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Effects (FX) Technical Director (TD)
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Effects Technical Directors (FX TDs) are the digital versions of the traditional on-set special effects crew. They are in charge of creating things that are too complex to animate manually, and need to be run as computer simulations instead, including fire, destruction, dust, water, cloth, smoke and magic. They take animation and geometry data from other departments, and set up simulations to interact with them, for example bringing in a building model and destroying it, or taking a roto animated (sometimes called ‘body tracked’) model of a character casting a spell and adding the magic swirls that will then be rendered and composited over footage of the real actor. The data produced by the simulations is sometimes lit and rendered out by the FX department, but is usually sent to the Lighting Artists/TDs to create the final images.
Sometimes the simulations are carefully designed to mirror the laws of physics, and sometimes a more creative approach to reality is called for, depending on the effect needed. Because of this an FX TD needs to be able to adapt, and not get stuck in only one way of approaching a problem. As with all aspects of filmmaking, the director and VFX supervisor need to gauge the balance of achieving realism versus cinematic impact.
You may see FX bundled in with animation when jobs and skills are described in VFX. This can be misleading. It’s important that a distinction is made here to avoid confusion. The person you call an ‘animator’, will ‘manually’ key frame the movement of a mechanical object or creature often with a great deal of subtly and nuance to create realistic animation whereas FX TDs (who can be called FX animators), set ‘rules’ for computer software to simulate the animation of phenomena that has massive visual complexity, procedurally. For example, FX TDs set parameters so the foam on the waves of the sea are driven by the size or power of each wave. The miniscule and fractal like details are important and end up needing to be ‘art directed’ by the filmmaker or a VFX supervisor. Look at slow-motion photography of an explosion, glass breaking, or fast flowing water to fully appreciate the detail and characteristics involved. The ideas of procedure, and scalability are most important in Effects (FX) animation, so as to be able to simulate phenomena that are believable within realistic time frames.
What’s it like?
FX TDs are the digital masters of cause and effect. They need to have a feel for how to set up a system that will produce the effect they want, although this is a skill that comes with experience. There is often opportunity to be creative and have a real impact on the final result, especially when working on more fantasy based projects, and FX TDs will often use references from books, films and concept art together with the director and VFX supervisor's comments to create the 'look' required.
An FX TD needs to have the ability to think procedurally – that is to break a problem down into steps. The most commonly used 3D packages (Maya and Houdini) have built–in systems for creating particle or fluid systems, but an FX TD needs to understand how these can be manipulated, and what forces they need to add to create the effect they want. Many effects also require moving beyond the base setups and building more complex systems around them, which often require programming.
FX requires quite a lot of patience. Simulations can often take hours to run, and a single effect may need to be simulated with many times with different tweaks to its input parameters before the desired result is achieved. Understanding how to optimise and speed up the simulations is therefore also very useful.
To become an FX TD, you’ll need to research how the work breaks down into rigid body simulations, fluids and cloth, fur and hair (although in some companies and pipelines you’ll find Character or Creature TDs taking care of cloth, fur and hair), in others you’ll find FX TDs involved in these character/creature effects as well.
یک FX TD چه کاری انجام میدهد ؟
Effects Technical Directors (FX TDs) are the digital versions of the traditional on-set special effects crew. They need to have a feel for how to set up a system that will produce the effect they want, although this is a skill that comes with experience. There is often opportunity to be creative and have a real impact on the final result, especially when working on fantasy and sci-fi projects, and FX TDs will often use references from books, films and concept art together with the director and VFX supervisor's comments to create the 'look' required.
An FX TD needs to have the ability to break a problem down into steps. Most 3D software packsages have built–in systems for creating particle or fluid systems, but an FX TD needs to understand how these can be manipulated. Many effects also require moving beyond the base setups and building more complex systems around them, which often require programming.
Simulations can often take hours to run, and a single effect may need to be simulated with many times with different tweaks to its input parameters before the desired result is achieved. Understanding how to optimise and speed up the simulations is therefore also very useful.
