Core Skills of VFX

Well, if ever there was a companion to the hands-on approach of Video Copilot, it could be this Hand Book designed to improve the skills of upcoming artists.

At Video Copilot, our philosophy is teach with hands-on experience of doing real-world projects. We start with a specific objective like a sky-replacement or car-hit effect and work through the various challenges as they come up, in real-time. We think it is a great way to learn software and understand the concepts of compositing by applying them to real-world scenarios. It is one thing to talk about a ‘track-matte’ but it’s another thing to see how it is used to solve a real problem.

In fact, our upcoming Crystal Ball promo represents a new level of training for Video Copilot because we focused on making a “real” production and intentionally pushed the limits of what might normally go into a standard video tutorial. Not to say that we made lousy rubbish in the past but for this project we are using an actual commercial to drive our visual effects needs. In other words, we didn’t just throw together a single shot for the sake of making a tutorial, but instead we made a real promo with real challenges that required comprehensive solutions. And these solutions should be quite informative as tutorials and tips. BTW, I’m not saying the new video will be good, only that we tried to make it less crummy than usual!

Now where was I? Oh yeah, the VFX handbook!! What I like about this handbook is that it covers subjects and concepts that are important to growing your knowledge and aptitude of the VFX industry beyond the focus of a single tutorial to give you a larger scope for the future. It is also organized nicely into modules that focus on different areas of post production to make it easy to follow. I encourage everyone to read it and let’s all improve our skills together.

PS, Disclaimer, it was sponsored by the UK government, but luckily this version is in English! … Kidding of course… I just have to be careful with my sarcasm, I still have people remind me that the movie with Will Smith, where he tries to find a cure for a zombie infection is not called Independence Day.

