Learning R-VFX on the Internet | A Tutorial Rant

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#1

Introduction & Context


(Note: If you are still learning English – go to my second post! That is the one below this one! Thank you!)

To start this, I simply should state how spoiled I’ve been in my fairly recent years when it comes to learning. If you are someone who frequents this forum, who’ve read my posts, you’ve likely seen the mentioning of my schooling, modding, self-path towards Realtime VFX. You’ve likely come across the mentioning about how I’m basically new to the raw creation aspect of all this Realtime VFX stuff, and yet I know a lot about a lot. You may have even come across the many questions where I’m just trying to figure out… well. I guess we’ll be getting to that. By the end of this introduction, you’ll have a total context for what I see and possibly, of the why. And yes, I’ll also be repeating myself a whole bunch here too. Redundancy and repetition can be quite a teacher. :zap: zzzz-T! Redundancy and repetition can be quite a teacher. Redundancy and repetition can be quite a teacher. Redundancy and repetition… :zap: zzzz-T!

(:yum: Sorry. Couldn’t resist. I guess you could say it was futile.)

I guess I should also start this by mentioning that I’m a rare(?) breed of newcomer, who seeks to jump into the Realtime VFX side of the industry head on, instead of the casual(?) eventual travel towards Realtime VFX so many of you had. Yet, that path may be my path too. I don’t know. I do have other realtime interests such as lighting, that I feel I would enjoy as a daily paying job… and yet. I don’t know. One of the blatantly big topics I see echoed among you all is of how few new Realtime VFX artists there are. Not just new, but good VFX newcomers. Skilled VFX newcomers. How most of ya’ll are an ol’ group with years or decade(s) under the belt. How do you attract new blood, new potential Realtime artists to VFX?

(Cough MODS Cough Cough Ah. Excuse me.)

All this is to say that my current approach to this profession is quite possibly different then many of you had. An experience you don’t understand, as it wasn’t yours to have. Many of you, as far as I can tell, didn’t really have the internet to learn or build from. Just yourself, the slow build of the local ranks in your team & finally when you could globally; Each other. Part of this rant will in some way mention a need of this too. As Realtime VFX grows to be its own thing, so do the requirements. It will be important to not leave the beginners behind. Buried in your excellence.

As I climb, the mountain builds.

I don’t know what the future holds in this journey of mine or how I’m going to do it. Perhaps this is cliché, but ultimately this post isn’t about answers, it’s about questions. Questions that I hope can bring some answers, if not just for me. It’s about my observations and my concerns that I have gathered over these last few months in my attempt to understand the truth of the job I so dearly seek, and am seemingly running out of time to realize.

A little-bit of what I had to say leaked out recently. It was “squeezed” out of me because, well… learning this stuff is hard, but it’s not. It doesn’t need to be. I’m posting this here to let you know that in your attempts to help said newcomers, you may have in your process also inadvertently hindered. I say this, in whole, in the most general sense I can. I know what I point out does not apply to ALL. I say that again; I know what I point out does not apply to ALL. I ultimately feel I can help more by speaking in the most general sense. I do this in the hopes of sparking your internal analysis; be it of a tutorial you’ve made, want to make, or simply how it is you learn.

It’s a funny thing about most disciplines, in my observation, where as simple as it seems they should be, is how complex they really are. Such as teaching. We all learn in our own way, but it seems to me not all possible ways have been met per format.

The weighting feels uneven to my current purview. Enough so to merit… wow… ALL THIS! Eleven pages and at least 5100+ words, with the necessary formatting text included. Gee-wiz. Why couldn’t I do this in collage?

I, myself, again as mentioned many times with much reason, have been very fortunate in my being able to get hands-on teaching by industry pros in a school setting. A place where my learning was concentrated and swift. A place where my every day was a carefully constructed river rapids of knowledge with lessons made to prepare for the next day. Actions made with experience and understanding as a guiding hand. If I was lost, all I had to do was raise my hand, and together we solved problems in understanding within an instant. I guess in a way that’s part of what I’m doing now as this is written, I’m raising my hand. Trying to solve problems in understanding. A place where I could make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. I could do without fear of it effecting others in their work, as in most cases, no team was at risk. No bottom line got hurt. I knew that watching a video online couldn’t possibly compare to being IN-THE-ROOM with an expert whose job is to directly teach. Yet, in these recent months it has been evermore prevalent, retrospect being what it is, how big of a deal it was that I was able to get such an experience to accelerate my learning. I in part feel it’s why I can speak to you all with such a degree of intelligence(?) and confidence, as if I was already officially part of the industry already.

So in these recent months, as I’ve consumed hour-by-countless-hour of applicable video tutorials, of every scrap and granular bit that has grabbed my attention; I’ve tried very intently to teach myself VFX through the internet. Even though I’m a silly-slow learner starting off, I know that once I could get it, I get it. I’ve had those successes before. Yet, for Realtime VFX… well; Could it be that just a few months in a scattered random sea of topics might not be enough**!?** I’ve had to do alot of self directing. I had figured that combined with my generalist skills and internet instruction that I could cobble together a much needed success in my long smoldering goal. To get from enhancing my awareness of Realtime VFX, to truly knowing Realtime VFX. To sit down, take a task and just – MAKE. That’s the dream anyway. To breath fire without an inhaler. To cast magic without a book or wand. To bend the spoon without the bending of myself. All in all – Effortless.

I suppose I’m not the only one here with that dream. For me, I just want to be able to at least breath the basics.

Of all the time used, in all these actions made, I’ve noted possible flaws. I can’t know how true this is, as I speak in reference of myself, in both the first and third person in this instant. Teacher & Student. I’ve always been an alarmingly insightful person, so all I can do is hope what I have say is of quality and not of a misunderstanding on my part. Student & Teacher.

I know this much. What I have to say here will require a coordinated effort to lower the skill ceiling of things to learn that I feel has so unintentionally been created and to better inform those who seek to learn this art, regardless of background, so that what is learned in full can carry over into a professional setting, if possible, with the true realities of the job.


The Lone Climb

At this point, in a former draft, I would have mentioned the sheer overhead of skills, both artistically and technically, it appears is needed for Realtime VFX. The basis of the removed text is now linked (in “leaked”) in the intro above. It was to be a side note to the full set of thoughts I wish to convey here, yet I felt it was still important to note, even now in this (apparently :smile:) truncated paragraph. After all, it’s the knowledge of these tools we use that is the first step in actually creating Realtime VFX. If there is anything that requires the most focus on behalf of Realtime VFX, it’s of our use in the tools we use. Our style of wielding. It’s the first place that should be considered for “learning” “efficiency”, a truth that is correct regardless how you say it. Which essentially, I should note, is what all this text in total is all about. What could be more important than the first steps for learning? Which moves this thought to the next point.

Most tutorials out there aren’t with Realtime VFX in mind, so I have to use my judgment to consider how applicable what I learn is. Yet it can not be assumed that everyone who watches said tutorials, who wants to be a Realtime VFX artist has that educated base such as I. Right now the choices are slim.

On the technical side, you can learn everything about a program, which is a definitely the best option in the generalist long run, but woefully time consuming. Or, to somehow figure out what is used the most by Realtime VFX artists (such as Fluid Sims), and try to self manage what is learned by self correcting things that are probably not true for Realtime. It’s doable, but prone to sloppy results depending on the amount of guess work needed on behalf of the user. Especially if what is being watched is dated by a few years. A “now you use this module to do this”, yet that module has been renamed or no longer exists, so you have to find an alternative method while at the same time re-learning the process you are trying to learn in the first place!

(I could rant a WHOLE page or two about this, it can be very very disheartening. It can stop the flow of learning in-it’s-tracks.)

