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andrewlowell

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andrewlowell last won the day on August 4 2016

andrewlowell had the most liked content!

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About andrewlowell

  • Rank
    Initiate
  • Birthday 12/07/1979

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  • Website URL
    http://www.andrew-lowell-productions.com

Personal Information

  • Name
    Andrew
  • Location
    Vancouver, Canada
  • Interests
    3D Graphics and Effects
    Electronic Music composition
    Surround Sound / procedural audio engineering
  1. Custom Group SOP in VEX

    Awesome! I may never use the group SOP again.
  2. Visual Effects Salaries vs Education Cost?

    Hi Netvudu, great to hear the schools which "do it right" come forward for a thread like this. I think the larger issue here is, is a school in visual effects worth the money; or preferable to self taught. I personally wish I would have had instructors push me and make my work better. Things would have been much more straightforward. I've known about the FX Animation school in Barcelona for a long time and think they've always had a serious program and do great work. These schools are few and far between .. and quite frankly I don't see them as "competition" they actually help one another. One going notion evident from some of the comments here (hi Heri ) is that school isn't worth the time and/or money. This makes perfect sense as a generalization because many schools do in fact simply milk the green-enthusiasm of wanna-be vfx artists, make big promises, and give false impressions via easy grades, sporadic and varied subjects, and night classes without consistent instructors. If learning FX or Houdini isn't one of the hardest things a student ever does .. than they're doing it, and teaching it incorrectly. Taking a few night classes in the Houdini fluid shelf tools; then calling a student industry ready just doesn't cut it, and I fully agree it's a waste of time and money. Those skills can be done via home learning and online tutorials. The problem comes about when both students and professionals view ALL schools as perpetuating this cash grab. Regardless of country I fully agree with Netvudu that the quality of the end product, the student demo reels is a great indicator of what the value of a school is. This varies wildly per school. Also check out the worst reels along with the best. If a school only posts the best reels (Lost Boys posts all reels), it's a tell tale indicator that the majority of students were simply paying way too much to sit at a desk instead of getting high quality instruction. Every school will have rock stars that could produce great reels with or without school. It's also important to look at the consistency of reels. This gives an indicator as to what is being taught. Some structure is necessary here .. because once again highly motivated incoming students with bright ideas will probably produce good/consistent work. If structure isn't provided for a learning path for the majority of students, than the people coming in without much experience will produce work with doesn't highlight their skills correctly. Basically, inexperienced ideas will make the best work low quality. As for cost of a school yes, the US and Canada have a highly privatized education system. The government gives very little or no backing for private and specialized schools. The cost of running a school and finding good instructors is high .. especially in expensive cities. But, as I stated in my earlier response I would still say Lost Boys price is both reasonable and a good value / investment. I teach seminars at schools in Europe every year and the education system is very different there, mainly because of government assistance. This is great for students living within that country or the EU, but not so great for students from the rest of the world without access to either government assistance, or high quality schools in their own countries. We had a meeting last week at Double Negative where some of the highest people in the company praised Vancouver schools (not just Lost Boys) for offering a superior level of vfx education to even London. There's a lot of be said for seeking out the best schools in the most competitive markets.
  3. Visual Effects Salaries vs Education Cost?

