Great VFX books that you should add into your collection

MichaelJames Posts: 2,034 Enthusiast
So I bought 2 books that I think everyone should buy.  One is called
The Visual Effects Arsenal: VFX Solutions for the Independent Filmmaker
Now this book is of course not Hitfilm specific, BUT they break down the concept of doing things in a way that works on any software that has that feature.  I couldn't find any useful reviews on this book, everyone was very vague and not helpful to deciding on if it was worth my money.  I was not going to buy the Kindle edition because you do not get the useful CD.  So i'll breakdown the book and you can decide how useful it is for you.  People can do effects but honestly don't know how to blend them and make them look real or good.

Chapter 1 How to use this book (reading this section made me realize this book is dated..  It was published in 2009 and when it comes to technology and features you can tell what makes it dated.  I'd still easily recommend this book I have to point that out for the people who get finicky(like me) when they read something about using CS4
Chapter 2 Toolbox..  This covers the things you need and what is optional or recommended as a VFX artist.  Basic stuff that most people know.
Chapter 3 Preparing For Your Visual Effects Shot.  This gets into the need to story board the effect, grabbing a camera and doing test shots and researching the technique.  Nothing ground breaking here.
So none of that is ground breaking or worth buying the book over, its the rest of the book which won't get the same chapter breakdown which makes it worthwhile.    What i'll do for these chapters is give an example of what they do and how its useful.
In Chapter 4
There is the effect like adding reflections to a shot(im picking this one knowing HItfilm did a tutorial) this is a beginning level tutorial
What makes this breakdown useful is  they break it down and show how to do it in 2 programs to give you a better understanding of how to accomplish it in any software.  They breakdown the ingredients for the shot, the shoot, and then a step by step walkthrough (with pictures) and how to use the water that was on the clean plate shot as a distortion for the reflected image to help sell the shot.  They break it down in AE and Motion so you understand how to do it on whatever program you use.  Also, they talk about how to dial things in to look believable.  So besides just adding blur for 3d objects to not look so perfect, you can use grain on that sign replacement...  You can drop the opacity down a touch and change the blend mode of that element to soft light... just those types of little details that most people don't know
Now some of the novices will be like that's great and the rest will be like well I know how to do that... I learned it from hitfilm.  So here is something Hitfilm never showed us
In Chapter 6
Cityscape fly-through animation
If you are like me and you don't want to buy the video copilot Metropolitan 3d pack because you don't want to spend $100 dollars every time you want something(except for that slider I just bought) this breaks down what you need and how you'd go about doing this in a way that does carry over for hitfilm.  Its not difficult and something that you couldn't figure out... but its time consuming  In the ingredients section it lists that you need photos of buildings, asphalt for road textures, concrete fo sidewalk textures and a photo of the sky for background.  This method eats up time but saves money.  Also once you make something you can save it and then reuse it later.  This effect coupled with Simon's 3d Panorama tutorial could easily give you a virtual world for your far shots... or even something that you could green screen your actors in to.
The book even gets into title stuff so you can get those interactive titles like from heroes... You know thanks to many tutorials how to attach a title to a moving object or to a stationary object in a moving shot, but what about when you want your characters to walk over that title and have it look like its part of the normal ground? This doesn't have every crazy shot but it gives a wide amount of information that any beginner and intermediate VFX artist should have as a reference.  It makes it easy to understand how to do things on different platforms and they show you typically 2 different ways to get something done.  There were only like 3 things that I saw that hiitfilm couldn't do.  1 is the puppet tool that gets used in the animation section...quad warp and the shaping tool for morphing animations

The Other book I bought was The Digital Matte Painting Handbook
That book really does walk you through how to get a believable matte painting.  This book uses AE and Maya.  Still great info if you are interested in learning how to get a great background plate... I wanted to make a castle in the sky and couldn't find any good tutorials on how to do that.  This shows how to make your own castle.