On the artistic side, there seems to be a lot of side talk borrowed from other disciplines, and understandably so. Yet, in doing this with a broad brush, we lose a degree of nuance. Little subtleties of the profession that only(?) experience in Realtime VFX can point out. Do the 12 Animation principles differ in some way for Realtime VFX? How ‘bout color theory? The importance of silhouettes? Does any of the core artistic basics have any particular uniqueness in Realtime VFX? I would think so, but if there is – there is little talk about it online! When there is, it only seems to be an overall mentioning, before returning to more technical tasks. The basics are shown to be only a side note, and presumed already known.

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NOTE:

:male_detective: Of course, the day before I had planned to post this…

this got posted. Jolly good show! :exploding_head:

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To which brings me to my next thought. It’s a pitch with this all this context in mind.

I dream of a Realtime VFX Wiki. Where if it is relevant to Realtime VFX, it’s in the wiki. Maya, Max, Houdini, Unreal, Unity, Plug-ins – so on. Techniques, Good Practices, Bad Practices, Animation, Shapes… what have you. Even if it’s nothing more then just a set of links to official documentation and lessons, it would be a dedicated map, starting point, or continuance of learning. A consolidation of knowledge (:bangbang:White background warning! Shield your eyes!:bangbang:). When you put in “Realtime VFX”, what hits to the top?

If you take nothing else from my post here, take this idea here. It is sorely needed. If it’s already been pitched and I missed it or forgotten about it or whatever, think of this as another push for it. Yes, this is something that is needed and it won’t be done overnight. I should note that Polycount does have a VFX portion of their wiki, but it is rarely tended to. It seems an after thought. If we don’t make one here, perhaps we could Co-Own that portion of the Wiki? Adopt it to a loving :hearts: home, perhaps? I know this idea will require much more discussion, but I wanted to get it out. It is needed.

Knowledge of the natives is often needed for the lone climb.


Source


The Hobbyist & The Professional

There are some truly excellent excellent VFX tutorials that have been made by those of you who frequent, or at very least, have registered to this forum. I can say without reservation that I HAVE learned, BUT there is something sorely lacking in some of the lessons made. That being; How to think out the VFX process. With my professional goal in mind, some of the tutorials feel more like they are for the creation of hobbyists, instead of the creation of professionals. Perhaps they are! I don’t know.

All said though, of the many methods to do things VFX that I’ve seen, there are only a minute (as in small – ‘Cus English!) amount of tutorials that I’ve been able to find on the end to end process of making Realtime VFX. From rough stick figure concept, to final shippable asset that shows these actions as a journey, not a destination. Instead, what can be found is a stunted narrowed version of this very process. Where due to format, due to how it has been presented, how it has been made; once the tutorial ends, I’m aware of how to make that ONE THING; The thing showed. In that ONE WAY. That ONE SINGULAR METHOD.

This is in most learning scenarios a hindrance, as it shackles upon ignorance. By ever-so-directly thinking 100% for the viewer, you risk “this way” being the only way, for lack of a better way of explaining it.

Well… maybe I can explain it better.

To those of you who have (survived) toddlers, have you ever noticed how in the preschool programs that they very rarely directly state what they teach end-to-end? It’s…

… “What’s this!!?”…|A|… “That’s RIGHT! - It’s an A! The first letter of the English alphabet!”

Why do you think it has been designed that way? Then after they speak of the initial letters and their sounds, they speak of how these sounds blend together to form out different words to speak of language. Hint Hint. They don’t just go “HEY BABY! SEE THIS WORD! IT’S SQUIRREL! YAY! YOU CAN SAY SQUIRREL NOW!”

For some reason that example was a Drill Sargent. Goodness, what a thought.

Anyway, as a result of this overall how-to-recipe style of tutorials, a VFX learner currently who seeks professional know-how beyond just “How to make X”, needs to watch multiple HOURS upon HOURS of scattered videos that are… seriously y’all… meandering quality around the net to get a scatter plot of an idea of how all this :sparkles: Realtime VFX magic :sparkles: works together. I, myself do it because I already care. I already WANT IT. Plus I’m fucking desperate to learn what I need to learn so I can get hired fucking PLEASE!

-Ahem-

:blush:

Oh! … I apologize, that got a bit too real for a second. Where was I? …

Ah! Right, so I’ve already allotted my time to do this digging, but that is in all likeliness not going to be true for others. Ultimately such a style basically turns what is recalled to be much like the game pick-up sticks, depending on preexisting awareness and skill of the learner.

So how to fix this? Well, seek to teach with a goal of teaching a SET of things in the end to end teaching, not just “Here is how you make X effect”. Realtime VFX is ultimately recursive. It’s about connections. Note the detours. Take a journey, instead of a path. Be it for the programs used, a technique, tips and tricks, things to look out for, how you could apply this lesson elsewhere in VFX… so on. The creation aspect and the problem solving aspect is part of the fun! And there is still so much to teach.

Speaking of X :skull_and_crossbones: – you are at the half way mark. Thank you for getting this far! I hope I haven’t bored you to tears or desecrated your virgin eyes with my sudden bout of uncensored profanity. Here… will this help?

:boom: :volcano: :boom:

I mean… there is no thread in this forum that can’t be automagically improved with an explosion emoji right?

Obviously. It is known. :yum:

After all, a little folly, now and then, is indispensably necessary. Especially when it is to contrast…

deeper fears.:ghost:


The Speed of Knowledge (Side A)

Another factor I’ve noted in a number of tutorials is how quite obviously the tutorial is being made by those of you who already know what you are doing. Now how is this obvious factor a bad thing, you may be wondering? Well! What I mean is, I can see you know what you are doing and you have not considered (enough) that your audience doesn’t!

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW?!

I’ll watch a person click around in the speed of knowledge, because they know where everything is already and why. Meanwhile, I’M going – HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT!? What dots in your head connected you to that point? The fix to this is simple. Speak-your-thoughts-as-you-do-them, as you think them, as they can help! I remind, there is a difficulty in self teaching, and anything that you can do to help the learner in the process of learning, to keep a direction of which is learned, gets said learner that one step closer. It gives something more to hold on to if what is seen is not enough. It gives the lesson more teeth.

Furthermore, I ask to those of you who teach your skills upon the net, to self reference your incite. We were all new at this once, and it’s surprisingly easy to forget what that is like. That doesn’t mean start holding hands, but be mindful your audience.

I say this knowing that you (per the purpose of this post) would only see a camera and/or a screen. That what I ask may require some educated guessing, and I admit it may be right hard to figure out. Yet that’s where your personal experience and incite comes in. Tweak as you feel is needed. If you have a skill of audience in mind, declare it (some of you already do), and make sure you are clear in your meaning. What does “Intermediate skill” mean for VFX? I don’t know! I’m blind here! I need context!

Despite what video games show us, we don’t come with an absolute readable skill meter.


Source

The Speed of Knowhow (Side B)

If I said – Make a Sand-drift Effect

… I have no doubt that a number of you could right now type out the numerous ways you would or could use to make said VFX effect, to get at least the basics. Be it photo manipulation, simulated, drawn, coded, or a mix of them all. How ‘bout make a Mine Explosion in Water? How ‘bout flesh that disintegrates with bones and all? So many of you here have the know how on the general steps you would need to take where you have enough of an inkling that you could begin to iterate your take from it. You know how to create your foundation and build from it.

For those who do this, again please ask yourself while you are working this in your head - “How do I know this?”

For me though, and perhaps for others but this example is particularly singular of me to bring up, I don’t even really grasp what my options would be. And it… it frightens :ghost: me terribly against my goal. In all my want, This. :black_large_square: One. :black_large_square:Thing.

Raaaah! :weary:

For now all I know is that in all my questioning and searching and seeking and self discipline that I’ve done, I can’t seem to find this bundle of knowledge that I so dearly seek. This bit of VFX Theory, or whatever it may be to get my brain to FINALLY go… CLICK! There are no (?) tutorials for this “VFX” thinking that I have found. I don’t know if it’s something I can learn online or if it’s an experience thing, or even if it can be taught at all; That it’s a skill you just know from instinct.