Apparently it is called Men in black. Tutorial Reference

Click Here to Checkout The VFX Handbook

June 6th, 2011 @ 6:38 pm
Thanks we truly applicate you Andrew because you have taught us allot without you we would have no vfx skills and we would still be learning how to use the motion tracker thanks.
    June 7th, 2011 @ 5:02 am
    I think you should only speak for yourself my friend. You can't just say "WE would have no vfx skills without you". You know there are LOTS of talented vfx artists around the world making money using their skills, that DEFINITELY didn't learn from Video Copilot...
    June 7th, 2011 @ 5:59 am
    I have to agree with La Roche, Thanks to Andrew he has grown with us and not hidden his great work, he effectively is trying to bring up the quality of the community as a whole, if it wasn't for Andrew and his awesome team, I would never have gone into VFX
    June 7th, 2011 @ 7:49 am
    @Methodd, maybe Anothy's talking about a group of friends, or small studio he works for. A majority of VFX artists that go to this site probably did learn much of their stuff from AK, which is the reason they go.
    I know that personally Anthony's statement is true for me. Here's an example of the stuff I would have never been able to do with VC:
    June 7th, 2011 @ 9:21 am
    I agree with both La roche and Methodd, only that Method comes in too harsh to La Roche who would otherwise say "some of us".
    June 7th, 2011 @ 10:21 am
    @Methodd- No disrespect, but you should only speak for yourself. For if you were so "dope" you would have no need to be on this learning site.
    @Andrew- Thanx for everything you have done for the VFX community. I have seen so many of "our" techniques all over the tube, which leads me to believe that many talented VFX artist are coming to your site and learning more skills. I know that as a rocky in the field, I'm not sure where i would be had it not been for your site. Please keep up the great work. Many of us appreciate it.
    June 7th, 2011 @ 12:06 pm
    Thanks again Andrew. Saw some of the promo's for the movie you worked on. I recognize the lens flares. Awesome opportunity. Congratulations.
    June 8th, 2011 @ 10:54 am
    @Methodd - My brother credits Aristotle with changing man's view of self; but don't tell followers of Plato something like that - nor would you survive the "storm" you'd get from the followers of Socrates. And by golly, Pythagoras must be rolling in his grave, bumping occasionally into Thales and Heraclitus. And so, I suppose you are right ... nobody deserves credit for educating ALL of the people!
    June 8th, 2011 @ 4:40 pm
    and i'm on your side la roche.......andrew showed us the way that we can walk on be talented artists..
    June 8th, 2011 @ 6:50 pm
    I definitely got most of my knowledge from Andrew Kramer (Video Copilot) and Jerzy Drozda Jr. (Maltaannon). These two guys would make a superb team :)
    June 13th, 2011 @ 8:05 am
    @ Methodd, being overly pedantic about semantics is just as annoying as making broad statements. LaRoche was obviously speaking for those of us who feel the same way and therefore from his point of view, his statement is correct - if you have misinterpreted it as being an all inclusive statement and was somehow offended / threatened by it, then that is your problem. You do realize that you can make your own statement without marking your territory on someone else's and diminishing the work of our host on his own website in the process. I personally agree with La Roche and I am grateful to Video Copilot.
    June 15th, 2011 @ 8:23 am
    @MrCead, Gosh , you put it so well , Thank you very much. I wish everybody coming to this community is dat intelligent.
    Peter Jerome Manabat
    June 19th, 2011 @ 6:05 am
    you got it right anthony. thanks a lot from the philippine islands! @methodd... such a troll. :)
    June 29th, 2011 @ 12:42 am
    Andrew showed us through his tutorials the knowledge no other tutorials can, or at least the ones i know. but i've owned several courses from and i have to say, Andrew's tutorials are even better than those you have to pay for. Andrew's the only person who i know can teach creativity rather than just technically how to use the software.
June 6th, 2011 @ 6:41 pm
This is great! Thanks for link.
June 6th, 2011 @ 6:45 pm
3rd post? Andrew is the man!!
June 6th, 2011 @ 6:45 pm
This is Great!!
June 6th, 2011 @ 6:50 pm
GREAT! All i know about After Effects, i learned with you...
Thank you so much, for everything, Andrew
I know we can always count on you for good things coming up in the future!
June 6th, 2011 @ 7:08 pm
Sounds really cool Andrew, I'm looking forward to studying it in the morning.
June 6th, 2011 @ 7:08 pm
looks intresting ,, thanks
Matthew Sabia
June 6th, 2011 @ 7:10 pm
A friend has been asking me to show him some stuff for months, this is perfect! :)
June 6th, 2011 @ 7:13 pm
June 6th, 2011 @ 7:13 pm
Andrew, much respect for being an incredibly hard-working individual.
June 6th, 2011 @ 7:18 pm
Thanks for sharing another valuable resource with all of us
Alex Hardiment
June 6th, 2011 @ 7:18 pm
It's not made by the UK Government ;) but it still looks great! Will have to have a read :)
June 6th, 2011 @ 7:41 pm
Looks cool! Thanks, AK!
June 6th, 2011 @ 8:12 pm
Gracias por todo Andrew K. "you are the best", aprendo muchisimo con tu web. Saludos desde Argentina,Puerto Madryn.
June 6th, 2011 @ 8:14 pm
please andrew.i need hankock effect with will smith when he was flying and when he figting with a woman in streets and she lift a bus up and sky turns darker and it was terrible...jut blog not tutorial ...
needed effects and the way of it..
no asking more
June 6th, 2011 @ 8:45 pm
thank a million Boss, you aRE One in a MillION.
June 6th, 2011 @ 8:49 pm
Thanks, Andrew! I'll look it over soon. I really appreciate everything you've done for us and I love that you keep on learning yourself. I'm anxious to see what you've done with the crystal ball promo and to hear what you've learned from it. (of course, if my wife were reading this she'd tell me that I'm eager, not anxious - she's always telling me stuff like that. She'd also miss out on some of your humor. She'd remind you that the movie you were talking about was really called "I AM THE LEGENDARY JAMES WEST" and she'd miss your humor in the second paragraph of this blog entry about the composting joke and think you just made a typo. When she gets like that I just wink at her and tell her, "Honey, it's After Effects time")
June 6th, 2011 @ 8:57 pm
Thanks Andrew and the VC
June 6th, 2011 @ 9:08 pm
when you're going to upload more tutorial andrew? i am waiting for it man!!!!
June 6th, 2011 @ 9:39 pm
it's very useful ,AK!
June 6th, 2011 @ 9:57 pm
What an awesome link, I will make a hardcover print out of it and keep it in my archives.
June 6th, 2011 @ 10:11 pm
Nice Andrew.. this was something I was looking for :)
I have 3 different books about Vfx .. but this handbook is much more organized and shows very clearly the important aspects of vfx :)