    Hi all! I've been alerted to this thread and suggested that I weigh in .. I've read the comments and everyone brings up great points, so it's not my intention to get in the middle of a vfx industry wage / tuition / rate war; but I'll try to be as unbiased and realistic as possible here. As some know I'm the sole Houdini / FX instructor at Lost Boys. I designed the curriculum about three years ago and it's taken off. I'm self taught personally, so I fully agree that it's possible to learn everything on your own and do well at less cost. I do believe the number Lost Boys asks is a fair amount and below is my reasoning. I'm welcome to debate and disagreement and if need be lets come up with some alternatives that work for the majority of people out there. 1. Self taught vs. school. Even though I did quite well being self taught .. my demo reel was all over the place. I didn't know what areas to focus on, my own strengths/weaknesses, industry norms and techniques, or have a set routine. I didn't have a strong mentor. I had to maintain all of my own hardware, and I had no support from peers. In my FX program the student has a completely immersive and supportive environment to learn in. We have highly regimented projects. We have dailies; personalised lectures, and the pupil is told how to hone shots for maximum effectiveness. The hours are FULL TIME .. from 10am-5:30pm every day. Not a night class twice a week .. it's like studying a foreign language in it's own country. I firmly believe that a year of immersive study in a supportive and structured environment like this saves lots of time. It pushes a student's skills farther than they realistically could on their own. In general our demographic is about half students, and half up-skilling professionals. They will generally up thier level in a year; and this could take years on the job or at home .. meaning; Student to Junior .. Junior to Mid ... Mid to Senior. You'll notice a consistency in the projects from our FX Demo and the industry has responded very well to them. 2. Cost of tuition. a. $41 is a lot of money. However, check out our competitors .. I'd assert that our tuition is below average. If you look at the instruction hours, it's reasonable. This is simply the cost of doing business and staying competitive. My classes are only 7 students maximum with one group overlap; and they have myself, and my assistant full time for a full year. If a student is successfully placed as a Junior they both have a profitable career after only a year, and if frugal can probably make back the tuition soon. I know that my university education was far more, and I had way less job potential at the end of it. Took me years to justify the cost of it. Going to a low end tech school might have us pay almost as much money, waste time, and then have zero useful skills at the end of it. $41 Gives our students an incredible year, a job at the end if they work hard, and full time instruction providing a strong technical and artistic base for their rest of their career. b. What is the real value of school? It's true that there's now an almost unlimited set of resources available to learn the software. I don't teach the software. I take my students camping to study fire and water. We break stuff to study fractures. I teach low level vector and matrix math, and often give physical or drawn examples of how these principals work. We work on group projects in tandem with plates and the compositing students to develop real studio skills. I have one on one conversations with my students as they struggle, ask questions, try to understand advanced artistic and shotwork concepts. I teach problem solving, and develop their eyes .. Houdini is great; but it's a tool to get there .. not a means in and of itself. The students will develop their own styles that will let them be seniors someday learning it the traditional way (from Senior to Junior) on real projects .. a case by case basis, just like at a studio. I firmly believe I give my students a better education than I've ever had; My education was from seniors at the studios I worked with and it was in a stressful environment, under the gun, production .. not a supportive school. I would have gotten farther faster if I'd have gone to a school like this for it. c. Honesty is crucial here guys. I'll admit that I make decent money teaching the program. Not as much as I'd be making if I would have chosen to stay in the industry as a senior FX artist or lead. But, close .. and this is a lifestyle choice I've made to better myself artistically. Many schools would choose to put profit into marketing and phony ads. Our two person ownership team (yes, only two people) put it into getting the best instructors, the best equipment and facilities, and the coolest projects. We shoot our own plates, we do many outdoor activities to further our learning, and we often have industry lectures as well. Our marketing is our alumni and testimonials. 3. Placement. This is generally a scam at many schools. At my program it isn't. Anyone who would disagree should do their homework and reach out to the full listing of alumni on this page. My alumni will probably say as they have told me that they were satisfied with their investment, and are successfully working on the job. So far out of my students I've had one that was not placed as an FX TD. The other 22 students were placed .. not as runners, two month gigs, or render wranglers .. but as FX TD's more often than not working on major movies with Houdini. Here's the facts: (63%) Juniors (14%) Mids (4%) Seniors (4%) Placed in an equivalent job, then career change (4%) Unplaced To add to this, once placed they have generally progressed quicker than most people in no small part due to their solid foundations in the art and science of FX work. Thanks for reading, that was my completely biased opinion and I'd welcome discussion .. ok gotta get back and teach
  4. how to rotate particles in houdini 13 (dops)