I see an effect and I think – Card / Mesh / Shader / Flipbook + Shapes + Layering of said things. I of the day this is posted could, maybe(?) make the most basic form, depending on complexity, yet I have no push or pull with any of these initial creation options in my mind, as if oil and water. There is a struggle to it that I’ve been trying to fix. If I want to make something, short of planning of what I want to do and how I want something to look, I go blank. So I find my self with nothing to grasp in my want to create, even though I have knowledge! It’s bewilderingly frustrating. It doesn’t make any logical sense. It’s as if my knowledge is but Swiss cheese! How is it even possible that I know, but also DON’T know!

GAAAA!! :rage:

How could I in good faith apply for a job if I can’t even currently do it in full, hypothetically in my head? … or do I judge myself too harshly?

Weirder still, I know I can tell you if an animation is too fast, or what doesn’t yet feel right with the best of you (Try me!). I say this in part, as when I read so many of your critiques, you say what I think, 'cept the particular technical bits of course. Perhaps it’s a lack of technical understanding? All in all it seems when it comes to my current state in Realtime VFX, I am, and I am not. Despite my singular intention of this particular point, I bring this up because… well. For all the things I have learned, I find it strange that I am in this confounded state and I wonder if such a state of crossed wires has occurred to others. :confounded:

I wonder if I have reached the limits of learning VFX on the internet, for whatever my mind needs, and what I can do to solve this problem. Granted, it may be because I am not as young as when I started this path. It may just be that I’m simply thicker then molasses moving up hill in -10 degree weather… with crutches, or that it is indeed a result of the overall VFX tutorials. Maybe in all that has been learned, I’ve missed some sort of foundational structure, as it’s happened before. Maybe, even if it is on the internet, it can’t be learned! Maybe what I need is hands on. Maybe… I don’t know. I just don’t know, and I just hate it.

HATE! IT! :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

Heh. I’d make lightning come out of my hands but…:rofl:yea. :cold_sweat:


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A Victim of Sanitation

To this final direct point, I note the core issue I see. No one is teaching problem solving in Realtime VFX, for Realtime VFX. Perhaps teaching is the wrong word to use here, but all the same, I rarely have seen a tutorial thus far where – “OH! This didn’t work, I’ll have to do this.” One of the BEST things to see as a learner is seeing the teacher solve a problem. It helps a learner know what things to look for and think for as there was a problem.

It didn’t go perfectly, which is what this industry is ultimately all about! This industry is not about Videogames! It’s about things that should be working not working! Our job (among many) is to fix it so it does.

Why is my normal map showing something weird. OH! I changed the normals in the mesh export, or I needed to invert the normal map. Why are these polygons transparent when this map doesn’t have an alpha on it? Oh! Whoops, I didn’t turn backface culling on in my Mesh Editor, so when I brought it in the Realtime Engine of choice and put a Mat with backface culling on, BOOM – “transparent” polygons. Go back into Mesh editor and flip face. Why is the flip book particle so blocky? Oh! My background wasn’t totally black. Why is “whatever” working on Platform A but not working in Platform B? Oh! OpenGL or DirectX or what-have-you isn’t/doesn’t support “whatever” in this version of the platform… yeah and SO ON.

It all comes down to the sheer polished nature of so many tutorials. In other cases this would be a good thing, as per our training or simple natures as artists. Yet here, this polish can be a detriment to learning. That doesn’t mean your videos can’t look nice and be well edited if need be, but that the lessons to be learned need not be so sanitized. If you made a mistake while making your tutorial, show what you did to fix it! I want to see experts fail, so I can see how they succeed. If I see the same issue again and again among you all – THAT’S A HUGE DEAL! That would mean that mistake is REALLY important to learn, as it’s a common mistake! It would collectively become about teaching the things no one directly thinks to teach, because life ultimately is the teacher.

For example, look at this recent post made by bgolus & Partikel in this thread made by Jaybles.

As a learner reading this, I learned more in a few minutes then I have in an hour of some videos. All from Pros just… griping over things! (Just don’t take it too far!) Nothing ground breaking mind you, but food for thought. Things to consider that I didn’t know to think of. (Honestly the entire thread is read-worthy – but I DIGRESS!)


TL;DR

So what have we learned? What have I asked you to consider? That’s a fancy way of saying TL;DR for those of you who chose to CTRL/Command+F to this point. In brief; Learning efficiency & learning Efficiency. The creation of hobbyists Vs The creation of professionals. The difference between awareness of Realtime VFX, to knowing Realtime VFX.

I mentioned Workflow! Method! THINK VFX!

In Detail; Are you sure when you help, that you’re helping? Even if you are, has the market of this help been already realized? Is there a need somewhere else that is not being taught? Not just in topic, but how it is being taught. It seems very uneven to me. Overall and in a general sense, I am deeply concerned that on top of the lack of Realtime VFX basics & the sheer scope in size for many a professional program; that due to the how-to-recipe style of tutorials, the speed of knowledge displayed without adequate self reference of whom the audience is to be, and the sanitized, perfect, and possibly unrealistic display of said knowledge is making learning about Realtime VFX on the internet harder then it needs to be. That as a result, this affects the very way the possibly impressible newcomers are thinking (such as yours truly), which in turn effects what you may get by those who self teach. Put good in, get good out. This is the general idea that I have attempted to convey and answer.

(Also… Searching for a job is probably one of the worst things ever. Apologies again for the profanity.)

English Too Complex?; I’m aware that I can be quite verbose…er… use really complex words, and that English is not a mother tongue…er… native language for some of you. So, as I noted at the very start, if you need clarification… er… simpler wording, in the post right below this one (post #2) I made an abridged-simpler version. You may miss some fine detail, but the overall idea is there. For those who have need of it I hope it helps. :smile:

And that, my friends, is the REST… of the story.


Conclusion & Wrap up

So where ever I may be, where ever you are; I look forward to everyones thoughts of this.

Did I do good? :grinning:

Is this a quality post?:grin:

Did my analytical artists mind see something of merit, or is all this just a bunch of hooey? I admit there is a lot to unpack here, and you may need to give it a second wave and write down notes. Sorry ‘bout that.

I hope that my formatting choices and examples are enough to assist the understanding of my current observations and their declarences. If there is still something you don’t understand of my purview, please let me know. After all… not understanding something kind of sucks! Or… well… so I hear! :sarcasm:

GDC’18 & Thank You

All in all, I’ll be at GDC’18 this year, presuming the heavens don’t play dice with me, so perhaps we can talk more about this there as well. I look forward to it, as it may be my foreseeable last. I’ll see you all at the roundtable. :smiley:


Source

(I learned my lesson last year. Also: Nice pair of Shoes & an Extra Phone Battery if possible.)

Oh! And thank you for reading all this if you did! This GDC-esk text of mine. I hope you all didn’t mind my moments of candor. I hope I have left you all with intelligent questions you ultimately may not have considered, or didn’t know to consider before. I thank you again and to those of you who can, I hope to see you and collect your card at GDC’18!!

:hearts: Thank You!

Stay Gold. :medal_sports:


(Bang!)


#2

This post is for those of you who are still learning english. I’ve made my words more simple, and done what I could to keep the basics of what I mean. I do not know how much this is needed here, but see no harm in taking the initiative…er… the extra step…er… doing it just in case. :grin:



Summary

Introduction & Context

Boy do I talk about my path and education a lot. I’m going to be doing that here too, because I find the context to be so necessary. I repeat myself a few times in this. Then a Star Trek Borg joke…I guess? Something silly.

(Tee-Hee!)

