Monday, July 14, 2008


I'm very late jumping onto the bandwagon of OpenEXR, or the .EXR format for images. My recent conversion to a completely linear workflow has coaxed me into making the jump. I must say however, that I wish I had been using EXR ever since it came out to the public.

For those of you who don't know, EXR is a image format written at Industrial Light and Magic for storing scanned film images or renders. It is a very sophisticated format, allowing you many options for compression, bit depths, and the ability to store high dynamic range values.

I won't go into all the technical information, but just a couple of suggestions I learned.

1.When storing a render without film grain , compress using ZIP lossless compression.

2. When storing a scanned film frame, or digital video with noise, compress using PIZ lossless compression.

For more techinical details on EXR, see these two sites...

The main reason for me posting this entry is this: USE EXR, IT ROCKS.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Essential Reading For Every Visual Effects Artist

I have been meaning to write a new VFX tip for weeks now, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Life's been busy...or I've been lazy, I don't know which. Perhaps a little of both, skewing toward lazy.

However, while this is not a VFX tip or tutorial of my own, I hope it is helpful nonetheless. I learned CG by spending hours at the local Barnes and Noble reading books on graphics and visual effects. Today, there is a wealth of knowledge and reference out there regarding these subjects. Here is a list of three books, that are at the top of my list of essential reading for visual effects artists.

This is my favorite book of all time. Never before I have seen so much information about visual effects crammed into one book. None of the material is wasteful, and it includes great tips on compositing, along with explainations on why photographed elements look the way they do. While this book is specifically for Adobe After Effects, the information can be used across almost any compositing package, as it also includes general theory along with detailed examples of how to perform the effects in After Effects. Pick this book up.

2.Digital Lighting and Rendering (2nd Edition) by Jeremy Birn

I know I said number one was my favorite book of all time, but I think this book has to be tied. It's fantastic, but in a different way. While AE Studio Techniques covers a wide array of compositing techniques, this book covers 3D lighting, texturing, and compositing. The first edition of this book almost single handedly taught me how to light CG shots. When I was a visual effects noob way back in 2000-2001, I spent many weekends at my local Barnes & Noble reading that book. The second edition is the latest one, and it covers everything from old school techniques, to the newest of lighting and compositing. This is the best book on CG lighting that has ever been written, period.

I included this book in the list because not only is it clever, informative, and well written, it's just plain fun. This book excited me the first time I thumbed through it. Stu explains ways to get big budget looks on a not so big budget. He covers almost all aspects of filmmaking from your first script idea all the way to the finished product. There is a chapter on effects, which even covers miniatures, along with digital effects. The information in this book is fantastic. Pick it up, and be on your way to shooting a low budget action flick.