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08/04/2009

New Red Dwarf Material At Heart Of fxphd.com's New Term

The innovative, professional high-end, project-based online visual effects training resource led by visual effects professionals, fxphd.com, is launching a ground-breaking series of courses based on vfx material it produced for the brand new Red Dwarf miniseries, Red Dwarf: Back to Earth which was commissioned exclusively by Dave, the home of witty banter.
Mike Seymour, VFX Supervisor and fxphd.com co-founder, said: "For the first time, a production agreed to partner with fxphd to allow unparalleled access to a real production. Instead of simply filming a 'making of', we were the visual effects company for the project on set. Working with Sydney effects house FIN design on virtual sets we worked on over 260 shots for the three-part mini-series."
The Red Dwarf courses are among the 37 courses offered this term on its website at: www.fxphd.com which cover both post production and production. Shot entirely in the UK on multiple RED ONE cameras, Seymour says that fxphd wanted to provide its students with the ability to examine the leading-edge vfx work undertaken in a real world, contemporary production.
John Montgomery, fxphd.com co-founder, said: "While we love working on visual effects, we did this so that fxphd members could gain insight from a real production.
This project provides the basis of several courses during the term at fxphd.com - from compositing, to Flame, to CGI, to production."
fxphd delivered 262 shots to the production over a 27 day period, with a select team of 18 fxphd members distributed around the world working on the material. Seymour, who also served as 2nd Unit Director on the project, said: "The quality of the shots we produced is outstanding for a TV episodic."
The five courses based around Dave's brand new Red Dwarf content are: Background Fundmentals: Inside the Production; Special Ops - Visual Effects of The Red Dwarf; Maya Animation & Compositing: Red Dwarf; Flame Post on Red Dwarf; RED Tales from Production.
During these, students can cover a range of important vfx techniques from the basic such as monitor replacement, through issues such as working with RED footage in grading, modelling, rigging 3D characters and - crucially - how to keep production schedules on track.
Other subjects being taught this term cover the use of a wide array of software packages including Houdini, Final Cut Fusion, Shake, Massive and XSI and subjects as diverse as digital colour theory, particles and dynamics and matte painting pre-visualisation.
Students will have access to high quality footage from Red Dwarf: Back to Earth and other shoots, as well as other effects material, such as traditional 2D animation and advanced multi-pass 3D render. This allows them to create their own composites and build shots for their reels under the instruction of fxphd teachers. Footage ranges from NTSC and PAL all the way up to 4:4:4 1920 x 1080 imagery.
Students pay a flat fee of $330 per term and can elect to study up to three courses, with an additional Background Fundamentals course supplied gratis (and, of course, up to two more per term can be added for an extra fee). Each course features 10 x 30 minute Quick Time tutorials, with many also featuring supplementary files and footage to work with.
What's more, fxphd's Virtual Private Network enables students to use full versions - without watermarking - of many of the industry's leading software packages, as long as it is for their own individual, educational use, or for generating material for their personal demo reel.
Red Dwarf: Back to Earth premieres in the UK over the Easter Weekend on Dave, the home of witty banter - 9pm on April 10, 11 and 12. Further information is available at: www.joindave.co.uk.
Further information about fxphd.com is available at: www.fxphd.com.
(KMcA/BMcC)
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