My current path to VFX, I expect, is probably different then yours, but maybe it wont be? I like lighting for example and all, but… I don’t know. What I do know is that with this post we can both search for our needs, from the data I’ve noted from the last few months of self-teaching.

(Oh! I wish Mods were more a thing in modern gaming!)

The path to becoming a VFX artist is important to note. From it, we can understand the needs and understandings of a group. Be it of the Professionals, or those who seek becoming professionals. Ultimately it’s about each other. As this profession grows, so do the requirements. Be wary to not leave the beginners in the dust.

As I climb, the mountain builds.

I don’t know what my future path will be or how it is to be done. You see, what I have made here is more about the questions then answers I may make. These questions will be the answers, for us both. What I have made here is about what I see and my worries of them. What I have seen over months of time, as I try to understand the Realtime VFX job I want. I’m now low on available time now, I think.

Some of what I had to say, I’ve already said in the past. I said it at that time, because learning Realtime VFX as a beginner from the internet is hard, but it shouldn’t be. This post is a warning. For those of you who seek to help, you may have in your creation of teaching, caused an unwanted harm. I know that there are Realtime VFX lessons made, where much of what I point out does not apply to. This post is not about those. I feel I can help more by speaking of everyone, without meaning everyone. If I make you think with my choice of method, then that is good.

It’s an odd thing about some jobs. They seem easy, but as much as they seem, is how hard they really may be. Such as teaching. We all learn in our own way. I think that not all ways of teaching through the internet for Realtime VFX have been made.

It seems very uneven to me. Enough to write all this.

I at the start mentioned my education, here is context of that education. Here is possibly why I see as I do. It was a quality education made very quickly. It was a quality education made with the help of great smart people. If I did not understand, it could be solved quickly. I could fail without fear. I could always focus on learning. I knew that learning from the internet sources could not be just like that. Now that I’m teaching myself, its obvious how lucky I was to get it. It’s why I can talk to you all at all.

So from my Days, Weeks and Months of learning Realtime VFX from videos, I’ve tried very hard to learn. My goal is to get from knowing VFX exists, to understanding how it exists. To be able to create effortlessly.
I think I am not the only one here with that dream. I, in my right now, just want to be able to make basics.

With all this time used, I’ve noted issues in teaching. To fix what I see, if true, will be a group effort.


The Lone Climb

Some of what I had to say, I’ve already said in the past. Some of what I had said, would have been right here, had I not already said it. I’ve not linked it in this version, for reason of words. It is basically about the amount of skills needed for Realtime VFX. Both art and computers. It was not a main point that I wanted to talk about, but I felt it was important enough to still speak of. It is where we start. It is where we learn to do correctly. What could be more important than the first steps for learning?

Most Tutorials, most teachings on the internet are not made with Realtime VFX as the purpose. As a result, I have to use what I already know to figure out what is true or false for Realtime VFX context. The problem is, not everyone who seeks, has an educated background to already know.

Computer wise, your choice is to either learn all of a program, which takes a lot of time. The other choice is to somehow figure out what is true for Realtime VFX, and learn only the needed parts of a computer program. The problem with this, it leaves a lone student to risk learning sloppy messy results, depending on back round and skills. Also some internet teachings are very dated, and can use code that is redone, or no longer in program. It’s Annoying!

(Really, it is! It can stop a day of learning out of annoyance!)

On artistic side, I see mostly side talk. We in result get only basic ideas for Realtime VFX for art. This is wrong! It’s as if a distraction to the computer program teachings. Do any of the core artistic basics have anything that is only true in Realtime VFX? For now, it appears not enough to speak of. You either know or do not.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

NOTE:

Of course, the day before I had planned to post this…

Artistic Principles of VFX

this got posted. GOOD!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This brings me to next thought.

We need a Realtime VFX Wiki. Someplace to bring our knowledge together. Where if it is about Realtime VFX, it’s in the wiki. Maya, Max, Houdini, Unreal, Unity, Plug-ins – so on. Techniques, Good Practices, Bad Practices, Animation, Shapes… so on. Even if it is nothing more then just a set of links to official documentation and lessons. It would be a dedicated map, starting point, or continuance of learning.

If you take nothing else from my post here, take this idea here. It is sorely needed. If it’s already been said, think of this as another push for it. Yes, this is something that is needed and it won’t be done overnight. I should say that Polycount does have a VFX portion of their wiki, but it is rarely given care. It seems an after thought. If we don’t make one here, perhaps we could Co-Own that portion of the Wiki? Adopt it to a loving home, perhaps? I know this idea will require much more discussion, but I wanted to get it out. It is needed.

Knowledge of the natives is often needed for the lone climb.


The Hobbyist & The Professional

Many of you here know what you do well. Some of you have made tutorials of great quality. I can say that I have learned, but some are not as good as I think it could be. Teach how to think out the VFX process. I want to be pro, but some tutorials feel more like they are made for those who see Realtime VFX as a pass time. A hobbyist. Those tutorials may be for hobbyists! I do not know.

I have seen a number of ways to do things, but only few teach an end-to-end process, I feel, correctly. From rough stick figure concept, to final shippable asset. They show their actions as a journey, not a destination. There are far to many tutorials that teach only ONE THING, in ONE WAY, then done.

This ONE WAY making is bad. That is not what we do. By teaching this way, you risk poison in learning. By thinking for, the student does not think. Let me see If I can even more clear.

For those with very young children, have you seen then TV programs for your children? I guess they are much as I have seen where I live. They rarely teach end-to end, but instead pretend to interact.

… “What’s this!!?”…|A|… “That’s RIGHT! - It’s an A! The first letter of the English alphabet!”

Why has it been made this way? Then after they speak of the initial letters and their sounds, they speak of how these sounds blend together to form out different words to speak of language. Hint Hint. They don’t just go “HEY BABY! SEE THIS WORD! IT’S SQUIRREL! YAY! YOU CAN SAY SQUIRREL NOW!” (They just don’t tell, and expect the student to instantly get it. It requires efforts on both sides)

For some reason that example was a Drill Sargent. Goodness, what a thought.

As a result of this overall how-to-recipe style of tutorials, a VFX learner currently who seeks professional know-how, needs to watch many HOURS and more HOURS of scattered spread out videos that are… and I mean this… have different amounts of quality. There is no choice but to go around the net to get a scatter plot of an idea of how all this :sparkles: Realtime VFX magic :sparkles: works together. I do it because I already care. I already WANT IT. Plus I FUCKING NEED TO LEARN SO I CAN GET A JOB PLEASE!

Oh… sorry.

That got too real. Where was I?

Ah! Right, so I’ve already aimed my time to do this searching, but that is not going to be true for others. In the end, such a how-to-recipe style basically turns what is recalled to be much like the game pick-up sticks, depending on what is already known and skill of the learner.

So how to fix this? Well, seek to teach with a goal of teaching a SET of things in the end to end teaching, not just “Here is how you make X effect”. Realtime VFX is recursive. It’s about connections. Note all the paths. Take a journey, instead of just one path. Be it for the programs used, a technique, tips and tricks, things to look out for, how you could apply this lesson elsewhere in VFX… so on. To create and the problem solve is part of the fun! And there is still so much to teach.

Speaking of X :skull_and_crossbones: – you are at the half way mark. Thank you for getting this far! I hope I haven’t bored you to tears or shocked with my sudden profanity. Honestly, if it is anything like when I attempted to learn a second language, the first thing I learned were the swear words. The “bad” words. So… you are welcome? I guess.

:boom: :volcano: :boom:.

Anyway, a little silliness, now and then, is necessary I think. Especially when it is to come against…

deeper fears.:ghost:


The Speed of Knowledge (Side A)

Another thing I have seen in a few tutorials is how quite obviously the tutorial is being made by those of you who already know what you are doing. Now how is this obvious detail a bad thing, you may be thinking? Well! What I mean is, I can see you know what you are doing and you have not thought (enough) about how your audience doesn’t!

