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fxphd Announces Second Term Lineup

Building upon a successful first term with students from more than 65 countries worldwide, online visual effects training site fxphd announces their course offerings for Term Two 2006. Registration is now open at and classes begin the week of Aug. 26, 2006. To celebrate, fxphd is offering a scholarship for the most imaginative pitch for a visual effects shot. The best pitch will be selected and provide the winner with a full term membership to fxphd and a chance to learn Flame, Shake, da Vinci color grading or any of the others courses offered.

Term one covered Autodesk Flame, Shake, Final Cut Pro, 3ds Max, After Effects and Autodesk Toxik. Course offerings in Term two have doubled over Term 1, and the classes have been extended to cover Maya, da Vinci color grading, Photoshop and Autodesk's Combustion.

Term two kicks off with an extensive miniatures effects shoot being done at the Warner Studios in Queensland. This has been put together with the help of Photon Vfx, Panavision, Warner Bros. and the Australian Cinematography Society. The shoot aims to create the digital capture pipeline used on the miniatures shoot of SUPERMAN RETURNS.

Renowned cinematographer Steve Newman will provide a masterclass on lighting and filming miniatures and greenscreen. A few of Newmans many credits include SUPERMAN RETURNS, BABE and GHOST SHIP. Newman and Photon VFX, one of the most experienced vfx feature film companies in combining models and digital visual effects, pioneered the use of digital capture miniature photography using motion control. For this first shoot of Term two the fxphd crew will be shooting with two Panavision Genesis Cameras on the Milo motion control rig. The shoot will provide Panalog (RAW Panavision) files for students to complete an advanced vfx shot, which includes 3D tracking, advanced multi-pass greenscreen compositing and Maya CG effects such as rain, cloth, fire and sprite solutions.

Interviews on set from the shoot as well as documentary-style recording of the process will be covered in fxphds acclaimed weekly effects theory course Background Fundamentals. This TV-style program is the foundation of the courses at fxphd and covers a wide variety of topics, which apply across all applications. Previs, matte painting, e-cinematography, as well as DI workflow are all planned topics for the term.

In addition to this footage, members of fxphd called post-grads will have access to other effects material, such as traditional 2D animation and advanced multi-pass 3D renders. This allows them to create their own composites and build shots for their reels under the instruction of fxphd professors.

fxphd has partnered with the biggest names in visual effects software including Apple, Autodesk and da Vinci to provide high-end training to artists around the world. fxphd not only offers structured application training via QuickTime classes downloaded via Bit Torrent, but also covers the theory behind visual effects.

The centerpiece of each term is real film shoots and resulting footage that students can download and use. Students are encouraged to make each clip their own and for use on their show reel. Last term this included multi-camera time splice shoots and green screen shoots.

The fxphd Scholarship Program is open to everyone. Potential students need to simply email the most imaginative pitch to the founders of fxphd. As the scholarship is to learn high-end visual effects, the entries are judged on creativity and imagination, not current effects skills. The winner is likely to be someone who shows a love of visual effects and post-production and can show this by pitching an idea for a 10-second visual effects shot. The entry could be as simple as describing the piece to camera or as advanced as a previs or storyboard. The winning student will be announced the week of Aug. 26, and will allow full membership to fxphd and its training.

14 courses are being offered in Term two at, including:

* Shake 201 - High End Shake Composting: Taught by visual effects artist Tahl Niran already a fxphd favorite this intermediate level course will cover multi-pass compositing, Mutliplane and 3D compositing within Shake.

* Color Grading 201: This is the first ever online class targeted towards colorists running the DaVinci 2K, but is sure to be of interested to any effects artist who wants to round out their knowledge base. Warren Eagles will cover beauty grading, grading for greenscreen, visual effects grading, advanced use of power windows, toolbox and kilo-vectors.

* Maya 201 - Particle Effects: This course goes hand in-hand with the miniatures model shoot from previs to creating particle effects of fire and water, and cloth simulations for the final composite. Dean Ervik joins fxphd having most recently been full time in the Japanese gaming industry, where hes in 3D effects work.

* Final Cut Pro 201: Real World Integration. Nick Deacon takes students through real-world use of Final Cut Pro in a production environment. Topics include advanced color correction, working with Motion and DVD Studio Pro, XML exporting, as well as roundtable discussions with editors.

* Combustion 201: This course is taught by fxphd professor Gary M. Davis, also the professor of fxphds 3ds Max 101 course. Davis has been a user of combustion since version 1 and will cover advanced techniques practical in production such as the GBuffer builder, capsules, roto, and particles. His unique position of being an advanced Combustion and Max trainer allows him to show Combustion's advanced integration with 3D.

* Toxik 102: fxphd students in Toxik 102 will have exclusive access to a special version of Toxik 2007 available over VPN licensing. fxphd dean John Montgomery, who has been involved with the development of Toxik over the last four years, will continue building upon concepts from the first Toxik class, which will also be offered in Term two.

* Photoshop 201: Rose Draper will be covering the use of Adobes Photoshop in an effects production environment. Key concepts include matte painting, history, Smart Objects, building elements for Shake, Flame and Combustion, as well as a bit of type design. Draper joins fxphd from having just completed an ambitious effects feature documentary, where she was the visual effects supervisor. Her experience in advanced Photoshop for feature film production is invaluable.

Other introductory classes offered in Term two include 3ds Max 101, Shake 101, Toxik 101 and After Effects 201.

For more information or to schedule an interview about fxphd, please contact Mike Seymour via email at

fxphd ( was created by the founders of (, based in Victoria, Australia, the ultimate resource for high-end compositing and post-production on the web. They provide high-quality Internet training targeting visual effects professionals. The founders are Jeff Heusser, John Montgomery and Seymour.