More VFX education: what do YOU want?

Hey Jason!
This is such an interesting move. I’m very excited to see the future for you. From a class perspective-- one area I’d be interested is the implementation of particle systems once created, whether that be in gameplay or cinematics. Being able to put my effects in context would be super helpful for both Indie developers or small teams. Here are some class ideas for how to:

  • Add an effect to a character animation
  • Add an effect to a cinematic
  • Add an effect to the environment

Then segment that by the most popular programs to do that:
Unreal Engine 4’s Blueprints
Unity’s Script Editor (Visual Studio?)

Here are some example effects that are most common:

  • Weapon effect including attaching muzzle flashes, raytracing (or projectile), impact on target (including decals)
  • Magical Spell effect chaining multiple particle systems together including cast, target, aftermath and assign it to player inputs
  • Building out a scene with effects using sequencer including lighting, camera tracking, etc.
  • Attach sword slashes to a weapon

When I see new starters reels, I often see a lack of elegance.
They can deal with the tools, make things work, make a dissolve shader but the result is often not very inspired. There’s nothing unique and special, it feels like a bunch of stuff that they saw somewhere put together.
I have no idea how you could teach that, but something along the lines of building your artistic sense.

Using nice shapes / colours, blending elements together to make them flow is a couple of things that come to mind, I leave the rest to your eager mind.

Best of luck on the adventure!


Yas! I can certainly see plenty of content for a class to focus on just texture creation. That’s brilliant. What’s cool about this, is other classes might focus on timing, color, niagara, etc, and include these textures for free. But the how-to-create is in that specific class.

1 Like

Definitely want to get to this!

I definitely want to switch to Niagara when the timing is right. Where does it currently stand? Last year it had a tendency to crash and hadn’t had a UX pass done just yet. I know it’s still in beta. I just want to make sure i don’t run students through a negative experience with content that will be outdated when the release version comes out.

But to be clear, I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT WHAT NIAGARA PROMISES!!! Just gotta time this one properly.


Well, they say its Prod ready, but I haven’t had time to check and a few say it still has issues, but hopefully now that its released there will be fixes and lots of tutorials! :smiley:

Niagara is officially out of beta as of 4.25, so the floodgates are open! There’s a ton of exciting things happening on that front now.

FWIW @Keyserito I’ve been going through your course and converting all the Cascade stuff along the way to Niagara (which has helped my learning of Niagara double along the way). When I get them all in shape I’ll be happy to share what I did with you.

1 Like

This is amazing news. I’m going to look into this a lot more seriously, now. It’s Niagara time! I’ll keep y’all posted on the transition.

Also, yes! I’d be very interested in your converted Niagara assets. We should discuss this in more detail when you’re ready!

Definitely want to dive deeper on meshes! Probably warrants a class all on its own, as meshes can be used in such a wide variety of ways.

Yes! I am thinking exactly along these lines as we develop the next class. Having a project file that comes as close as possible to a live production is a central part to my approach. We did a very simplified version of this in the Booms & Blasts course, and I plan to go further with it. Hooking up entire spells or VFX sequences is such a valuable aspect of building a proper portfolio, or even just learning the ropes of game VFX dev.

Yes! Artistic foundations are my starting point for any course idea, with the tech all pointing back to those key principles.

1 Like

I’d personnaly would like something to be kept: VFX apprentice made a good job keeping both unity and unreal user’s on par with each other, with all VFXs having an equivalent on the other engine, that feature made the lesson accessible for both engine user’s and that is something too good to overlook.

Good luck on your new journey Jason, I’m looking forward to learn more lessons from you :slight_smile:

1 Like

So glad to hear appreciation for that aspect. We have @Lush to thank, as I was originally not going to be able to include Unity at launch, but he came through in a BIG way!

I think it’s a good pattern to build the content for one engine all the way first, then get some help to port it over to the other engine, for the sake of getting it out in a timely manner! It makes it 10x easier to make that leap if we can first see it all working together, to a highly polished point.

1 Like

Oh! :astonished:

… Ohhhhh. Well then no, no you didn’t quit your dream job @Keyserito, you just found you had bigger dreams. :wink:

Since you have “over twelve years” of experience, then I say work with that - or rather - reflect on that. It’s a rather classic concept; “When I started, what would have been useful to know?” Tricks or techniques for efficiency? Iterating ideas & Testing concepts? Creation under a deadline? What happens when… you’re in a rut, ya can’t seem to find a solution… and that deadline is coming? … In other words, could you teach some things that a conventional school more often then not doesn’t teach? Make a beginners course for folks who are thinking about getting/pursuing a real-time job? Pull back that curtain a touch and save folks from the “idea” that has been sold. That’s how I think you may be able to differentiate yourself from other places to learn… whatever a skill.