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW?!
I’ll watch a person click around in the speed of knowledge, because they know where everything is already and why. As the student, I’M going – HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT!? What dots in your head took you to that point? The fix to this is simple. Speak your thinking as you do them, as you think them, as they can help! Again I remind, there is a hardness in self teaching, and anything that you can do to help the learner in the process of learning, to keep a path of what is learned, gives said learner the chance to be that one step closer. It gives something more to hold on to if what is seen is not enough. It gives the student mind more teeth to bite in to.

Also, I ask to those of you who teach your skills on the internet, to self reference your incite. We were all new at this once, and it’s alarmingly easy to forget what that is like. That doesn’t mean start holding hands, but be aware your audience.

I say this knowing that you (per the purpose of this post) would only see a camera and/or a screen. What I ask my need some educated guessing, and I admit it may be hard to figure out. That is where your personal experience and knowhow comes in. Tweak as you feel is needed. If you need an amount of knowledge already in your student, make it known (some of you already do). Be clear. What does “Intermediate skill” mean for VFX? I don’t know! I’m blind here! I need context!

Despite what video games show us, we don’t come with an absolute readable skill meter.*

The Speed of Knowhow (Side B)

If I said – Make a Sand drift effect…

https://i.imgur.com/YBy3tWX.gif

… I have little worry that a number of you here could do it. That a number of you here could type out the steps to at least make the basics of this effect. What about a Mine blowing up in water? Or flesh dissolving, bones and all? Many of you know how to create your starting point and build from it.

For those who do this, again please ask yourself while you are working this in your head - “How do I know this?”

For myself, and then possibly others, have yet to reach this skill, and it scares me. This next part, I admit, I think more of myself, then others. Reason being, as hard as I try, I can not find this knowledge. Hope-less-ness. Sorry. I wonder how this is to be learned.

I see an effect an I think – Card / Mesh / Shader / Flipbook + Shapes + Layering of said things. This should be enough I think, but it seems not to be. If I want to make, I can plan, I can concept, but when it comes to make what I want to make, I can not. Very very annoying! How is this possible?

How could I in good faith apply for a job, if I can’t even do it on my own? Or do I make my choice too harshly?

It’s odd. I can see with the best of you, which I can say by seeing what you say. You say as I would in many times, unless it is something of computers I do not know. Yet, I can not do. Is my issue of computer skill? Even as I admit, I think more of myself, then others in this point, are there others who have same problem as I? I hope so, for sake of help, then fix.

Maybe I can not find more knowledge on Internet, or whatever my mind, my brain, needs? Maybe it is because of the difference in time from when I start to now. Maybe I’m dumb, or my current lack is because of existing tutorials and teachings. Maybe I have missed some beginners lessons. It has happened before. Maybe even if it is on the net, it can’t be learned! Maybe what I need is hands on. Maybe… I do not know. I JUST do not know, and I HATE IT!

HATE! IT!

That is enough of me. Again, I speak of the group.


A Victim of Sanitation

This is the last direct point, and a core issue. No one is teaching problem solving in Realtime VFX. For Realtime VFX. Teaching may be the wrong word, but the idea is of stone. Is solid. Strong. It is very rare to see a tutorial where something does not work, and the teacher needs to use their know-how to fix it.

It didn’t go as planned, which is what many a Realtime job is all about! It is not about videogames! It’s about things not working that should be! Our job is to fix it so it will.

Of many examples I can give, here is one. Why is the flip book particle so block like? Oh! My background wasn’t totally black, so the realtime program thought its was part of the particle and not the background to be cut out. Things like that. (I have more in my fluent English text.)

I know we as artists want things to be just right! But in the end, the flawless actions of many tutorials can cause more harm then good. If you make a mistake, please show how you fixed it. I want to see masters fail, so I can see how they win. How they fix a problem. If enough people do this, we would as a group be teaching the things no one directly thinks to teach, because life in the end is the teacher.



With this said, that finishes this simplified English version. I did not know how many would use it, or use it at all, but I do not care. I hope it helped you understand the basics of what I say. Thank you! :raising_hand_man::wave:


#3

holy wall of text, Batman!

so to be perfectly honest I’m not quite sure what you’re complaining about here - this is a forum, not a tutorial hub so if you’re relying on realtimevfx.com to teach you the basics you’re in the wrong place.

you say you’ve consumed countless hours of video tutorials, then you should be ready to start making something and learning by doing, no? you’ve not mentioned which tutorials you’re doing but a 2s Google for “Intro to Cascade” gives me Udemy, Pluralsight and the official Epic youtube channel as sources of tutorial series, all of which i’m sure cover the basics well enough to get started - i’ve not done their Cascade tutorials (as you say i learned it on the job and with the help of Imbue FX, back in the early days of dial up internet!) but i’ve used all three of those places to learn other skills and the tutorials have always been very good.

you say most tutorials aren’t made with Realtime VFX in mind, but that just means you’re watching the wrong tutorials? Maybe you’re trying to run before you can walk - you don’t need to know everything about fire sims, RBD, fluid sim, hand drawn animation, etc. etc. to make a decent particle effect - you just need the basics of the Material editor, Cascade and Photoshop (i’m talking Unreal here because its the software i know/teach)

you’ve been a member of this forum for nearly 12 months now and you’ve not posted a single piece of work for critique/review or asked a specific effect related question - just high concept things. you say you’ve been spoiled in your previous education, and to be honest, it sounds like it - no one is going to hand you this on a plate, you have to put the work in too.

Learn the basics of an engine, pick a simple effect from a game that you like and try and recreate it, when you get stuck try and look up the answers in the documentation or online or, if that fails, ask here - you’ll be amazing how much you learn once you’ve started making a few things. And if you have started making things - show us! let us review and see what’s good and what needs improvement and then make more things etc.

Maybe you’re right and there needs to be more tutorials on the Why? instead of the How? (and Jason has just provided us with a great one) and hopefully there will be more to come (I’ve been working on something for a little while now) but ultimately RTVFX is a career about problem solving and if you’re relying on tutorials to teach you everything and you can’t even find a work around for a module being renamed, then RTVFX isnt going to get any easier as you get onto more complex effects.

now i don’t want to end on a negative - it is a great job to have in the industry and i’m sure you can find your niche and succeed but it won’t happen by watching endless tutorials or writing 5000 word essays - it really sounds like you’re trying to do everything at once and thats just not possible - start small, make some little effects and build up your skills (with feedback from people here!)

tldr - less talking, more making!


#4

Dude, Breathe.

I read it all, and like Mr Harle I’m not sure what it is you are trying to say. Perhaps I missed a deeper meaning, but it read as if you were trying to say “Learning RTVFX is hard! Why is nobody serving me a full curriculum!?”

You’re asking to see unedited versions of tutorials. Go watch people who stream then. I mean, you will only see how they problem solve, in the way that makes sense to them with their experience. The only way you’lll learn it is to do it yourself. RTVFX is 75% problem solving and 25% creation. The creation part you can pick up from tutorials, but learning to problem solve will only come with experience.

I have to echo Harle here. Less talking, more making. You’ll get there!


#5

Holy molly, i read it all!

So, what i remember from all this are:

1/

I’m fucking desperate to learn what I need to learn so I can get hired fucking PLEASE!…

2/

I can see you know what you are doing and you have not considered (enough) that your audience doesn’t!

Sooo, basically, yes, i agree that there is a lot of HOW and a lack of WHY in the tutorials/ressources available over the internet and this forum.

However, as stated before, you sound a little too demanding and it’s like you want people to serve you everything on a plate. But that’s not how it works, not just in the VFX field but in life as a whole.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have more help for those who just started, like I (I Started not even a year ago), but learning is about 75% from you and 25% from what can be provided (like VFX courses, Tutorials, etc.).

