hollywood films.
The Alumnus of Arena Chandigarh met on 4 March 2012, to celebrate completion of 15 years of the First Batch.
The event was a Lunch at Hotel High Point at Sector 17, Chandigarh.
30 Alumnus alongwith their wives/ husbands and kids came forth to celebrate the life they had at the centre. Anjali is a Lecturer at Govt. College of Fine Arts, Rajiv and Cheena run the leading IT company of the region Intelligaia. Sandeep Dogra, Parminder are well established professionals, Chanderdeep Singh runs the famous Food Chain Froyo!! Ankit Saxena runs his own studio whereas Jasmeet Singh runs a leading Design House of the city.
The day started with a lot of surprises at the changes in the faces and reviving of old memories. Thereafter it was party time when Alumnus exchanged their lives and shared their progress with other. Thereafter, they all gathered to discuss the serious matters, like contributing to the growth of the design community of the city. They left with a promise to contribute their bit to the industry that gave them so much.
A workshop was held on Game Designing for Degree students at Arena Chandigarh. Spread over 5 days, it started with familiarization with game genres and game devices/ mediums. From there it went on to familiarize the students with various game designers in the world including the famous Shigeru Miyamoto (designer of mario brothers), Will Wright (designer of simulators games including Simcity) Scott Rogers (designer of PacMan Worlds and God of War), Josh Sawyer (Rollercoaster Tycoon) and Satoshi Tajiri (designer of Pokemon) , Sid Meyer (Civilization, Railroad Tycoon) , Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia), Toru Iwatani (Pacman), Jaakko Iisalo (Angry Birds). Thereafter the students were given game design pipeline and taken through one game design in a children’s park for a fun location. They produced the game in given 4 hours and demostrated the same to others.
Thereafter an a Game Design Project followed, which took 2 days to make. Therein the students had to design a Board based game with a unique strategy. It was not to match any existing game. Some of the final submissions were very creative and showed potential for commercialization.
The Workshop conductee was Vineet Raj Kapoor, himself a Game Industry Specialist. He is presently working on a card game “POW” (Prisoners of War) and is in talks with leading game distributors/ publishers for the release of this game. This game is designed by Vineet and is aimed at 8-15 year old boys. He has plans to bring out a girls version soon thereafter. His studio is also engaged by a UK company in a Joint Venture to publish a 3D Game quite soon. Slated to release in 2012 sometime, it is at various stages of development on Models, Level Design and Programming. Promo videos would be shot in India.
Match moving is primarily used to track the movements of a camera through a shot so that an identical virtual camera move can be produced in a 3D animation program. When new animated elements are composited back into the original live action shot they will appear in perfectly matched perspective and therefore appears seamless.
Match moving allows the insertion of computer graphics into live action footage with correct position, scale, orientation, and motion relative to photographed objects in the shot. The term is used loosely to refer to several ways of extracting motion information from a motion picture, particularly camera movement.
The process of tracking can be broken down into two steps.
1. The first step is identifying and tracking features. A feature is a specific point in an image that a tracking algorithm can lock onto and follow through multiple frames. Often features are selected because they are bright or dark spots, edges or corners, depending on the particular tracking algorithm. What is important is that each feature represents a specific point on a surface of a real object. As a feature is tracked it becomes a series of two dimensional co-ordinates that represent the position of the feature across a series of frames. This series is referred to as track. Once tracks have been created they can be used immediately for 2d motion tracking or then be used to calculate the 3D information.
2. The second step involves solving for 3D motion. The process attempts to drive the motion of the camera by solving the inverse projection of the 2D paths for the position of the camera. This process is referred to as a calibration. When a point on the surface of a three dimensional object is photographed its position in the 2D frame can be calculated by a 3D projection function. We can consider the camera to be an abstraction that holds all the parameters necessary to model a camera in a real or virtual word. Therefore a camera is a vector that includes as it elements the position of the camera its orientation, focal length and other possible parameters that defines how the camera focuses light onto the film plane. These parameters help in generating a huge bunch of points in a 3D environment, according to the position of the objects in the footage. These bunch of points are sometimes referred to as point clouds.
Example of Match Moving in PF Track
Example of 2D Tracking in After Effects
An 8 Day VFX Workshop was held by Aayush Chopra, VFX Artist, current visiting from Bournemoth, UK. During the Workshop students learnt various techniques and were demonstrated the application of various software like PF Track, Nuke, After Effects, Maya in the field of Visual Effects. They also learnt how to use professional cameras like Kiss4X, Canon 5D with professional lenses. They learnt cinematography techniques including taking Crane Shots and planning and editing the shots. They spent entire one day in Crane Shots and another day in Green Screen shots at the studio. Incidentally, Aayush Chopra is also an Alumnus of the Institute from BSc 2005-2008 Batch.