13 July 2014

Aidy Burrows - Complete Environment and Animation Project

I was recently contacted by CG Masters to do a review of one of their newest video training products.  This time it was created by Aidy Burrows a very experienced 3D artists who has worked on many large and complex projects.

Aidy's latest product for CG Masters is a collection of video tutorials which goes over all the steps involved in creating a short animation of a large scale environment.

The total runtime of all the videos is more than 25 hours, so it is an enormous amount of content, you will need lots of time to take it all in and because it's aimed at Intermediate/Advanced level Blender users, you will most likely need to rewatch it several times for it all to sink in.

The animation contains 3 scenes, an inner city street scene, a dance hall, and a sewer scene.

Aidy goes over all of the steps required to model, sculpt, texture, composite, render and video edit each of these scenes to produce the final animation.

Product Specifications:

        All of the videos are very clear and well encoded, you can access them directly or using a very clean web browser interface.  All the resources needed to follow along with the videos are provided.  The resources provided are extensive in terms of textures and Blend files.

        The approach taken with each of the scenes when creating them is the same for each:
        • Create Rough Block out Model of Scenes
        • Create Higher Poly Representations
        • Sculpt High Poly Models
        • Texture and Bake High Poly Models onto Low Poly Models
        • Make them renderable in Blender Cycles
        The scenes that are created are done in such a way as to take High Poly models and reduce them down to low poly models which can be used in realtime environments such as game engines but still retain the vast majority of their high detail levels and be used to make high quality renders in Cycles.

        So the videos will be useful to multiple target audiences:
        • If you are interested in how to construct various architectural scenes in a structured and efficient way.
        • If you are wanting to learn how to quickly create high quality textures using Gimp.
        • If you need models that will be usable inside of Game Engine Environments.
        • How to use the textures inside of Cycles and it's shader nodes
        I can't stress enough how useful these videos will be to people who need to do high quality texturing work or realtime environment work.  The methods and techniques Aidy uses really make even very large scenes manageable on even moderate machines.

        The introductory videos go over all the basic techniques that Aidy uses to create all scenes, props and shaders.  These techniques are then used throughout the rest of the videos.  So if you have never used the techniques that Aidy uses they are explained well and assuming you are an Intermediate/Advanced level Blenderhead you should not have any problems.

        The videos are recorded in a mix of realtime playback speed and timelapse.  Aidy will show you in normal speed what he is doing and then when he repeats the process he will generally switch to timelapsed mode.  Even in timelapsed mode the videos are still clear and easy to follow.

        You are effectively getting 3 products in one:
        • Teaches how to model/sculpt.
        • Extensive Gimp texture creation knowledge.
        • Compositing, Rendering and Animation.
        Any one of these products would be worth the price.

        I learned a lot about baking of Normal Maps and texture creation using gimp and how to mix them together using Vertex Painting.

        Normally I would give more details of the topics and techniques Aidy uses to achieve the effects in the videos, but there are so many and the range of techniques used is so large that it would be an enormous repetitive list which would basically boil down to "Aidy teaches topic X, it was well explained and clear", "Aidy teaches topic Y it was well explained and clear", and so on.  So as far as I am able to discern every topic you need to create high quality, efficient, large scale scenes is covered, all very well.

        No Python or Blender Game Engine Logic Node use is covered as Aidy does not need these features to achieve the results he needs.

        So it's a short review for such a large product, but the quality is excellent and I would imagine that anyone wanting to get to grips with large scale scene creation which is impressively textured and yet resource efficient will find this product very useful.  I would recommend going to the CG Masters website and checking out the example videos and check out the list of topics they cover.  All of them are done well.

        Well worth the money.

        Review Score 95%