June 6th, 2011 @ 10:15 pm
A wealth of information in the pdf and on the site in general, thanks for sharing.
June 6th, 2011 @ 10:47 pm
June 6th, 2011 @ 10:51 pm
Bwhahah.... no, no, no! It's called the Fresh Prince! Man, what a goofball!
June 6th, 2011 @ 10:57 pm
Hey Andrew thanks for all tutorials and tips you provide on your website. Love your teaching style. Would love to see you more in front of the camera then behind. Cheers and thanks again.
lunga shezi
June 6th, 2011 @ 11:06 pm
About time Videocopilot moved onto the next level, and it has been a natural progression. Looking forward to the upcoming epic tutorial. Excited to be frank!!
June 6th, 2011 @ 11:09 pm
"Not to say that we made lousy rubbish in the past[..]; I’m not saying the new video will be good, only that we tried to make it less crummy than usual!"

haha ^^ It's always a joy reading your blogposts to shorten the time to next tutorial
June 6th, 2011 @ 11:29 pm
i am legend XDDDD
June 6th, 2011 @ 11:40 pm
I have found that the less active this site is, the less after effects I do. When a tutorial comes out I go AE crazy for weeks! Wish it were my job to AE to my hearts content!
praveen Jaggi
June 6th, 2011 @ 11:54 pm
Thank u andrew for everthing.........
Whatever taught abt VFX is all from u.......And whatever i m rt nw is all bcz of u.....u r great and thank u for sharing this link with us......
June 7th, 2011 @ 12:45 am
Wait! Is there a book or not???
    June 7th, 2011 @ 9:35 am
    Click on the picture! :)
June 7th, 2011 @ 1:05 am
So it's in the Queen's English. Just substitute all the phrases "very good" and "quite nice" for "totally awesome!!!" as you read it for an instant translation. :D
June 7th, 2011 @ 1:22 am
I read the whole thing and i agree it was men in black:) you say jump i say how high. cant wait for the good stuff.
June 7th, 2011 @ 1:53 am
Thanks Andrew...
I am in my current position bcos of videocopilot...
mbindzou vincent
June 7th, 2011 @ 2:02 am
I am very pleased to inform you that the little I know in the VFX has video copilot. without this site I think the VFX for many beginners will remain a realm of magic for fans only. thank you again to all the team: Andrew Kramer, Tino Hertz, Sergio Gil, Marc Biorklund, Alexander Alexandrov, Duane Loose, Patrick Otten, Matt Kramer, Sam Loya, Bobby Hommel. God bless you
June 7th, 2011 @ 2:40 am
Aarons Rogers
June 7th, 2011 @ 2:48 am
Is that a still from Super 8 Movie ?? =)
    June 8th, 2011 @ 4:20 pm
    No it's Sherlock Holmes
June 7th, 2011 @ 3:16 am
May GOD Bless u, and us all......
thanx for everything.... I truly pray for u andrew (For Paradise)..
June 7th, 2011 @ 3:22 am
"we focused on making a “real” production and intentionally pushed the limits of what might normally go into a standard video tutorial."

