Martín Pedreira, VFX artist and 3D Generalist, has taught a Compositing with Nuke workshop to our 2nd and 3rd Animation students. For a week, they have known the concepts and techniques currently used in the world of visual effects (VFX). This training will be very useful for their implementation in postproduction processes, both in their final degree projects and their incorporation into the labor market.
We have taken the opportunity to talk with Martín about this program, its application in daily work and its advantages over other softwares used in the Animation industry.
What has been the purpose of this workshop?
The aim of the Nuke compositing workshop is to introduce students to the world of visual effects. At the same time, familiarize them with the main tool used throughout the world to make Digital Composition. During this week, L’Idem students have been able to see how important it is to have this tool and how it works. For me it is essential to master Nuke to control, correct and improve any render that is made. Properly composing any render opens up a whole new world of possibilities in computer image generation.
What have our students worked during this module?
The students of L’Idem have worked on the composition of CG renders by passes or AOVs, which allows the final result to be altered and improved from a creative point of view. Something similar to using Adobe Photoshop, but at a technically correct level. This methodology is also called “Look Dev” or “Beauty Comp”, and refers to the color correction and techniques to give a final and realistic finish to the renders. This technique serves to compose other renders on Live Action Plate (footage filmed) and its subsequent “tie”, which serves to make the renders “belong” to a specific scene. To be able to compose this Live Action Plate, those images must also go through a keying process, in which the filmed green or blue backgrounds are extracted and 2D shots are created completely in Nuke. Throughout this process tools and techniques such as 2D and 3D tracking, 3D projections are used. In addition, the composition is made using footage and 3D models from Maya, within the 3D space of Nuke.
Why is it necessary for an animator to know how to use Nuke?
For an animator, it is always important to have minimal knowledge of compositing. This allows you to understand all the steps of a Visual Effects pipeline. In addition, for a 3D Generalist knowing Nuke allows you to try and use what is done in 3D. It is essential to be able to show what one does in CG. Unlike the After Effects program, Nuke offers the possibility of having a highly professional finish. The program opens a new world of creative possibilities for the animator! Not knowing the basics in compositing is like being a photographer who does not know Photoshop.
What advantages does this program have over others?
Nuke is the only 2D composition and retouching software with an integration with the real 3D world (Maya, Houdini, Max, etc.) 100% functional. The program offers in itself a complete 3D space, in addition to all the tools to make 2D, 3D and stereoscopic compositing with the levels of quality and complexity that projects, from the most basic to the largest, require.
What is the point of mastering Nuke?
Nuke is currently the undisputed leading software in the global VFX industry for Compositing High End. Its possibilities are enormous and are limited by few technical aspects, time, budget or the imagination of the artist who uses it. And, in addition, it is in continuous development and updating. Nuke is undoubtedly the most complete and robust VFX composition program, as well as open and flexible. This allows full integration into any pipeline of literally any study in the world.
You have been working in the animation world for 14 years and, for a few years, you have specialized in visual effects. Why did you decide to dedicate yourself to VFX?
Because I really love it! Being able to create images and be responsible for some moments of films or series globally known internationally and know that they are the direct result of my work is incredibly rewarding.
Where do you think the VFX sector will evolve?
Towards places where creativity is the most important! The advances in A.I. and automation are defining the industry like never before. Slow and cumbersome processes that took a lot of time and dedication are one step away from being solved with a simple button. More and more positions of the Entry Level type will disappear. Soon, CG can be created at a very high level of complexity in much less time and with less technical knowledge than ever before.
And what will need to master the animators who want to devote themselves to the VFX to respond to these needs?
They will need real-time tools and software, such as Unity or Unreal. And for that you need solid basic knowledge in photography, composition and, why not! a filmic eye, in addition to understanding the movement, as a way of telling stories. Layout, blocking and tasks for generalists applied to real-time rendering engines are the future, without a doubt.
What advice would you give future animators when facing their incorporation into the labor market?
Beyond the better specialization, today it is essential to have a general understanding of the entire Animation and VFX pipeline. The studios are looking for highly specialized artists, but the plus will always be those who can prove a clear and solid understanding of all the processes involved in the production of Animation and VFX. For this, it is necessary to stay highly updated about the latest tools and techniques. The VFX sector is constantly changing and evolving. Staying in it is a continuous process of updating and learning.
You have worked on films and series of great success. How do you feel to know that you have helped create such amazing and captivating visual effects?
Pride comes first, which is always accompanied by a pleasant feeling of personal fulfillment. Being able to be recognized for the contribution, however small, to the final product of large productions recognized globally is the most satisfactory that can be achieved as an artist.
Independent visual effects artist from Buenos Aires (Argentina). Passionate about visual effects, he began his career as a Motion Graphics designer in 2006 and, later, he specialized in 3D Generalist which led him to be a Digital Composer from 2009 to date. Since then, he has worked in more than 20 studios on 2 continents, 6 countries and 10 cities. He is also a composition professor at L’Idem Barcelona, where he teaches intensive courses for students in 2nd and 3rd Animation courses. Its main work tool is Nuke, a program that complements Mocha, Photoshop and After Effects. To model, texturize and illuminate use the Maya program.
He has worked on successful film productions such as Hellboy (2019), Godzilla, King of Monsters (2019), Iron Sky 2 (2018), Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), Guardians of the Galaxy vol. II (2017), Fast & Furious 8 (2017), Captain America 3: Civil War (2016), among others. Also in television series like Game of Thrones, WestWorld and Black Sails.