    It was a little funny there is a pop drag spin, but not a pop spin .. so I made one. It puts spin on particles, just use a birth group to put spin on the first born frame. There are features for randomization . It can be followed by a pop drag spin. popspin_v01.otl
  5. dopfield expression to get geometry data

    Does anyone know a better or more "correct/appropriate/standardised" way to gather one peice of geometry-style data from objects, within dops? I attached an arbritrary geometry data point to each dop object. To access this, the hack was a bit more sloppy ... point(strcat($OBJNAME,"/Init"),0,"angvel",0) .. which set's an initial angular velocity from incoming point data attached to the object. I'm wondering if there's betterish ways to work with data imported with the SOP Geometry DOP. It would be ideal to either .. a. Get this data, and then manipulate it into data feilds with the modify data dop b. Be able to reference it in a standardised way Any insight into this .. I'm feeling like it's working but I have no idea why (which is not a good feeling in Houdini lol) thanks!
  6. Australian Master Class

    Hi Everybody 8) Just making this topic official, there's been a thread or two about when and where we should have a Master's class while I'm in Australia, it would be great fun for me to do a bit of teaching while I'm here. The movie I was working on got into heavy overtime so I wasn't able to think about much else, but now that it's wrapped I've got some time before I go back to North America to do some teaching So .. who's in, and where at? A great time for me would be the 22nd, 23rd, 24th or 25th of August, I'll be flying out on the 26th to New Zealand. Also, what topics. If we'd like to see some CHOPs I'll gladly teach a class on that. I also had some ideas about teaching a class on different types of recursion in Houdini and which is best for what. And, also if I were to teach what's fresh in my head we could go with some Pyro Sim stuff. So, let's get some dates, studios, and topics going and go with a good option for everyone. If anyone wants to email me directly I'm at andrew@andrew-lowell-productions.com I'm guessing Sydney is the best city to hold something like this, but I'll be traveling around this month so if there's any interest in Adelaide I might be able to swing that also. I'll be checking this thread every few days. Thanks! - A
  7. Particle rasterization to voxel grid

    Thanks for this thread guys ... lifesaver So, I've only looked through these scenes a bit and gotten the info I need. Can anyone summarize or give a general workflow for how exactly point/particle data can be used with volume-data-feilds in DOPs? There seem to be a few different approaches accomplishing similar things (which is very Houdini like). But, what's best for what? Seems like on first impression that for most things a particle object/solver is overkill when the geometry data can be read in directly and converted.
  8. Hey guys .. if you're in LA this Saturday check it out . I'll be down from Vancouver and teaching this free class. http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1606&Itemid=215
  9. Channel COP?

    hmmmm, haven't looked into this personally; but is there any way to use the pixel cop to read with the chopi() expression?
  10. RBD Fracture position when not active

    This would be something that is probably easiest addressed before DOPs. Here would be my workflow: a. assign groups for RBD fracture b. anim of pieces c. an attribute (point or prim) on each piece which represents the height/tolerance/percentage that you wish to test for d. delete everything not meeting that criteria e. calculate the frame which the pieces first met that criteria f. delete everything after that frame, so .. each piece would be not deleted ONLY on the frame which meets that criteria and not after that frame. g. feed into RBD fracture with the creation frame set to $FF
  11. CHOP_OpenSoundControl

    AWESOME! Wow I wonder if they can put this into the core-Houdini release; and add on Jax and ASIO ; lol ... thanks Photex!
  12. Which company do you know is using Houdini or going to?

