...so. I have some news:
It has been in discussion for some time (I think I may have mentioned it before), but now, it has finally come to pass:
In the January term of FXPHD, I will be teaching a mental ray course named "Production oriented rendering techniques with mental ray". Yay!
FXPHD is an online training site run by Mike Seymour, John Montgomery, Jeff Heusser and friends (who also are the people behind FXGUIDE, a VFX oriented news site I suggest you also check out if you havn't already)
Note that these courses are not free, but they are not extremely expensive either - and considering the classes run for ten weeks with full participation of the professor (that's me, in this case) in the forums for questions about the class, it's really a pretty good bargain, IMHO.
The standard FXPHD deal is that you pay for a package where you get to sign up for three of their courses. But the cool thing is that you get to see the first two classes of each course anyway, so you can spend your first two weeks of the term browsing around before you make up your mind to pick a (set of) class(es). Also, a freebie "Background Fundamentals" class is always included, with all sorts of topics.
(If you sign up as a new user, and there is a refferal field, fill in "MasterZap".
Here's my teaser clip for the class:
(If you want the FULL FXPHD orientation video (from which the above is my "segment"), it can be downloaded here.)
This course will teach techniques and concepts for rendering realistic, physically based CG elements in a visual effects context (i.e. for integration into live action shots). As it is a hands-on course in using Mental Ray to do these things, it will start with a fundamental treatment of everything from light and pixels through to cameras, response curves and compositing, as well as "learning to see". The course will be performed using the 3ds Max application, but most things apply to Maya and Softimage as well.
The ten classes will be rougly divided like this (subject to change based on feedback):
Pixels vs. Light - What is a pixel? The units of light, and how they map to the RGB values we encounter every day. Shows how the math we apply to pixels can break, and how, if we are not careful, two plus two can end up ten.
Lighting - Understanding the quality and quantity of light. Understanding how real-world lights map to computer graphics lights. Understanding how light gathers and reflects off a surface.
Cameras - Understanding how a real world cameras function map to their computer graphics counterparts. Understanding what film and digital cameras do to the image before you even see it.
Materials I - Using the physically based Arch&Design material to simulate real world surfaces. Learning to see the world, so that one can translate it to CG.
Materials II - More about materials. Using the mental ray skin shader for realistic characters.
Interaction between CG and the Real World - Using the production library shaders to seamlessly integrate CG objects in real-world background plates with reflections, bounce light, shadows, etc.
What Not To Do - Computer Graphics is full of old "traditional" techniques that has stuck around for many years, but that are in conflict with proper physical rendering, and should be avoided. Just because the button is still there doesn't mean you should push it.
Compositing - How stuff that comes out of the renderer goes together, and what can (and should) and can't (and shouldn't) be delegated to compositing.
Technical topics such as sampling, flicker elimination, memory management. These classes may also adress issues that has come up in the forum as needed.
Continuation of class 09
Check it out! I am very excited to do this class, and I welcome you all to join FXPHD!