Did you ever wonder how FXguide got started, – or which are the best tips on the site? Ever wonder who you are, when you visit, or where you live ?

Starting in December we have a huge range of new things coming and we are keen to connect with you about what’s coming and where we are right now.

It is most likely you are reading this on a Windows machine, running Explorer, and you’re based in the USA, it is almost most likely that it’s between 1 and 4 pm (Chicago time) , it’s Monday and if you haven’t been here before (unlikely) then you found us on Google.com – Oh and by the way you’ll look at about 5 pages – counting this one.

That is because 82% FXguide users are on Explorer, 66% on Windows of one type or another ( 21% Mac and only 2 % IRIX). Google is 7 times more popular than its nearest rival (Yahoo) for searching for Fxguide. Interestingly, if you not an American your’e most likely to be from Japan, which just outrates countries like Germany, the UK, Canada, Brazil and Australia.

( But most referals in Nov. have come from www.chinadv.com – not that we actually publish too much in Mandarin ! )

FXguide was started in 1999. It was started when 3 senior compositors all decided separately to write Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) lists about Flame. Those 3 compositors were John Montgomery, Jeff Heusser and Mike Seymour. John remembers well putting the finishing touches to the first version of the site in a huge snow storm.

Here is one of those emails that started it:

From: John Montgomery
To: Mike Seymour , Jeff Heusser
Subject: FAQ

Hey…wanted to let you know I’ve been working on a FAQ for the last several weeks. Yeah, I know — get a life, but well, you know, I figured we could maybe divide and conquer the remaining issues.

The FAQ could cross link our two sites, I guess.I’d also love to get some art for your site so I could place a link at DigitalSlurry to yours.

My site’s not up yet, but will be soon. If you’d like, we can kinda team up to whip the FAQ into shape.

And that last line was the one that started it all. The guys grabbed the name on line, John designed the logo.

Mike: “I think it was collective.. on the name – we wanted something that was industry but not product specific and easy to type !”

Jeff: “I didn’t have a laptop at the time but I had collected a bunch of tips and notes from sources like flame-news, training and other users, I started storing these on my personal web site so I could access them wherever I was… then Mike and John and I started emailing about doing something more formal”

John: “I designed the logo because neither Jeff or Mike wanted to waste their time on something that would be gone in a year like pets.com, etoys.com, etc. They just wanted to get their IPO money and get out. But I saw that the site could be so much more 😉
Seriously, I think that since it is run by users, the site’s content can be much more interesting to other users. We’re not just regurgitating press releases like other sites, which quite honestly, isn’t worth the bandwidth. ”

Today FXguide has over 800 members ( plus 11 times as many unregistered visitors) and over 120 compositing tips.

So which tips do the FXguide crew like the most ?

John : Well, I’m an expressions junkie in Inferno so I really like the Hungry Pirhanas tip. Not only is it the best title ever for a tip, – its a great use of expressions and the improvements introduced in 4.6 of Inferno. I really enjoy the idea of demystifying expressions and it will become even more useful with the ability to cross link expressions between nodes in batch in the upcoming version of the software.

Mike : That one and “Creating Jitter using Expressions”. I use this all the time for camera shakes, heck I used it 8 times in my last session alone ! ( Loads of smashes for a McDonalds TVC).

Jeff : I am amazed at how often I recall an old tip to do something that I don’t so that often – like loading fonts, reconciling tracking between two items… I also revisit Mike’s MK notes often.

The most popular tips as logged by the site are :

1. More Particle Tips

2. Working with Proxies in Combustion

3. Hungry Pirhanas

4. Look at new stuff in 4.6/7.6

5. Creating jitter using expressions

Industry News

Fxguide has also this year, been offering news and industry gossip. Since FXguide has started covering news, it has had a degree of success, breaking stories about Toxik, Inferno, Shake, Sony, Nuke and 5D, amongst others.

Jeff: We didn’t start out to do news, it kinda happened. Fxguide was designed to share information that interests us and then we figure, our readers. Stories came up that we felt were important to share. I think it works because we’re not reporters but actual participants in the industry, we have friends and colleagues all over the world and get information all the time about what’s going on.

Then the response has been unbelievable, we had over 20,000 reads on the story about Shake and during a breaking story it is not unusual to see 300 users on the site at one time! It has also been fun to see fxguide quoted in the mainstream (like The Hollywood Reporter).


Mike: “Not many people know this, but the site is powered by a dedicated Titanium Powerbook – sitting in the back of a rack – its a TiBook John scored !”

John: “The Tibook belongs to the owner of the company I work for, it had an accident that left it with a destroyed screen…uhh I dropped it on my kitchen floor…and the repair cost exceeded reality. So we run it remotely and with an external monitor. It may live in the back of a dark corner of an equipment room, but the OSX system runs perfectly, It has proven to be fast and reliable with service direct to the Internet via a T1 line.”

UPDATE: we moved to a real server not too long after this article…

So what’s coming in December and January?

The biggest event for senior compositors will be the release of Flame/Inferno 8/5. Fxguide will be aiming to provide a broad set of tips to help introduce this new and very powerful new release. December will also be Digital Media World’s , AEAF conference in Sydney. We will be bringing you coverage from the conference, with interviews such as the Head of WETA , Jim Rygiel, as well as more from the Digital Fusion R&D team. Generally, it is now our aim to build the library of quicktime tutorials on the site. The Expressions Tutorials have been some of the most downloaded files on the site, we would like to see more of them covering new releases of your favourite software.

Of course with a site like this, it is you who have built the site, you who have contributed and you who make it work. So from the crew here – thanks and we hope you continue to contribute and enjoy the site.