To illustrate that, i’ll take me as an example: Back in August 2016, i knew NOTHING and i mean NOTHING about making a game. Not even what a Polygon or a Vertex was, or even what Level/Game Design meant.

But i learned the fundamentals on each aspects (Visual Programming, Texturing, L/GD, Modeling, Animation, Video Game History, VFX, etc.). That’s because i had the chance to learn From and With the best (25%) AND because i put my every being onto learning, solving problems and figuring out what i lacked (75%). By Myself.

After that, i experienced the struggles of finding my place in the industry. Had great opportunities and ended up blewing them up because of my lack of either preparation for the interview (Gameloft for example) or even just because i wanted to keep my dignity when i refused to work 3 (Or 2? i don’t remember) months for free as an intern. Also had a great oppotunity to The Coalition (The -Mother fucking- Coalition) but didn’t had the job in the end because i lacked something : The ability to show during the interview my problem solving ability (I fucking cried and felt despaired when i didn’t had the job, because i put my very being on the interview, tho i finally ended up with something in an Indie studio so it’s not all that bad, but i digress…)

All that to say: YES, i also think there is a lack of WHY in the tutorials out there BUT in the end, 3/4 of the job as a VFX Artist MUST come from YOU.

BUT i’d like to finish with something that might help you sorting out your thought process as a VFX Artist:

I like to see the path of the VFX Artist by following these 3 principles i made up just to easily see where you can improve yourself:

1/ CREATION (Spritesheets, Simple Textures, Meshes)

2/ ALTERATION (Materials, UVs)

3/ TRANSFORMATION (Particle Systems, Programming)

This helps me to indentify when i should improve myself and thus make my view clear enough, which young VFX Artists, imo, struggle with.


#6

“I read it all, and like Mr Harle I’m not sure what it is you are trying to say.”

When I read it I was just as confused, to the point where I didn’t even bother to reply.
Gotta say I have to agree with the aforementioned replies.

My only additional thoughts are, make more, get more experience, work for some clients as a freelancer or if you feel the need to practice more try to help out people who are looking for non-paid content, even if you just provide basic things to give them a starting point/placeholder.

When I first saw the naruto vfx reels I couldnt wrap my head around em, now a few years later I can basically tell frame by frame what the materials might look like, what kind of particle they used (trail/mesh/sprite), and how they set it up.
That comes from experience and practice, and even after many years I am still learning new things and practicing a lot.


#7

Yeah. Was surprised how big it got too. Yet, I still posted it. I still think it can help, as scary as it is.


@tharlevfx - I suppose it is implied by “rant”, but this wall of text is not a complaint per se. It is a Critique of what I have seen. At most, the negativity simple frustration at not understanding. You are right, I SHOULD be ready to start making something. Yet, currently I find my self at loss, and it perplexes me. I have done all this, as I am trying to solve a problem as I see it, be it me or external. I know this is not a tutorial hub, this is a place where where experts and students alike gather to talk of Realtime VFX. If not here, then where? Internal monologue isn’t going help. Can’t get many new ideas from that.

As for tutorials not made of VFX, It’s a supplement. It’s solving a problem best I can. Before @Partikel made his tutorial of Houdini for Games for example, where ELSE would I go? It’s for Movie VFX, or something else entirely. I have a basis for thinking, but others would not. To me, it seems a problem, and I have not yet been in a conversation to know whether that problem is being solved.

I don’t want a hand out, and my time here is deceptive, as I only got a computer to work from in December of last year. With that said, the suggestions you have given at the end of your post has given me an idea that I had not yet thought of.

I know exactly what I have done. I know how it looks. Thank you.

Partikel - Is there anyone who streams you could recommend?

@Fenix - That’s all you got from it??? Oh dear… I really did over do it. Ugh, and being demanding wasn’t a goal either, I was just being honest with what I see, since it’s the only way I know to correct it. That said I thank you for your story and your thought points. It helped.

Luos_83 - So I have gathered. Sorry 'bout that. Thank you for your thoughts.


Thank you for your honest responses. Keep it coming. Again, I apologize for the tone. I didn’t have anyone to bounce it off of, so it didn’t sound that way to me at the time. Now that ya’ll have mentioned it however…yea.

Thank you. :slight_smile:


#8

Going head down straight into real time VFX is going to be hard. Unlike almost any other discipline in video games it’s the one that seemingly requires you to learn everything possible before you can accomplish anything. You need to know all of the technical aspects and tools of the engine you’re using, to understand all the parts of how real time rendering works, how to write shaders, how to write code, how to use 2D art applications, how to use 3d modeling tools, how to use complex fluid sims and animation tools, how to use high end video editing software, everything.

Here’s a tip; You don’t need to know most of that.

You need to know enough to make the effect you want, or something close enough to it. Then go make it. Someone with Gimp and Unity’s Shuriken or Unreal’s Cascade with no additional coding can make beautiful things. Heck, even if you don’t have any art skills of your own you can download some effects from the asset stores and use the textures from those. Will it be as amazing as something you see from a AAA game? Probably not, and that’s okay. You’re not going to be an expert overnight. My experience has been most of the top real time VFX artists have been at this for years, decades even. I’ve been doing it for 15 years and am always learning new things.

Don’t try to learn everything, just try to learn one new thing every so often and slowly build up your bag of tricks. Ever effects artist is going to have their own tricks they like or know well, and how many they know is almost purely a metric of how long they’ve been doing it. When you look at a big AAA game, realize even a simple effect isn’t likely the work of one person, but of many individuals building off each other. Someone might be an expert at shaders, another of fluid dynamics, and another is someone just like you who might have just enough knowledge to use the basic tools and is building off of the others’ work.

Also, your comment about most tutorials not being for real time VFX … that’s wrong, they’re all tutorials for real time VFX. Any tutorial relevant to video game dev is another’s tool. It’s kind of up to you to figure out how those tools work best for you.


#9

Where in the 'ell was advice like this a few months ago. Oh man, that’s a huge weight. This is exactly the type of thing I’ve been looking for. As I’ve mentioned recently, all I have to go off of is the work of experts. I didn’t know how far to go, so I said - try everything! …

I did try. I mean, do you see the giant wall of text! Of course I did! I REGRET NOTHING!

…ow.

._.

All in all, I absolutely agree 100%

Not all tutorials I’ve watched are relevant to video game devs. Sometimes I’m just trying to figure out how to do something, because it’s what I have. Such as simulations in 3ds Max, not Fume FX, just Max. I’ve also tried in Houdini, but I don’t own that so that’s another thing. That means I’m looking where ever I can find that data, risks and all. Default Max isn’t exactly an industry standard for simulations, that would be Maya or the plug in. I’ve been trying to make things happen with what I have.

Having said that, to bring this full circle, based on what you say I did push my self farther then I should have at this time.

Thank you


#10

Another tip. Those are all relevant to video game dev too. Sometimes it’s cheaper to just bake out a simulation as a short movie / flipbook, or as an animation you play back in the engine. If it doesn’t have to be random (like if it’s part of a cinematic or in game event the player has little control over), this can give you much higher quality results than doing it actually in realtime. This also ends up falling under VFX much of the time. Some really big studios might have simulation specialists that handle the creation of the simulation, and some programmers whom figure out how to get that data into the engine. For everyone else it’s usually some kind of semi-automatic or manual animation bone setup for each chunk in the final sim, or possibly using a texture to hold the animation data (that’s a bit more advanced).

Also, I feel like I should rephrase myself. Try to learn everything, but not all at once, don’t expect to be an expert at them all overnight.


