Considering VFX Apprentice Course

Hello,

Recently I’ve put more time into learning VFX, I’ve been eyeing the VFX Apprentice since I’ve bought my first Udemy VFX course. Now that I’ve saved some money and have more free time (lost my job) I am considering monthly VFX Apprentice subscription.

  • Does anybody have experience with the site?
  • Do they teach Cascade mostly? I would like to learn Niagara or even Unity
  • Should I take the course or not?

I’ve watched some Jason Keyser videos and I love his vibe :smiley:

I would really appreciate if you could recommend courses, books, anything that would be useful or share your own approach and experience.

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Hey there! Happy to answer your questions as someone who has been with VFXA.

For a personal anecdote of my experience, it’s a great investment if you’re looking to take the next step. I’ve been a member of their community since January or so, and it (with a lot of hard work on my end) took me from never making a real-time effect to getting employed. The community in itself is incredibly helpful, friendly, and welcoming to newcomers.

They have a mix of what they teach currently. Right now, they’re (seemingly) continuing to push out more and more Niagara/Unity content! Some of their legacy stuff is in Cascade, but it’s still quality content!

Like I said above, the course is great. The only “should” or “shouldn’t” that’s worth considering (IMO) is whether you have the time, patience, and dedication to keep with a course like this that is self-driven. There’s tons of great content in their lessons, but they’re just the catalyst for your learning journey! So… if you decide to invest in your future – stick to it! :slight_smile:

Jason is a great guy; he’s just as friendly and personable during weekly critique sessions as he is in the rest of his content.

As far as books go – the only ones I’ve gotten a lot out of are the Elemental Magic series by Joseph Gilland.

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My personal experience with it (bought the Booms and Blasts course when it came out a couple years ago, I was probably among the first) has been largely positive. I still occasionally refer back to some of the lessons and find it a very valuable resource. Overall I would say it’s well worth it if you’re serious about diving into this extremely rewarding and currently very marketable career path.

Pros:

  • Especially great for stylized FX (though you can take the principles and apply them to any style)
  • Covers a really nice range of the basic FX elements (fire, water, smoke, magic, etc.)
  • Really liked the emphasis on a whole end-to-end approach (concept art to finished in-game FX)
  • Great in-engine setup project for testing your FX in a game-like setting and for making reel vids (both UE and (I believe) Unity)
  • The VFXA Discord is awesome; tons of helpful people and great for in-depth and valuable critiques

Cons

  • Some of the earlier lessons were very improvised and poorly edited (there are lots of rambling, ‘ums/ers’, and even stretches of just blank silence where you aren’t sure if the video is bugged out. I’d love it if these early vids were at least re-edited, if not completely re-recorded.
  • Initially all the UE FX were in Cascade, but that’s something they’ve begun to remedy recently with a lot more Niagara content. That said, some companies are still using Cascade so it’s not completely irrelevant.
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Hey, @Milan! I was just pointed to this post by a friend, and wanted to chime in. I super love all the feedback I’ve seen here, and wanted to thank you for raising these questions.

On the topic of Niagara: we currently have a thorough on-boarding series for Niagara, and our Cascade content has been getting an overhaul for some time now, and last year we released updated counterparts to the Booms & Blasts effects in an alternate Unreal 5 / Niagara project. Now we are about to launch lessons to go with that updated content.

So by next month, the only remaining Cascade material that doesn’t have a Niagara counterpart will be 2 of the side scroller effects (the sword slash and healing spell). As mentioned earlier, since Cascade is still widely used by many studios, and the transition between Cascade and Niagara tends to be straight-forward once you’ve learned one or the other, we are happy to leave those 2 effects as-is for now, so we can invest our energy into making all our upcoming Unreal lessons using Niagara.

Then there’s the issue of other older content needing updates. Absolutely agree we’ve improved a lot over the years, and we’re interested to know the issues people find the most distracting. @kimber I’m super curious which lessons gave you the most grief, if you don’t mind sharing, and we’ll take a look at what can be done to improve them. If it’s some low-scope editing, removing annoying ums, cutting out dead space, etc. that all seems like something we can look into. For the big overhauls, we don’t have any current plans to redo content, but we’re interested to gain lessons for future content.

As for whether or not you or anyone should take the course, I’ll recommend (in my very biased opinion) that it would be good to first try the free training, which gives a sample of what’s inside, and unlocks a few channels of our Discord server, which is personally my favorite part about VFX Apprentice.

Hope all that helps!

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Thank you very much for all the input. I was impatient and couldn’t wait for any feedback so after couple of days I’ve subscribed to VFXA for a month (that’s how much money I had) and to say the least I enjoyed the lessons. The way they teach is like no other I could find, way easier to understand. Everything else I’ve found goes like “do this do that” and you get the result. VFXA show you how to think, explain what each node does. I absolutely loved every moment I’ve spent learning. Yes, @Zeph
is right you have to be self driven to continuously study. The best part is the discord channel and all the benefits you get while you are subscribed. The community is really welcoming even for someone as shy as I am :slight_smile:. There are hangouts twice a week. Student hangouts room where people live streaming their creating session. Simply put amazing community.

I would recommend to everybody willing to put a hard work into learning VFX. The intro to Niagara series covers alot about Niagara itself. Didn’t get to cascade parts (ran out of time). There are lessons teaching you how to create materials (the part I struggled the most), how to work in Krita creating textures, Maya/Blender for Meshes. Amazing site overall.

Surely I will subscribe for at least a month once I gather money for it. It is worth every penny.

Thank you, @Keyserito for replaying to my post. VFXApprentice is amazing, especially for beginners like me.

Sorry for my english!

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This is really great to hear. I know we spoke offline, but just wanted to mention here that I am glad you are getting what you need out of your VFX education. That’s what it’s all about.