VFX Education: What Interests You?

Alright, so we (myself and a handful of other VFX artists) are currently working on designing a new VFX course, and would love your input on how to do it right. If you’ve got 2 minutes to click some survey boxes, I’d greatly appreciate your time!

Survey Link

I know there’s currently this thread about what people would want in a VFX curriculum. This survey is a focused way to get some parse-able data from the perspective of students (both newbies and veterans).

If you know anyone else that’s hungry for more education in any of these areas, please send them to the survey as well. The more input we get, the more student-focused we can be <3

I’m excited to see this come to fruition and into your hands!


My ideal set of experiences for a candidate:

Particle basics.
Artistry and critique of effects (profile, color, timing, layering, grounding, etc…).
Material Basics.
Using Reference.

-Texture Development:
Hand Painting Textures.
Photo Comping Textures.
Simulating Textures.
Compositing and prepping stock footage for textures.

Prop destruction (Player shoots prop).
Cinematic moment destruction (Helicopter crashing into building).

-Advanced Materials:
Alpha Erosion.
Scrolling Textures and distortion of uv’s by a second scrolling texture.
Using UV’s as time.

-Advanced Particles:
Meshes as particles.
Collision / Physics.

LoL Style ability.
“Super”, Final Fantasy Style.
Muzzle Flash.
Ambient environmental effect (mist, leaves blowing, etc…)


these are the lessons i teach over 6 weeks as part of a Masters in Game art:

Conveyor Belt - Intro to Panner and Rotator
Dusty Window - Intro to Textures in Animated Materials, Intro to Cascade
Sandstorm - More Materials and Cascade
Falling Leaves - Flipbooks, Mesh Particles, GPU Particles
2nd UV Set - Mesh Flipbooks and Object Position randomness
Destroyable Light - Intro to Blueprints
Ground Material - World Position, Dot Product
Cloth - Cloth Sims and WPO
Fire Simulations
Magic Spell using Blueprint Timelines
Water Materials
Intro to RBD and Sequencer

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I tried to do the Survey, I really did. Then I realized at the end that giving everything the highest mark helps nothing.

SIGH! :sweat_smile:

Is there a date the survey ends? I need to sit and think on this one to narrow it down.

I filled it out just now. I am new to VFX but definitely want to learn as much as I can about it. I particularly would love to learn anything and everything as it relates to Unity, but that is of course just one of many target platforms.

I suggested teaching (if its even possible, I am not sure?), how to utilize 3rd party specialty software to make something (such as Houdini) and then converting/importing, however it needs to be done, into a target platform. I know Unity has a Houdini plugin, but I am not sure to what extent it can be used for VFX, or it the things you make in it would even translate over in any way.

That is definitely something I would like to learn though, if it’s possible!

I’m new to the world of RTVFX too and I struggle to get started, I just don’t know how to make my first FX because I have no idea what the pipeline is.

All videos I watched about importance of timing, color, animation principles etc. doesn’t help.

I think it’s really important to teach newbies how to properly make a simple VFX using particles and simple hand drawn animations and then build up everything else on this.

I think you’ve described a perfect place to start. I’ve been working hard on this since everyone’s feedback has come through. It’s a lot of stuff to wrangle and put all together into something valuable, but I’m determined to make it worth your while ;^]

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I also would like to know at least basic info about VFX performance on PC and mobile. What practices are bad performance wise and what are not, etc.

It would be interesting to see some professional’s thought process when making VFX too.

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I think that, as a beginner in VFX and a newbie to this community, my biggest struggle has been trying to implement FX in game, not only during run time (mostly just how to spawn emitters and turning them on and off), but also as far as how I should structure my assets and materials to be as modular and as functional as possible.

  • How do I create solid reusable master materials?
  • Does each character have their specific effects in their own folder?
  • Do I have a global folder for all my geometry? Even for geometry I only use for one effect?

I guess these questions are more specific to game development in general rather than being about learning the fundamentals and complexities of making FX, but I think that even just have a good foundation of how to organize personal folders and assets would be good for aspiring artists.

When I was in school for general 3D art we never went over anything like folder structure and organization and I feel that when it comes to making FX and technical art, because it touches so many different aspects of 3D art, having good organizational practices will help beginners avoid a lot of headaches down the line.

I could be wrong though, I am a noob after all.

Also I’m really interested in the more technical aspects of creating FX, for example the kinds of maths that go into making emitters in Unreal’s Niagara. So yeah, that too.

Most of this is just experience. You won’t know what you need in a material until you need it, and then figuring out how and where to squeeze it in is all a learning experience. Once you start getting a feel for the way you make things, and start to develop your own style, will you start to narrow down what your master material needs and doesn’t, and when to break one master material into two.


Yeah that makes sense, I’m currently in the process of building up a master material and the more I make, the more I realize I need/don’t need.
But are there any kinds of pitfalls or common practices when it comes to making these? Like maybe just general tips on how to start building them and maybe going over what kind of aspects of a master material should maybe be split into another one.
Like should I make a master material for both translucent and masked materials?
But like you said, I’d probably have more answers to these if I was more experienced.

I’d say the most common practices you’ll see across the board of every vfx style when not using flipbooks are: tiling, panning, texture combination, and color control. Past those, it’s just what kind of ways you want to modify your texture. Best practice is make everything you can into parameters, put similar parameters into groups, and have every option beyond the absolute basics behind a switch.

Personally, my main master material defaults to a translucent unlit material that multiplies my texture RGB channel with Particle Color and feeds into Emissive, and my texture’s alpha channel multiplied by Particle Alpha and feeds into Opacity. Everything else beyond that for me is behind a checkbox