• Good communication and organisational skills
• Ability to work well under pressure and meet deadlines, whilst maintaining high quality
• Ability to work as part of a team as well as alone
• Ability to work out how to approach a problem as a series of steps
• An eye for details, good sense of timing, and thorough understanding of techniques and technologies relating to physical simulation in computer graphics
• Familiarity with pipeline issues and problem solving
• A good 3D/CGI generalist TD background
• A solid understanding of the compositing process
• Strong understanding of Linux/Unix based computer operating systems
معمولا برای FX TD نرم افزارهایی که بیشتر یاد می شوند هودینی و مایا هستند و دلیل این انتخاب کامل بودن و کاربر پذیر بودن این برنامه ها در دنیا است.به شکل زیر که می بینید.
Extensive knowledge of Houdini and/or Maya (Python knowledge a plus)
ولیکن برنامه های یاد شده به شکل زیر هم در دنیای اطلاعات TD مطرح می شوند:
- Houdini Apprentice - Specialist effects software, used in many high-end VFX productions to create smoke, water and particle effects.
- Maxon Cinema4D - Available free for students and teachers, offers a much easier learning curve than most 3D software, and full integration with After Effects.
- Blender - Free and open source 3D modelling and animation software, used to create open source films like Sintel and Tears of Steel.
- The Foundry's Nuke Non-Commercial - Powerful node-based compositing software, free for training and personal projects.
- Autodesk 3DS Max/Maya Academic - Industry standard and very popular 3D modelling and animation tools.
- مهندسی سینما _ نویسنده سجادجهانگیری Cinema Engineering
- اصول مدیریت اجرایی جلوه های ویِژه _ نویسنده سجادجهانگیری 5 Basic Tips in Visual Effects Administration
- جلوه های ویژه و بازتاب تحولات تکنولوژی در آن _ نویسنده سجادجهانگیری
- رفتارشناسی وقایع در مدیریت وطراحی جلوه های ویژه سینمایی _ نویسنده سجادجهانگیری
- قواعد وتناسبات در استفاده از جلوه های ویژه و تکنولوژی CG در سینما _ نویسنده سجادجهانگیری
- The Art and Science of Digital Compositing by Ron Brinkmann (pub. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers)
- Digital Compositing by Steve Wright (pub. Butterworth-Heinemann)
- Visual Effects in A Digital World: A Comprehensive Glossary of over 7,000 Visual Effects Terms by Karen Goulekas (pub. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers)
- How to Get a Job in Computer Animation by Ed Harriss
A background in science, especially physics, computer science or engineering, is useful as it involves the sort of problem solving an FX TD needs, although many come from animation or art. Basic programming skills are also extremely useful, especially in Python, which is used in many effects packages.
However, there is no set way of getting into VFX effects work. Currently a lot of FX TDs do a first degree in a STEM subject and have then go on to further study on either a masters degree or a private training course such as? in what? in order to understand the VFX pipeline and be confident enough in matchmoving, modeling, texturing, lighting and some animation to be able to develop a showreel as a CG generalist first.This generally build on a broad foundation in STEM skills.
Expect to spend a couple of years as a 3D/CGI generalist in a company, making CG assets as well as doing bits of simple simulation work when you start. Some companies do employ Assistant TDs (ATDs) or Technical Assistants (TAs) who have come from full on computer science backgrounds and this can be a way in too. Sometimes, people who have completed research in pure science and engineering to doctorate level and may have been working in other industries, movie across into feature film effects work in particular.
One of the best ways to get into effects is to experiment with the effects tools in a 3D package like Maya or Houdini. There are lots of online tutorials to help you get to grips with their out-of-the-box effects like basic fire, particles or liquids, and then set yourself challenges to create more complex effects like creating a tornado or waterfall.
Progression upwards is based on the time and experience amassed doing the job and credits gained working in film, tv, commercials or games. FX TDs would also need to keep examples of their work current on a showreel as their career progresses. Good TDs with both artistic and coding skills are sort after and although the moniker of junior, mid and senior may be applied to the job It is more likely that going into the job will mean several years have already been worked as a junior CGI artist – in more of a generalist role (so you’ll already be operating at mid level).
Although some FX TDs manage to work broadly across rigid body FX, fluids, hair and cloth; seniority will probably mean more specialism and focus on one of these areas. It is possible to progress as a Cloth or Fur TD for example. It is fairly common for experienced FX TDs to move into pipeline and R&D roles. The coding and software modifying/interface design nature of a lot of FX work, especially at a senior level, lends itself well to this move sideways. Senior FX TDs can also go on to become VFX supervisors. Mid level TDs have usually been working in the VFX industry for three to seven years and senior TD upwards of seven years.