    Hi Athena! you might also ask Garman .. I know he does quite a bit of Houdini business in China. http://www.vizyacky.com/
  13. Holy %(W$* .. the thread turned into an educational product customer service war! this is what happens when I don't read the forum in a week People ... CHILL OUT. Let's remember a short time ago when there was absolutely no learning material for Houdini what so ever. Not even for stuff like SOPs or particles, forget rigging ... Houdini doesn't do that stuff right? There certainly wasn't a user base large enough for almost any educational company to dedicate their time, for profit or not, to Houdini. Personally I'm very thankful for any company or individual who takes the time to educate others in whatever delivery medium they feel most comfortable or successful in .. and very glad they see Houdini rigging as valuable or important enough to dedicate their resources to it. Ok, well .. I think that the book vs video debate is really interesting, and one I've spent quite a few hours pondering so I'll comment on that. At first the CHOPs book did start off as learning videos, as well as lesson plans for SESI classes. Dragos is absolutely correct in that I quickly realized it would take quite a bit longer than expected to create the content I wanted in video form, so I started converting the tutorials and plans into an "outline" for a book. In terms of software, technical, or art education ... I see the advantages of books as this. a. extremely well suited to getting across overall concept and theory b. good at spanning very large learning curves and different proficiency levels c. good at addressing very wide audiences and unintended markets d. easier to dissect for users applying variations of techniques presented HOWEVER .. I'm currently working on a Houdini Music Video Production training vids for cmivfx. I intend for this to be every bit of the same quality level as the book; but for different reasons. Here's where I see the advantages of training videos. a. good at addressing current and practical techniques b. shows the interactive process, shows the teachers thought process c. good at demonstration, and showing various approaches d. Closer to the classroom experience, and shows mistakes and gives strong opinions. Many people might think these are things that are hindrances to learning videos. Personally, I learn just as much from a teacher making a mistake as getting something right (as long as they don't make too many mistakes). So, the CHOPs book was intended for a very wide audience of many skilll levels, and attempted to open the door to many different projects and ideas for users. My plan for the training videos is more industry-centric; and will hopefully get Houdini in the spotlight for Music Video production. I'll be able to demonstrate music being played and interacted with just as the user and artist would. This kind of approach I don't think is suited for a book. It will also take very well under a year to make, which is sometimes necessary to get across current topics. Just my 2 c anyway Anyway, I can't wait for the Rigging videos, I'm sure they'll be very well suited for video training; and I'm really looking forward to someone really RIGGING in Houdini. It's an art, and I can't wait to see a master perform it for many hours. I'll also add one more little comment. When I taught classes full time they educated us in different learning styles. It's important to realise that not everyone learns the same way. Books are best suited to about 1/4 of students. For the other 3/4's other techniques such as demonstration, group work, and personal learning/deconstruction (messing around) time are best suited. Just because we learn best a certain way doesn't mean others do also, which is what makes teaching ... an art in itself http://www.haygroup.com/tl/Downloads/Why_People_Learn.pdf
  14. Glad it works for you Dragos! I'll chime in on the $ aspect of this discussion. So far I've made much more than I've expected out of the CHOPs book; thanks to promotion from SESI and a few others, I probably could have squeezed a little more out of it it I would have put a higher price tag on it; but even then I don't think the $ (from actual sales) would even come close to the amount/value of time it took to write. The real benefit for me is that it's starting to create a market for the types of projects I would enjoy the most, and it's allowed me to meet many people who both appreciate my efforts and are interested in the same type of things; some are already talking about projects etc. So, I'm seeing it more like the projects I'll be working on 5 years from now will pay the real $, not sales from the book. So, education isn't just a means to an end, it's also a way to change how things are done. Others will learn from the resource and form their own variations etc. Hopefully with the new Rigging videos there might be a few more jobs for Houdini riggers in the future! I'd really like to see this aspect of Houdini rival it's fx side.
  15. CHOPs/Music book is out!

    no thank you Swann! I hope it demystifies CHOPs a bit ... by the way; the U of Montreal requested a custom printable eddition. So, if anyone want's to save a little ink I made a version with no colored-backgrounds and with page numbers etc. Just email me and I'll send it free of charge.
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