#11

I thought that was under… Animators. We… we do that too? SO R-VFX is an umbrealla, IN an umbrella? And… What’s this about a texture to hold the animation data? You’re kill’n me here. I know it’s not relevent to me right now, but I wanna look. >_< What was is it I said? As simple as it seems they should be, is how complex they really are? Apprently the complexity I already knew about was simple. Geeze… I belong here. :laughing:

Well Sr.Bgolus I gotta admit, I like how ya think, and you steam a good ham. So uh…

Yes Sir! My conclusion of tutorial source was wrong, and I did not know it. I was not viewing it, thinking it in the proper light. So noted. Thank you sir. :raising_hand_man::smiley:


#12

There are a couple of threads on it here on the forums.

This one is UE4 & Houdini specific:


But people have done this with 3ds max or Maya for Unity as well.

Here’s one done in Max:


Like I said, Realtime VFX is the group that uses whatever tools it needs to get the results needed. If you look at Blizzard effects for example, you’ll see a lot of things that you might expect to fall under the animation department being used in their effects. Some of the stuff in the original World of Warcraft was simply pre-animated and not using any in-game particle system. The original Unreal game did some particle effects as baked out animations too.


#13

:astonished:

:smile:

Sir, you are too much. I’ll have come back to this another time.

I think you have given me the answers to the question I was looking for. Have been looking for. A sort of “What is the Matrix?” … in a manner of speaking.

:joy:

Can’t say it enough, Thank you.


#14

Additionally you might want to checkout Simons videos on that matter. His two recent one are from my opinion a good way to get a grasp how things are done in different games ( Texture usage and VFX for RIME )

https://simonschreibt.de/gat/cool-stuff-with-textures/

https://simonschreibt.de/gat/stylized-vfx-in-rime/

I would consider myself a beginner in (RT)VFX. But as I come from CG Programming I was familiar with many tricks used here.

I understand your whole point. VFX is a wide category - and almost anything can be solved in multiple ways with some advantages and disadvantages in each solution.

So here is also some advice from another beginner:

  • a good mantra is “give it a day”, “give it a week”, “give it a month” (depending on your workspeed and ofc the project)
    Basically meaning - try to do it atleast for 8 hours, Did you make progress in any relevant matter ( knowledge, skill, tools, etc. )? - Watch out, this is probably a bad mantra for building a portfolio.

  • be a sponge, literally. Absorb any knowledge you can get.

Also this might be helpful to get a breathe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hS3uMpMOpa0&t=1939s&ab_channel=TechArtAid


#15

While I don’t consider myself a VFX artist, I am a developer. So I approach most things from that perspective when learning Substance, Houdini, UE4, or whatever holds my interest. Yes, I watch a lot of tutorials to ramp up on a new environment but after a certain threshold of comfort, I stop watching and start building. This is where problem solving begins. Programming is an expression of problem solving - a way of thinking. After years of practice, every problem starts to be viewed through this lens of code. That might be something you want.


#16

3 Weeks and change later…

Before I really get started, I should note that there was a reason why I didn’t label this “General Discussion”, but instead “WIP & Critique”. I was critiquing what I saw, both externally and internally. I knew the want of my ambition could get the better of me if I let it, but I didn’t know that it already had. With the all knowing retrospect, it is very obvious to me now as I view my late 2017 posts of the amount of anticipation I had at finally being able to focus my creative endeavors towards my ultimate goal. And… that what I wanted to do was so beyond the scope of me, my current resources and available support. I’m not alone, but it can sure feel like it sometimes.

Ya know, believe it or not, I’m not actually this wordy face to face. I just, I didn’t understand and I hated it. I still hate it, gets me out of bed. If I’m guilty of anything in these posts here, it’s of caring too much, and not knowing enough – thinking enough – to do something more then just write. To post what I see, to check what I see, for lack of knowing what to say.

I’m putting this final follow up here because, well, there is always something more to learn. These words are for any forthcoming newcomers in the event they…er…“you” are going through the same mental hurdles as I have. Just because it’s an internal battle doesn’t mean you have to fight it alone. In my foolish(?) honesty I hope that I can connect and help save others of the same fog I had meandered into. At least I hope can deliver a better tone in this one.

If this can help others, well then ALL this will be worth it twice over.

Yet enough reminiscing, I’ve got digital things to try and blow up in a good way. If you want to skip the overall explanation, and get to the golden egg of this text, the lesson learned is in the TL;DR.


So… what happened? Well, first I should speak of the obvious. Bgolus and his laser aimed posts helped incalculably well. By being able to see the root of my frustration, that of my preconceptions, and pointing out how I was choosing to interpret data was in error, gave me just enough of a mental nudge. It gave me EXACTLY what I needed for me to break out of my stupor. To figure and solve the problems in DOING that had been plaguing me to a point of concern on multiple fronts. It’s not a cure all, but it helped a lot.

My wires were truly crossed, more then I knew. Among personal details, dates, and time its self (as it is kind of weird being “old” and still young at the same time); I made some presumptions without realizing I had made them. Presumptions I had made VERY early on, that I didn’t even think to update as it was a bedrock thought buried and numbed under the next point here. There was (and still kind of is as I am fighting it,) a huge battle between what I WANT to do, and what I know how to do right now. It’s nothing new, but I’ve never been this close before either. Plus, my existing knowledge made this feeling of want worse. I want to make what I want to make NOW! Due to my schooling, I had become used to being able to do in immediacy various other 3D aspects and that effected by judgment on this one. In short; it sucks going from knowing how to do things without thinking about it to “Uhhhhhhhhh”.

There was also this intense urge to try and make big amazing stuff that is way beyond me in the moment, in part because it’s all around me. I see what so many of the experts know how to make, that I go “OH! I want to do that!” and I trip over my own feet. I had to remind myself to take it a step at a time. Wax on. Wax off. AGAIN! Wax on. Wax off. When you get a new toy, you want to try it out! Since we make our toys, I wanted to make what I saw, regardless the what. So with all the wizz and bang around me, well…

…in comparison, making a shader for a TV effect…

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…or Shimmering Material “Fields”…


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…seem boring in comparison. If you want to be miserable compare yourself to someone else. These things are not the smooth scripted randomness of a VFX motion-blended smoke or rendered simmed flips of flame nor really much anything aggressive in context. Nothing is blowing up or displaying vast amounts of anticipatory energy – then a pay off. This along with the want of “get-a-VFX-job-and-do-it-now” hanging over my head did not do me so well. “If employers can do this, then how do I get seen?” is the trap I fell into, even though I knew better. I myself have told others to,“Do good work, and trust the rest will happen” which I have found to be often true. But… dam it. I knew not to fall in and did anyway. My ambition lead me astray.

It’s not JUST about the big booms and the flashy effects that OOh and Ahh. Thus, I became myopic (shortsighted) about particle systems. Even though I did all I could to “see” what I in my current skillset should be doing, it is only now where I finally see what I knew all along but had made my self blind to. All from foolish preconception. OH! The learning process. There is shit on my shoe, and I made a darn fool of myself, but it was worth it. No regrets.


This is what I have learned. This is my warning (& TL;DR) to those newcomers who seek this path as I do. Be it as STRONGLY as I do, or in a more casual sense.

What you need to figure out is with what I (I being YOU) DO know, WHAT I CAN MAKE? THEN BUILD FROM THAT POINT. Once you’ve become comfortable with that, figure out how to become uncomfortable. What is the next advanced step? What are you uncomfortable making? Then you do the whole rounds again. Step by Step. It’s not a race, even if it is. You need to be able to do it first.

Don’t try to do it all at once. I, @Mez, tried to do this, and all I’ve learned is in the air still. I currently have nothing to ground it as it is too advanced over my head. Knowledge that you know that you don’t know how to use is of little momentary worth. I’ve wasted time learning things I “can’t use” right now. That’s not to say that ambition is a bad thing, but if you let it get too far too fast, you’ll hurt yourself. You can’t get that time back. Here I, @Mez, wanted to SAVE time… heh… woops. >_<

It didn’t.

