Redshark’s VFX Columnist -HaZ interviews the founder and man behind the VFX Learning Open Source Project, an idea that could well be a game changer in the visual effects industry especially as demand for talent is ever increasing
HaZ - Tell us a little about yourself
Luis Pages - I’m originally from Venezuela, and for the last 10 years I have been a visual effects artist in the film industry. I'm a member of the Visual Effects Society and I have worked in over 12 feature films including Avatar, Harry Potter 5, Ice Age 2, John Carter and The Lovely Bones.
You have also been mentioned recently in the spotlight about a situation that is happening a lot to unfortunate artists in one way or another in bigger studios, where you actually stood up for yourself and went public?
Yes, It was an unfortunate thing, specially coming from one of the biggest studios in the world, but I felt I had to do something as people needed to know, if we don’t speak up we will continue to see this type of treatment and injustice. You can learn more about my efforts to change the vfx industry here:
HaZ- Tell us about VFX Leaning and how it came about.
In winter of 2010 I founded VFX Learning with the sole mission of creating high end training, mentored by artists actively working in the film industry, and delivering this sessions in English and Spanish, live anywhere in the world via our online classroom.
Since our launch we have been training students in Maya Dynamics, Nuke Digital Compositing, Real Flow and most recently in VFX Production. We have students from every continent and have been a phenomenal experience.
Sounds great, so why the direction into making VFX Learning an Open Source platform?
Although it has been great, at the same time it has been painful to receive hundreds of emails from students who cannot afford the cost of the courses but that are so passionate about what we do. So far I have been running the courses in a very exclusive manner, where the average classroom has no more than 5 students. This obviously translates into tuition fees that are not affordable for most.
This made me think about my start in this industry, how I had to work 2 jobs during the day and stay up most of the night on my dial-up internet connection hunting for any tutorial I could find, how hard it was to train and compete with artists coming from the big fancy schools, it didn't seem fair...
What I'm trying to accomplish with the VFX Learning Open Source Project is to give everyone regardless of his or her geographical location or financial situation a fighting chance.
I want the competition for those precious VFX film jobs to be fair. I want to give everyone the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in this business, and let creativity, imagination, talent, intelligence, hard work, desire and passion be the determining factors in who makes it and who doesn't.
So what’s your strategy in accomplishing this?
In order to accomplish this I will stop operating VFX Learning under the current business model and instead we will run one last series of live mentored training with our supporters, this sessions will be recorded and released online for everyone to watch week after week until we complete the 12 week cycle.
I noticed there is a crowd source approach to this venture?
In order for this project to be successful I need to secure approximately $400K which is the current company valuation, allowing me to basically turn my business into a non profit open source content provider, instead of selling it to an investor who will continue under the current model who only benefits those who can afford our courses.
Your contributions will also help me cover the cost of the web servers to host the 204 hours of video training (17 courses, 12 hours of class per course, in 2 languages each), online student community, supporting scene files for each assignment in each course, tracking of live action plates, pay our instructors for their open source content, and cover the cost of software licenses offered as perks, as well as IndieGoGo's and PayPal's commissions.
I have created many different levels of donations each one with very interesting rewards. Describing each individual course will take too much space so that’s why I have left the VFX Learning website intact as it is today while it stills operates as a business. This will give you an idea of what we do, how we do it, and what you and everyone else in the world will get in terms rewards in the form of training.
You can visit www.vfxlearning.com and see it for yourself. I'm devoted to this so I'm always available to answer any questions via email or Skype.
What happens if you don’t reach your goal via Indiegogo?
If we don’t manage to reach the minimum goal of $400K I will release as Open Source all the courses that I personally teach, this means: Maya Dynamics 1, 2 and Master Class as well as the Getting Wet with Real Flow course, as well as Igor Gonzalez course: Intro to Maya for Effects. All 5 courses both in English and Spanish.
Sounds sensible, but of course what will you do if you are successful in reaching the goal?
If we are successful I will also include all the 3 different levels of Nuke Digital Compositing courses as well as our new VFX Production 101 training. All your contributions will give that kid in India or China, South America, Europe or Africa who sits and watches is awe how Iron Man and The Avengers save the world, or how Harry Potter defeats evil with so many cool tricks and spells, an opportunity to learn how this impressive imagery is done, and hopefully become the next generation of VFX Artists that with an open mind and warm heart will take our troubled and sometimes unfair industry into the place it deserves.
Don't worry if you can’t contribute, you can help me immensely by spreading the word, tell everyone about this initiative so they can do the same. We all love movies so I'm sure someone you know will feel identified with my cause.
Also if any artists would like to contribute with course material, tutorials, etc. please feel free to contact me.
If any VFX post-production houses, studios or software developers would like to participate in this project also feel free to drop me a line.
Thank you for your time Luis, and we at Redshark are always big supporters of people who are trying to make a difference in the industry for the better, and knowledge is something we all strive for to allow us to develop so well-done on aiming to make this possible for everyone globally and we wish you luck.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to learn about this project and for your support and I am a big fan of Red Shark News.