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Lost Boys Learning - CG Training - Memo from the Trenches

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Lost Boys Learning - CG Training - Memo from the Trenches

"New Student Work from Lost Boys Learning"

As of mid-May 2006 the first intake of students at Lost Boys Learning have completed their Term 1: Foundation studies and we are proud to share a taste of what they've accomplished. As relative newcomers to 3D Animation and Visual Effects training, the students dove in head first to meet the project-based learning challenges, including modeling, visual effects, compositing, broadcast design, and the piece de resistance, the photo-realistic insect project.

"In production we are always pushing our boundaries. My training reflects that theme by challenging the students to produce production quality work in a very short timeframe. By keeping our deadlines tight the students are learning how to prioritize their tasks and maximize efficiencies. Our emphasis is on creative problem solving. Our technical training through out Term 1: Foundation covered all the basics of the 3D and Compositing pipelines with a little extra elbow grease going into Shaders, Lighting and Rendering."

The students work one-on-one with Mentor/VFX Supervisor Mark Benard in the studio, and venture out into the daylight to compose and shoot background plates for projects. Training is delivered by a combination of demonstration videos, class discussion, lectures and hands-on exercises, combined with the individual projects.

There is a 2 Minute Quicktime Montage available on" rel="external"> as well as further information about the school and program. There are only a few seats left in Septembers intake so those that are interested should not delay.

Still Samples from Montage:

Stay tuned for future releases. For Term2: Intermediate we are exploring more complicated shots involving creatures and matte paintings/digital set extensions.



Lost Boys Learning is a division of Lost Boys Studios Inc., (, located in the scenic Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. More information is available by contacting

Memo from the Mentor - Expanded Gallery


We now have an expanded Gallery available on

Direct Links:
Student Activities
Project Stills

You will find the beginnings of our image chronicles which should give you a better taste of the Lost Boys Learning experience.

On an additional note, we recently had the pleasure of having Kenneth Meyer (Animation Director & all round fun/creative guy.) join us to present the creative and pipeline on his current production as well as give us a workshop on Super Sculpey maquette and armature creation. Ken has a decade of experience in the entertainment industry working with clients such as MGM, Disney Television Development, Midway Games, EA Games, Vivendi Universal Games and the list goes on… See for more information.

Stay tuned for upcoming images from our field trip on July 6th to Vancouver to tour select VFX, Animation and Game Studios!



Lost Boys Learning - CG Training - Vancouver Tour

Time to share more fun times from Lost Boys Learning!

Part 1 of 2

We just came back from a great field trip touring select Visual Effects, Gaming and Animation Studios over in the Vancouver scene (one of North America's top production centres). There we had a whirlwind tour of a good cross section of possible careers for our future graduates.

Our day started out with a great tour through Bardel’s animation studio.

"For over fifteen years, Bardel has provided animation services to the international market on feature films, television series, interactive media, commercials and web-based content. Some of the studio's clients include Dreamworks SKG, Warner Brothers, Fox, Nelvana, Disney Interactive, and Electronic Arts. Bardel has been contracted on 11 feature films, 2 home videos, 35 television series and specials, 15 interactive media projects, and numerous shorts and commercials. Bardel's Vancouver-based production facility produces both traditional and digital animation. The studio has utilized its diverse production experience by combining various animation techniques to develop " hybrid " production pipelines, which gives it the ability to provide its clients with unique, cost-effective animation services.”

It was great to see so many old friends. Paul Johnson, friend to Gillian from their Walt Disney days, was the host of our tour. Tony Power, a past employee of Lost Boys, now oversees the growing 3D Dept. making sure production meets its deadlines and runs as smoothly as possible. Barry Ward, President, addressed our students and was very supportive of maintaining future contact.

Bardel is working on some amazing new projects (both Flash and 3D). Their roots are in classical animation but they are enthusiastically embracing new technologies (never have I seen so many sexy Wacom Cintiq’s under one roof!) I wish I could say more but Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) are very important to the entertainment industry so my lips are sealed.

Next on our list was the film industry giant Technicolor. Recently acquiring Toybox they have breathed fresh life into the Vancouver division.

“Since bringing color to motion pictures 90 years ago, Technicolor has evolved into a global and diversified corporation that is now considered the preeminent worldwide provider of services to the media and entertainment industries. Headquartered in Camarillo, California, Technicolor is part of the Services division of Thomson (Euronext Paris: 18453; NYSE: TMS). In addition to being the world’s most prolific processor of motion picture film, Technicolor is also the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of pre-recorded videocassettes, DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, and CD-ROM. On an annualized basis, Technicolor has the ability to process five billion feet of motion picture release prints, and the capacity to produce in excess of 1.5 billion DVDs, 330 million videocassettes, and 300 million CDs. The company is also a leading developer and supplier of comprehensive, end-to-end digital cinema distribution technology and services, and channel origination and broadcast playout services. Over its nine decades of operation, Technicolor has continued to pioneer the most advanced methods of delivering visual entertainment to millions of people through film, digital cinema, video, and optical technologies”

Yes, 1915->present, you could say they are pretty influential players in the film industry!

Again, it was great to see so many familiar faces (5 past Lost Boys!) Their Visual Effects dept. has really expanded over the past two years. They are primarily focusing on some larger VFX Films as well as handling some series work. These shops like to keep their clients work under wraps until official release so unfortunately I can’t give too many details but I can say that many a Visual Effects artist would be envious of the work they are currently producing.

