fxphd freeview: Gareth Edward’s A Guerrilla Filmmakers Guide to After Effects course

With the release of The Creator, directed by Garth Edwards, we decided to make a few classes of his fxphd course available. Created back in 2008, this course covered the work he did on the BBC drama Attila the Hun. The show contained over 250 HD visual effects shots, all of which were created by himself in less than five months. The post used After Effects, Premiere, Photoshop, Mocha, and 3dsMax — all easily accessible tools for visual effects artists.

One of the most popular articles over at fxguide was our story about Gareth Edward’s work on Atilla the Hun. Edwards was one of the first traditional film students to combine live-action drama with digital effects. After graduating, he went on to work at many of the UK’s leading post-production facilities as a freelance visual effects artist. Eventually becoming frustrated with the “factory approach” to every project, he soon branched out on his own creating many high-end computer graphics for television clients including BBC and Discovery, all of which were completed entirely on own “from his bedroom”. Some of his work went on to win various accolades, including a British Academy Award and Emmy nomination.

Over at fxguide, be sure to check out our fxpodcast covering The Creator, featuring Edwards, ILM VFX Supervisor Jay Cooper, ILM on-set VFX Supervisor Andrew Roberts, and Animation Supervisor Michael Midlock.

And enjoy these free classes from fxphd!

Class 1: An introduction to the course workflow

An introduction to the course workflow, using the Adobe suite, Premiere and Excel. Initial set up for an effects shot in After Effects. Tracking in AE using nulls for multiple track points and exporting a time-remapped frame for a clean background plate in Photoshop. Illustrating the power of the Adobe suite in creating a quick proof of concept.


Class 2: Creating a matte painting

Creating a matte painting. Follows a breakdown from initial sketch to importation of photographic elements and eventual rendering into a completed matte. Multiple examples using pre-rendered 3D and ways to add realistic details with photos and video to nest them further into a realistic matte.


Class 3: Crowd duplication

Tricks within After Effects focused on crowd duplication recycling elements to create variation. Tips for rotoscoping quickly, and using other programs such as Mocha and Boujou. Faking 3D space with a 2D image in After Effects using created or imported layers.


Class 4: Creating drag and drop armies

Issues with parallax when creating drag and drop armies. Keying tips. Using a plug-in for 3DSmax to export camera data directly into After Effects.


Class 5: The “poor man’s” Massive shot

The “poor man’s” Massive shot. Detailed example into using particle systems to animate huge crowds using avatar loops and tracking with multiple layers in both 3D and After Effects.