Very good
Thank you so much for every thing.
June 7th, 2011 @ 3:36 am
Hey Andrew,
why don't you charge me $ 2.99 for a tutorial? I signed up for Lynda, but often I am learning more from your tutorials regarding VX in After Effects. Usually I find teaching stuff overpriced and I do not like the course system at fxphd. To complicated and I always want to learn now. But $ 25 for a monthly flatrate like on Lynda or $ 3 for a single tutorial is pretty fair. You would be rich : )and we could see a lot more VideoCopilot tutorials I guess.
@everyone else: Sorry guys, but we want to see more faster? Don't we? - No, I am not Andrew Kramer with a fake ID. ; )
June 7th, 2011 @ 3:38 am
The double space before Men in black says "I re-type it a couple of times until get this name" or just to fix the caps
james jerry
June 7th, 2011 @ 4:59 am
i would like a copy of this book!
    June 7th, 2011 @ 8:46 am
    Just click on the Red Text Title in this blog post or the picture, take you right to it.
June 7th, 2011 @ 5:02 am
Thanks for the post. Love this website! Everything I know about After Effects, I learned from here. I went from knowing nothing about it to the head of the VFX Dept. at my job!
    June 11th, 2011 @ 12:49 pm
    Where do you work? In a daycare possibly? Head of the VFX department? Can you say DILLUSIONAL?
June 7th, 2011 @ 5:08 am
"Men In Black"!?! Come on! Try "I Am Legend".
    June 7th, 2011 @ 6:10 pm
    No, I'm pretty sure it was Wild Wild West.
    June 8th, 2011 @ 3:54 pm
June 7th, 2011 @ 5:15 am
Andrew I love the site, but man how about some actual information, instead of pushing your crystal ball promo, albeit epic looking, like how do we find this vfx handbook?
    June 7th, 2011 @ 9:33 am
    Click on the image :)
June 7th, 2011 @ 5:33 am
That's awesome :)
i can't wait to see what you all have worked up :D

keep up the hard work Andrew and crew!
June 7th, 2011 @ 5:39 am
Hi AK,

I am so grateful for your talents, and eagerness to teach in an entertaining and remember-able way. If it were not for Video Copilot I would not have the skill set that you helped foster in me. I hope that someday once I retire I can "Pay It Forward" in the Motion Graphics Design/ VFX world like you do
Kenny Williams
June 7th, 2011 @ 6:20 am
If anyone wants the book then all you have to do is click on the picture. Great work!! Keep it up!
June 7th, 2011 @ 6:35 am
We want ATOM!!! What IS it?! And is it involved in the medieval project? Is it used in Super8? Will it be posted here at the same time as the big unveiling in LA that a miniscule percentage of VC customers can actually go to? Can it make my GH2 look like an Arri? Will it make my renders run 40 times faster? Does it fix rotobrush?
June 7th, 2011 @ 6:44 am
cool andrew vfx prof
June 7th, 2011 @ 6:54 am
This seems really cool because they approach it as, this is not the end-all/ be-all. It is great that they designed this to distribute for free and they suggest that educators take what they want to teach as a guideline and leave the rest. Thanks for posting this!
June 7th, 2011 @ 7:06 am

Thanks for the link. I appreciate your website, and work to develop young talents.