Host to our tour was the lovely Brenda Levert, whom I met about ten years back during the MGM "Poltergeist: The Legacy" series. First we stopped into the Discreet Inferno Suite ($1 Million+ if you wanted your own) for some sneak peeks at their current R&D progress for an upcoming film. Then we moved on to see their Compositing area. Primarily After Effects 7.0 with a few seats of Shake were busy in action (maybe even a seat of Fusion?) We had a great little show and tell from one of their artists that was supplying Compositors with 3D tracking info from Boujou. Then up to the main 3D area were we witnessed amazing Maya fluid and particle simulations. The boys in 3D are definitely giving Technicolor’s enormous renderfarm a run for its money!

From there we had just enough time to grab a quick bite from a drive through and then move on to see Atmosphere Visual Effects.

Best known for their recent work on the VFX heavy BattleStar Galactica series these guys are a fun “artist-run” shop of about 25 full time staff. Starting out as a specialty shop for matte paintings and set extensions they have now branched out into servicing any Visual Effects challenge. Founders Andrew, Jeremy and Tom have created a great vibe for their studio. Tom and Jeremy both expressed need for fresh talent but they are just going to have to wait until my first class graduates this fall! ;)

Trevor Adams (you guessed it, past Lost Boy) hosted our tour and gave everyone a great taste of life at Atmosphere. He showed us some enhancements that he was working on for the new season's Cylon model. Very cool stuff Trev, keep up the good work!

Atmosphere’s weapons of choice seemed to be a mix of Maya/Lightwave for 3D and Fusion/Shake? for Compositing (don’t quote me on the Shake, I can’t say for sure).

On our way out the door we bumped into Pauline Burns (yes a Lost Grrrl…) who had recently relocated back to the west coast from Intelligent Creatures in Toronto. Knowing her she’ll be VFX Coordinating and attempting to keep the chaos organized and neatly labeled.

Lost Boys Learning - CG Training - Vancouver Tour

PART 2 of 2

Now it was time for a little taste of the Gaming world. One highly respected Developer in the highly competitive Vancouver game scene is Next Level Games. With a large emphasis on a healthy work/lifestyle balance they stand apart from the rest of the industry. Very low turn over and a tight knit staff leads to a very productive and creative environment.

“Next Level Games is a full-service videogame developer based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Founded in October 2002, Next Level Games has successfully assembled some of the best talent in the industry under one roof. Next Level Games continues to attract and reunite experienced developers from many well-established companies including Electronic Arts, Black Box Games and Radical Entertainment. Each member of our team has an average of five years experience in videogame development. Our company is a creative, energetic and positive place to work. We have built a passionate, spirited and productive working environment offering industry-competitive salaries, comprehensive benefits, and performance-based equity rewards for our top performers.”

Our host was Jared Johnson, a Producer for Next Level Games. Before our tour he gave everyone an excellent round table discussion about their company philosophies as well as his views on the future of the industry. Then he took us around the Studio and explained the layout and the importance of an open floor plan as being conducive to cooperative production. The teams were working on some very exciting projects which of course are heavily protected by the very real NDA’s that we all signed. Itching to say more but we’ll all just have to wait and see!

Oh and did I mention that Jared was on the ball? It makes sense considering how well Next Level is doing… Before I even had a chance to send off thank you emails he was already in my Inbox requesting feedback on his presentation and was offering his email to the students (which he addressed by name!) in case they had any further questions. We all left with a very good impression, awesome job Jared.

Last but not least, out to Burnaby to visit the The Bridge Studios, home of MGM’s "Stargate SG-1" and "Stargate Atlantis" Series. Running against the clock, fate threw some heavy road work in our way… Sonia, our host, was very understanding and let us know that she would be waiting for us. We made it through security without too much hassle and down to the VFX Offices we went. Production was currently on hiatus so our timing was good. Typically that Studio is very busy and will not have room for a mentor and his students. Of course Post Production never sleeps so we were able to take a good look at Stargate’s in house VFX team. They handle generating lots of on-screen playback (computer screen gack that may or may not support story) as well as many effects requirements for the show. It seemed that a big part of their work was doing set extension and matte paintings for all the exotic locations that the SG Teams end up in. 3D software wise, I saw lots of Lightwave and a little Maya. I didn’t get a good look at their compositing software but I imagine it to be After Effects and/or Fusion.

Next Sonia led us out to the Sound Stages where the permanent and not so permanent sets are housed. We walked through the SG-1 gateroom but for the life of us couldn’t figure out how to turn on the lights! Before you laugh you should know that that set has MANY light switches, some that go nowhere and some that control important set features. Not in any position to employ trial and error we quickly moved onto the Stargate Atlantis set. Wow, they have some very talented people on their construction crew. I’ve seen a lot of sets in my days Supervising and most do not hold up to close scrutiny. These were beautiful works of art.

Although the best part of that day had to be seeing the big grin on one of my student's face whose day-to-day personality can sometimes resemble an Android. “I watch EVERY episode of this show” he mumbles from under his shaggy mop of hair. Priceless!

An important part of preparing our students for future careers is building on their “Who you know’s.” Besides getting a better idea of how the industry runs, this trip provided them with valuable contacts and can serve them well into the future. In Term 3 we’ll return to Vancouver to meet even more faces.

If you are interested in seeing a few more select photos of our field trip check out this link to our Class Activities gallery page.

Stay tuned for updates in the Project Stills gallery on the Creatures that we’ve been working on!



Lost Boys Learning is a division of Lost Boys Studios Inc., ( ), located in the scenic Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. More information is available by contacting