We have just announced the new term at fxphd.com. More on that below, but to give you a sample of what is on offer we have decided to provide a free class from last term. This video was part of last term at fxphd.com

With each membership of fxphd you get to pick three courses - such as Nuke, AE, Maya, etc -- and you also receive a bonus free weekly course called Background Fundamentals. In this course we provide a magazine style show that covers a new topic each week that focuses more on the business, history and technology behind the industry. "BKD" covers new tech from shows like SIGGRAPH but also historical perspectives and key industry background knowledge that makes your professional life richer.

With help from our good friends at ILM, especially Compositing Supervisor Jon Alexander and also from Stu Maschwitz, Director and owner of prolost.com, we produced this class for last term's fxphd Background Fundamentals course. Enjoy!

ILM and the Optical Printer

One of the most important pieces of kit in the history of visual effects was the optical printer. In an age before computers it was the center of the effects universe. Almost every major effects film and most title work was done with an optical printer. Some the finest work was done at ILM, who had several optical printers and used them to make Luke fight his father, Roger chase Jessica and Indy discover strange new corners of the world. While the optical printer was still in commission, Stu Maschwitz was working at ILM in the Rebel Mac unit, but he had so much respect for the optical team that he sat down one day and worked out how to replicate the optical printer in After Effects. Here is both a review of the optical printer and that re-creation of it in After Effects.

ILM's Greg Grusby hit the ILM archives to find us these historical images of the optical printer and some of the great team that worked on them exclusively for fxguide. We thank him, Jon Alexander and especially the original optical department of ILM for such a wealth of talented filmmaking that truly the rest of the industry is built on today.

ILM Optical department circa 1982. From back row: Ed Jones, Marc Vargo, Dave Berry, Ralph Gordon, Dave Hanies, Peter Almlandson, James Lim, John Ellis, Chris Rand, Michael Moore, Tom Rosseter, Phil Barberio, Duncan Myers, Mike Shannon, Mary Walter, Bruce Nicholson, Peg Hunter.
Once at ILM, the optical department constantly upgraded the hardware including commissioning optics guru David Grafton to design and build a series of special lenses that would help ILM set the standard for film composites for years to come.

ILM’s famed Anderson optical printer, seen above right, was originally purchased from Paramount Pictures in 1975. Built by Howard Anderson at Paramount for the 1956 Cecil B. De Mille film “The Ten Commandments,” the Anderson had been used on Alfred Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest.”

Ken Smith composites a shot on ILM’s Quad Printer. Originally designed for “The Empire Strike Back” by Richard Edlund.
Tom Rosseter works on an element “line-up” prior to tuning over the film and detailed instruction assembly list to the optical compositor.

A number of ILM staff continued to contribute their expertise to the system including: George Randle, camera and projector movements; David Grafton, optics; Jerry Jeffress and Michael MacKenzie, electronics interface system. Bruce Nicholson also provided his expertise to the system.

One of ILM’s Oxberry animation stands in action.
'Optical Dog' Ken Smith adjusts settings on the ‘Work Horse’ printer.

Prior to Episode VI, “Return of the Jedi” ILM dismantled the Quad printer and two of its projectors were used to build the Work Horse which was driven by a highly sophisticated, custom engineered computerized control system which sped up the arduous process substantially.

Garry Waller (center) in discussion beside one of ILM’s Oxberry Roto-stands.
Bruce Nicholson reviews a line-up sheet for an upcoming composite shot.

Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett take a breather in the ILM lounge.
The L.S. printer, named after its builder, ILM optical cameraman and expert machinist, John Ellis.

Mike Bolles aligns the optics on a prototype design for an advanced optical printer.
Ken Smith loads the Academy Award-winning Quad printer in preparation for a composite.

Tom Rosseter and Mike Shannon review a line-up to ensure a particularly complex composite shot comes off without a hitch.
Mary Walters synchronizing elements for an optical composite. Note the line-up sheet next to the sync block.







(All images copyright ILM/Lucasfilm. All rights reserved.)

New for the new October term

The class above is from last term - so what is on offer this term?

You can find out everything at www.fxphd.com

Here is a brief summary of what is on offer this term:

Check out the listing of our courses for full descriptions and a projected outline of the classes. Our orientation week video covering our new offerings can be seen here - or at the end of next week's fxguidetv Episode #122.

As always, we’ve taken our member’s requests into account in building our curriculum and we have some great new courses (and profs). Some highlights from the over 40 courses on offer:

  • Nuke Zombie Apocalypse: The title is catchy, but the course is about the strong Nuke classes covering useful and common tasks that artists need to know in both 2D and 3D.
  • RED EPIC Grading Workflow: fxphd has had an EPIC M since March 2011and then one of the first EPIC X cameras (#22), so we’re well placed to present solid post workflows.
  • The Craft of Color Grading: Following in the steps of our popular editing series, this course takes a look at the craft with some of the top colorists in the states.
  • Python Fundamentals for the Pipeline: Bring efficiency to your workflow or facility with some essential programming for the 2D pipeline, taught by Digital Domain’s Michael Morehouse.
  • Creative Editing and Graphics with Smoke on Mac: Broadcast editor Brian Mulligan shares tips and techniques showing why Smoke on Mac is a full creative workstation.
  • Introduction to Character Animation: Kai Pedersen teaches our first ever character animation course.
  • Intermediate SynthEyes 2011: Glutton for punishing himself with difficult tracking scenes, Victor Wolansky returns to help you get the most out of SynthEyes.
  • Broadcast Mograph Integration: Popular prof Mark Bowey returns to cover one of the lastest trends in broadcast motion graphics.
  • Motion Graphics Project Workshop: We have some great “real-world” projects to cover from concept to finish.
  • Introduction to Maya 2012 I: Matt Leonard updates our introductory Maya training to the latest release.
  • Background Fundamentals: This term’s free offering will primarily be covering large scale production workflow issues such as scheduling, asset management, client management and producing.

fxphd October 11 Term Orientation Week Video

This is an overview of the new courses for the October term at fxphd.

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