June 7th, 2011 @ 7:13 am
For those looking for the book, just click the photo at the top of the post. It takes you striaght to skillset's website.
June 7th, 2011 @ 7:45 am
Thanks! I'll try reading through this in the afternoon.
Eric K
June 7th, 2011 @ 8:20 am
Thanks for the link. This is going to be excellent reference and learning material! Can't wait to read it!
June 7th, 2011 @ 8:32 am
This looks very useful! Thanks very much Andrew! :)
Richard (Singapore)
June 7th, 2011 @ 8:45 am
It is Andrew Kramer video copilot that has helped me get into Digital Visual Effects course for my studies! I really wanna thank him! This site will always be my root!
Mr. Tibbs
June 7th, 2011 @ 8:56 am
Hmmm... I don't really get it. This is more of a bulleted curriculum than a book. Am I missing something?
June 7th, 2011 @ 9:05 am
Actually you're still wrong Andrew, it's called Fresh Prince :D ...Amazing info by the way.
June 7th, 2011 @ 9:33 am
Thank you once again for more excellent resources. Most of what I know so far about VFX has been based from your tutorials. We can't thank you (and Sam) enough :-)
June 7th, 2011 @ 9:41 am
Hey Andrew if you have any spare time would you be able to make a new tutorial
June 7th, 2011 @ 9:48 am
I'm so psyched about the upcoming stuff :p
June 7th, 2011 @ 10:01 am
Sherlock Holmes
June 7th, 2011 @ 11:22 am
woo... nice i love it thanks Andrew for the tips love vc.....
June 7th, 2011 @ 12:33 pm
cool, this is going to be awesome!!!!!
June 7th, 2011 @ 1:22 pm
Andrew is great.............
June 7th, 2011 @ 3:23 pm
anyone translate or subtitle all the videotutorials to spanish please :-) gracias andrew, the best!!!!
Ibn Andrew K
June 7th, 2011 @ 10:43 pm
Who can boast, over the world, have posted many personal tutorials just to share his knowledge with others. The clip below is dedicated to Andrew Kramer because fully realized with the help of following products: Action Essentials II, the Bullet, Twitch, Pro Score, Designer Sound FX, Optical Flares and of course, all tutorials currently online. It is, here and elsewhere, humbly thanked. Amen. (and sorry for this awful English)
June 7th, 2011 @ 11:11 pm
Hey guy! I have a Quick Question. That PDF booklet looks like it has a weird formatting. I get One page for the title and what looks like two pages side by side for the rest of the book. How can I print this format so that I get 1 page per book page?
June 7th, 2011 @ 11:19 pm
Thank you for the book! I'm not quite the beginner but it is still very useful!
Robert Streiferd
June 8th, 2011 @ 6:54 am
Awesome!!! - Robert Streiferd
June 8th, 2011 @ 8:40 am
Hey Andrew! you should totaly check out the video for Bad meets Evil - Fast lane, think they might have used some of the Action Essentials Clips there! :D i recon some shells and explosions there...
June 8th, 2011 @ 9:32 am
Oh dear, some people just don't understand you AT ALL... Maybe you should type in English!
June 8th, 2011 @ 9:42 am
At the very core of our evolution as part of this living planet is teaching, learning, and the passing-on of skills.
It is how we survived as a species. As many have done in the past, Andrew and his crew continue.
Thanks folks!
Luke Haines-Ingram
June 8th, 2011 @ 10:56 am
Thanks a lot andrew! You're a legend and a true inspiration. Keep up the good work and the forever 'hilarious' jokes ;)
June 8th, 2011 @ 11:51 am
Hey Nerd!!!

How´s it goin?
I have been quiet in here for quite some time now!
But now i simply have to THANK YOUR for sharing all the madness poppin out of your head!
See you soon buddy!

Haggai Okwuchukwu Nwokolo
June 8th, 2011 @ 3:20 pm
One day I will see Andrew Kramer and I will tell him how grateful I am for allowing himself to be used by God to train many people... God bless u my ROLE MODEL...
June 8th, 2011 @ 3:21 pm
June 8th, 2011 @ 10:21 pm
Hey Andrew, it seems to me that this "handbook" is really only an outline detailing different course modules that universities and colleges should cover in order to improve current VFX courses.

So in essence, no one's going to "learn" anything from this handbook.

Oh well... guess you better churn out that next tutorial then :P
June 9th, 2011 @ 11:25 am
Thank you for sharing Sir Andrew. 200% respect to this guy!
June 9th, 2011 @ 2:27 pm
Hey!! If it weren't for Andrew...we would all be LOST exactly as we were before his teachings. There was before Andrew ...and after Andrew!!
Christian Neo
June 10th, 2011 @ 1:10 am
Hi Andrew (Hi from Oz that is)

I just stopped by to post this....

I know you worked on the titles for the Star Trek reboot, but are you sure you (and your products) didn't have more to do with the VFX....

Case in point:

If youcan't be bothered with the whole thing skip to :58 sec through to 1:27.

June 10th, 2011 @ 8:34 am
Most of all the things I know about Compositing and using AE as a tool for it is because I discovered this awesome site with this awesome instructor teaching this cool project based tutorials.
I really appreciate the time you guys spend to share this knowledge for free with us!

I am learning a lot with sites like this and the videos that Feng Zhu offers for digital painting.

