FXPHD update/FAQ - it's still on!


Some updates bout my FXPHD class:

I just released Class #4 of my FXPHD course 'production rendering techniques with mental ray'. We are currently having fun doing SteamPunk Robots in a real SteamPunk location:

Perhaps you want to Join the Fun?

The questions I get most often about the FXPHD classes are:

Is it too late to join now?

No. The term may be called "January10", but it is not until 8:th week of the class (sometime in early March) is it actually "too late".

Classes are released once a week over 11 weeks (there's a break week in there), and you can download them at your leisure... however, the advantage of taking the class "live" is the interaction in the forum between the teacher (me) and the students (you, and many others).

Will this class be "Max Only"

NO. As a matter of fact, beggining Class 4 I've taken steps to include explicit information for both Maya and Softimage users, as well as amended one of the earlier classes with specific Maya and Softimage info.

I still do run the major demos in Max, though.

Will there be a lot of button pushing in Max that I will not have use of in Softimage or Maya

Not really. There will be some, but I spend a lot of the time in the class teaching theory and the why of things. How you see the world, why you need to do X, Y and Z. The actual mechanics of doing X, Y and Z is also shown - but frankly, that's in the manual! UNDERSTANDING WHY you do X, Y and Z, and UNDERSTANDING when not to do Y but Q, is where the real information lies. THAT is what I teach.

I had students that doesn't even use mental ray take the class (poor lost souls... just kidding) and enjoy it!

What does it cost me? This isn't free, right?

FXPHD has nice introductory information on their site, but here's the short Zaptronic description of how it works:

FXPHD supplies 41 courses this term (called "January10", even though it stretches over three+ months). One of these courses is my course, "production rendering techniques with mental ray".

To join a term, you pay $330. For this money you get to pick 3 courses freely out of the 41 available, plus are given on mandatory "Background Fundamentals" course, so four courses in all.

Each course has, as said, 10 classes, each class being a 30-60 minute video that you can download when you want (i.e. the class itself is not "live" per se). What is "live" is the FXPHD forum behind the class where studends (you) and the teacher (me) interact and discuss the classes.

Also, on top of your 4 * 10 classes you have chosen, you get access to the first two classes in ALL courses (so you can make up your mind before you choose the 3 you want to take). So that's 37 * 2 EXTRA classes that you get thrown in.

I once computed that this alone is actually 3 solid 24 hour days of video content! Not too shabby :)

Hope this straightens out some ?'s that people may have!


Softimage defaults issue


While teaching my FXPHD course, I stumbled upon a problem I have not seen before. The error is in Softimage 2010 and (I guess) all earlier version that has the mia_material (known as "Architectural" in Softimage) integrated.

The bug is in the default values for the Ambient Occlusion settings.

You will find that the defaults for two values are flopped: AO Shadow Color is black, and "AO Ambient" is set to a 20% gray (0.2 0.2 0.2). The proper defaults are the reverse!! Also, the AO detail enhancement is off (0).

If you use the defaults as-shipped in Softimage 2010, you get an undesired 20% ambient contribution, and your AO will only apply to that light - not your indirect bounce light.

Fixing the default will give you the proper result, and not give you a sudden 20% light coming from nowhere in particular which you probably never wanted, AND will let you use the AO to enhance the detail of your indirect illumination, as the Lord* intended.

Hope this helps!


* = That would be me in this case ;)