And! While I’m blurting out ideas, I’d make such a beginner course free. It would not only set an idea of direction, for lack of a better phrase, but would/could show off what a paid course may look like as well. I can say with experience I’ve purchased a course where the way said course was taught didn’t jive… uh… didn’t connect with me. The way this person taught was not good for me. Was able to refund, but it would have been nice to know before hand all the same. So I’m thinking in this concept I’m pitch’n, two birds one stone, ya know?

As for content for folks who have a touch more knowhow on what this industry actually is, well… I don’t know. Here, I’ll throw in some of my frustrations I’ve found along the way in the hopes you could parse SOMETHING teachable. If not, well, then at least y’all get a good laugh :wink:. For me, (excepting computer issues that no matter how hard I try I just apparently can’t seem to escape,) I at this point find myself currently stuck in this weird gray of newb, hobbyist, overly ambitious fanboy, noob again for good measure, who through some hodge podge of knowledge KINDA knows what he’s talking about at this point. I can talk to y’all and decipher the jargon to a certain point. I’ve had some lovely conversations. Which is PROGRESS! Before I started this path, all I really knew about was flip books! … but when it comes to doing it though? I just get lost in all the processes & techno-jiggery THAT KEEPS EVOLVING, and I get lost in my ambitions. I just can’t seem to find a steady workflow and keep a level head… a professional mindset. At least, what I think one would be, anyway. Plus I’m always going - “Oh how can I make this better”, when it may already be good or might not need what I’m adding. In speaking to @Drew about this (which I hope he doesn’t mind me quoteing, as these are (expectedly) good quotes)…

“Being so passionate about the entirety of VFX and graphics is a blessing and a curse: it’s how you push the boundaries and learn, and it can also be scattering and at times, demoralizing.” … In a perfect world, we’d all have a producer sitting next to us keeping us on track.

SO… what do you do about that on your own!? Is there anything you can do? I presume I’m not the only one who has these moments, so what can we do to solve that?

Then there is one more thing. There always seems to be some button ya need to click that’s hidden within two steps of some…

...Example... (* Psst * Click the Arrow)

…THIS! YOU FOUND IT! It’s that option you’ve been looking for within the last X timeframe!

While I suppose that’s just knowing your tools, which I presume takes time, such things cause me speculative concern. The way I hear it, Unreal is far better documented then most in-house engines. Sometimes I wonder… if I get a job which uses an in house engine, how quickly will I be able to learn what I need to learn. I want to do good work, but…


Don’t know if that helps at all, or if you’ll be able to parse some lessons out from all that, but hey! Godspeed on your next adventure @Keyserito ! I’m root’n for ya. :fireworks: :mask: :fireworks:

1 Like

I think blocks of lessons on that kind of thing would super helpful to new and experienced vfx artists alike. Lessons that cover engine agnostic content, like mesh and texture creation, would make it easier to separate out courses for ala carte purchase options as well as build into other larger courses.

Maybe you’re someone who’s spent their career doing photoreal vfx, focusing their time and skill on rendering simulations and video footage to flipbooks, but they want to pivot and learn stylized fx. They could just purchase the “Hand Painted” section from my imaginary Texture Creation for Games course. Then they have access to just the focused information they want without all the other courses that they may be familiar with. Or, if it’s a newer artist just getting into vfx, they could pick an all encompassing larger class for stylized vfx that not only includes that Stylized Textures course but also has other intro courses to meshes, vfx principles and building fx in engine.

Ignoring the logistics of setting up the website for all this modularity, strictly from a lesson plan setup, this would make it easy to build a wide variety of learning plans and packages without reinventing the wheel for each one. Experienced artists could save time and money picking up the focused content they need, and beginners could pick up full intro and start-to-finish courses. Everyone in between could choose from topic courses (textures for an easy example) that contain beginner, intermediate and advanced courses, or full start-to-finish courses categorized by different targeted experience levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced).

As always, thanks for the input! It’s great to hear your perspective :^]

Yes, many people have mentioned the a-la-carte option. I got some good feedback when I retroactively split the Booms & Blasts course into concept and 3D sections, and also made them available as a bundle. The next few classes will be designed this way from the beginning, so it’s clear which items fit as a set if you want a holistic experience.