I really improved my skills by visiting sites like VIDEOCOPILOT, and I'm really willing to see how you guys bring all of this stuff to the next level and keep learning a lot with you! :D

BTW Andrew, don't ever stop being sarcastic, I just love it!!! If others can't understand your jokes that's their problem XD

VC rules!!!
June 10th, 2011 @ 9:40 am
Ha ha... Dude, love your sarcasm. As someone who's also extremely sarcastic to a point where no one can tell if I'm serious or not, I can appreciate it.
June 10th, 2011 @ 11:00 am
this is great, thnx!
June 10th, 2011 @ 6:22 pm
Andrew I like this
but I have to tell you that I saw your name in the credit list of
Super 8
Did you use optical flares to make the lens flares in that movie?
I'm thinking about buying optical flares!
Keep them tutorials comming they have tought me alot
June 10th, 2011 @ 11:40 pm
usefull , Thanks...
June 11th, 2011 @ 11:44 am
Josh was apparently NOT paying attention to Andrew's tutorials. The FX work you're bragging about is more on par with the crap on Bottom line, it all looks fake. Don't associate that garbage with Video Copilot.
June 11th, 2011 @ 12:36 pm
Geez! This forum is a psych professor's dream! Between the praying and the praising it's a virtual group therapy session without the therapist! To quote Jack Nicholson, "I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way." What is it about inviting idiots to comment that brings them out in droves?
June 11th, 2011 @ 5:52 pm
I just watched this new movie trailer THE RIFT on apple trailers, VCP tools, twitch, Opt Flares and other techniques from VCP was used, check it out guys.
June 12th, 2011 @ 6:11 am
thank you very much yet again for your help. i'm always eager to learn new things & you make it so much easier.

you rock!
June 12th, 2011 @ 7:50 am
I just watched Super8. Can you tell us what is your work in it. I think I saw many scenes with Optical Flares. This movie is good but you are the main reason I went to see it.
Always be your fan!
Lee Edward Calingasan
June 12th, 2011 @ 2:57 pm
Thank you so much andrew!! :D
June 12th, 2011 @ 4:30 pm
Andrew, I've said this before, why not expand the website to teach acting, have advice about different camera types, advice on what kind of lights to use for studios, etc. Stuff like that is becoming more and more needed while effects are getting easier and easier to produce with the many different plug-ins that appear year after year.

Why don't we discuss just how good this year's movies have been? There is need of knowledge but not only in the area of special effects. We can't composite good acting, good lighting, etc...
    June 15th, 2011 @ 8:05 am
    Can you believe dat there not website out dat dedicate to developers who want to write serious code for the VFX industry. None
June 12th, 2011 @ 8:44 pm
went and saw Super 8. it was excellent. good job on the title work!
June 14th, 2011 @ 3:07 pm
저도 여길 많이 이용하고 vfx의 첫입문이 여기에서 시작이되었습니다.
한국에서도 많이 알려져 있고 저에게는 거의 신적인 존재죠 ㅎㅎㅎ

늘감사합니다. 많은 유용한정보들과 팁들을 알려주시니...

그무엇보다도 비디오코파일넷만의 철학이 맘에 듭니다.
우리나라의 홍익인간과 같은 의미를 가지고 있네예

한국에 오실 계획은 없으신지....
    shaun berry
    June 19th, 2011 @ 7:07 am
    It's just an assumption but I don't think anyone here including Andrew understand how to read Korean if that's what your writing in. It looks like it but can't be sure.
ron vergara
June 17th, 2011 @ 2:23 am
This site introduced me to the world of VFX EFFECTIVELY. If not for the awesome tutorials I wouldn't be good in AE. He's teaching not just skills but techniques. Andrew thus somehow deserve some credit here man, because though there are a lot of superb artist, not all has the heart to share this to others. Godspeed Andrew!
June 19th, 2011 @ 10:20 pm
Nice one AK thanks for blessing the world with the investment of your personality. you're a true success and are making others to be like you.
June 20th, 2011 @ 4:06 pm
Hello people from accessing my channel on youtube and look at various tutorials cool Cinema 4D tutorials new post every week!
stay inside ...
June 21st, 2011 @ 2:38 am
Cool! Great work Andrew!
June 26th, 2011 @ 8:50 pm
Where is d book dude???
June 26th, 2011 @ 9:05 pm
Hey Sir Andrew! Hats off to u. U r great. We r pleased to following u. U r our inspiration. God bless u....
December 24th, 2011 @ 7:27 am
glad i came across your post, very informative indeed.
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