VFX Fundamentals

Three 12-week classes

Learn the fundamentals of CG lighting, compositing and rendering in this online, nine-month program. Working, professional artists provide students with hands-on instruction, artistic direction and valuable industry insights. Collaborate across disciplines to create amazing visuals using industry standard tools and Animation Mentor’s studio-quality production pipeline.

Your CG Toolkit.

Develop the skills of the technical visual effects artist, with an emphasis on look development. Master the cutting edge tools, asset-based workflows and real-time problem solving skills that hiring managers are looking for.


Learn contemporary studio workflows, collaborate with animators, master industry-standard tools like NUKE, Arnold, and Animation Mentor’s exclusive production pipeline.

From The Pros.

Learn faster using the original , online educational model where students grow and develop by working directly with world-class, professional CG artists.

02 vfx lighting basics 1 Lighting Basics

Lighting Basics

Class Length: 12 weeks
Upcoming Term: Fall 2014
Start Date: September 29, 2014
Application Due: August 1, 2014
Registration Opens: August 11, 2014
Class Tuition: $2,799

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Lighting is the element of the story that sets the mood and tone of a shot, sequence, and film. The Lighting Basics class teaches you the workflows and techniques used in both CG feature animation (such as Pixar’s Up) and in VFX features (such as, Industrial Light & Magic’s Pacific Rim). In the first six weeks, you’ll learn what it takes to light an animated CG sequence, complete with set and characters. In the second six weeks, you’ll grasp how to make CG elements feel part of a real live action shot.

Learn how to:

  • Master color and light to create dynamic lighting for both feature animation and feature visual effects films
  • Create lighting that brings characters and shots to life using color, shape, shadows, and an understanding of the environment
  • Optimize your render settings to generate a clean render, free of visual artifacts, while decreasing your overall render time
  • Light a CG character into a live-action background plate ensuring that realism of the shot is maintained by using HDRI elements
  • Setup layers, mattes and AOVs for a render so you can control and finesse the final lit elements during the composite process
  • To see what you learn week by week, check out the Lighting Basics class breakdown

Why it’s right for you:

  • The art of visual effects is more than just software training. This program teaches the storytelling and production skills that hiring managers seek in new hires.
  • Access to the most diverse roster of top industry professionals who know what it takes to succeed in the industry.
  • Dive deep into the look development process by creating assets under the guidance of a professional who will level up your assets, skills, and workflow.
  • Improve your ability to work on a team, by giving and taking feedback from your mentors and peers.
  • Prepare yourself to succeed in the studio environment – go beyond the principles of visual effects and learn how to work with fellow artists in the production pipeline.

What you get:

  • Three-year active student license to Autodesk Maya
  • Access to industry-leading software like the Foundry’s NUKE and Solid Angle’s Renderer for the duration of class
  • Over 12 hours of pre-recorded lecture material, made available to watch on-demand each week
  • A weekly eCritique video of your assignment from your mentor
  • A weekly live Q&A with your mentor and classmates
  • Access to the thriving community of over 5,500 students & graduates from over 105 countries
  • Supplemental tutorials and documentation
  • Instruction from top-quality mentors from the world’s leading visual effects studios
  • Access to Animation Mentor’s studio-quality production pipeline, built by engineers from DreamWorks Studios, WETA and Double Fine.
  • Production-ready VFX assets – an animation sequence and a VFX-ready character to integrate into a live action plate


  • Earn a passing grade in CG Basics
  • Be 18 years of age or older upon the first day of class
  • Have intermediate computer software skills. This course requires a basic knowledge of 3d software
  • Meet the minimum computer system requirements
  • Have a good understanding of the English language
  • Achieve a passing score on a basic aptitude test (Wonderlic test). This measures basic understanding in math and verbal skills.
  • If you have little to no experience with visual effects software like Maya, we strongly recommend our Maya Workshop: CG Lighting & Compositing