In ECHO, a short film written and directed by Victor Perez, a girl wakes up in the middle of nowhere to see in a mirror her reflection ten seconds ahead of her time. When she wakes up again the nightmare has just started over. Perez, who teaches courses here at fxphd, supervised the visual effects team (located in more than 12 different countries) as well as worked on the effects himself.
The short was filmed using motion control at Stockholm-based Stiller Studios, where the team did extensive research and development to come up with a groundbreaking approach for the film. Over at fxguide, we just posted an in-depth article covering the work on the film, so be sure to check that out.
Perez has done numerous courses for fxphd over years and is certainly one of our members’ favorite instructors. Before Victor taught courses for us, he was actually a member of fxphd in the very early days of the site. Many of his contributions to the curriculum here at fxphd mimic the tools used for ECHO.
Back in 2015, fxphd teamed with Perez and Stiller Studios for an advanced course, Nuke, Motion Control & Deep Compositing. The first several lessons focus on production of the shoot and then transition to post for the visual effects. In fact, the development of this course directly led to the creation of ECHO. “I would almost say ECHO is a child of fxphd,” says Victor, “even a few of my fxphd courses helped me during the postproduction of the film.”
“Without that course, ECHO never would have existed,” says Perez. “I had seen a few of their works but I’d never had the chance to work with them (and their expensive toys) [he laughs] and being able to create a course being assisted by the guys at Stiller themselves was the best experience.”
He was able to use the days on-set filming for the fxphd course to ask as many questions as possible and learn as much as he could about Stiller Studios’ technology. ” I questioned everything,” says Perez, “to try to understand why they were so special about motion control, and the more I learned the more I wanted to know.” It was this relationship that lead to the team at Stiller to reach out to Victor with new techniques they had developed.
Perez also created the incredibly in-depth Art and Science of Greenscreen Keying series (links: Part one & Part two). Perez designed this two-part course to teach all the available keying tools in Nuke and how to use them to pull a key as a real pro. Victor starts with keying theory in Part 1 and then dives into using the tools in Part 2, showing techniques on how to get great keys in Nuke.
Victor’s courses are always well received by our members and this is truly a reflection of the work he puts into them. One of the things he really likes about creating courses is being able to devote a lot of time for research and study of the techniques he’s teaching. “I always decide to teach subjects that I believe every VFX artist of that particular field –most particularly compositors– should know, but I need to feel like I know ‘everything’ about the subject, and then breakdown the contents of the course at a core level in order to structure a program that delivers hardcore techniques in a very simple way.”
Like all of us who teach courses, when preparing you realize you really don’t know ‘everything’ about a subject. “Then I dig deeper and deeper until I truly become an specialist in that particular matter…when you teach it is when you really learn it,” says Victor. “That’s why it takes me so long to make a course but for me it’s a journey, and every course teaches me something new and makes me a better artist.”