_
It is… so simple. Thing is, I knew this too, but I just got totally lost in the noise of my ambition. Don’t make my mistake.

For those of you here VIA – TL;DR, that is all.


It is because of these realizations that I made the above examples simply because I could, to see how far I know and I toned down (slightly) the harshest critic that any artist knows. This little thing I made is ok, as – I made something. Build with it. Copy it, and do something else with it. Then do it again. How can you make this small thing better? That’s what those “Field” things are above. Just playing with nodes and shaders in Unreal 4. I know I have a degree of affinity with Materials/Uvs, so I’ll see to get more advanced in that part, and see what I can do in the particle systems.

Having said all that, I still have a degree of concern of how teaching is done through the internet. It’s a shame my choice of words and (due to current means) format did not (apparently?) resonate as well as I had wished, but it’s OK. As I climb up the ranks, be it with my bare hands and/or the help of others, I’ll be sure to make some tutorials myself when the time comes I feel strong enough to do so and throw down a rope. Fill in the gaps that seem unmet.

Maybe even a little before.

But first…

…alright @Mez

…shut up…

_

…and wiggle your big toe.


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That is not what I meant. :thinking:


W.I.P–O–Rama | My efforts up to this point
#18

Damn kids these days… When I started there was no tutorials, the only thing you could find on youtube was Weeeeeeeee… or Hamster Dance… and we were working as 1 artist on a production. We had no idea what we were doing, but fortunately no body else did anyways…

At the very core of it all, is being tasked with the impossible and banging your head on that wall until literal breakthrough happens. So with that being said…

  1. Start small, make a damn camp fire. This is your “hello world”.
    1.a) Tutorial on particle system can help, don’t blind copy them, internalize what they show for how it will help your camp fire.

  2. Ask advice, reviews and direction. Go back to step 1.

  3. When you are more confident in your fire and smoke… make a more gameplay like FX like a fireball spell. Forget about the casting or impact parts… just focus on the flying fireball.

  4. Ask advice, reviews and direction. Go back to step 2.

  5. When you think the fireball is cool enough, build an impact FX for it. Maybe even a casting build up if you feel up to it but… Iterate! make 5 version if you must to have basis of comparison.

  6. Congratulations you have the beginning of a portfolio. Make some more stuff and apply for jobs.

Doing all that process will help you a million times more than chain watching tutorials all day. And you will also start to build your own experience and toolbox.


#19

Wow. Well there’s a bump I didn’t expect. Alright, well, lets get to this. I’ll start by saying you are not wrong - there is a TON of truth in what you say. Furthermore, this threads topic, per its nature is outdated at this point. A monument to my sins as a ravenous learner who didn’t know what he should have been chewing on, and hurt his teeth in the process. An action made out from growing pains. I talk a little about the results of this progress that I made… BECAUSE OF THIS THREAD… here.

To quote myself: Nuance tends to be lost on beginners.

On that note, let me say again how right you are… and how blind you are (which in a way was one of the points I attempted to propose at that time). What you put here, which is SO TRUE, which I NOW as I write this understand, can come across as if you are saying first you draw a circle, then you draw the rest of the owl. And that… can be so discouraging. It’s not just a beginner thing, it’s a human thing. And I’m not saying this applies to EVERYONE… obviously… but it’s there. How you respond to a cry for help is just as important as the truth you have to give.

Plus, lets be real folks, the internet SUCKS at conveying subtle emotion with words. It just amplifies everything for better or worse. How you read this is based on the mood you are in, the knowledge of the language… so on so on. Am I happy! Am I sad? AM I ANGRY!? AM I a giant goofball?

Yes.

I’ve noticed that a lot of us who make games, not just VFX, can be really honest and really blunt humans, which for some can be… I’ll say surprising. I don’t have an issue with it, as I can very much be that way too, but there are those who take bluntness as a default negative. I’m constantly doing what I can to be mindful of that, just as you should be mindful that it’s not “those days” any more. “Back in my day” is … I won’t say irrelevant, as there is wisdom to be learned from history, but it’s not really a very good argument for anything that touches technology. It’s a blind declarence to a refusal to change; which is madness. I mention as much in my thread link above. Things are changing, as they do, and how we approach and teach that change, both professionally ourselves, and to the the greenhorns yet to realize this is where they want to be, will determine the future result of our notch in the industry.

128x128 Flipbooks are not something that should be explicitly taught. :stuck_out_tongue: (Or whatever is outdated now).

With…all that said, here is how I would improve the truth you have provided. My changes are in BOLD ITALIC.

  1. Start small, make a damn camp fire. Use things like Alpha Blending, UV Distortions, and LUTs. This is your “hello world”. IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THOSE ARE USE THE SEARCH FUNCTION!
    1.a) Tutorial on particle system can help, don’t blind copy them, internalize what they show for how it will help your camp fire. You can do this, for example, by writing down (literally or mentally) what you see and asking questions. On that note…
  2. Ask advice,ask your questions, get reviews and direction. Go back to step 1. You will not always get a response. It sucks, but keep going. Keep making. Keep iterating. Eventually you’ll get a response.
  3. When you are more confident in your fire and smoke… make a more gameplay like FX like a fireball spell. Forget about the casting or impact parts… just focus on the flying fireball. Being able to figure this out by yourself is important.
  4. Ask advice, reviews and direction. Go back to step 2. (Edits and all)
  5. When you think the fireball is cool enough, build an impact FX for it. Maybe even a casting build up if you feel up to it but… Iterate ! make 5 version if you must to have basis of comparison. When you are done you can have all the stages of the effect laid out side by side. While it is nice to see is all in one effect, so that we can see skill in timing all together, if you don’t have that know-how that’s ok for now. Your main focus is VFX. Make VFX. Make VFX. Make VFX.
  6. Congratulations you have the beginning of a portfolio. Make some more stuff and apply for jobs.

Push. Push. Nudge. Nudge. That’s it. Not holding a hand, just giving something to chew on. Get the fear out of the way so that the beginner can make. Yes, not all of us get that chance, some of us just have to go and BITE the fear. Yet if you have it in your power to make what you suffered through easier for the next generation, why wouldn’t you? If someone had made a post like this for me a year or two ago it would have saved me so. much. time. Your original post would have been useless to me.


#20

I’ll add one more thing to this, because… hey, I’m here. Might as well. Late last year, I received an email from someone in response to this very thread. This person mentioned to me that "I even thought about giving up after struggling through my first few months of effects because… [of the difficulty they had]."

"And it’s not that I don’t wish to learn RTVFX, its just that recreating the simplest of finished, industry level work is not simple."

(So hold up. I at this point in my knowledge actually disagree with this. But… of course I do, I have gained a glimmer of understanding to the process. It’s simpler to me now, then it was. Yet I also understand WHY this person says as they do).

"There is alot of ‘do this’ and not enough of the WHY we create this node and what exactly that node does so maybe I can use it for something else because I understand the what it does.

( I’ve come to realize now that part of the reason there is so little why in some cases is because that’s part of the job. We Realtime VFX artists come UP with the why through the knowledge of systems and technique. Nothing is set in stone, and each artists “VFX-Why” is there own of that moment. As we make in our focus, we can forget that. You know, “In the zone”. The tricks you’ve developed in your tenure. Thus, it can become confusing to see multiple people make the same thing in different ways if a person is not aware of this nature of the VFX beast.)

But I didn’t have the courage to voice what you did. I’m glad you didn’t give up and you’ve motivated me to try something simpler [VFX wise].

Thank you."

So… all this is to say… I helped. :slight_smile:

They also mentioned ya’ll scary (probably because of the bluntness). In retrospect, I should probably ask about that.

I pointed this potential artist in a direction, where to look, and where to learn. Things that helped me. Hopefully I was able to help again. Hopefully I can make a post that helps again. Something like this.