Visual Effects Core Skills (Part 1 of 2) – Video Series


Welcome to part one of Visual Effects Core Skills

Nearly 6½ hours of material which covers the key essentials of 3D, compositing and visual effects.

Buy Now £60

This first of a two part series covers the key concepts and theories underlying Visual Effects that are often missed or misunderstood by both the new and experienced artist. These foundational concepts are common to whatever software you use. For these videos we’ve focused on using Maya, Mental Ray and Nuke to demonstrate these principles, however we touch on many other tools along the way.

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During the 6½ hours of material you’ll cover :

  • Working with 2D and 3D file formats, colour depths, layers and channelsTheory
  • Concatenation for transforms and colourTheory and Practical (Nuke)
  • Understanding filter algorithmsTheory
  • Understanding and using pre-multiplied imagesTheory and Practical (Nuke)
  • Working with expressionsTheory and Practical (Nuke)
  • Working with matricesTheory and Practical (Nuke)
  • Introduction to multipass rendering and compositingTheory
  • Object based multipass rendering and compositingTheory and Practical (Maya, Mental Ray, Nuke)
  • Lighting based multipass rendering and compositingTheory and Practical (Maya, Mental Ray, Nuke)
  • Shader based multipass rendering and compositingTheory and Practical (Maya, Mental Ray, RenderMan, Arnold, V-Ray Nuke)
  • Nuke’s layers and channels systemTheory and Practical (Nuke)
  • AOV (Arbitrary Output Variables) based multipass rendering and compositingTheory and Practical (Maya, Mental Ray, Nuke)
  • Working with cropped sensor cameras (for Matchmoving, Projection, etc) – Theory
  • Overscan Rendering (for Lens Distortion and 3D rendering workflows) – Theory and Practical (Maya, Mental Ray, Nuke)
  • (For a more detailed overview of each video see ‘Full Breakdown’ below.)

    spherevfx would like to thank:

  • Frank Rueter(OHUfx, Weta Digital, Digital Domain)
  • Tahl Niran(Weta Digital, Double Negative, Iloura, Animal Logic)
  • Florian Kainz(Google, Industrial Light and Magic, Steiner-Film)
  • Zap Andersson(Autodesk, mental images)
  • Ron Brinkmann(Precipice Labs, Amazon, Apple, Nothing Real, Sony Pictures Imageworks)
  • Scott Squires(Adobe, Legend 3D, Industrial Light and Magic, Dream Quest Images)
  • Piotr Stanczyk(Apple, Industrial Light and Magic, MPC)
  • Sean Devereaux(Zero VFX, Digital Domain)
  • Matt Estela(Animal Logic, Dr. D Studios, The Mill)
  • along with Autodesk, Nvidia, Pixar’s RenderMan Team, Chaos Group, Solid Angle and The Foundry.

    Full Breakdown

    2D and 3D file formats, bit depths, file format encoding, colour depths, and layers and channels. Also common misunderstandings with naming conventions and file format pipeline.

    Transform concatenation, Nuke nodes that concatenate, concatenation and filtering, and colour concatenation.

    Filter algorithms, Nuke nodes that apply filtering, filter types and usage.

    Pre-multiplied images, the maths behind premult / unpremult, when to use premult / unpremult with colour correction and multipass, and output settings from 3D renderers and 2D applications.

    Matrices, understanding the grid, examples including: transform, blur, sharpen, edge detection and emboss.

    Expressionscolour, transform, merge, creation and random number based expressions. We also look at working with variables and custom attributes.

    Introduction to multipass rendering and compositing, overview and types of multipass.

    Multipass – Object passes, Maya render layers, layer overrides, hold out matte creation, and rebuilding the ‘beauty’ in Nuke.

    Multipass – Lighting passes, Maya render layers, rebuilding the ‘beauty’ in Nuke, adjusting light colour and intensity in Nuke.

    Multipass – Shader passes, Maya render layers, Global Illumination, 47 Mental Ray render passes explained, understanding openEXR 2.0, correct rebuild of the ‘beauty’ in Nuke, good and bad compositing practices, understanding Nuke’s Layer and Channel system (including Add, Shuffle, ShuffleCopy, and Copy), methods of multipass compositing (including ‘shuffle’, ‘in-the-pipe’, ‘adjustment-only’. Also we look at passes from Arnold, RenderMan and V-Ray.

    Multipass – AOV passes, setting up multiple Arbitrary Output Variables including Z-Depth, Motion Vector, UV’s, Normals, Position and Matte passes, and building custom passes within Maya. Adding depth of field and depth cueing via Z-Depth, using mattes for colour corrects and effects, retexturing using UV’s, building point clouds using the Position pass plus 2½D relighting using Normals, and finally applying motion blur using Motion Vectors.

    Working with cropped sensor cameras, conversion maths from full frame sensor (35mm) to any cropped sensor.

    Overscan Rendering for Lens Distortion, un-distorting plates, calculating additional BBox size, adding Overscan to camera in Maya, calculating extra render resolution, resizing renders and applying lens distortion in Nuke.

    Technical Information

    This training series costs £60

    The video lessons are supplied within multiple .zip files and saved at a resolution of 720p. The encoded files are QuickTime H.264.

    Running time 6 hours 22 mins.

    Total download size: 1.2Gb

    Along with the training videos you will also receive all the example files created during the classes and bonus files including renders (Mental Ray, RenderMan, V-Ray and Arnold), models, textures, and Nuke scripts.


    We offer video training in 3D, compositing and visual effects tools and techniques. Choose from a range of software and techniques including Maya, Arnold, Nuke and more. We also offer technique based videos for areas such as Deep Compositing and Core Skills.
    Where in the past we offered a range of training from on-site, to video, to consultancy, now spherevfx offers a simple choice of either video training or free written training.
    Because all our training is either video based or written we can train anyone, from whole departments, small teams or individual artists/freelancers.
    We’ve had the privilege of training artists from some of the top visual effects companies in the world including: Industrial Light and Magic, Framestore, DreamWorks Animation, MPC, Digital Domain, Cinesite, Animal Logic, Ghost VFX, Hybride, Luma Pictures, Pixomondo, Prime Focus, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Weta Digital.